DCS continues pursuit of WAP

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; To a packed audience at the first PTA meeting of the year, Superintendent Wayne Vickers confirmed Monday the Demopolis City Schools is still interested in purchasing the former West Alabama Prep building and integrating into the system as an early education facility.

Pending a visit from a team of architects Thursday, Vickers said he will make a recommendation to the board of education at their next meeting on Oct. 23.

According to Vickers, Demopolis is facing a &8220;growth dilemma,&8221; which if left alone could become a problem, especially at Demopolis High School, which currently houses 721 students. Vickers said after consulting with the former superintendent, Dr. Wesley Hill, the facility was meant to house approximately 600-650 students.

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One option to expand is to add more classrooms, which Vickers said they are considering. However, adding new classrooms will not facilitate the added students &8212; which could reach 805 by next year &8212; in common areas such as hallways.

With the new facility, Vickers said the whole system would undergo a reorganization. The WAP facility would house an early education center for Pre-K and kindergarten; Westside Elementary would house first-third grades; U.S. Jones would house fourth-sixth grades; Demopolis Middle School would house seventh-ninth grades and Demopolis High School would revert back to its original purpose of housing 10th-12th grades.

Furthermore, the reorganization would bring the enrollment at the high school down to approximately 580 students, and the other schools to more equal enrollment levels.

Another reason the system is interested in purchasing the WAP facility, Vickers said, is the estimated cost of renovating the building would be comparable to adding on to the high school. The WAP building, however, would add an additional 18 classrooms while the high school addition would only add four classrooms.

Vickers said the idea of an early education center comes from the Auburn City Schools system, which has done well with their current system. According to Vickers, the Auburn City Schools Superintendent said they could not meet the growth concerns without the early education center.