Delay or no delay, things are moving forward for Gulf Shores City Schools, board President Kevin Corcoran said.
“We are proceeding forward for a 2018 start,” Corcoran said.
Gulf Shores and Baldwin County are at odds over when the coastal city will begin classes in its separation from the county. Corcoran and his board want to start this fall but Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler and his team believe a 2019 start is more feasible.
The sticking point caused Tyler to announce in February he was calling off negotiations with Gulf Shores over the start date and the parties kicked the problem upstairs to State Superintendent Ed Richardson.
“Gulf Shores’ demands to start in 2018 are ridiculous knowing that their reason for leaving was spurred by our decision to build new facilities in Orange Beach,” Tyler said at the time. “They knew that these facilities would be complete and ready for students in August 2019. To know this from the beginning and still demand a 2018 start date is disrespectful at best.”
Richardson’s office announced last week his appointed mediator would delay making a decision on a start date for Gulf Shores schools another 10-14 days. Corcoran said this will have no bearing on his board’s preparation.
“Everything’s proceeding accordingly,” Corcoran said. “We’re on a schedule and it’s a practical one. We’ve seen it before and our experts have seen it time and time again, where it can be done in this timeframe.”
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Robert Craft said the town’s determination to open its own school system has not been deterred and work will continue.
“We continue to get pushback from the Baldwin County board,” Craft said. “They obviously don’t want this to happen and we’re determined it’s going to happen. It’s kind of a logjam with us trying to figure it out.”
Among the things moving forward, Corcoran said, is hiring a permanent superintendent for the city. The application period ended March 30, with 26 hopefuls applying for the job.
“We’re not going to let the delay from Dr. Richardson hamper our superintendent search at all,” Corcoran said. “The delay is not going to affect us because we expect to have a superintendent named by mid-to-late April at the latest. There’s quite a bit of vetting that needs to take place here. Our attorneys are reviewing them and making sure they meet qualifications. Just because they applied doesn’t mean they met our qualifications.”
When the group is whittled down, public interviews of a handful of survivors will be conducted.
“Quite frankly, they want to know if they are a finalist before they agree to an interview because they don’t want their board back home to be upset with them if they are not going to be in contention,” Corcoran said. “We’ll pare it down pretty quickly.”
Other projects are moving forward as well, Corcoran said, including assessments of what will be needed to start classes and the condition of the buildings Gulf Shores will take over. The board has a work session April 5 at 1 p.m. at the Gulf Shores City Hall Annex Building.