Both Fairhope and Spanish Fort are getting closer to finalizing members on their respective school district commissions, which will oversee the expenditure of a new 3-mill tax approved by voters of those districts on Sept. 17.
Fairhope already has most of its members set and will appoint the final three for the Fairhope Public Schools Commission at the Nov. 25 council meeting. Each of the commissions will have nine members.
“There’s six EAC [Education Advisory Committee] members that would like to serve on the commission,” Councilman Robert Brown said. “The city has received four applicants and they’ve all talked about how all four applicants are qualified. They don’t have any problem with any of them. They were just going to recommend the first three that submitted their applications to serve along with the six people that want to transition from the EAC to the school commission.”
Besides Brown, the other members of the EAC are Chairman Ken Cole, Hill Robinson, Carrie McLemore, Tanya Bosarge and Robin Coleman. Brown said the three final members would be named at the Nov. 25 meeting.
Spanish Fort is taking a bit of a different approach. It will also include a member of the City Council, most likely Mary Brabner, but it will also take recommendations from school principals from the four schools in the Spanish Fort High School feeder pattern.
“It’s the same makeup,” Spanish Fort Mayor Mike McMillan said. “Nine people, one from each school on the suggestion of the principal that can’t be a school board employee, one appointed by our county commissioner, one city council member and then three at large.”
Principals will each submit three names and the council will pick from those. Baldwin County Commissioner Joe Davis will appoint another and the at-large members will likely come from outlying areas. The district includes all of Spanish Fort, portions of Daphne and Loxley and portions of incorporated Baldwin County. McMillan said the members of the board will be in place before Jan. 1.
“Three appointed positions by the city will be to make sure that you’re covering all of the district and make sure it’s not just Spanish Fort and everybody has a voice,” McMillan said.
In Fairhope, the tax will generate an expected $1.9 million per year for the commission to oversee and recommend how it should be spent. The county school board will have the final approval. Brown said the commission is expected to concentrate on improving overall academic performance.
“Early intervention has proven that’s where the best money is spent with math and reading, the two lowest scores for the schools,” Brown said. “The principals are very excited about getting that in place.”
In the Spanish Fort feeder pattern, the new tax will generate about $800,000 annually for the commission to make recommendations for the district. McMillan the commission plans to focus on expanding and improving academics and arts programs.
“We don’t feel that the Baldwin County schools are broken,” McMillan said. “We can enhance and that’s what this program is an enhancement.”
In Fairhope, the tax was voted in for 30 years and Spanish Fort voters voted in a 10-year tax. Both taxes took effect Oct. 1.
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