Baldwin County Board of Education approves new Foley feeder pattern in light of Orange Beach schools' split

Baldwin students outside Gulf Shores, Orange Beach city limits will attend Foley schools

By Jessica Vaughn
Education Editor
jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 7/25/22

BAY MINETTE — Baldwin County students who live outside of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach city limits will attend Foley schools after the Baldwin County Board of Education approved a redistricting …

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Baldwin County Board of Education approves new Foley feeder pattern in light of Orange Beach schools' split

Baldwin students outside Gulf Shores, Orange Beach city limits will attend Foley schools

Posted

BAY MINETTE — Baldwin County students who live outside of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach city limits will attend Foley schools after the Baldwin County Board of Education approved a redistricting of the Foley feeder pattern during the Thursday, July 21, board meeting.

The redistricting was necessitated due to the recent split with Orange Beach City Schools. Orange Beach's school system was officially formed on July 1.

In 2019, Gulf Shores City Schools were formed. Students living outside Gulf Shores city limits who opted to attend Baldwin schools were redistricted into the Orange Beach feeder pattern.

"One purpose of redistricting is that state law really only gives the superintendent and the board this one kind of tool in the toolbelt for addressing growth, and that is redrawing feeder pattern lines," said Sarah Young, Esq., BCBE general counsel. "Our board redistricting policy does allow us the ability to accomplish redistricting in response to unforeseen circumstances, which I would argue a school split on July 1 and needing to find a place for everybody to be housed during the next school year is a special circumstance."

Under the separation agreement between Baldwin County Public Schools and Orange Beach City Schools, children living outside of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores city limits have the option to be grandfathered into Orange Beach's school system for one school year.

"That's just an option," Young said. "If they want to come to us, then we're going to educate them."

The total number of students living on Ono Island, Fort Morgan and outside the city limits of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is approximately 160. Young said during the time of the BCBE work session on Tuesday, July 19, less than 10 of those students had registered for Baldwin County Public Schools for the upcoming school year.

Earlier this year, the BCBE discussed redistricting affected students to either Foley schools or Elberta schools. System staff examined current bus routes, capacity within the schools, geographic proximity, projected enrollment and special programs before proposing the Foley feeder pattern.

"We were tasked with looking at what the transportation would look like, and the bus routes of where the kids who were affected were located," Young said. "They mapped out the transportation to Foley Elementary, and when they drew those coordinates basically from Ono Island to Fort Morgan, the distance was anywhere from 24 to 27 miles, and it was that way whether they went to Elberta or Foley."

Young said when considering the growth happening in both areas and the current capacity in both Foley and Elberta schools, Foley was the logical choice.

"The plan right now is to have one bus location for the Ono Island kids, for all of them to have a bus to take, and then the Fort Morgan route could be longer, but it really depends on the number of kids who sign up (with Baldwin County schools), and it can be changed in the future if need be," Young said.

Young said the Foley feeder pattern was the permanent proposal on where to send students from unincorporated areas of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. However, she said with the growth coming to Baldwin County, feeder patterns were subject to change as needed.

Students outside of the city limits of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores who register to attend Foley schools will be eligible to sign up for athletics, organizations and clubs, Young said.
For more information, visit www.bcbe.org.

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