SPANISH FORT – Spanish Fort High School’s new wing and gymnasium have added about 60,000 square feet of space to the facility, reducing overcrowding as enrollment grows, educators said Thursday.
While the new wing opened with the start of the school year in August, the expansion was dedicated Thursday, Jan. 7. Eddie Tyler, superintendent of education, said the new wing increases classroom space by 33,000 square feet. The new gymnasium adds 27,300 square feet of athletic and assembly space.
Spanish Fort High School had about 116,000 square feet of space before the additions, he said.
Construction is also planned for Stonebridge Elementary School in Loxley. That school will have 56 classrooms in 132,000 square feet of space.
“This is a big moment here,” Tyler said. “Spanish Fort High School is definitely one of our many flagship high schools in our county and we’re very proud of what they do, and what the faculty does. They always try to take it to the next level.”
Spanish Fort Principal Brian Williamson said the increasing enrollment at the school has required some teachers to move between classrooms as space ran out.
“This has been a long time coming and much needed. I’ve been at this school for several years and I’ve seen how crowded the hallways have been. I’ve seen our teachers have to float from classroom to classroom and now it’s just amazing to see that all our teachers have a home. They have somewhere to be. They have a classroom to call their own,” Williamson said. “We are certainly utilizing this facility to the fullest. Our kids love it. Our teachers love it.”
Tyler said construction of the facility and other school system expansions, has continued even when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the school system to shift to distance learning over the internet during the spring.
“This is one of our processes that we have been doing for the last several years and that is construction,” Tyler said. “We are just so blessed in Baldwin County to be able to do this. You’ve got systems that haven’t even gone back to face-to-face in schools since last March, but yet, we haven’t stopped educating children, face-to-face and virtually, creating the two largest virtual schools in the state of Alabama, and building buildings, resources for our students, our teachers. I don’t know if that’s done anywhere else.”
Tyler said the support of educators, students, parents and officials has helped Baldwin County education continue during the pandemic.
“We made it through the support of our legislators, local and state,” Tyler said. “We made it through the support of our cities, our mayors and city councils and our teachers, our 4,000 employees. They have lifted the system up as a model for others. We never shut our doors since Aug. 12. That says a lot about our 4,000 employees, our school board. We wouldn’t be doing these things if our seven-member board did not support the efforts of our educators and our employees, our staff and what we needed to do, as well as our students and parents.”