The Escambia County Board of Education voted June 29 to move ahead with the consolidation of A.C. Moore Elementary with Rachel Patterson Elementary and Escambia County Middle schools. Immediately, some people started criticizing the action due to the overcrowding that was sure to follow such a move.
Depending on who you talk to, you might hear, “I don’t know what that Board was thinking, forcing overcrowding at the middle school.” Someone else might say, “I can’t believe they’re crowding all those kids into Rachel Patterson.”
Both scenarios have one thing in common – they’re totally wrong. The truth is even with additional students at both schools, there’s still room left over.
“Both schools have had as many or more students in the past than they will have the next school year,” Assistant Superintendent Beth Drew said. “At the middle school, we will still have five empty classrooms even after the fourth grade comes over. At Rachel Patterson, we have plenty of room to accommodate the pre-k and third-grade classes. Several rooms at Rachel Patterson are taken up with ancillary services that could easily be combined or moved if the rooms are needed.”
The projected enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is just under 550 at Rachel Patterson and approximately 600 at the middle school which has a capacity of 750 students.
Drew, who was principal at Rachel Patterson 2000-06 said the enrollment in 2004-05 was 598. In 2012-13, the middle school’s enrollment was 597, in line with the projected enrollment for next year.