Dramatic change for the better is in the works for Alexander City Schools with superintendent Dr. Keith Lankford’s call for a new $40 million high school, the crown jewel of the system’s capital plan.
Lankford said he’d prefer the new Benjamin Russell to be located near the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex and be bristling with career technical, computer science, culinary arts, health sciences and engineering opportunities.
Lankford was asked to devise a capital plan by the Tallapoosa County Commission so it can determine if continuing a 1-cent sales tax increase for education is justified.
It is more than justified.
New schools are a proven driver of economic development. Parents want their kids going to modern, safe and excellent educational facilities and will move to a city that has them. Great schools also help in recruiting new businesses.
Saraland, near Mobile, is a good example. Saraland’s city government made a decision to break away from the Mobile County Public School System and built an impressive new high school visible from I-65. Since then, it has built a new elementary school, renovated the middle school and is already adding on to the high school.
Voters gladly raised their sales and property taxes and are seeing their investment pay off. Saraland has become a destination — the population has increased along with property values and dollars flowing into city coffers; and a hospital, Cracker Barrel and a Publix have been built in the vicinity of the high school.
Alexander City can enjoy similar success and residents should be willing to do whatever it takes for it to happen because we will all benefit.