School Funding

Baldwin County schools cut ribbons on last pay-as-you-go funded schools

BALDWIN COUNTY, Alabama (WALA) – New milestones were reached for schools in Baldwin County on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 as ribbon cuttings took place at two schools. Daphne’s ninth grade academy and Stonebridge Primary School have been open since the start of the school year, but were officially recognized at an official ceremony.

It all started at Daphne Ninth Grade Academy when Superintendent Eddie Tyler cut the ribbon, officially recognizing the county’s second such school. These academies have been a priority for Tyler since he took over as head of ads in 2015.

“I have instructed our principals for…next fall, to work in their establishment so that they can best separate the ninth graders during the day, because I cannot at the moment build all the world on its own,” Tyler said. “It will probably happen eventually.”

Currently, there are 475 freshmen enrolled in the school. The installation of 22 classrooms relieves pressure from the student population on the main campus and provides ninth-graders an extra year to mature and prepare to focus on high school.

Daphne High School principal John Comer said there have been challenges, but that is to be expected with the change and growth his school has seen.

“I think we have about four hundred and seventy more students than in 2018-19 and all of those students have needs. All of these families have needs. We had to hire more staff to accommodate this growth,” Comer said.

This growth is county-wide. Stonebridge Elementary was built to meet this need. The brand new school is in Loxley, but is part of the Spanish fort supply model. The 132,000 square foot campus has 56 classrooms and a storm shelter built into the classroom wing.

Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Eddie Tyler is joined by other administrators, elected officials and Stonebridge Elementary students for the ribbon cutting(Hal Scheurich)

Both schools have been open since the start of the school year and are part of Phase 4 of the school board’s pay-as-you-go program, funded by a county-wide sales tax. Tyler said the school system is on the verge of falling off a cliff and closing or seeing schools consolidate before voters agree to launch the tax.

“The county commission came forward and upheld this penny tax that was about to expire, and they continued with it…voted unanimously to uphold it,” Tyler explained. “It was worth, at one time Hal, when I was assistant superintendent, it was worth about $24-25 million. Now that penny is over $70 million a year.

Plans are already underway for further expansion. The Baldwin County School Board and trustees met after the ribbon cuttings to discuss Phase 5 of the pay-as-you-go plan for building the next batch of schools. This investment could be over $100 million, bringing the school board’s total investment across the five phases to over half a billion dollars.

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