It’ll be a new year and a new experience in Fairhope as its newly appointed School Commission goes to work for the first time in 2020.
The Fairhope City Council appointed nine members for the commission earlier this month, and they will be responsible for advising the county on how to spend the extra 3 mills of property tax citizens voted into effect on Sept. 17. It will raise about $2 million a year that can only be spent in the Fairhope High School feeder pattern.
“We need to get with the principals and find out what their long-range plans are for this extra funding,” Councilman Robert Brown said. “Ken [Cole], our chairman, asked them for a wish list, if you will, that if this did pass what would they do with it. A couple of them presented what their ideas were. Probably just more intervention teachers to start with.”
Brown, who will be the council’s representative on the commission, has stated in the past the panel would likely focus on efforts to increase basic math and reading skills. The commission will take the place of the Fairhope Education Advisory Committee (EAC) and retain members Brown, Cole, Hill Robinson, Carrie McLemore, Tanya Bosarge and Robin Coleman. On Dec. 9, Miranda Schrubbe, Daniel Mashburn-Myrick and Cornelius Woods were added to get the commission up to the required nine members.
Robinson, Bosarge and Cole will have one-year terms, Brown, McLemore and Coleman will have two-year terms and Schrubbe, Mashburn-Myrick and Woods were appointed to three-year terms. As terms expire, all of the subsequent appointees will serve a full three years.
“We’ll be getting the new members brought up to speed and some of them are aware of the process of the EAC and have been through recent years in trying to achieve this goal,” Brown said. “Just getting them familiar with the process of getting the information from principals and keeping the county involved.”
Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler said he is also looking forward to working with the commission on where to invest the new tax money.
“The appointments made by Fairhope provide an excellent foundation of experienced and well-meaning people to be our partners,” Tyler said. “I remain humbled at the voters in Baldwin County who support our public school system and the citizens who are willing to step up and work together with us to continue improving education.”
Another task the committee will assume is handling the city’s annual allotment to the schools, about $350,000 in the past, once handled by the EAC. That payment will now be made toward the city’s purchase of the K-1 Center in Fairhope from the county school board.
“It’s just the same oversight for the $300,000 payment for the K-1 Center for five years,” Brown said.
The Fairhope tax will be in place for 30 years. Spanish Fort also voted in a 3-mill school tax, but it was just for 10 years. Its commission has yet to be finalized.
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