michael kors crossbody bag outlet Bill Harbour, geographic information systems coordinator for the Baldwin County schools, describes his five-year enrollment projections in the Fairhope schools during a school system presentation on Tuesday at Fairhope High School. (Sally Pearsall Ericson | firstname.lastname@example.org) |
FAIRHOPE, Alabama Fairhope schools are in good shape overall, and there are no expectations of dramatic increases in enrollment, according to Baldwin County school officials.
Residents learned about enrollment projections and plans for facility repairs at a community meeting Tuesday night at Fairhope High School one of a series of such meetings that school officials have planned throughout the school system.
What they did not hear, however, was what the school system plans to do with the three unused properties in District 3, including the K-1 Center on South Church Street, which the system shuttered in 2011.
I would rather see any building we ve abandoned to have some use, said schools Superintendent Alan Lee when an audience member asked about the future of the center. The school board hasn t decided what to do with the building, and there have been no formal proposals made to the board about it, he said.
As for the other properties, including the old intermediate school, the board has checked on the costs of demolishing them entirely, Lee said, because they are not in good enough shape to justify the cost of renovating them.
Bill Harbour, the school system s geographic information systems coordinator, gave the audience a list of five-year enrollment projections in the Fairhope schools. Fairhope High School will gain about 211 students; Fairhope Middle, 57; J. Larry Newton Elementary, 48; and Fairhope Intermediate, about 75, he said.
Based on past patterns, he predicted a gain of two students in five years at Fairhope Elementary, acknowledging that some residents may wonder if that s a valid picture. There could be 75 new students next year, but this is the best information we have, he said.
In an interview Wednesday, Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant questioned that prediction, among others. The notion that we ll only have two more (elementary-age) children over the next five years -- it s hard for me to believe that, he said.
I just think we need to sit down and figure out how they re coming up with these numbers and how we re going to handle the growth of all these students and the growth in this county as a whole, he said.
During the question-and-answer session after the presentation, Lee reiterated the school system s need for funding. The so-called penny tax, a countywide 1-cent sales tax for schools, will be up for renewal in four years, so the school system cannot use it as collateral to take out bonds for school construction, he said.
Cutting corners wouldn t be enough, either, Lee said. Being economical and frugal isn t the answer to building buildings.
The school system s Chief Financial Officer, John Wilson, told the audience that if Baldwin County taxpayers were to agree to a millage increase, the school system could use that revenue stream for bonding capacity.
He also told the audience that since 2008, the state s education funding has been reduced by billion. I don t think people realize just how drastically the education funding at the state level has impacted us, he said.
If the school system is ever going to get back to the pre-recession level of funding, Wilson said, it must use local dollars. If we don t fund it locally, the funding s just not there, he said. These are the challenges that we face.
The presentation also included costs of improvements on the school buildings. Among them: A new roof at Fairhope High School, which would cost about .1 million; and repairing drainage problems at Fairhope Middle for about 6,000, according to Frank Boatwright, the school system's facilities and maintenance coordinator.
Many of the facilities repairs on the school system s list were relatively low-cost issues such as replacing carpet or repaving parking lots, and most of the district s buildings were given a top grade by the school officials, meaning that they met the system s minimum standards.
Kant said the list of the improvements were largely maintenance issues, which should be going on on a regular basis, and wondered why the presentation did not include any plans for expansions at the schools. He pointed out that seven portable units had just been brought in at Fairhope High School.
The Fairhope City Council gives nearly million each year to the schools in its district, Kant said. We are very supportive of the schools, and I think that s the reason why there s been such an outcry for the city to look at other options, he said. If they re not going to pay attention to the needs of our community, they need a different approach One size fits all, I don t think, is a good approach.
At least they re taking time and going around and asking for input, Kant said.
Miranda Schrubbe, was also in the audience. On Wednesday, she said she felt as though the presentation lacked focus. They didn t give us the parameters, she said. It felt like, to me, the input was all over the place.
The primary issues she gathered from the audience s questions, she said, were that people don t want more portable units, and that class sizes are a big concern. The teacher-student ratio at some grade levels has been a big issue in Fairhope for awhile, Schrubbe said. Having so many students in a classroom, space-wise, appears to be an issue as well.
Schrubbe also questioned the enrollment projections, and predicted that more people will move to Fairhope in coming years. It s kind of frustrating that we can t make some kind of projections based on influx, she said.
In deeply personal responses, dozens of former inmates, family members of current inmates and volunteers with prison ministries have given detailed accounts of how their experiences with the facility continue to affect their lives.
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