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Posted on: September 25, 2017

OPEN LETTER FROM MAYOR CRAFT REGARDING RECENT EDUCATION DISCUSSION

open letter mayor


To the citizens of Gulf Shores:

I released a statement last Wednesday voicing my disappointment and our community’s frustration over how Superintendent Eddie Tyler and the Baldwin County Board of Education developed and announced their new capital improvement plan. Developing plans of this significance is not done overnight which should have provided ample time to engage our community during this process.

Requests from our community for communication and understanding of plans that affect our children’s education were legitimate and should have been granted graciously. Our community’s concern was not to debate the merits of the plan rather to be given the same opportunity other stakeholders were given to simply understand it. Similar concerns about the seemingly rushed timing were even echoed by members of the BCBE on Thursday night before the plan ultimately received approval; 5-2.

There have been many negative comments spoken and written about me, the City Council and the City of Gulf Shores over the last several days in reaction to the public statement I made. These personal attacks are completely uncalled for, entirely unprofessional and do not serve any constructive purpose other than to attempt to distract from the genuine concerns our community has expressed and have had ignored.

Regardless of those issues, I could not be happier for the City of Orange Beach and their community. This school is something they have worked for and wanted for many years. They should be proud and we are proud for them.

The announcement of this new school also helps streamline our evaluation of establishing a City School System. One of our major concerns of doing so has been the potential impact on students living outside Gulf Shores, but currently attending our schools. The new school in Orange Beach provides a reasonable solution to accommodate these students and relieves a tremendous concern for me personally.

I would like to also provide a brief update on our continued evaluation of establishing a City School System.

  1. We have received the initial financial analysis from PARCA which looks to be very encouraging. The education funding structure in Alabama is extremely complicated, but I assure you we are taking the time necessary to fully understand our financial outlook. It is my hope that we will be able to share a consolidated report of their findings soon.
  2. We will be engaging experienced legal consultants to help us understand the legal process and critical path associated with establishing a City School System, City Board of Education, etc. should we elect to pursue this path.

I am hopeful this Council will be able to reach a decision very soon on how we believe our community can provide the best educational opportunities for our children. My office is always open and I welcome your input into this critical decision.

Sincerely,

Robert Craft, Mayor


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