ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — An update on school construction, including the future construction of a comprehensive Career Tech High School, was the main topic of construction at the Superintendent’s Breakfast, held Friday, Sept. 20 at the South Baldwin Center for Technology Culinary Arts building in Robertsdale.
Baldwin County School System Chief Financial Officer John Wilson and Facilities and Maintenance Director Frank Boatwright gave an update on Phase 3 of school construction, which will be fully paid by September 2021 under the school system’s Pay As You Go program, and upcoming plans for Phase 4.
“I cannot stress enough how important renewing the penny tax is to the future of our school system,” said Baldwin County School Superintendent Eddie Tyler. “Without the penny tax we would have lost $40 million per year, that would have resulted in the closing of schools. Instead we are moving forward with the Pay As You Go program, with construction plans and building new schools to help plan for the future growth of our system.”
One of the biggest projects planned for Phase 4 will be the construction of a new comprehensive Career Tech High School, which will cost an estimated $25 million.
Plans are for the school to follow a work-like environment. There will be no bells and students will be required to clock in and be accountable for showing up on time.
“We have been focused on students looking to further their education after high school,” Tyler said, “but I think it’s also important to focus on students who are looking to join the workforce and what we can do to help in their quest to get a good job and raise a family.”
Lee Lawson with the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, who was in attendance at the breakfast, applauded the move, saying that it will be an example for others to follow.
“You talk about visiting New York City to observe what they have,” he said. “If we build this and do it right, you will have people from New York City coming here to see what we have.”
Tyler said the school system is currently looking at locations for the facility, which should be in a central location to serve all the students of Baldwin County.
Two other projects are designed to alleviate overcrowding in the Spanish Fort area, including the construction of a new elementary school, which will be called Stonebridge, and will cost an estimated $20 million, along with the renovation and expansion of Spanish Fort Elementary, which will cost an estimated $16 million.
Plans also call for moving sixth grade students from Spanish Fort Middle School to Spanish Fort Elementary once that expansion is completed.
Other big projects include the construction of a 9th Grade Academy at Daphne High School with an estimated cost of $10 million and a $5 million expansion of Newton School in the Fairhope area.
The total cost of the Phase 4 projects has been estimated at $76 million, officials said, which could be paid off at $19 million per year over four years, or $15 million per year over five years.