Committee meets to discuss future of Kilby Lab School

Teacher Mandy Hicks and students Camie Love and Logan Thornton at Kilby Nov 15.

by Josh Skaggs News Editor

Members of the Strategic Planning and Budget Study committee at UNA met and discussed the future of Kilby Laboratory School on campus Wednesday. The committee is charged with looking at the feasibility of Kilby, and what it provides for the university.

The Kilby ad hoc committee, which looked into the issue, presented its report summary to the Strategic Planning and Budget committee and cited several strengths, threats and opportunities regarding Kilby School.

In the past, UNA has looked at options to help ease the financial strains the laboratory school places on the university. The lab school costs the university approximately $400,000 a year due to cuts in state funding.

“No one in this group looked at Kilby as a liability to the university,” said UNA College of Education Dean Donna Jacobs.

The College of Education currently oversees the operations at Kilby School and regularly sends students to do observations and clinical experiences at the lab school.

UNA President Bill Cale explained to the members of the Strategic Planning and Budget Study Committee that they need to carefully consider whether or not Kilby School is central to UNA’s mission as an institution.

Cale told the committee that it’s not about whether Kilby puts out good students at the elementary level; it’s about whether Kilby benefits students at the collegiate level at UNA.

“The insufficient funding at this point will continue to grow,” Jacobs said. “We get less money for the same number of students.”

Currently, Kilby School has 147 students enrolled and their funding is predominantly based on a head-count system, Jacobs said. The lab school, which is affiliated with Lauderdale County Schools, receives $1.2 million annually from the state.

“It was the conclusion of the (Kilby ad hoc committee) to keep Kilby open as a K-6 school we would need internal and external funding,” Jacobs said. “We would envision a capital campaign as something that would be necessary to that reality.”

Jacobs and other members of the ad hoc committee said that the uncertainty of Kilby’s future is weighing heavily on the students, faculty and families that are involved with the school.

“It has a lot of aspects to it that I hope that this group will carefully consider,” she said. “The funding (needed) will not go down, it will most likely go up.”

Members of this committee will meet again in December, and the Kilby issue is on their agenda. Stay with The Flor-Ala for updates as they become available.