Baldwin Co. school expansion meetings reach Fairhope

The Baldwin County School Board is meeting with Fairhope parents and staff Tuesday, April 8, to discuss the rapid student growth in Baldwin County schools.

The third of several community meetings addressing school expansion in Baldwin County was held to reach out to the Fairhope community. The first two meetings were held in Robertsdale and in Gulf Shores to hear from Pleasure Island residents.

Baldwin County School Superintendent Dr. Lee said he thought the Fairhope meeting went extremely well, however, there were a number of concerned parents who left the meeting with doubts in their minds.

The Fairhope High School gym was packed out Tuesday as parents, staff, and city leaders alike, gathered to hear about the looming problem of increasing student population, and not enough space.

Superintendent Dr. Alan Lee with Baldwin County Schools said the meeting’s purpose was to get a better perspective on what folks in the community want to see in the educational future.

“It doesn’t make sense to tell the community what we’re going to do until we have a chance for them to tell us what they want us to do. We have been talking about the needs for facilities, and recognize that every one of the feeder patterns in this county has facility needs,” said Lee,  “So, we’re going to pursue that, but we’re not going to do anything prior to getting input from people.”

But, many Fairhope parents said they aren’t impressed, and they’re looking for answers as soon as possible.

“Fairhope has always made our schools look good, even in the leanest of times; I’m very proud to be a parent of two here in these schools,” said Amy Thompson, a Fairhope Parent, “But, we all know the truth about what’s going on inside, and that is a lack of enrichment, a lack of curriculum, class sizes are bigger than what they should be, like you heard tonight, especially in the Intermediate School. We’ve got to take care of those needs and not just bump along and thinking this is what we’ve got to put up with. We want more and we need to know the facts about how we’re going to get there.”

Even the mayor of Fairhope said he left the meeting with some concerns.

“Yes we need to fix restrooms, and roofs and things like that, but at the end of the day, if we’re going to go and borrow money, we need to borrow it for things that are going to last 20 plus years, and I didn’t see any of that in the presentation tonight,” said Mayor Tim Kant.

But, the mayor says he’s still keeping the faith in the Baldwin County School System, for now.

“Last thing I want to do is be in the school business, I’d rather give to the schools, and work together with the school board, to create what we need in Fairhope.”

Keep in mind, at one point Fairhope did consider breaking off into forming its own independent school system.

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