Gulf Shores approves $131 million contract to build new high school

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NBC 15 News | by Keith Lane | Mon, February 5th 2024

Students in Gulf Shores City Schools (GSCS) will soon walk the halls of a brand new high school featuring an array of collaborative learning spaces, including cutting-edge classrooms uniquely designed to be scaled to accommodate class sizes from 20 to 200. The news comes after the Gulf Shores City Council approved a $131 million contract with Rabren Construction to construct the 287,000-square-foot facility.

The new Gulf Shores High School will educate over 1,000 students when it opens for the 2026 school year andis master planned to nearly double in capacity to accommodate growth for years to come.

“This project is about much more than just building boxes to satisfy capacity,” said Superintendent Dr. Matt Akin. “This new high school was designed with the needs of students and teachers at the forefront. It embraces collaboration and innovation and will facilitate a new way of learning that will increase engagement and outcomes in every aspect of our students’ educational experience.”

Students will be immersed in hands-on learning and leading-edge technology in bio-medical, marine biology, engineering, culinary, and finance labs, maker spaces, art, music production, and broadcast studios. Band, choral, and drama students will hone their skills in dedicated spaces connected to a state-of-the-art performing arts center that will host school and community events throughout the year.

“Our schools belong to every person in this community. We’re excited to be able to provide these new facilities not only to create an unmatched educational experience for our kids, but also host incredible events for the entire community to enjoy year-round,” said Mayor Robert Craft.

“I can’t wait to see neighbors and friends attending plays, concerts, and sporting events on this new campus. It will truly be an amazing asset, unlike anything Gulf Shores has ever seen.”

A new Dolphin athletics center will be home to all sports, including locker rooms for all varsity and junior varsity teams, two competition-size gymnasiums, tiered meeting rooms, athletic training rooms, coaches’ office suites, and an additional 18,000-square-foot field house complete with an athletic performance center planned to be connected to a covered 100-yard practice pavilion that will provide year-round training opportunities for all Dolphin athletes.

The new high school campus is the cornerstone of a 10-year master plan that school and city officials embarked on developing in January 2021. The project team gathered detailed input from students, teachers, parents, and the community throughout the planning process and visited leading schools from Kansas City, Phoenix, and the Southeast to learn best practices.

“This new Gulf Shores high school, represents more than three years of a tireless team effort between the City of Gulf Shores, Gulf Shores City Schools, and a dedicated team of design and construction management professionals,” said School Board President Kevin Corcoran. “By directing our resources to a new state-of-the-art high school, we will be greatly reducing overcrowding for all grade levels, thus providing an improved learning environment for all students ages 4 to 18.”

When complete, the new high school will clear the way for implementing the balance of the master plan, which includes expanding Gulf Shores Elementary into the existing middle school campus and shifting Gulf Shores Middle to the existing high school campus. Construction of the new high school campus is expected to begin in early spring. School and city officials will announce plans for the public to attend a groundbreaking ceremony in the coming weeks.

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