The most fundamental resource for building a strong local economy is the presence of a highly qualified workforce that can attract new industry and sustain existing business. As a Coalition of seven education enrichment foundations, supporters of the Baldwin County Education Coalition recognize K-12 education as the “foundation” for building a qualified workforce and the single best investment for a healthier and stronger Baldwin County.
Serving 48 campuses in all corners of the county geographically, the Coalition works collaboratively to increase the level of support for Baldwin County Public Schools by mobilizing resources: financial, volunteer and in-kind services. Each foundation provides programs and services to meet the specific needs of the schools in their local communities, while the Coalition focuses on systemic initiatives and best practices that improve student achievement and impact every child, hence our motto: One Voice. Every Child. Our collective impact is $1.2 million annually, much of which is made possible through the very generous support of the business community.
The Coalition recently celebrated 10 years as an organization. Highlights of our work include:
Hosting annual Gulf Regional Innovative Teaching Conference – a weeklong summer conference providing innovative professional development to more than 1,200 educators.
Hosting annual Teacher of the Year Banquet – an event to recognize each school’s (48) outstanding educator and announce the county Teacher’s of the Year, elementary and secondary.
Program grants and funding initiatives to support best practices and meet the needs of our schools- $501,000 in local foundation grants to-date.
Facilitating groups and leading forums to inform, engage and connect citizens to our public schools – Community Advisory Task Force, Strategic Plan Steering Committee, Literacy Summit, Baldwin Partners in Education, and Faith-Based Initiative.
Advocating with a collective voice on issues concerning our public schools at the county and state level.
Born out of need for emergency funding and recognizing the strength in a united voice, the Coalition was formed by the education foundations to advocate for a penny sales tax referendum. Our efforts to help stabilize funding for our public schools resulted in five referendums over a seven-year period with voters demonstrating a much better appetite for sales tax. The first full year of the penny tax brought in approximately $23.6 million in revenue in 2011, compared to $42.6 million in 2019.
With most of our school systems local revenue coming from sales tax, the current COVID-19 crisis and it’s hit on the economy will have a significant impact on funding. According to John Wilson, Chief School Financial Officer (CSFO), the school system could easily experience a drop of more than $10 million in sales tax revenue over three months. He is already preparing for $2.1 million drop just for the month of March 2020 and businesses were still open and operating for half of that month. The full extent of the impact is still unknown and depends on how soon businesses can reopen to get the economy moving again.
The good news is our school system is in a much better position to face an economic crisis than we were in 2009. Under the leadership of the Baldwin County Board of Education, our Superintendent, Eddie Tyler, and John Wilson, our school system has a very healthy reserve of more than $51 million compared to $850 thousand in 2009. We couldn’t be more proud of our school system leaders and their commitment to operating efficiently and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
During this time of crisis, our main focus has been disseminating information and providing support when and where it’s needed. Several of our partner foundations were faced with canceling fundraising events following the Governor’s stay-at-home order. Our foundations and schools rely heavily on the generosity of the business community but have suspended all soliciting at a time when our need to mobilize resources in support of our schools and families will be more important than ever. If you are able, please consider making a donation to support our work: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/BCEC_Donation_Form
One thing is certain, the Coalition remains united and will continue to mobilize resources to ensure little stars have bright futures. As always, we are Baldwin Proud and Community Strong!
Learn more about the Coalition and our work by visiting our website: https://betterbaldwin.com