report: Orange Beach, Bay Minette getting new schools while Gulf Shores fumes

September 22, 2017

By John Sharp |

Orange Beach and Bay Minette will get new schools under a program approved Thursday by the Baldwin County School Board.

In a 5-2 vote, the board endorsed a change to its capital budget to add $8.7 million to build a new $14.9 million middle school on Canal Road in Orange Beach and a $13.4 million elementary school in Bay Minette.

"The people of Orange Beach are absolutely thrilled," said Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon.

Added Bay Minette Mayor Bob Wills: "We are ecstatic."

The plan is in an addition to an already-approved $60 million pay-as-you-go program.

The $8.7 million is separate from that program, and is paid for through a number of resources: $2.2 million comes from reserves, $2.5 million is from unappropriated BP settlement funds, $2 million comes from capital surplus money and $2 million is in savings from projects already included in the pay-as-you-go program.

"If you can invest into a new school, it's better than just adding on another wing or having an expansion," said Baldwin County Schools CFO John Wilson.

'Relationship strain'

But the plan, crafted within the past two weeks, was viewed as a snub to Gulf Shores city officials and to Angie Swiger, the school board member who represents the two coastal cities. She, along with board member David Tarwater, voted against it.

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