Expect Excellence, Orange Beach, Alabama afterschool program

February 6, 2020 – Orange Beach, AL – (OBA®) – When kids sign up for the Expect Excellence afterschool program in Orange Beach and sign up for a culinary class, the next stop is a waiting list.

Program coordinators Jonathan and Jessica Langston told the city council on Feb. 4 the reason is lack of space. The classes use the kitchen in the community center but its size and availability limits the class size. About 40 kids are currently on the waiting list for the class.

A possible answer would be to expand the program to include Elberta students which would open up a wealth of facilities in the new Elberta High School to afterschool classes for students there and Orange Beach students. Mayor Tony Kennon said with the expanded facilities from Elberta more Orange Beach students would be able to participate in the ever-growing and popular program.

The Orange Beach City Council put off a vote to spend another $17,000 on its program to include students and facilities from Elberta during the Feb. 4 meeting. The program would include students in third through 10th grade selected by the principals of the schools.

“We have five days in the semester when the community center (kitchen) is not available to us and four others in question,” Jonathan Langston said. “We can actually go to Elberta, use their state-of-the-art facility and take our classes full in one day, take a wait-list class off another day. And add their students and have an additional day.”

Besides the culinary classroom, Elberta could also offer music rooms, a Spanish teacher, a shop class with agriculture, woodworking and welding as well as an auditorium. Orange Beach would fund the teachers and pay transportation costs. Orange Beach students would have the option of staying in classes locally or traveling to Elberta for some classes.

Councilmembers Joni Blalock and Jeff Boyd at first expressed reservations about spending taxpayer dollars on a program outside of the city.

“I do have a protectionary part of me to make sure we vet the students that are coming, that our program and our kids get priority,” Boyd said. “But I think it’s an incredible way to move forward. It’s not without concerns and you can understand why there are concerns. But I also think it’s a great opportunity to be the neighbor we should be. I would like to see it as a trial basis moving forward that if it becomes an issue, we can pull back off it.”

Blalock said she’s concerned about how Orange Beach citizens would react to spending money for a program for students outside the city limits.

“This is Orange Beach city taxpayers dollars,” Blalock said. “I haven’t had the chance to talk to people in the community and say how do you feel about your tax dollars being used on a child from Elberta. I’m sure a lot of people would not have an issue but there are some people that would say I wish you’d do this first or I wish you’d do this first. I have got some real thinking to do and I understand being neighborly and doing all these kinds of things but for me, I have to think really hard and fast about taxpayer dollars from Orange Beach.”

Kennon said the program is a plus for everyone because the extra money to fund the program would result in more Orange Beach students getting to participate in Expect Excellence and give students from Elberta an opportunity for quality afterschool classes.

“If we don’t use taxpayer dollars from Orange Beach and we don’t use their facilities we will have less of our kids participating,” Kennon said. “Let’s expand the program for our children, not limit it or reduce it.”

Councilmembers asked the Langstons to provide more information on what exactly the program would entail to study between now and the next meeting on Feb. 18.

During the regular session, the council also:

  • Approved of a liquor license for Kentucky Mist Distillery at the Wharf which is going in in the space next to Villaggio’s.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing execution of a professional services agreement with Moffatt & Nichol for natural resources consulting and engineering services.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the execution of a task order with Moffatt & Nichol to provide a net ecosystem benefit analysis for about $4,300.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing execution of a task order with Sawgrass Consulting to provide land surveying, civil engineering, and architectural design services for the Sea Turtle Triage Center for $33,000.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing execution of a task order with Sawgrass Consulting to provide land surveying, civil engineering, and site plan services for the Orange Beach High School baseball and softball fields for $25,000.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing execution of a task order with Sawgrass Consulting to provide civil engineering and site plan services for a new adult gym facility for $15,000.

During the work session, the council discussed:

  • A resolution adopting a resident account collection policy for emergency medical treatment and transport services.
  • A resolution authorizing the purchase of a vehicle for the fire department from state bid in the amount of $38,217.
  • A resolution authorizing the purchase of fire apparatus for the fire department from the Houston-Galveston Area Council in an amount not to exceed $534,183. The new engine will be stationed on Ono Island.
  • A resolution authorizing the sole source purchase of air diffusers from Schreiber for the Utilities Department in the amount of $78,578.
  • A resolution authorizing a franchise agreement for AAAND... WE RIDE and A Better Cab to operate a taxi service within the city limits and police jurisdiction of the City of Orange Beach.