Photo | Courtesy of Gulf Shores Schools
Gulf Shores is planning to burst out of the gates with a new look and a bevy of traffic improvements when the new city system takes over county schools this June.
“If we’re going to change the culture it’s going to start with our image and with the appearance and our pride in the buildings,” School Board President Kevin Corcoran said. “That’s why we’re jumping in right away.”
During a March 12 lovefest at the Erie Meyer Civic Center in Gulf Shores, more than 400 residents showed up to hear Corcoran and other city officials talk about the June 1 opening of Gulf Shores City Schools. Corcoran gave a timeline of what led to the decision to break away from the county and highlighted the evening with the “first wave” of planned improvements.
While the final separation agreement was placed in limbo when Baldwin County filed suit against State Superintendent Eric Mackey over funding, all parties agree Gulf Shores City Schools will open doors on June 1.
“First and foremost, we are moving the five portables out front,” Corcoran said. “There are five portable classrooms when you pull right into the elementary school. At the high school, we’re changing the traffic patterns there, we’re eliminating the three portables out front.”
A major part of the first wave Gulf Shores is planning will be a total revamp of the traffic patterns leading in and out of the campuses.
“The car line is pretty much a joke right now, it’s kind of crazy and it backs up,” Corcoran said. “We’re putting in a big traffic circle that’s actually a huge loop south of the elementary school where parents will come in and drop their kids off. There’ll be canopies where they can get under cover.”
Elementary traffic will come in and go out at East 16th Avenue and enter the big loop from the west for drop-offs. The same pattern will be set up for the middle school, but traffic there will enter and exit from East 15th Avenue.
“We’re segregating the middle school and elementary school traffic so they won’t compete with each other for space,” Corcoran said. “We had traffic engineers, architects do a very intense study, and this is what they came up with. If there is stacking and waiting in line, it’s all going to occur on campus and get that load off of East 2nd Street.”
All bus traffic will enter and exit on Dolphin Avenue with a loop to the west for those dropping off elementary and middle school students north of the school. Busses dropping off high school students will loop through that campus also using a different route.
There will be about 95 parking spaces added at the high school and a new teacher parking lot will be built where the elementary school playground is now. The playground will be moved to the interior of the campus to offer better security, Corcoran said.
“We’re going to be putting up walls and fencing to the west and north side of the elementary school to prevent access,” he said. “Right now, you can walk right in between the buildings. We’re going to severely limit access to the campus. We’re adding a number of new security cameras, and they are going to be tied into the police department command center.”
Corcoran said the majority of work will be completed before the first day of school in August but he expects some work to still be going on after kids report for classes.
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