BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) - The Baldwin County Public School System is preparing for the need for more schools in the near future.
Officials said extensive growth over the last 12 years has led to a continuous spike in enrollment, causing overcrowding in several schools across the county.
"The growth that we're seeing is likely to accelerate. Austal is looking for 1,200 more employees. You have Airbus looking for 3,000 employees. The proposed Blue Collar and Convention Center on the Gulf will add that many more jobs as well," said Dr. Alan Lee, Baldwin County superintendent.
Classrooms are quickly filling, causing many schools to use portables.
Officials said one of the worst areas for this is in Gulf Shores, which they're eyeing first for a new school development.
"It's likely we'll need a high school in that area. We'll then need one on the eastern side just to take pressure off of Gulf Shores, Foley and Robertsdale high schools. On the western side, we'll probably need to build an elementary school pretty quickly," Dr. Lee said.
Gulf Shores High School principal Dr. Ernie Rosado has seen the growth firsthand.
"We're seeing growth up from the elementary school. They have portables installed and are adding more this year. You'll see enrollment up at the middle school, which I've begun to see at the high school," said Dr. Rosado.
Rosado said he can see a time in the near future where he'd need portables or an expansion to the school. He said he already has 70 more students than he did at the end of 2012.
The Virtual High School, which will be up and running this year, is a way to combat the overcrowding. It will allow up to 30 students to take online courses at any time without stepping into a classroom.
The program is expected to be expanded in the coming years.
Baldwin County School officials are expected to propose construction plans in 2014.
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