When it comes to Anniston Middle School, the what-if game is like playing tic-tac-toe. It’s easy — if done correctly — and the result always is the same. No one wins.
Nevertheless, let’s play.
• What if the City Council had approved a 1-cent sales tax increase in 1982 and adopted the Board of Education’s plan for two middle schools (neither of which would have been on Alabama 21 adjacent to Fort McClellan)?
• What if local decision-makers and residents had embraced a Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce recommendation for the consolidation of the Anniston and county public school systems?
• What if the Calhoun County Board of Education, on the same day Anniston’s City Council vetoed the 1-cent sales-tax increase in 1982, hadn’t unanimously passed a resolution stating its strong opposition to a merger?
• What if former Board of Education Superintendent J.V. Sailors had not selected the site on Alabama 21 for the middle school in the mid-1980s?
• What if the Board of Education and the City Council, in 1997, had run with the advice of a state Board of Education consultant and closed Anniston High School, made the middle school the high school and reconfigured the entire system and central office location?
• What if construction estimates for new classrooms had not come in more than $400,000 over budget in 2000? Would the Board of Education had stuck with its plan to close the middle school?
• What if the previous school board had approved the recommendations of Superintendent Joan Frazier, which included closing the middle school?
As you can see, a lengthy procession of movers and shakers in Anniston has had opportunities to address the city’s ailment of having too many facilities for too few students and a middle school in an undesirable location.
This dearth of decision-making is endemic of a city that has struggled producing the intestinal fortitude needed to adopt difficult-yet-imperative positions. When it comes to Anniston’s schools, that must change — now.