Sunday, January 8, 2017

Updated: Education Committee Shelves Consultant's Study

Fairhope, Alabama

UPDATE: Chairman Summersell wanted to make clarifications about the meeting's discussion.

"i have been in touch with the mayor to discuss the possibility of a 3 mil but not Burrell. Also it would be 1.86 million for Fairhope feeder pattern. Lastly - the study wont be shelved in its entirety. The fact is even though some principals did not care for the individual assessments of their schools the meat of the study's recommendations regarding collaboration and professional development enhancements is well supported by the majority of our principals and was further affirmed on Wednesday by Joyce Woodburn the BCBE academic dean when councilman Brown and I met with her."

Interim Chairman Summersell second from left


After the city council failed to provide any additional funding this year to begin enacting its findings to bring feeder pattern schools into the state's top ten by the year 2020 (about another $320K was needed), Educational Advisory Committee members began discussing how to disburse this year's usual funding of $345K among the five schools, who were represented at the meeting by their principals.

The last city council commissioned the study by the 'Akrobos Consulting Group' at a cost of $49K; several of the principals criticized the validity of the study's finding's, however.

Parts of the study could still be used at some point though, according to EAC liaison councilman Robert Brown.

This year, the principals are requesting more leeway about how their appropriation may be spent, without the restrictions placed by previous city councils (a contentious issue in the past): one said the greatest need now is a full time school police resource officer -- and proposed using $70K or more to hire a current Fairhope policeman for the job.

Another principal said the additional flexibility is needed instead of having to purchase something that may "just sit in the corner, unused" and a third cited her experience in Gulf Shores where that city supplemented the schools more freely, less strings attached.

One long-time committee member warned however that strict "accountability" about how the money was to be spent had always been a high priority for past city councils.

The five principals were to meet again to work out their requests and then bring them to the next EAC meeting for approval (possibly a specially called one) so it could come before the city council as soon as possible for final approval, hopefully by the council's last January meeting.


Bob Riggs
Interim Chairman Summersell said he had been in touch with the mayor and council president Burrell who indicated intentions to move forward at some point with a voter referendum to establish a new 3 mil special property tax district for the Fairhope feeder pattern along the lines of what the city of Gulf Shores currently is doing: that would raise about $1.3 million/yr that would replace the current $345K yearly appropriation coming from "community development funds" (utility bill profits).

The new school property tax would spread costs more equitably over the whole feeder pattern (not just upon the backs of Fairhope citizens) and could be used for new school construction, maintenance or academic programs: top five in the state has been mentioned as a new long term goal.

The proposed consolidation of grade levels would require more space at the current intermediate school especially.

Members praised the county commission for their recent surprise decision to make the controversial 'penny school sales tax' permanent; but Bob Riggs noted that can only be used for operational expenses, not for school construction or maintenance.


Due to resignations, the committee currently has three vacancies: anyone interested should apply to the city clerk's office (forms available online - click).


Anonymous said...

What areas would be included within the special tax district? Would this include Point Clear and the parts of Daphne that attend Fairhope schools or is it yet to be determined? I doubt that these areas would vote to be taxed.

Publisher said...

The boundaries of the special district basically follow the place six school board district; they have already been approved by the school board.

Anonymous said...

The way to have a top 10 school starts with the teachers and staff. Start back their pay schedule as agreed and good teachers would stay. People don't even know that staff are not protected by workers comp. A staff member can get injured and can't draw worker comp, they are just left to pay medical bills and no pay after 90 days. They have to ask the state for reimbursement but it can take years to get anything back or may not get anything, there decision. Start taking care of the staff and the schools will be in the top 10.