Elberta High School. When you ask the residents in and around the east Baldwin municipality, it’s something they’re all excited to see happen, something they’ve been asking for for years …
Elberta High School. When you ask the residents in and around the east Baldwin municipality, it’s something they’re all excited to see happen, something they’ve been asking for for years now.
With recent actions taken by the Baldwin County School System and a 38 acre land donation from a local couple to the town, Elberta stands ready to make this long-held dream a reality.
“It’s an exciting time in our town and in the surrounding areas,” Elberta Mayor Jim Hamby said. “The community is coming together and we’re looking forward to what having a high school will bring to our area. It’s something we’ve all wanted for a while now, and with help from a lot of different folks, we’ve been able to make it happen.”
Baldwin County will open the doors to the start of Elberta High School at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year this fall. According to the system, Elberta High will begin with a freshman class and add an additional grade level each subsequent school year until all grades are in place.
For now, the high school will share space at the current Elberta Middle School, whose fourth through sixth grade students will soon be attending a new expansion built on to Elberta Elementary.
The school system also recently announced that children from the Summerdale School pattern will also be brought into the new Elberta High School zone, following community meetings where school system staff and board members were able to inform residents and get feedback on the plan.
“I am recommending to the board that Elberta High School serve both the Elberta area and the Summerdale School attendance zone, as we have sown on the maps at the public meetings,” Superintendent Eddie Tyler said. “The attendance zone for the new Elberta High School incorporates the existing Elberta Elementary/Middle attendance zone and the existing Summerdale Elementary attendance zone.”
At its February board meeting, the Baldwin County Board of Education also voted to name Branton Bailey as the first principal of the new Elberta High School.
Hamby said the cooperation of the school system in doing what they can to make Elberta High School a reality has been incredible.
“Given some of the funding issues our system has been facing, we weren’t sure if they were going to be able to follow through on the promise to bring a high school to our community, but they have and have been there with us every step of the way,” Hamby said.
Hamby said the town has property that can be used to further enhance what the system is able to do.
At a town hall meeting in January, Hamby discussed a 40-acre plot of land already owned by the town that could be used for any purposes needed.
“It’s about 40 acres of farmland we can develop for whatever we need,” Hamby said. “We may try to develop that as a sports complex that would allow our students to play baseball or possibly softball and soccer there. We could provide practice fields for the football team and the band. It’s got a lot of possibilities.”
In addition to that land, local couple Bobby and Judy Faust donated an additional 38 acres of land to the town to be used for a future high school building or possibly a park for the town’s residents.
Hamby said he was struck by the Fausts’ generosity.
“They have never lived in Elberta, but when he got started in his business, it was the people of Elberta who helped him out and he wanted to give something back to this town,” Hamby said. “We’re very thankful for their generosity.”
Hamby said the land would likely be used for a new, freestanding high school, especially with the way they’re expecting that area to grow.
“With the decision to bring in the Summerdale kids, too, you’re going to be looking at a pretty big high school once all the grades are in there,” Hamby said. “And with the growth we’re seeing coming into our area from things like OWA and others, we’re in a place where we know people are coming and we need to prepare for it.”