With a decision in hand from the state superintendent’s office on a start date for the nascent Gulf Shores city school system, Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler is ready to move forward.

Last week Ed Richardson’s office decreed the breakaway system would take over schools in the resort town in August 2019.

“We believe that his decision will allow the best transition for the students, teachers and families in Gulf Shores with the least disruption for those families who will remain in our system,” Tyler said. “We have always been focused on what was in the best interest of the students, teachers and families.”

At the same time, the state also announced Richardson would be relieved of his interim duties for the Alabama Department of Education, with Eric Mackey named as permanent superintendent of state schools.

Gulf Shores School Board President Kevin Corcoran said he and his team are ready to move forward.

“With this major hurdle being decided, it is our hope that Superintendent Eddie Tyler and the BCBE will share our vision that we can forge forward and execute a mutually acceptable separation agreement this summer so that all parties can proceed with confidence and plan appropriately,” Corcoran said. “This will allow the smooth transition that all parties want.”

Corcoran also insists the new system was ready to take on the responsibility of opening schools this fall if the state had ruled in Gulf Shores’ favor.

“Seventy days after requesting that Dr. Richardson intervene regarding the start date for Gulf Shores City Schools, we have received his ruling,” Corcoran said. “We were and are fully prepared to become operational in 2018. It is our hope to finalize contract negotiations with Dr. Matt Akin next week. Regardless of the timeline, there is much work to be done.”

On April 16 Gulf Shores extended a formal offer to Akin to become the permanent superintendent for the system. Consultant Suzanne Freeman has been serving as interim superintendent since Feb. 5. The city’s school board attorneys at Campbell, Duke and Campbell are currently negotiating terms with Akin. If an agreement is reached, Akin will leave his job as superintendent of Huntsville City, where he was hired in March 2017.

“Hiring a permanent superintendent will allow Dr. Akin and our board members with a unique opportunity of engaging our community and building a collaborative vision for Gulf Shores City Schools,” Corcoran said.

Tyler and his team wanted to wait until 2019 when a new school in Orange Beach would be completed and be able to serve students formerly attending schools in Gulf Shores but living outside the city limits.

“We have always felt that this start was in the best interest of the students and teachers,” Tyler said. “After hearing our position, Dr. Richardson agreed and we are pleased with his decision.”