By SHERRY DIGMON
Escambia County School Superintendent Michele McClung had much to report at a called Board of Education meeting Thursday, January 6.
Of special interest to this area are plans to build a new field house at Escambia County High School and renovate the existing field house.
Every school building and/or parking lot in the county is benefitting physically, and students district-wide will benefit from administrators’ and teachers’ professional development sessions as well as new programs being implemented.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Board met in executive session to hear legal updates from the board’s attorneys. When the meeting reconvened for the public, Superintendent McClung gave an update on new and ongoing projects.
1. In early January, all administrators, teachers and aides attended a two-day training on Capturing Kids Hearts to kick off the new school year. Teachers learned new strategies to build lasting relationships with students and to engage them in learning.
From the comments on Facebook following the training, Capturing Kids Hearts was a huge success, not only as educators relate to their students, but to each other as well.
2. Administrators and central office staff attended a Leadership Blueprint training to assess their leadership strengths and areas of potential constraints in 12 categories of leadership. Many members of the Escambia community partnered with the school system to join in the training allowing for new administrators to build relationships with leaders in the community. This training will be repeated with assistant principals and teachers certified in administration as succession training.
3. There are many construction and facility projects under way under the direction of Escambia County Schools Deputy of Operations Shaun Goolsby. Much of the work listed below was done over the Christmas break.
* Rachel Patterson Elementary School – new floor covering is on order for 10 classrooms, most if not all of which have the original carpet installed when the school was built
* Huxford Elementary School – auditorium floor resanded, restained, resealed. Hallways are getting new flooring (LVP vinyl plank).
* Escambia County Middle School – Parking lot and driveway resealed, coated, restriped
* Escambia County High School – Working to contract architect to build new fieldhouse for male athletes and renovate the existing fieldhouse for female athletes. Parking lot will soon go to architect for full asphalt resurface project.
* Flomaton Elementary School – Additional wing to be built in near future (already approved)
* Flomaton High School – Building a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) room next to the gymnasium
* Pollard McCall Junior High School – Concrete poured (soon to be reseal coated and restriped); faculty will get new restroom and updated nurse’s station
* W.S. Neal High School – Baseball field completed; cooler /freezer complete (a repair needed)
* W.S. Neal Elementary School – Paved bus circle between middle and elementary schools
4. Purchased Centegix, crisis management alert system, to alert officials of emergencies on campus. All employees will have a badge with a button embedded that can be pushed a certain number of times to alert administrators and/or local authority in the event a life / safety issue arises. A map will come up on administrator phones if badge is alerted anywhere on school property inside building and outside of building. Additional color coded domes will be placed in the building to let teachers know if a lockdown is needed and the severity of the lockdown. In extreme cases the system will overtake the instructional board and send audible and written messages with instructions. Centegix purchase was approved by the Board at the December 16 meeting. Five-year contract is $541,700 countywide, funded with technology funds, at no cost to the school system.
5. Purchased StreamVu Ed video and news production equipment and news channels for each elementary, middle and high school for students to produce their own news. Principals will have a channel to broadcast news to parents and the community. In addition, this system will have the capability to record events like honor roll ceremonies and pep rallies to stream for those parents who are unable to attend so they can watch live or later from home. The system can also provide a virtual classroom.
This purchase was approved by the Board at the December 16 meeting, in the amount of $124,449.00 to be paid with Title I Funding.
6. McClung and her executive staff along with principals and assistant principals met with seniors to mentor them as they earn a credential before graduation. Each person on the team mentors between 8-10 students. The goal is for 100 percent credentialing rate of students – not just career tech students, but all students.
7. The district soon will begin working on curriculum pacing guides to ensure teachers understand what needs to be taught and at what level of learning is expected by the student for all subjects K-12. Calibration of what is being taught and when is key for improving test scores.
Also, McClung reported only 16 Covid cases in the district.
In other business, the board voted to submit the names of Larry White, Thomas Hines, and Chuck Dettling to the State Commissioner of Revenue for selection to the Escambia County Board of Equalization, pursuant to Act#2021-173. At the November 18 meeting, the board voted to nominate Larry White to the Escambia County Board of Equalization, however, the superintendent later determined the name of one person from each area of the district had to be submitted and the selection would be made from those names.
The Escambia County School System appoints a member to the Escambia County Board of Equalization for a four-year term. The appointee must have been a resident of Escambia County for the prior five years, must be a qualified voter in Escambia County, and must own taxable property in Escambia County.
The following personnel recommendations by Superintendent McClung were approved by the board.
1. Schwayn Bradley, choir teacher, Escambia County Middle School, effective December 17, 2021
2. Beverly Vanhoosen, 7-hour lunchroom worker, Pollard McCall Junior High School, effective December 17, 2021
3. Emily Dean, speech language pathologist, Rachel Patterson Elementary School, effective December 17, 2021
4. Terri Smith, LPN / special education instructional aide, W.S. Neal Elementary School, effective December 3, 2021
5. Jessica Marion, special education aide, W.S. Neal Elementary School, effective December 17, 2021
1. Allison Nalty, part-time academic interventionist, Escambia County Middle School, effective January 7, 2022
2. Amber Dunaway, ARI reading specialist, Pollard McCall Junior High School, effective January 7, 2022 (replacing Gina Nall)
3. Marilyn Bradley, part-time academic interventionist, Pollard McCall Junior High School, effective January 7, 2022
4. Whitney Cross, teacher aide, W.S. Neal Middle School, effective January 10, 2022
The board participated in an informal discussion concerning the teacher shortage and teachers’ salaries.
Board member Danny Benjamin said the board should consider improving salaries to keep people in this system rather than losing them to surrounding areas that pay more.
Board President Coleman Wallace said, “Teachers all over America are underpaid … It’s a national problem … My heart goes out to our teachers.”
McClung said giving teachers the tools and strategies to succeed will help keep them here.
Wallace praised McClung for the impact she has already had on the school district in the short time she has been superintendent.
This article is written in my capacity as Atmore News publisher, not as a BOE member, and I am not speaking FOR the board. SD