Daphne council punts on second phase of city school study

Vote postponed to Nov. 20 meeting

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 11/18/17

Last week, Daphne’s city council voted to wait another two weeks before deciding whether to move forward on the second phase of a study to explore a possible Daphne city school …

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Daphne council punts on second phase of city school study

Vote postponed to Nov. 20 meeting

Posted

Last week, Daphne’s city council voted to wait another two weeks before deciding whether to move forward on the second phase of a study to explore a possible Daphne city school system.

Councilman Robin LeJeune brought forward the motion to postpone the vote, saying that the city routinely waited two weeks before passing ordinances so that citizens could learn more about them and he felt they should do the same for the possible second phase study.

“I just want to reiterate that it was a big meeting just a week ago, and there was a lot of information in that report,” LeJeune said. “I think it’s prudent we give the public a little more time to see that report.”

Mayor Dane Haygood said the report had been placed on the city’s website and was linked on Facebook in an effort to help as many people as possible see it.

Outgoing Council President Ron Scott said he felt it was best to move forward and vote on whether or not to fund the second phase, as he said the idea of a possible city school system had created “some degree of angst in the community.”

“I think we need to have some certainty and we need to mov forward with it,” Scott said. “I think we owe it to the community to say that this is not something we need at this time.”

The council voted 5-2 to wait two weeks for the vote, with Scott and Councilman Joe Davis voting no.

Several Daphne residents spoke during public comments, with all of them urging council members not to move forward with the second phase of the study after the first phase showed Daphne would likely need at least 9 additional mills of property tax to fund a city system at the same level the current county system funds the schools at.

“This is probably the biggest mistake I’ve seen the council make,” Daphne resident and businessman Kevin Spriggs said. “To continue the study is to continue to waste money on the study.”

Several of those residents questioned why money that could be allocated for the study couldn’t just be given to the Daphne feeder pattern schools directly to help with needs.

During council comments, Davis questioned whether some council members had been contacted about delaying the vote on the second phase, but said the delay would not change his mind and he would be voting against moving forward.

“The system we have is not broken,” Davis said. “We need to invest resources that can help bring us from good to better and best.”

LeJeune said no other members had been contacted about the delay, but he felt letting the citizens weigh in could not be a bad thing.

“I thought it was appropriate that when we make decisions we give time to the public to study them,” LeJeune said. “We make decisions all the time like this and we give the public two weeks, and that’s just normal. but we want to give the public five or six days to read a 50-something page report? I think that’s just silly.”

Councilman Joel Coleman said he agreed giving the public time to give feedback was important.

“I would like to see more feedback,” Coleman said. “I don’t think it’s non-prudent to wait and see if we get more comments and make the best informed decisions for the city.”

Councilman Pat Rudicell agreed with Coleman.

“WE’ve got 30 to 40 people here tonight, and I’ve gotten maybe six or eight phone calls and emails, which is such a small percentage of the people this decision affects,” Rudicell said. “I was prepared to make my vote tonight, but Councilman LeJeune made a good point about the two weeks.”