It’s easy to see the transformation taking place on the campuses of Gulf Shores’ elementary, middle and high schools. But just as much is happening that folks can’t see, Superintendent Dr. Matt Akin said.
“It’s really exciting,” Akin said. “I ride by every morning and every afternoon, sometimes during the day. There’s so much work going on behind the scenes, but that’s something that people can see including myself. It’s kind of a reminder of all the activities and all of the work that’s going on even that you can’t see.”
One of those is the hiring of a principal for the elementary school, the last of three top administration jobs to fill.
“We hired Dr. Rachel McDaniel, who has worked before in Baldwin County years ago,” Akin said. “She was an assistant principal at Gulf Shores Middle and served temporarily at the elementary school, so she’s familiar with Gulf Shores.” She was most recently the principal at Mae Jemison High School in Huntsville.
At the elementary school, the portable village is gone and construction debris and roped-off areas abound. When the city’s take-over date arrived, there were people at work on the school grounds before dawn.
“The city was moving portables at 4 a.m. on June 1 and one of the main reasons is because there’s a lot less traffic on Saturday at 4 in the morning,” Akin said. “That was to prevent traffic issues.”
Before that could happen, scores of volunteers showed up to empty the portables of books, desks, chalkboards and all manners of other school items.
“Through Dolphin Dads, we had about 50 volunteers including Coach Matt Blake, who had about 15 athletes out there,” Akin said. “We didn’t have anywhere yet to put the stuff because we’re still moving classrooms around in the elementary school. In the meantime, we had to temporarily store the things. As we move into classrooms, we’re going to have another volunteer day to move all of that equipment, desks, etc. to their actual classrooms in the building.”
Construction also started on the system’s first day to work on ways to separate the elementary and middle school traffic lines with big loops in front of each for drop-offs. The two lines will use separate streets to enter and exit the campuses.
“What they are working on now is tearing things down and digging up parking lots,” Akin said. “The first thing they are going to work on is getting the traffic flow done and also pouring sidewalks so we can get the new canopies up.”
Akin said the contractor is making the work a priority and is going to make every effort to be done with the traffic-flow fix and new canopies before students report in August.
“It’s just a really, really quick turnaround and they plan on working weekends and even nights if necessary,” Akin said. “There was a combination of city workers there and contractors, so the city is certainly a big part of what’s going on.”
Portable classrooms remain at the high school, Akin said, but those were leased to the county and the owners are expected to pick them up soon.
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