In the late 1980s, a group of concerned citizens banded together in Mobile to develop an advanced high school that could draw students from across the entire 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 Representative Steve McMillan, former Representative Jo Bonner, and former Alabama Insurance Commissioner Walter Bell. McMillan, Bonner, and Bell have also served on both the ASMS School Board and Foundation Board of Directors.
In 1989, the state 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 after that, 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 site 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. Since that time, 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.
ASMS benefits from a unique partnership between the state of Alabama and the business and industry communities. The state supplies a roughly $9 million operating budget for the school. 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 $22 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 County 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.