Gulf Shores moves ahead with plans to open new high school in 2025

By GUY BUSBY
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/10/22

GULF SHORES — City and school board officials are moving forward with plans to open the new Gulf Shores High School on a 200-acre site in the fall of 2025.The Gulf Shores City Council was …

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Gulf Shores moves ahead with plans to open new high school in 2025

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GULF SHORES — City and school board officials are moving forward with plans to open the new Gulf Shores High School on a 200-acre site in the fall of 2025.

The Gulf Shores City Council was scheduled to vote Monday, Aug. 8, to hire the firm of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood to design the new school at a cost of about $6.49 million. The board is also scheduled to vote to appoint Volkert Engineering to perform the project management for construction of the new high school and work on existing school buildings to prepare them for new uses.

Steve Griffin, Gulf Shores city administrator, said at the city council work session Monday, Aug 1, that the new high school has been a priority since the city created its own school system in 2019.

"The school, knowing that they're growing, had contracted and had a master plan done of what needed to be done for the next 10 years and the two main highlights from that is a new high school that we're planning and working on at Coastal Gateway and Foley Beach Express," Griffin said.

He said the other highlight is shifting students from lower grades into the current middle and high school buildings.

"The idea with the master plan is to build that new school and then the middle school can move into the existing high school and take advantage of that structure and all that it has to offer and then the elementary school that's seen so much growth (can expand into the current middle school)," Griffin said.

Griffin said enrollment at the elementary school grew by about 200 students.

Matt Aiken, Gulf Shores superintendent of education, said enrollment growth is creating a need for more space.

"We're constantly looking at enrollment numbers and we're not ready to quite release them for now because school doesn't start until next week," Aiken said. "Just looking at the number of kids that are in the computer now, we're seeing another 7 to 10% enrollment increase this year. So, it's needed for instructional purposes and certainly for capacity as well."

Councilman Phillip Harris said the fees for Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood and Volkert include a variety of services. He said hiring the firms is the next step needed to open the high school in 2025.

"This group's been working for months," Harris said. "We approved phase one of the contract quite some time ago to do the schematic conceptual design but they've done a lot of work on programming, on space allocation, meeting with our staff, meeting with our school board and Dr. Aiken, trying to define the space needed in our buildings, what would happen inside that facility in order to deliver the education program that Dr. Aiken and his school board and staff have come up with and it's exceptional work and it's very exciting to see the opportunities that we're going to have to offer our kids, our community, with this program."

Griffin said the city has spent about $18.5 million on schools since the new school system was created three years ago.

"We did a lot of work on the existing campus with the gymnasium that needed to be repaired so badly, parking, security enhancements, separating the student drop off — the parent drop off for students — from the bus loop, middle school courtyard improvements, etc.," Griffin said.

The latest project is the new STEAM lab and additional classrooms now under construction at the middle school.

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