FOLEY - There’s been a lot of recent discussion concerning the rezoning of the new Florence B. Mathis Elementary School in Foley. During a public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, it was announced that …
FOLEY - There’s been a lot of recent discussion concerning the rezoning of the new Florence B. Mathis Elementary School in Foley. During a public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, it was announced that anyone living south of Michigan Avenue, extending to Doc McDuffie Road, will attend Florence B. Mathis Elementary School beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. Those who reside north of Michigan Avenue will remain as things are now at Foley Elementary School. Currently, Foley Elementary School is the largest elementary school in the state of Alabama, with more than 1,500 students attending. Once the split occurs, it’s estimated each school will have an attendance of 800-900 students. Foley Elementary is currently a Pre-K - 4th, while Foley Intermediate School is a 5th - 6th. Once the new school opens, Foley Intermediate will become part of Florence B. Mathis Elementary School, with both elementary schools becoming K - 6.
“This is our fifth rezoning public meeting in five years,” said Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler. “That’s a result of growth. When all of a sudden an area starts to experience growth because of development, my only tool in my toolbox is to move students.”
More public meetings are planned in the future where parents and citizens can discuss the rezoning. Upcoming dates are: Jan. 14 Board Work Session at Central Baldwin Middle School, 5 p.m.; Jan. 16 Board Meeting at Central Office in Bay Minette, 5:30 p.m.; Jan. 18 Board Work Session at Bay Minette Elementary School, 5 p.m.; and Feb. 20 Board Work Session, Central Office in Bay Minette, 5 p.m. After all the public meetings have been held and the rezoning plans are finalized, Tyler will present them to the Board of Education for final approval.
Thanks to the pay-as-you-go plan, the Florence B. Mathis Elementary School will open its doors debt-free and will offer the same programs and level of education as the current Foley Elementary.
The school is 123,247 total square feet and is designed for 1,200 students. As per the state’s new policy for new school buildings, a tornado shelter that can accommodate 2,136 has been built with the new school. There will be 54 standard classrooms, 12 collaborative rooms, four special needs rooms, a music room, an art room, an SRO office, 238 parking spaces, and ten bus parking spaces.
“Everything that students are offered the opportunity to experience at their current school, upon rezoning and completion of recommendation, they will still be given those same opportunities,” said Anthony Sampson, Director of Prevention and Support. “It is our goal that the same programs and the same quality education that’s offered at one school are offered at every school within Baldwin County.”
Along with programs and classes, Florence B. Mathis Elementary will also offer after school activities, extra-curriculum activities, and tutoring. The bus system will remain largely intact, with more buses being offered once the new school opens. Parents will need to check bus routes at the beginning of next year to confirm any alterations.
Teachers and staff will be moving to the new school, a process that will begin shortly. Current teachers at Foley Elementary and Foley Intermediate will be given first choice to apply for a transfer to any location in Baldwin County. After transfers are complete, Foley Elementary School Principal Michelle Moore and current Foley Intermediate Principal, future Florence B. Mathis Elementary Principal, Shannon McCurdy will conduct interviews for new hires to both schools. Tyler says by next spring it will be clearer on which teachers are moving schools and how many new hires will be needed.