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BOE members elect Benjamin president, Jackson as VP

Newly elected Vice President Cindy Jackson, left, and President Danny Benjamin, right
Judge Jeff White, center, swore in Cindy Jackson, left, and Sherry Digmon, right, for their next six-year terms

News Staff Writer

Escambia County Board of Education members elected their top two positions during the board’s November 18 meeting. Under Alabama law, school boards must meet in November of each year to elect a president and vice-president.
District 3 representative Mike Edwards first made a motion that the top two seats remain the same, with Coleman Wallace (District 7) as president and District 2’s Danny Benjamin as vice president, saying, “They’ve both done a great job.”
Instead, Benjamin and Wallace were each nominated for president, while Edwards and District 4’s Cindy Jackson were nominated for vice president.
Benjamin, who has been on the school board for 34 years, was elected president by a 4-3 margin over Wallace after Kevin Hoomes (District 1), Benjamin, Loumeek White (District 5) and Sherry Digmon (District 6) voted for him.
“I’m thankful that I have received the opportunity to serve, and I want to emphasize the word ‘serve,’ as president of this board,” Benjamin said after thanking each of his BOE peers for their service. “I will do my best for the next 12 months to fulfill that role with integrity and pray that we succeed in all that we do.”
Jackson was elected by the same margin as the board’s vice president, with Hoomes, Jackson, White and Digmon each casting their vote for her.
Prior to the votes on officers, two BOE members who were re-elected (Jackson) or elected (Digmon) earlier this year by voters in their respective districts were sworn in for their new six-year terms. Circuit Court Judge Jeff White administered the oath of office to Jackson, who was joined by her husband, Col. Charles Jackson, then to Digmon, who was accompanied by Benjamin.
Following the swear-ins, Wallace and Benjamin exchanged seats, then each board member completed and signed a Certificate of Affirmation of School Board Member, essentially promising that each would make decisions based on facts and need, not on political or financial factors, for the betterment of the county’s public school system.
In other business conducted at the meeting, members:
*Heard from Miranda Bonner, audit manager for the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts, that the BOE’s Fiscal Year 2021 financial statements earned an unmodified opinion that they were presented fairly, in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
*Heard from Chief Schools Financial Officer Rochelle Richardson that the BOE’s unrestricted fund balance on October 31, 2022, was $19,808,552.27. That amount is equivalent to “a little over five-and-a-half months of operating reserve.”
*Met state requirements that school boards hold a special meeting each year for the purpose of “allowing the public to address the board relating to the allotment of public funds or any other matter related to the administration of the public schools in the county.”
Superintendent of Education Michele McClung asked the small group of attendees if any had comments or concerns they wanted to express. When nobody spoke up, she declared the public meeting over.
The Board also approved the following personnel recommendations by McClung.

  1. Wayne McMillan, custodian, Escambia County High School (ECHS), effective November 28, 2022 (replacing Bonnie Johnson)
  2. Heather Cook, site coordinator, After School Program, Escambia County Middle School (ECMS), effective November 28, 2022
  3. Lauren Kirn, teacher, After School Program, ECMS, effective November 21, 2022
  4. Tyler Parker, teacher, After School Program, ECMS, effective November 28, 2022
  5. Deborah Salyers, teacher, After School Program, ECMS, effective November 28, 2022
  6. Stephanie Bagwell, instructional aide, Flomaton Elementary School (FES), effective November 28, 2022 (replacing Pamela Iutzi)
  7. Jennifer Burkett, custodian, FES, effective October 31, 2022 (replacing Pam Iutzi) (amended date)
  8. April Blackwell, teacher, After School Program, Pollard McCall Junior High School (PMJHS), effective November 21, 2022
  9. Elizabeth Taylor, teacher, After School Program, PMJHS, effective November 25, 2022
  10. Ally Edwards, elementary teacher, Rachel Patterson Elementary School (RPES), effective November 14, 2022 (replacing Amanda Crowder-Flowers) (amended date)
  11. Yolanda King, elementary teacher, RPES, effective November 28, 2022 (replacing Heather Murphy)
  12. Stephanie Spicer, teacher, After School Program, W.S. Neal High School, effective November 28, 2022
  13. Brandi Graham, Custodian, Flomaton High School (FHS), effective October 27, 2022
    Approval to enter into TEAMS contract with the following employees:
  14. David Belanger, Math Teacher, ECHS
  15. Wendy Davidson, Science Teacher, FHS