Committee discusses future options for Kilby Lab School

First grade teacher Mandy Wicks works with students in her classroom at Kilby Laboratory School.

The academic affairs and student life subcommittee of the UNA board of trustees met April 19 to discuss the future of Kilby Laboratory School on campus.

UNA President Bill Cale pointed out what he said are three feasible options for the committee members to review. The first option includes Kilby merging with Florence City Schools, the second includes seeking financial remedy from the state and the third to determine if Kilby is central to the mission of the university, Cale said.

“The budget situation for the institution continues to be difficult,” Cale said. “We’ve managed the budget situation well, but it doesn’t seem to be improving.”

The university has lost approximately $10 million since 2008, Cale said. He also said the university’s subsidy to the lab school has ranged from $200,000 to $350,000.

Cale said the decision is not about the budget because UNA could find a way to fund the school. It was about whether the school is central to the university’s mission.

“For me, the most important question that we need to look at (is)… what is the relationship between a school like Kilby and the university,” Cale said. “This notion of central to the mission has nothing to do with money.”

Cale said the fact that UNA is subsidizing Kilby is not a basis for the discussion; it is whether Kilby benefits the university.

Kilby receives the bulk of its funding from Lauderdale County Schools, Cale said. Proration in the state has been hard on the lab school, he said.

“Even if we returned to normal funding, Kilby’s budget situation may not get better,” Cale said.

Dr. Janet Womack, superintendent of Florence City Schools, attended the meeting and answered questions the board members had regarding a possible transition of Kilby into the Florence City School system.

Womack’s proposal included the immediate removal of the fifth and sixth grades because Florence City Schools maintains elementary grade levels from kindergarten to the fourth grade.

Look for a more in-depth story next week in The Flor-Ala.