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Sunday, November 2, 2014

UPDATED: New Proposals For Fairhope-area Schools

Fairhope, Alabama

NEW FIVE YEAR PLAN COMING
Twin Beech Alternative School

With a new superintendent and a new Board of Education set to take office later this month, several new ideas have been proposed for Fairhope-area schools, according to informed sources (who think the community should be more involved in the discussions).

The sources say a potential new non-profit group led by a well-known retired Fairhope doctor, is interested in converting the vacant Alternative School building on Twin Beech Rd. into a school for troubled teens, to teach "life skills", using a Youth Advocate Program (YAP) and other grants; the city's police and municipal court are supporting the effort -- as well as two Twin Beech neighborhood church pastors.

Before desegregation in the mid-1960s, the school was originally an "Anna T. Jeanes" school exclusively for African Americans; the new school would be open to all students county-wide.

According to Wikipedia:

"The Jeanes Foundation (also known as the Negro Rural School Fund[1]) was founded by philanthropist Anna T. Jeanesof Philadelphia who was a Quaker. Ms. Jeanes inherited money from her father and brother's estates and was the sole owner because she was single. She wanted to assist in the African-American school system so she donated $1,000,000 and in 1907, created the Jeanes Foundation,[2] which trained and taught teachers in the south who had very little education and experience in the education field. Among its projects, the Jeanes Foundation provided funds to employ African-American supervisors of teachers who were dedicated to upgrading vocational training programs for teachers of black students.[3]"

If another use cannot be agreed to the building will be demolished, as previously planned.

UPDATE: BECAUSE OF THE POOR CONDITION OF THE TWIN BEECH RD. SCHOOL, THIS PROJECT COULD BE MOVED TO THE OLD INTERMEDIATE ON BISHOP RD., ACCORDING TO INFORMED SOURCES. 

THE TWIN BEECH BUILDING MAY BE USED FOR SOME OTHER COMMUNITY PURPOSE, IF FUNDS CAN BE RAISED FOR REPAIRS.

THESE ARE ALL JUST PROPOSALS,  NO DECISION HAS BEEN MADE.


NEW K-1 PROPOSALS

Old K-1 on Church St.
Also on the table is a new K-1 school for about 600 students behind the old building on Church St. -- that would relieve chronic overcrowding of the elementary school on N. Section St.

The old 1927-vintage building would be refurbished and converted to a performing arts center run by another new non-profit organization that may be formed: reportedly there are a number of citizens ready to donate to that effort.

About $10 million would be needed according to preliminary estimates.

Demolition of the portable buildings behind the old building should begin soon (Pelican's Nest not included).

Summit St. between St. James and Morphy Ave. could be closed to allow room for the addition.


OTHER IDEAS

Old Elementary demolished
Instead of downtown, there is also the possibility of constructing the new K-1 school next to Fairhope Intermediate School on Bishop Road: demolition of the old elementary building at the corner of Fairhope Ave. is scheduled to begin soon.

If restoring the old Church St. building should prove impossible (too costly) -- a new performing arts facility could be built on city property elsewhere.

All or parts of the old building could eventually be demolished as well.


COMMUNITY MEETING?

The interim superintendent and current School Board have facilitated meetings with teachers and administrators from all of the school feeder-patterns around the county to get input on their needs, but has not yet done so in Fairhope.

The Times has learned there may be a similar (locally-organized) meeting to discuss Fairhope school issues during the second week of November (11th?); but nothing firm has been decided yet.

That meeting should be open to the general public.

(The annual county-wide Education Summit is scheduled for Nov. 13th at the Daphne Civic Center, as well.)

UPDATE: THIS MEETING IS STILL PLANNED FOR THE 11th, BUT WILL BE FOR SCHOOL PERSONNEL ONLY.

ANOTHER MEETING FOR THAT IS BEING PLANNED FOR LATER.


TAX REFERENDUM NEXT SPRING?

A  voter-referendum to provide funding for new school construction around the county (and renew expiring taxes) could be held as soon as this Spring, according to the source.

(These are all proposals being considered behind the scenes according to some of the individuals involved, nothing official has been announced.)

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