Fairhope schools seeking top rankings

By GUY BUSBY
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 12/21/22

FAIRHOPE — Additional funding from the 3-mill school tax is one reason Fairhope schools are reaching the goal of being some of the top performers in the state, supporters said.Amy Foley of the …

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Fairhope schools seeking top rankings

Posted

FAIRHOPE — Additional funding from the 3-mill school tax is one reason Fairhope schools are reaching the goal of being some of the top performers in the state, supporters said.

Amy Foley of the Fairhope School Commission told Fairhope City Council members on Dec. 12 that recent state report cards show that schools in the district are improving at the elementary, middle and high school level.

She said all the schools are doing well, but Fairhope Middle School has reached the highest ranking.

"The goal is to be one of the top five. The middle school is the closest, ranked number six in the state right now. So, they have done a phenomenal job of pouring the money where it needs to go and really raising that bar," Foley said. "If you look at their numbers, Fairhope Middle School is clearly outperforming the county and most places in the state, and you can look at the proficiency percentages. They've improved from year over year."

Foley said school Principal Angie Hall noticed that black, male students had a gap in school performance and used some of the funding to try to help those students reduce that deficit.

"So, she's poured a lot of additional funding into that demographic to try to make sure that she brings all of her students up to that proficiency level," Foley said.

Fairhope High School is ranked 10th in the state and is moving up, Foley said.
She said the school funding helped educators work on improving ACT scores and to prepare students for advanced placement classes.

"One of the things that they've tried to do is really pour money into making sure that if you take an AP class that you actually pass the test so that you get that college credit," Foley said. "So, you can see that those scores are improving as well."

She said the test results show that the programs are paying off for Fairhope High students.

"Fairhope High School outperforms the county and the state in English, math, reading and science and all of our composite scores continue to improve," Foley said.

She said the school has also invested revenue in a variety of programs for different students, such as a black box theater program, piano lab and a playground for special-needs students.

"They started the agriscience program," Foley said. "They've used some of the 3-mill funding for the STEAM program. They've hired additional social workers at the high school level to try to help with mental health issues."

At the elementary level, Fairhope schools are also showing improvement.

"Overall, our proficiency percentages are really good," Foley said. "We're moving up in both English language arts, math and science. So, there is progress from year to year, which is what we're looking to see. Also, our elementary schools are all outperforming the other schools in the county and the state."

She said educators have used the tax money for materials and professional development.

"They've been buying math instructional materials, reading, behavioral instructional materials," Foley said. "They've been putting the money into professional development to try to help sharpen the saw of our teachers. They've put a lot of money into technology and STEAM instruction materials."

Fairhope City Councilman Jack Burrell said the improvement is impressive.

"There was a time when we wanted to be in the top 10," Burrell said. "Now I'm hearing we want to be in the top five. I remember that we were, I want to say it hasn't been all that long ago, Fairhope was ranked 15th, I believe in the state and that's certainly not bad position to be in, but 10 is a lot better and if we make top five."

Fairhope and Spanish Fort were the first districts to approve a 3-mill tax increase for local schools. Voters passed the measure in referendums in 2019. Since then, voters in Robertsdale and Daphne have also approved tax increases.

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