Spanish Fort High School has officially opened a brand-new playground and activities center for some of its students. Special Needs students there now have a revamped outdoor space to call their own. It’s thanks to the 3-mil property tax for schools voters approved in 2019.

The school has more than 30 students who face unique challenges at school and in everyday life. Thanks to the new activities area, they now have a fun and safe place to engage in outdoor activities. This area has long been designated for students in this program but over the years, the planters and garden area were overtaken by weeds and rubbish.

“This area was just in shambles and very unusable and we just felt like we needed to get it back to where we could use it and so, we came up with the idea to do this,” said Spanish Ft. High School principal, Brian Williamson.

The transformation was nothing short of remarkable. It cost $30,000 to transform the area to what it is today. It was money the school never could have paid out of its general fund. The staff at the high school submitted the proposal to the Spanish Fort Public School Commission who oversees the tax funds. It unanimously approved the project.

While not the first initiative to be paid for from the 3-mil property tax money, it’s one where the benefit can be seen immediately.

“A lot of the other things that we’ve implemented, it takes time. It’ll take data, you know,” said president of the Spanish Ft. Public School Commission, Ryan Shirley. “It’ll take years possibly to show some of those rewards, benefits, but this one was immediate.”

Some examples of new programs that will take more time to blossom are ACT prep courses and early intervention initiatives. Now in its second year of collections, the commission is operating off an estimated budget of $900,000.

“We’ll also be looking for projects like this,” said Shirley. “You know, all of our committee meetings are open to the public. We always look for input from the community. This is community funds. We’re just a committee that is able to get together, receive ideas from the public or the principals, discuss those, ask questions and try and figure out ways that we can enhance our school system.”

The committee convenes once a month and rotates its meeting locations between the four schools in the feeder pattern. It will soon be five when Stonebridge Elementary opens. To find when and where the meeting are and give your input, follow their Facebook page at Spanish Ft. Public School Commission.

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