Sumter County school concerns

SUMTER COUNTY, Ala. (WTOK) - The case involving a West Alabama school district and a university is set to go before a judge on Thursday, July 12th. The hearing is with the Sumter County Board of Education and the University of West Alabama. It's been moved to Clarke County, Alabama where it will be heard before a judge there at 9 AM in Grove Hill.

The Sumter County Board of Education is seeking a preliminary injunction on efforts to open a charter school in Livingston this fall. It's set to be housed in the former Livingston High School. There are currently 269 students enrolled in kindergarten through 8th grades at the new school, and 35 pre-k students enrolled there.

Meanwhile, some concerned citizens in Sumter County are banding together to seek change within the county's public school system.

"We need to wake up Sumter County!" says Elanor James, who is Vice President for the newly formed group, Concerned Citizens for the Improvement of the Sumter County School System.

"There's not a superintendent," says James. "At Sumter Central there is not a principal. There's not an assistant principal, and we're missing a counselor. I see the future of the system just dying out."

James and other members of the group say they're concerned that this could happen if some major changes are not made within the school system. According to James, this starts with the selection of a new superintendent.

"In the past the community has not been able to take part and that has caused poor decisions to be made," says James. "I think our community knows exactly some of the things that we need to improve our school system."

"A lot of the things that they have done have hurt our children," says Bridgett Ward. She has a sixth and seventh grader in Sumter County schools. Ward says one of her top concerns is who the new superintendent will be.

"I want somebody for change. We need change," says Ward.

If a person who promotes change is not chosen, members of the group fear that not only will the students suffer, but so will the district's enrollment.

"We already have students going to Demopolis, Meridian and now the charter school," says James.

The Concerned Citizens for the Improvement of the Sumter County School System will host an informational meeting on Sunday, July 22nd at 6 PM at the courthouse in Livingston. The public is invited to attend.