The Alexander City Board of Education is one step closer to having a new Benjamin Russell building. The board approved a contingency contract to obtain property for a new high school at its meeting Tuesday.

Despite this, nothing has been finalized yet for the new high school’s location, according to superintendent Dr. Keith Lankford. The contract is conditional and can be changed at any time but the school system has a location rather than a simple idea.

The school board also unanimously approved its 2020-21 school calendar, which starts Aug. 6 and ends May 26, 2021 with graduation set up for the next day.

Fall break is Oct. 12 through 16; winter break runs from Dec. 21 through Jan. 6, 2021; and spring break is March 15 through 19, 2021.

“One of the things we really have to manage is the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving because those are instructional days,” Lankford said. “Therefore (the schools) have to look at that as instructional days. Those were two of our worst attendance days.”

Lankford said the school system will be off Presidents Day on Feb. 15, 2021 and April 23, 2021 for weather days, which prevents holding graduation on a Monday. 

The calendar gives critical data days for teachers after grading periods Oct. 9, Jan. 5, 2021 and March 12, 2021. The days will be for teachers to look at their data and plan to move forward with teaching while students are out of school those days.

Radney teachers held presentations at the start of the meeting. Sixth-grade reading and language arts teacher Anna Foreman and technology integration specialist Brigitte McCawley presented a student-made video about student engagement in school overall. 

Students Dakota Houlton, JyQue Norris and Autumn Ware won first place for their rap video about getting engaged in schoolwork. 

Assistant principal Dr. Brittney Duncan also gave board members treats made by the school’s After the Bell Program. The school’s student ambassadors welcomed visitors before the meeting and served them white hot chocolate.

Boardmember Dorothea Walker was not present at the meeting.

In other action, the school board:

• Honored Benjamin Russell health science teacher Jessica Dean receiving her and biology teacher Emily Sassano renewing her National Board Certification. 

“Less than (3%) of teachers in America hold that certification and I think that is a huge honor,” Lankford said.

• Honored Benjamin Russell students Camryn Benefield, Bri Aust, Charlee Peppers and Keely Powell for receiving patient care technician certification. The students passed a credential exam through the National Healthcare System and can assist at bedsides, provide bed baths, feed patients and provide catheter care. 

Unlike certified nursing assistants, the patient care technician perform more tasks.

“It’s a very prestigious accomplishment for these students and this is the inaugural group to pass,” Dean said.

• Listened to all of the schools continual improvement plans

• Approved its financial report

• Approved a three-year contract with its auditing firm Pottery Bryant & Moore P.C.

• Approved personnel

• Approved an overnight field trip request for Benjamin Russell’s Navy JROTC 

• Went into executive session to discuss real estate and good name and character