Alabaster Schools’ first semester in the books

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, second from left, recently reflected on the school system's first semester. (File)

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, second from left, recently reflected on the school system’s first semester. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers sometimes has a hard time believing the city’s school system is only six months old.

“It’s amazing. It’s hard to believe we are only six months old,” Vickers said after a brief Dec. 18 Alabaster Board of Education meeting at the school system’s offices – a building itself only a few months old. “But that’s good. I want people to say ‘It’s a miracle that they have been able to accomplish so much in only six months.’”

Since its inception on July 1, the upstart school system has spent nearly $1 million on school upgrades and renovations, and has made many safety-oriented changes at Alabaster’s six school buildings.

“That’s a big deal. That’s something we are very proud of,” Vickers said of the safety upgrades, noting the system has added cameras and intercoms at all school entrances and has worked to ensure all security cameras in the schools are functioning properly.

When children leave school at 1 p.m. on Dec. 20, it will mark the end of the system’s first semester. When students return in January 2014, the school system will be gearing up to implement its capital improvement plan – which eventually calls for a new high school – and will establish a superintendent’s advisory council, Vickers said.

Through the advisory council, representatives from each Alabaster school will work with Vickers to plan everything from schedules to future school offerings.

During the Dec. 18 meeting, Vickers said the school system’s ad valorem property taxes and sales taxes are coming in higher than projected, and said the system is in “very strong financial shape.”

“Of course, we will have some expenditures, but I’m very confident about what we will be able to accomplish in the future,” Vickers said. “I want to thank our mayor and City Council for the hard work that has gone in (to establishing the school system).”

With six months in the books, Vickers said the Alabaster School System has formed its own identity.

“The camaraderie between our six schools is strong,” Vickers said. “It’s almost a perfect storm. Everything we have wanted to happen has happened.

“I believe this school system has the potential to be the best school system in the state,” Vickers added.