Madison County School Board discusses site work for new high school, Massey allowed to speak

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The Madison County Board of Education discussed site prep work for the new high school at a meeting on Friday, despite the incoming superintendent's concerns the system can't afford to build the new school right now.

Matt Massey, the superintendent-elect, was allowed to speak.  He said he is concerned about the cost of the new school and did not feel the system can afford the huge cost right now, $49 million.  The new school is slated to be built across from Legacy Elementary School in the Harvest/Monrovia area.

Matt Massey (WHNT News 19 File)
Matt Massey (WHNT News 19 File)

Board member Jeff Anderson said the board voted many times to approve the project.  Anderson said he understands the financial concerns, but the funds are legally committed.

WHNT News 19's Kristen Conner and Steve Johnson attended the meeting and report the main discussion today was about site work and who would do it -- a private contractor or county crews.

The board voted 2-2 on a motion to choose a private contractor, which would have cost $1.2 million.  The motion failed, so it was decided county crews will do the site prep.  However, it will take longer, possibly several months longer.

Madison County Commission representatives were present and pledged their support for the new school.  They also said they will expedite the work as much as possible.

Previous reports

Thursday, Massey issued a statement blasting the board and current superintendent Dr. David Copeland for making "poor decisions that are putting the school system's financial stability at risk with little public input."

He also said Thursday he was denied the chance to speak at Friday's meeting. Again, he is being allowed to speak today.

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Copeland’s office published notice of the meeting 24 hours in advance but requires citizens wishing to address the board to give written notice at least 72 hours in advance, effectively eliminating public remarks, Massey says.

Madison County School District spokesperson Geraldine Tibbs said she was not aware of Massey's comments but would only say the board is following policy in regards to calling the special meeting. She said it is not clear if the board will allow public comment during the meeting or not.

"Cryptically described as ‘Administrative Action for Site Work for New High School,’ let’s call this what it is:  David Copeland and the Board of Education trying to spend $46 million of your taxpayer dollars on a project we don’t need and can’t afford," Massey told WHNT News 19.

Massey continued, "We as a community cannot stand idly by while poor decisions are being made with our taxpayer dollars that will have long-lasting and serious consequences on our entire system."

Massey defeated both Copeland and Ronnie Blair, principal at Sparkman Middle School, in the Republican primary election in June.  He does not face a Democratic challenger in November, so he essentially won the election.  Massey won't take office until after the Nov. 4 election is over, though.

“When you’re trying to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, I don’t believe you do it on your way out the door, with very little notice, without public input and while everyone is distracted by fall break.”

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