Foley residents discuss school growth issue

FOLEY, Ala. (WALA) – When you have the largest feeder pattern in the county, it’s no shock you also have the largest house for a community meeting.

Dozens of parents and community members filled the gymnasium to hear some of the problems facing the Baldwin County Public School System.

“They’re talking about the fact of 16 percent growth within the next just few years. You got to have a place to put the children. And so it felt like the parents and the community that were here, I think they got a good idea of what we need to do,” Dr. Bill Lawrence, principal at Foley Elementary School, said.

Speakers tonight said economic factors like expansions at UTC Aerospace and Vulcan Inc. as well as new ventures like Blue Collar are a big driver of that growth.

Perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser was the idea of building a new elementary school in Foley and high school in Elberta. Superintendent Dr. Alan Lee said that’s a strong possibility.

“If you’re driving or riding a bus from say Soldier Creek all the way into Foley High School, it’s well over an hour. And for some of those kids to be on the bus in the morning and the evening. So that’s what makes sense to me. Now what we’ll end up doing, I don’t know for sure,” Lee said.

For some, those are just words and a solid plan is needed before they can feel more at ease.

“I can only take them for what they say and they say that Elberta is on their mind. So if they say it, I’ll take it for what it is, but I want them, when they go to bed at night, be thinking about Eberta High School. And when they wake up, I want it on their mind,” Elberta Councilman Michael Hudson said.

But action isn’t cheap. And with state funding for education down almost a billion dollars from 2008, it will come to the Baldwin County taxpayers to foot the bill if they want to see the change they so adamantly cheered for.

Dr. Lee said he hopes to have a plan in front of the school board at their June board meeting.

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