Open Letter to the Communities of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach
To Concerned Citizens for Education
As the Baldwin County School Board Representative for this area, I think it is an important time to address some of the issues facing our Schools. As a parent of three children who are currently students in our system, I understand your concerns, your needs, and your fears.
First, the facts. As we all
know, the Baldwin County School System has experienced a dramatic decrease in
revenues over the past two years. These shortfalls are the result of a decrease
in sales tax revenues, a decrease in ad valorem (property tax), and dramatic
budget cuts from the State of
The ability to cut expenses in certain areas is often hampered by tenure laws and state mandates, and with no way to raise revenues on its own, the System counts on these outside sources as its sole means of generating income. In addition, the situation continues to worsen as the enormous burden of the 10 mill match looms ahead which will cost the system $45Million this year alone (which is $12M more than what we expect to collect this year.)
When I joined the Board in
November, 2008, the first order of business was
to scour the budget in search of “fat”. We worked with Dr. Hollinger and
the Staff at length to cut $2.5M from
Central Office alone, and in the last round of cuts on August 20, an additional
15 positions were cut from Central Office. Overall, nearly 400 positions have
been cut countywide, two schools have been closed, bus routes have been cut,
programs have been cut, and the list goes on and on….all the while our county
continues to grow and our student population increases daily. We truly have some
great challenges to overcome.
The Board and Staff continue
to explore additional cost saving methods, and have joined forces with
All this being said, I’d
like to focus on the good news. The good news is that in the midst of these
challenges, we have managed to make some progress for our local schools in the
past year. These are things that we have accomplished through our partnerships
with the Board of Education, Community helpers, Parents, and Principals.
In October, 2008, with the help of Gates Builders, Baldwin EMC, and the BCBE staff, we worked to have working lights on the GS High School practice field that is utilized by the high school and city league football teams. Through the efforts of Mr. Phillip Fountain, Principal of Gulf Shores Middle School and the BCBE Technology and Construction Dept, we now have a new computer lab for our 7th and 8th graders. Coach Mark Freeman came on board in January ’09 as our new Head Football Coach/AD and has already brought our Athletics program to new heights. In February, 2009, $50,000 was raised through the efforts of parents and teachers to install a new playground at
In addition, we started the
new school year with a new 6th grade wing at Orange Beach Elem, a new
PE building at GS Middle and will move into the new GS High School wing this
Fall. Also, through the outstanding management of our principals, our Band
programs, Chorus programs, Art programs, Culinary Programs are all in tact at
all schools, and through no additional costs to the system, Dr. Rosado has
managed to implement a new Pre-Engineering program for our high school students
and is able to offer additional electives and subject choices through our Access
I want the readers to know that your school board, while making some very difficult decisions, always has our children’s’ best interest at heart. It is often difficult to work within the confines of the laws and the financial complexities, and sometimes the restraints we are under seem to make little sense to the practical mind, but we do see the faces and hear the voices.
While we continue to deal with shortfalls
and challenges, it is important to know that our incredible teaching staff and
School Administrators have worked tirelessly to provide a quality education to
our children. They continue to work harder and longer for less pay because they
have a genuine love for our children. Simply, they care and will do whatever is
necessary to insure their success.
Although times may be
difficult, I have Faith that we will survive it. I have Faith in our leaders and
most importantly, I have Faith in our local communities. I believe our
communities, particularly our
We know that to overcome…we
must unify…and work together.
We can celebrate what we have and work towards what we need.
Where we lack in cash, we
will have community.
Where we lack in resources, we will have resilience.
When we experience shortfalls, we will have Faith.
Where others might fail, we will overcome.
Questions, concerns, and
suggestions can be sent to me personally at
Contact Angie: SwigerRep@yahoo.com