As Board talks merger, Ensley residents want new schools

By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -  More Ensley neighbors voiced their opposition tonight to a proposed merger of 2 Ensley schools.

Community activists voiced their concerns about the possible merger of Councill Elementary and Bush Middle schools, but the school board president is firing back.

Councill and Bush are currently on the school boards list of buildings to be renovated, not closed. But some school board members have proposed spending the $12 million slated for those projects on building a brand new K-8 school on the old Ensley High School site and merge the 2 schools permanently.

The idea is supported by the principals at Bush and Councill, but several parents oppose the plan.

"I don't like it because I'm looking at the other schools that hadn't faired well, and repeating the same mistake," said a Councill parent who identified herself as Mrs. Burroughs during a community meeting last Tuesday. "And I think this is pretty good school."

Monday, neighbors who fear closing the schools would negatively affect community voiced their concern.

"It appears about 70% don't want the merger," said Ensley Neighborhood Association George McCall. "They want separate schools. They want new schools. "

"Councill is old. And Bush is old. And putting money into an old school is a waste of money," said W.J. Maye, the Birmingham Board of Education President. "But if that's what they wanna do, we'll consider that."

At a separate forum Monday night, Maye said there's not enough money for 2 completely new schools, and came out firing against opponents of what is for the moment, just an idea. "It's something I expected. People like to cling to things. And you cling to things that are not beneficial. What's beneficial is to have a new school with things where children can have more amenities like art and music and all of those kinds of things. But with a smaller school, you can't put teachers in there to have all of those amenities."
The school board hopes to make a decision on what to do with Councill and Bush schools within the next 3 months.

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