The Alabama School of Mathematics and Science (ASMS) is the state’s only fully public residential high school for sophomores, juniors, and seniors seeking advanced studies in mathematics, science, and the humanities. Located in Mobile’s Old Dauphin Way Historic District, ASMS was established in 1989 by the Alabama State Legislature to identify, challenge, and train Alabama’s future leaders. Tuition and room and board are free.
In the late 1980s, a group of concerned citizens banded together in Mobile to develop an advanced high school that could draw students from each county in the state. Many in this group belonged to Mobile United, a service organization focused on solving community challenges. One of the most notable members of the founding group was Ann Smith Bedsole, the first Republican woman to be elected to the Alabama House of Representatives and a member of the ASMS School Board and Foundation Board of Directors. Other notable supporters have included Sen. Jeff Sessions and Rep. Steve McMillan, who has also served on both the ASMS School Board and Foundation Board of Directors since the school’s founding. The models for ASMS were the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, where students complete their final two or three years of high school with advanced studies in mathematics and the sciences.
In 1989, the legislature approved a bill creating ASMS and gave the school’s founders $300,000 in start-up funds to hire faculty and staff and to purchase books and office equipment. Shortly thereafter, the ASMS Foundation, a non-profit organization located in Mobile that receives donations from businesses, industries, individuals, and other foundations, was created to raise additional funds to purchase a school campus and to furnish labs and dorm rooms. The 15-acre ASMS campus sits on the former property of Mobile Dauphin Way Baptist Church, although it has been heavily modified and refurbished.
The first students arrived in 1991, while much of the campus was under construction. In fact, the ASMS Foundation has overseen the renovation of every building on campus as well as the construction of a boys’ dormitory and the Ann Smith Bedsole Library. The school has future plans to renovate the art and band rooms and refurbish some of the laboratories.
ASMS benefits from a unique partnership between the state of Alabama and the business and industry communities. A roughly $6 million operating budget for the school is supplied by the state. The campus, however, is owned and maintained by the ASMS Foundation, which also raises money for the operating budget and other projects. Since the school was established, the foundation has raised nearly $20 million, much of which has been spent on capital-improvement projects. The ASMS School Board governs the school. The Alabama governor appoints nine of the board’s 21 members. Of those nine appointees, seven are appointed to represent congressional districts, and two are appointed to represent the Mobile-Baldwin area. Although ASMS receives state funding, the school does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state school board. The ASMS School Board employs a president to administer the school.
ASMS has the capacity to enroll 275 students each year. Over the course of the school’s history, ASMS has enrolled a student from every Alabama county. ASMS graduates are leaders and regularly report tremendous success in college, graduate school, law school, and medical school, as well as life in general. Since 1991, more than 2,000 students have graduated from ASMS. Of those, nearly 40 percent have earned or are working toward an advanced degree.
Over the past few years, ASMS has been ranked by Newsweek magazine as a top 10 public high school in Alabama and listed as a top high school in the nation. And, since 2000, seven ASMS grads have earned Gates Millennium Scholarships, which cover tuition and living expenses through graduate school.