Monday, November 19, 2007

Ashland, Lineville school merger on the table: Consolidation would end 84-year-old rivalry

Photo Illustration: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

ASHLAND — It might seem that the annual Clay Bowl is the only time Ashland and Lineville residents care to be within shouting distance of each other.

Maybe that’s because they’re on opposite sides of a football field. Shouting.

Lifelong residents here will tell you that the rivalry between Clay County and Lineville high schools has historically burned as fiercely as any in the nation.

But Superintendent Ben Griffin says he has encountered mostly open minds as he pursues what some think could be a once-a-generation opportunity to offer more classes, save money and merge the two schools.

This year, the Legislature approved a $1.07 billion bond issue for school construction statewide. Griffin said the Alabama Department of Education has advised superintendents that interest earned from the sale of those bonds could be available for grants specifically tied to school consolidation.

That’s an idea that fails to gain traction in many communities as simmering emotions about links to rural, local schools boil to the surface.

It’s even happened before in Clay County as residents — including Griffin — resisted closing two high schools in 2003.

Some in the county say while they might not have personal objections to combining the high schools, they doubt the community as a whole would ever go for it.

But Griffin said the circumstances are different — and more favorable — now.

See the full story here.

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