FAIRHOPE – The first ninth-grade academies intended to take growth pressure off crowded campuses and provide freshmen with an easier transition to high school are under construction on the Eastern …
FAIRHOPE – The first ninth-grade academies intended to take growth pressure off crowded campuses and provide freshmen with an easier transition to high school are under construction on the Eastern Shore.
The first academy is expected to be completed at Fairhope High School in June, Eddie Tyler, Baldwin County superintendent of education, said.
Another academy building is under construction at Daphne High School. At a groundbreaking for the Daphne facility, Tyler said the facilities are the first of a series of academies planned for schools across Baldwin County.
“This school is growing by leaps and bounds,” Tyler said. “We have another stand-alone building for ninth-grade academy. Sometime after the Fourth of July, we will be doing a ribbon cutting on the Fairhope ninth-grade academy that’s a stand-alone building. Because these two schools are getting bigger and bigger, and Daphne is right there on the heels of Fairhope High School as one of our largest schools in the county.”
The academies will provide more space in high schools at the Baldwin County school enrollment grows.
“What this does, this ninth-grade academy, it takes pressure off the current footprint,” Tyler said. “Yes, Daphne’s growing, but this ninth-grade academies will take those 400 or 500 ninth graders off of the main campus. It would give more room for Fletcher Comer, the principal, and his staff to be creative with how they position teachers in that footprint building.”
The academies will be run as separate facilities on the high school campus, allowing ninth graders to merge into the environment at the higher level. At schools such as Fairhope, where teachers will be moving in in July, the facilities and students will still be part of the main high school, Tyler said.
“That takes the pressure off of the large school, but they are Fairhope Pirates. That’s just their building,” Tyler said.
He said the Daphne academy will open in 2022. The new wing south of the main building will have 38,241 square feet of space that will include 22 classrooms, two science rooms, an art room, conference room, administrative area and two teacher work rooms.
Some other high schools will have academy facilities in existing wings opening around the same time.
“In the summer of ’22, I’m going to have all of our principals up and running with a ninth-grade academy, but not every one of our high schools needs a stand-alone building,” Tyler said. “They can create it within the confines of their current school. It was done years ago when the board said you’re going to have ninth-grade academies and it can be done now. We’re going to make sure that gets going in the summer of ’22 with all of our principals.”
Tyler said the construction projects are part of the school system’s “Pay as You Go Program.” He said the program has completed $145 million in construction projects, paid for in four years. He said additional construction projects will be added as the system expands.