With the announcement of Superintendent Doug Campbell’s retirement, a change in leadership for the system is on the horizon. With more than 40 years of experience in education, the city will lose a great deal of experience when he makes his exit. He’s faithfully served the people of Talladega since he arrived in 1985 as the principal of Dixon Middle School, the first of several administrative jobs he has held here.
Enrollment in the school system, and the population of the city, has been in decline over the past two decades. School enrollment dropped 39 percent since 1996, from 3,620 students to 2,193 this year according to Alabama State Department of Education records, far more than neighboring systems. Sylacauga’s enrollment dropped 8 percent during the same period, Talladega County Schools remain virtually unchanged, Pell City has increased 12 percent, and Oxford has grown by 50 percent.
No single factor can be blamed for Talladega’s decline, but at least one local official has pointed to the “perception of the lack of quality education” as part of the problem. The fact that Zora Ellis Middle School has appeared two years on the state’s controversial list of failing schools hasn’t helped that perception.
Meetings for the public to share their thoughts on selecting a new superintendent are scheduled for Thursday at the Talladega public library, one at 11 a.m. and another at 6:45. There’s also an online survey available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TalladegaCity.
We’re happy to see school board members seeking input from the community, and hope they get thoughtful responses that will help them chart the course for the future of the city’s schools. It will also affect the future of the city itself.