Alabaster City School System celebrates first anniversary

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, center, and other city school system leaders are celebrating the first full year of the system, which began on July 1, 2013. (File)

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, center, and other city school system leaders are celebrating the first full year of the system, which began on July 1, 2013. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – This time last year, Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers and his staff had a much different set of priorities than they do today.

“Last summer, we were all sitting around trying to get our bus routes planned out, and we had a skeleton crew,” Vickers said during an interview on July 1 – the Alabaster City School System’s first anniversary. “This first year should have been the most difficult one. I think even the best planners would be surprised with the progress we’ve made in a year.”

On July 1, 2013, Alabaster City Schools finalized its split from the Shelby County School System, forming the second city school system in the county after Hoover.

Last year, the Alabaster system was rushing to complete maintenance and upgrade projects at its six school campuses before the school year started. This year, the system is making final preparations to construct a new 360,000-square-foot high school and athletic complex on a 301-acre tract of land off Thompson Road.

Over the past year, ACS made preparations to launch its academy program beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, has installed buzz-in security systems at all school entrances and has received an A+ College Ready grant to strengthen its advanced class offerings. The system also hired one of its most popular employees: Warrior the dog, which serves as the system’s mascot and is used in a variety of special-needs and alternative school classes in the city’s schools.

This summer, the system is making upgrades to Larry Simmons Stadium, and is addressing drainage problems at Thompson Intermediate and Thompson High School.

“As a superintendent that has been through this kind of (separation) process before, I am very comfortable with where we are now and what the future looks like for us,” Vickers said, noting ACS will have more than the required amount of operating funds in its reserve account on Sept. 30. “In only a year, we have become known throughout the state as an innovative system.

“Today is an exciting day, and our best days are ahead,” Vickers added.