Consolidation Issue Raises Controversy

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Altha residents held a special meeting to express their opinions on the consolidation issue. The crowd of 50-plus had one overwhelming opinion: keep their schools as two separate entities.

Months ago, Superintendent Mary Sue Neves suggested the Calhoun County school board consolidate the only two high schools in the area.

Mary Sue Neves says, "If we consolidate the high schools we could offer an advanced curriculum such as AP courses, we do offer dual enrollment courses now, we could offer a more diversified vocational program, maybe ROTC, so we're looking at providing the most educational opportunities to our students."

But Neves is being met with overwhelming opposition, at least from the residents who attended a special meeting Monday night.

David Culpepper, Altha Mayor, says, "When you take two schools, you have two ball teams, you have more whatevers, more kids who participate. When you combine them into one school, you have fewer teams, fewer positions, fewer kids can participate."

Some students aren't happy about the prospect of combining schools.

Brandie Varnum, an Alta High School sophomore, says, "Why mess up and change when we're doing just fine where we are?"

Altha and Blountstown High Schools have a combined total of about 600 students.

The superintendent points out the average high school curriculum has about 800 students, but residents in Calhoun County are proud of their high statewide scores, and feel that any changes may hinder their education process.

Calhoun County school board members must approve this consolidation plan. They'll go over a number of studies before it ever goes to a vote.