By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The Escambia County Board of Education approved during its February 16 meeting the reconfiguration of three Atmore schools, a move that will put all the county’s 4-year-old pre-kindergarten students in the same school and move local fourth graders back into an elementary school setting. The reconfiguration was approved at the recommendation of Superintendent Michele McClung.
The student relocation plan will affect Rachel Patterson Elementary (RPES), Escambia County Middle (ECMS), and A.C. Moore Elementary (ACM).
Rachel Patterson will be on both ends of the reconfiguration, as K4 students from that school will move to ACM, where the First Class Pre-K program is situated, and fourth graders will remain at RPES instead of attending ECMS.
Toya McMillian, the elementary school’s principal, expressed mixed emotions over the plan.
“The reconfiguration of the grades at Rachel Patterson is bittersweet for our school,” she said. “We love having our Pre-K students on campus. (That) definitely made for a smooth transition the next year into our kindergarten program. Most of our Pre-K students had siblings on our campus as well; therefore, our parents benefited from being able to take care of all their smaller children on one campus. Unfortunately, due to limited space, we cannot have the best of both worlds, with pre-K and fourth grade.”
McMillian pointed out that the RPES campus is being restructured to accommodate the return of the fourth graders, which she said will work in favor of the students and the school.
“The fourth graders next year are our current third graders, so the only change we will experience will be the additional staff,” she explained. “There are lots of positives to keeping our students at our school an additional year, including giving them that extra year at the elementary level before transitioning to middle school, and being able to improve our educational program and practices by comparing state data of our third and fourth graders being on the same campus.
“We are grateful that we will be able to keep those students under our guidance and tutelage that additional year. We are also looking forward to working with (ECMS) Principal (Forrest) Jones and his staff …and welcoming those fourth-grade teachers with open arms into our work family.”
The relocation of fourth grade students from ECMS will leave that school as it was (Grades 5-8) before 2017, when the decision was made to move the younger students there from Rachel Patterson.
Jones said he believes the change will be a positive one.
“I am 100 percent behind the move of the fourth grade students back to Rachel Patterson Elementary School,” he said. “If Mrs. McClung and the board believe it is the best thing to do for moving our students forward, then it is what should be done. I have no doubt this will also be another move in a positive direction for our system.”
There is another plus to the move, he explained.
“Mrs. Toya McMillian is an amazing principal and an even better person. I cannot think of a better person to have leading these wonderful students,” he said.
In other business related to Atmore-area schools, board members agreed to accept a Non-Judicial Settlement of Agreement of Trust between the board of education and First National Bank & Trust of Atmore regarding dissolution of the Imogene Brantley Trust.
BOE Attorney Kirk Garrett said proceeds from the account have reached a point where it is “no longer beneficial to maintain the trust.” Garrett said the trust, which provided scholarship money for ECHS students, now has “approximately $16,000” in it, and that amount — less fees for the trust’s attorneys — is to be paid to the school and used for “purposes related to the trust purposes.”
In other business, the school board:
*Approved an April 3 trip to Six Flags Over Georgia for Flomaton High (FHS) seniors.
*Heard from CSFO Rochelle Richardson that the BOE had an unreserved fund balance of $13,803,681.11 (pending a state audit review) on January 31. That amount is equal to 3.54 months of operational expenses.
*Approved the school calendar for the 2023-24 school year that includes 178 student days and 187 teacher days.
*Tabled for 30 days approval of a revised Career Technical Education (CTE) Handbook to provide an opportunity for input and consideration of changes.
*Agreed to terminate a lease agreement between the BOE and the City of Flomaton for the property known as Hurricane Park and to purchase and accept via quit-claim deed a portion of the property known as the Alger Railroad. The twin transactions will give the board control of the property, allowing officials to perform upgrades needed on the FHS baseball field and concession stands.
*Voted to renew at a cost of $47,850 — from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds — the system’s subscription of the SchoolStatus program for data analytics and communication.
*Voted to renew for one year — at a cost of $92,100 in ESSER funds — the system’s subscription of Schools PLP Online for virtual and credit recovery curriculum.
*Agreed to purchase Proven Practices Professional Development from PowerSchool Group LLC. The total cost — $238,000 — includes $30,000 for 100 remote hours and $208,000 for 65 onsite days and will also be paid for with ESSER funds.
*Approved the 2023-24 CTE Textbook Committee that will select textbooks from the list approved by the State Board of Education.
*Approved a reconfiguration of FHS that will add sixth graders to the school’s 7th-12th grade student population.
*Amended the board’s mission statement to add the phrase “to provide a safe, rigorous and engaging learning environment that promotes healthy, respectful, resourceful and responsible life-long learners who will collaborate, lead by example, set goals to strive for excellence” before “and graduate as college- or career-ready.”
The Board also approved the following personnel recommendations by Superintendent McClung:
1. Keyanna Wiggins, special education aide, Escambia County Middle School [ECMS], effective January 13, 2023
2. Yolanda King, elementary teacher, Rachel Patterson Elementary School [RPES], effective January 30, 2023
3. Charish Watson, 6-hour lunchroom worker, RPES, effective January 27, 2023
4. Carol Hughes, elementary teacher, RPES, effective January 31, 2023
5. Megan Svoboda, teacher aide, W.S. Neal High School [WSNHS], effective February 24, 2023
6. Jeremy Padgett, utility/groundskeeper, Atmore Maintenance Department, effective February 15, 2023
1. Ann Stephens, part-time academic math interventionist, ECMS, effective February 22, 2023 (replacing Robert Hammond)
2. Rhecy Currie, teacher, After School Program, ECMS, effective February 22, 2023
3. Kelly McNeill, teacher, After School Program, ECMS, effective February 22, 2023
4. Berna Milton, teacher, After School Program, ECMS, effective February 22, 2023
5. Madelynn Holt, teacher, After School Program, ECMS effective February 22, 2023
6. Jeana Barrow, custodian, Flomaton High School [FHS], effective February 17, 2023 (Replacing Brandi Graham)
7. Shannon Martin, site coordinator / lead teacher, After School Program, RPES, effective February 23, 2023
8. Brian Stallworth, teacher, After School Program, RPES, effective January 17, 2023
9. Jessica Lockett, teacher, After School Program, RPES, effective February 24, 2023
10. DeMarcous Moton, elementary teacher, RPES, effective February 22, 2023 (replacing Yolanda King)
11. Mary Hubert, 6-hour lunchroom worker, RPES, effective March 1, 2023 (replacing Charish Watson)
12. Erin Stephens, teacher, After School Program, W.S. Neal Elementary School [WSNES], effective January 17, 2023
13. Margo Nordmeyer-Adams, teacher, After School Program, WSNES, effective January 17, 2023
14. Kaylee Gunn, instructional aide, WSNES, effective February 17, 2023
15. Heather Peters, teacher aide, WSNHS, effective February 27, 2023 (replacing Megan Svoboda)
16. Joshua Black, utility / groundskeeper, Atmore Maintenance Department, effective March 1, 2023 (replacing Jeremy Padgett)
17. Jessica Douglas, special needs bus aide, Brewton Bus Shop, effective February 17, 2023
- Tehron Stallworth, social studies teacher, WSNHS, effective February 9, 2023.