City to make $775K available to its three schools
Funds will enhance classroom, arts and athletic activities
By John Mullen
Orange Beach is poised to make $775,000 in grant money available to the three county schools in the city to enhance classroom, arts and athletic activities.
The money will be administered through the Mako Academics, Arts and Athletics Club continuing a program the city started when the new high school/middle school construction began. The process to receive money to fund school needs starts with a request to each principal who then decides if the grant request can move forward for city approval.
“It’s not a lump sum check,” City Finance Director Ford Handley said. “They still have to bring us invoices and requests and then we’ll pay accordingly.”
During 2020, the city spent about $270,000 in grants through MAAAC, President Ryan Long said.
“We had a little over $40,000 in summer camp, Leader In Me for elementary school, handwriting books for the elementary school,” Long said. “We did do a teacher (unit) last year for the elementary school, a reading specialist. We had football, volleyball, boys basketball, we had some items for special needs classes, Leader In Me for the high school, cheerleading, dance studio. That was all through June.”
Two groups were operating as school support organizations and both were allocated about $300,000 but for the upcoming year the efforts have merged heading into 2021.
“We budgeted a figure based on all total expenses going toward education over the past two years,” City Administrator Ken Grimes said. “Originally, we had MAAAC and OBEF (Orange Beach Education Foundation) which each had agreements with the city for a maximum amount of $300,000 each. Now it’s just MAAAC and the total includes other expenses like what we used to fund items at Orange Beach Elementary, middle and now high schools.”
Orange Beach has been actively funding other projects for the schools including a $10 million commitment for the Performing Arts Center which is expected to be completed before the 2021-22 school year starts. Others include about $2.3 million for upgrades to a baseball and softball field at the Sportsplex for high school teams and about a half million to renovate the currently works building into a fieldhouse for athletics.
Handley said a conversion of the soccer stadium to use for the football team is currently being designed and the city will know those costs until it is completed. Orange Beach is also working with Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism on improvements to the southernmost soccer field to house the SEC Women’s Soccer Tournament. Handley said the CVB will likely help with funding of special lighting to help with ESPN and SEC Network broadcasts.
The city council also recently voted to spend $50,000 in supplements for to help with administrators’ supplement with $5,000 going to Assistant Principal Wesley Pouncey, $7,000 to Middle School Principal Robbie Smith and $12,500 each to High School Principal Erika McCoy, Athletic Director Charlie Smith and Fine Arts Director Darren Butler.
MAAAC’s Long said an upcoming meeting with school officials will study school needs for the city’s fiscal year which is Jan. 1-Dec. 31. County schools operate on a fiscal year of Oct. 1-Sept. 30.
“What we requested from the schools was a budget for after Christmas and then for the beginning of the next school year,” Long said.
Handley said the $775,000 is a “not to exceed” amount and all of it won’t necessarily be spent.
During the Dec. 15 council regular session, the council:
• OK’d retail liquor licenses for Moe’s Original Bar B Que, Local Life at The Wharf and Oso Early, a breakfast-brunch-lunch spot going into the former Barefoot Grill space at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and Canal Road.
• Passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of a Compact Utility Tractor for the Parks and Recreation Department through Sourcewell in the amount of $29,910.32.
• Passed two resolutions for contracts with TTL for natural resources consulting and engineering services and to provide natural resources and civil engineering services for Gulf Oak Ridge Trail realignment in an amount not to exceed $38,950.
• Passed a resolution authorizing the execution a contract with Anne B. Gajda for golf instruction services.
• Passed a resolution authorizing execution of a contract for Festival of Art billboard advertising with the Lamar Company in an amount not to exceed $7,000.
• Passed a resolution authorizing the execution of a service agreement with Harbor Communications to connect fiber to the new Coastal Resources Office Building.
• Passed a resolution to purchase a generator for the Utilities Department Field Office through Sourcewell in the amount of $50,575.
• Passed a resolution authorizing the execution of a services agreement with Integrity Data for Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance and 1095-C filing services.
• Passed a resolution authorizing a professional services agreement with GeoCon Engineering & Materials Testing, Inc., for geotechnical analysis and construction materials testing services.
During the Dec. 15 work session, the council discussed:
• A resolution authorizing execution of a professional services agreement with Jackson & Smith CPA Group, PC, for auditing services.
• A resolution authorizing the purchase of a vehicle for the Fire Department from State Bid in the amount of $36,946.40.
• A resolution authorizing payment of up to $3,000 to the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber for the Annual Electronic Recycling and Paper Shred Event.
• An ordinance amendment to add a new article entitled “Perdido Key Habitat Conservation.”
• Reminders of public hearings on the Popeyes Orange Beach planned for State Route 161 just north of Dollar General and additional parking for Zeke’s Landing Marina. The date suggested for both is Jan. 5.
During the Dec. 1 regular session, the council:
• Passed a resolution authorizing execution of a task order with Sawgrass Consulting to provide landscape design services for a Coastal Resources Trail Shop/Wildlife Center in an amount not to exceed $56,260.
• Passed a resolution authorizing execution of a task order with Sawgrass Consulting to provide surveying, design, permitting, and construction inspection for Orange Beach High School driveway redesign in an amount not to exceed $14,890.
• Approved of a restaurant retail liquor license application for Stephi Cocktails and Cuisine going into the Ole Franco’s location in the Walmart shopping center.
• Passed a resolution authorizing the execution of Contract Amendment 7 with Crowder Gulf, LLC, for removal of large vessels related to Hurricane Sally response.
• Heard a first reading on an ordinance change for a planned unit development for The Ridge at Romar, a development on the Gulf in east Orange Beach.
• Heard a first reading of ordinances to define what items would be tax-exempt during severe weather preparedness weekend the last full weekend in February and the back to school weekend for the third weekend in July.
During the Dec. 1 work session, the council discussed:
• A resolution authorizing execution of a professional services agreement with Socialize Your Bizness for social media consulting and marketing services.
• A resolution authorizing execution of a professional services agreement with Shazam Interactive for website development and maintenance.
• A resolution authorizing renewal of a software service agreement with SiteImprove to monitor the city’s website and improve performance.
• A resolution appropriating funds to the Gulf Shores Airport Authority in an amount not to exceed $75,000 for FY2021.
• A resolution authorizing execution of a performance contract with Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance.
• A resolution authorizing the annual execution of a professional services agreement with Bob Riley and Associates for lobbying services.
• A resolution authorizing execution of the annual professional services agreement with Van Scoyoc Associates for consulting services.
• A resolution awarding Sgt. Charles Athey his duty weapon and badge as part of his retirement benefits.
• A resolution authorizing the purchase of a compact utility tractor for the Parks and Recreation Department through Sourcewell in the amount of $31,758.60.
• A resolution authorizing the execution of a voluntary cooperative agreement with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
• A resolution adopting a take home vehicle policy for the City of Orange Beach.
• Resolutions appointing the City Attorney and appointing attorneys for 2021.
• An ordinance amending the ad valorem taxation to correct the ad valorem tax rate to four mills.