BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) – When Dr. Alan Lee came on board as the new superintendent for Baldwin County Public Schools in June 2010, there was a lot of work to do.
The former superintendent of a small school system in Virginia was now in a bigger county –with bigger problems. The school year had just ended with hundreds of layoffs, students were enrolling a pace faster than the system could handle, and there were concerns about whether the system could provide a quality education for everyone. Dr. Lee spent his first three days on the job traveling across the county.
“Right now what I’m trying to do is to meet has many people as I can and not only school employees, but people in the community. “
Two years after taking the job, in an effort to save the systems shrinking budget, Lee pushed for a one cent sales tax extension that was initially passed to make up for state funding shortfalls. The tax passed by a wide-margin for another five years.
“I’m just absolutely elated. I just can’t say enough about how good I feel about the voters in Baldwin County and the recognition of the schools and what were doing,” said Dr. Lee.
But the tax wasn’t enough to help the school system keep up with a growing Baldwin county. The system hasn’t seen a new school since 2007.
“Time frame is we needed schools about three years ago. We’re gaining about 800 students a year right now. That’s roughly an elementary size school,” said Dr. Lee.
Lee sought advice from the community with a series of meetings to help the school system decide which direction to take.
“There’s got to be some source for the future if people want to build schools for their children and that’s why we’re going out into the community; to let people know what the facts are and let them make up their mind and if the voters decide they want better schools and they want more facilities for their children, then that’s a decision that they’re going to have to make at some point,” Dr. Lee explained.
Lee’s biggest initiative was the Digital Renaissance, which put hundreds of new MacBook computers in the hands of students to take home or use in class. Dr. Lee said the move was necessary, because 21st century employers expect computer savvy students.
But just recently the city of Orange Beach approved a feasibility to weigh the pros and the cons of an independent system. It could possibly pave the way for the first city-run system in the county…an indication at least to some…that the job Lee set out to do wasn’t good enough.
Dr. Lee replaced Faron Hollinger. Per his contract Lee gave a 90-day notice. He says his last day will be November 1, 2014.