Sumter Academy closes
After nearly five decades of educating students in West Alabama, Sumter Academy in York has announced that it's closing its doors.
After decreased enrollment the past few years, school officials said it came down to a case of dollars and sense.
"That's the sad part about it is there's always been a need for this school in Sumter County. And now, it's not here and quite honestly, it's almost like someone died," said headmaster Glenn Sanders.
Sanders has been at Sumter Academy for 18 years, serving as a coach, and more recently, headmaster of the small private school in York. But with the population in Sumter County on the decline and a shrinking student body, Sanders says shutting down was the only viable option.
"Last year I told you that we ended the school year with 172. We were prepared to budget for 110. That's a pretty big swing. But when you go from 110 to less than 50, there's no way you can make it happen and that's what our numbers were. When everything was said and done, it was the only decision to make," said Sanders.
Now, students at Sumter Academy will be attending school elsewhere this fall, and Sanders says most have already been making plans.
So for the first time since 1970, the halls and athletic fields at Sumter Academy will be empty. And while memories of the school will remain, it's an emotional time for those connected with a place they love.
"47 years this school has educated students and put a very quality product out these doors each and every year. It's been a place where parents drove through those babies in the morning and dropped their babies off and never worried about them. They were safe. They were loved. They were taken care of and they were educated."
Sumter Academy opened its doors in 1970 as a member of the Alabama Independent School Association.
Private stock in the school is considered non-redeemable.