Chambers County superintendent and residents discuss consolidated high school

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 8:34 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2023 at 8:35 AM EDT
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CHAMBERS COUNTY, Ala (WTVM) - Protestors took their frustrations to the Chambers County Board of Education meeting on Sept. 27.

The meeting came just one day after the superintendent held a press conference outlining plans to build a new high school to de-segregate the schools, as ordered by the court.

The controversy centers around location: where to build the new school for Lafayette and Valley high school students to consolidate.

Many people in the community said it boils down to the process of deciding on the new location of the high school, not necessarily the consolidation component.

Superintendent Casey Chambley held a press conference Tuesday explaining why the new school will be built in Valley, but residents said that the problem is more about transparency and due process than where the facility will be constructed.

The U.S. District Court’s opinion was released Friday to build the consolidated high school in Valley behind Ram Stadium.

Right now, there are two separate high schools, one in Lafayette and one in Valley.

Lafayette native and Auburn University assistant professor Travis Smith said Chambers County superintendent Chase Chambley is not being transparent with the process of deciding where the new school is slated to be built, explaining the centralized location is Lafayette.

“We’re asking for the school to be built in the county seat,” Smith said. “The Board of Education is here, the courthouse is here, jail is here, all centralized offices are located in Lafayette, and it’s the county seat,” Smith said.

Smith explained another option would be to build it on Highway 50, which is another location in between the two cities, but in a press conference held Tuesday, Chambley said that location would cost upwards of $30 million more.

“We don’t need to build a $70 million high school facility and not have the athletic facilities on the same sight or not very close to that site,” he said. “We had some people that wanted us to build in one place and still use Ram Stadium for football and still use Lafayette facility for basketball, and we would have had students, in my opinion and my boards opinion, that would have been dangerous and would not have made sense.”

Smith said a questionnaire was sent out to the entire district which showed the majority of people are not pleased with Chambley’s leadership.

He and Chambers County resident LaWendy Willis said some teachers in the schools are not state certified as well.

“We had a qualified teacher apply for the math position, and she was not hired,” Willis said. “He hired a friend, and that teacher was not an Alabama certified teacher.”

“We are not satisfied with the current leadership and the nepotism that’s been going on between Casey Chambley and David Owens who’s the Assistant Superintendent,” Smith said.

Chambley said they will break ground on the new $95 million high school next spring, and it will be complete in summer of 2026.

There are board of education meetings monthly, and you can find the schedule on the Chamber County School System’s website.