Alabaster City Schools reveals plans for ACS Champions Craft Academy

Published 9:07 pm Monday, March 11, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Alabaster City Schools has made a nearly $2 million investment into the purchase of the former Restore building in Alabaster and is set to use it for the creation of its new ACS Champions Craft Academy.

The ACS Champions Craft Academy will serve as a new, state-of-the-art workforce development facility that will provide in-demand, lucrative career pathways for students in Alabaster City Schools.

“I am very excited to announce that we have acquired this facility and will soon begin transforming it into a high-tech workforce development career center in which our students can learn the very latest in high-demand fields right here in Alabaster,” ACS Superintendent Wayne Vickers said. “We have always offered pathways for all students. The new craft academy, however, will take us to the next level and continue to expand and evolve in concert with industry standards and provide this pathway within our city limits.”

The program will be housed in the former Winn-Dixie/Restore building on Highway 119 which was acquired by the school system for $1.96 million dollars. The location will provide 48,000 square feet of space to work with which adds up to $41 per square foot as compared to the $400 a square foot it would cost to have built the facility from scratch.

Currently, the school system transports skilled trades students to Birmingham’s Academy for Craft Training (ACT) which is a 45 minute one-way bus ride. Alabaster’s newest educational facility will negate the need for this travel and shorten the trip to roughly seven minutes. The removal of the commute time will free up students’ school schedules for additional electives and extracurricular activities.

“We don’t have to have them give that up,” Vickers said. “If they want to march in the band and they still want to do welding, they want to do those types of things, they’ll still be able to do it. That’s important in making sure our students have the best opportunity.”

According to a release from ACS,  local, state and national data have shown critical shortages of skilled workers across many sectors and the ACS Champions Craft Academy will work toward addressing those gaps.

The Alabaster City Schools Board of Education have been major proponents of the project from its inception and BOE President Adam Moseley commended Vickers’ effort in realizing this dream.

“The ACS Champions Craft Academy will be a crowning achievement for Alabaster City Schools,” Moseley said. “The Board of Education has always had its eye on such a facility knowing that more and more students seek career pathways immediately following graduation. This will be a great opportunity to partner with regional industry leaders and train students locally.”

Alabaster Mayor Scott Brakefield expressed his excitement for the upcoming project and highlighted his own personal connection to its mission.

“What an exciting advancement for ACS, our students and our community,” Brakefield said. “Workforce development is a crucial pathway for our city, state and country. As a proud father of a child taking this path to a career, I couldn’t be more excited to see our school system continuing to invest in our students’ futures. It will be an incredible offering for our students to stay local for this skill development rather than having to travel outside our city.”

Building Construction, HVAC, Welding and Mechatronics—formerly known as Industrial Maintenance—will form the first set of career academies slated to be housed in the new ACS Champions Craft Academy when the 2025-2026 school year begins.

In addition to housing the school’s workforce development programs, the ACS Champion Career Academy will also be the new space for the school system’s ACES/Alternative School and will feature large modular meeting space, training classrooms, office space and more.

Future plans of the ACS Champions Craft Academy include additional workforce development programs such as electrical and auto body repair. ACS will be providing further updates—including enrollment options—as additional plans for the new ACS Champions Craft Academy take shape.