Monday, July 13, 2015

FINAL UPDATE: Education Committee Awaits Council's Decision

Fairhope, Alabama.


July EAC meeting
FINAL UPDATE: see videos below

Still awaiting a final decision from the city council on its recommendation to commission a new independent study of the city's current options for supplementing funding for the five area county schools, EAC members began planning for next year's distribution of the $350K it expects to receive again.

They have also asked the council to endorse the goal the mayor set about 4 years ago of being in the top ten systems statewide based on high school graduation test results -- or come up with a new one.

The committee has conclude that $350K per year will not be enough to reach that target -- and exploring a special overlay tax district still within the county's system or an independent city school system are the only ways to attain it.

The city council discussed the proposal  before its last meeting and apparently had enough votes to pass it (3) but council President Burrell decided to delay it for another two weeks, hoping for a unanimous vote.

The main objection seems to be the inclusion of an independent system in the study package, which would cost about $0K and be cut out from the EAC's next budget.

A study just of the special tax district options appears acceptable to all.


Chairman Kerry Flowers said he had invited all local elected officials to the meeting, but only School Board Rep. Christenberry and Mayor Kant came.

Christenberry said the search for a new superintendent is going well and there are several good prospects; he emphasized the importance of finding an effective  leader to face the daunting challenges ahead.

School Board politics get frustrating at times he said in his usual half-serious/joking manner, like herding cats, but he was still optimistic "even down in the deep hole we are in now ... we will be ok."

He said he realized the Board had lost much credibilty in recent years -- but added they were working hard to re-gain it; everyone in the room seemed to agree current finacial officer John Wilson is a good man and can be trusted unconditionally.

Mayor Kant told the committee he could not see spending any more on a study about a city school system ("its not going anywhere") but left the door open a bit for the special tax district, even though he thinks voters will not approve the new 3 mil property tax it would require.

Concerning the failed new-property-tax vote last March, councilmember Brewer countered that she has heard residents have said that if that money would have been earmarked exclusively for Fairhope, they would have voted for it.


For the first time, he seemed to back off his top-ten goal idea: suggesting the committee should focus instead on "specialty things" for Fairhope only -- not found anywhere else in the county -- such as funding for language (French?) and arts teachers.

He also mentioned the importance of including new vocational-type training in the mix; and possibly helping with more classroom space.

Ultimately though, it is the city council's job to decide how the money will be spent, not his.

Kant: "We need to brainstorm all that."


The EAC's request was not put on today's council agenda as expected, but will most likely be discussed again at the work session before the meeting.


Anonymous said...

Considering the affluence of Fairhope, it's embarrassing we cannot produce a top 10 school in the state of Alabama. That doesn't seem too much to ask. Evidently we place a higher value in other things than our own citizens and the city's future.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I feel councilmember Brewer, either needs to remove herself from board, or not make comments at the council meeting, she was rude and disrespectful at the EAC meeting by rolling her eyes and interrupting when rep Christenberry and Mayor Kant made comments. Both made very good statements and had good ideas. While again EAC is again asking to waste more money for someone else to do the research that EAC board said they would be doing. Do some research and invite citizens to come to an open meeting to comment. The city owns many buildings and will not cost anything to get the word out.

Anonymous said...

Brewer and Co. are not going to stop wasting money on these "studies" until they get their way.

Anonymous said...

That's just how she is. She is a bit of an elitiest. Expecting anything different will only disappoint

Publisher said...

Try to limit the personal insults here please ... .