BOE looks to finalize deal on 100-acre site for new schools
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Contingent upon the results of an environmental study, Escambia County Board of Education has found a site for construction of two new educational facilities, an elementary school to serve a growing Flomaton student population and a more centrally located Career Technical Center.
The school board gave unanimous approval during its March 23 meeting to the pending purchase, at $35,000 less than its appraised value, of the site on which the two schools will be built.
BOE President Danny Benjamin announced that under terms of the contingent agreement, the board will pay $425,000 for the 100-acre site, on U.S. 31 in Flomaton, which was appraised at $460,000.
“We will pay for this out of local funds; we will not have to assume any debt through the purchase of this property,” said Benjamin, who added that the BOE will pay the $750 appraisal fee.
Deputy Director of Operations Shaun Goolsby, who has for several months searched for land that would best meet the county system’s immediate needs and its finances, said he feels the board will be getting a good deal, one that just popped up during his search.
“I looked at multiple properties in the area, as you all know, that just didn’t work out,” he said. “Some of them were double the price for half the land. This property wasn’t for sale, but we went to the owner and were able to go back and forth in some negotiation and come to an agreement, pending board approval.”
“Also,” he added, “this is contingent on a Phase I environmental study, the geoworks and everything.”
In answer to a query from District 7 BOE Member Coleman Wallace, the DDO said the study should take about two weeks, which will allow for close of the transaction “within 45 days.”
Goolsby added that the board might consider eventually centralizing the system’s bus depot by locating it on the property.
“It’s what we were looking for, with great access to it, being right at the end of Highway 113,” he said. “In the future, putting our bus terminal there would make a lot of sense. Getting those 100 acres is, I feel, a great accomplishment, especially at that location, at that price.”
In other action taken during the meeting, the BOE:
*approved out-of-state trips for students at three different schools: a day trip to Biloxi for the junior class at Escambia County High School: an overnight trip for 19 Career Readiness Center students to attend the SkillsUSA State Competition in Mobile; and an April 24-28 trip to San Antonio, Texas, for the W.S. Neal High band, which will perform in the Fiesta Flambeau Parade.
*heard from Chief Schools Financial Officer Rochelle Robinson that the school system had $11,665,924.50 in its unreserved fund balance at February 29, with receipt of an additional $5.7 million expected from the state at any time.
*approved a revised Career Technical Education Handbook that had been tabled at last month’s meeting.
*accepted bids for HVAC upgrades at Escambia County Middle School and for demolition of the former middle school building on Martin Luther King Drive. (See separate story, this edition.)
*approved, contingent on E-rate funding, a 36-month contract with Uniti Fiber for managed Wide Area Network (Internet service). The services will cost $11,920 a month, which will be paid out of local funds.
*approved a contract with BBB Enterprises Inc. for professional development services, including 13 days for LLI-focused teacher support (at a cost of $31,187), 239 days of Benchmark Workshop, LLI, Interactive Read Aloud and do the math (total cost of $573,361), 25 days of teacher support on Inquiry By Design ($59,975). The total cost ($664,523) will be paid from Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.
*approved a new school calendar for 2023-24 that adds one more day for teachers.
*tabled a Board Policy revision involving recordkeeping and retention of board records.
*heard from several board members who attended the recent Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) conference in Birmingham, where a couple of members participated in a poverty simulation in which they were thrust into roles of people who must deal with children, a job and bills while attending college, as well as other life situations. Other board members reported on takeaways from various sessions at the conference.
*after an executive session, approved a settlement agreement with Juul Labs and authorized Benjamin to execute all necessary documents.
The Board approved the following personnel recommendations by Superintendent Michele McClung.
1. Guy Mims, Spanish teacher, Escambia County High School (ECHS), effective June 1, 2023
2. Linda Thomas, 7-hr. lunchroom worker, Escambia County Middle School (ECMS), effective June 1, 2023
3. Rebecca Boutwell, lunchroom manager, ECMS, effective June 1, 2023
1. Ashley Murphy, secondary teacher, Flomaton High School (FHS), effective May 25, 2023
2. Vasaroy Johnson, teacher, Rachel Patterson Elementary School (RPES), effective March 10, 2023
3. Katrina Ewing Anthony, teacher, W.S. Neal Middle School (WSNMS), effective March 10, 2023
4. Krystal Jernigan, bus driver, Brewton Bus Shop, effective March 15, 2023
5. Andrea Boatwright, bus driver, Atmore Bus Shop, effective March 9, 2023
1. Vernametres McCracklin, teacher, After School Program, ECHS, effective April 3, 2023
2. Sandi McMurphy, teacher aide, ECMS, effective March 24, 2023
3. Johnny Lambeth, general maintenance worker, Brewton Maintenance Shop, effective March 27, 2023
1. Lauren Kirn, elementary teacher, ECMS, to elementary teacher, RPES, effective July 1, 2023
2. Rhecy Currie, elementary teacher, ECMS, to elementary teacher, RPES, effective July 1, 2023
3. Deborah Salyers, elementary teacher, ECMS, to elementary teacher, RPES, effective July 1, 2023
4. Sydnie High, elementary teacher, ECMS, to elementary teacher, RPES, effective July 1, 2023
5. Sandra Davis, elementary teacher, ECMS, to elementary teacher, RPES, effective July 1, 2023
6. Shelbi Himes, teacher, Flomaton Elementary School (FES), to teacher, FHS, effective July 1, 2023
7. Tara Ross, teacher, FES, to teacher, FHS, effective July 1, 2023
8. Cynthia Davis, teacher, FES, to teacher, FHS, effective July 1, 2023
9. Patricia Respress, Pre-K teacher aide, RPES, to Pre-K teacher aide, A.C. Moore School (ACMS), effective July 1, 2023
10. Maranda Lambeth, Pre-K teacher aide, RPES, to Pre-K teacher aide, ACMS, effective July 1, 2023
11. Deloris Johnson, Pre-K teacher, RPES, to Pre-K teacher, ACMS, effective July 1, 2023
12. Mary Campbell, Pre-K teacher, RPES, to Pre-K teacher, ACMS, effective July 1, 2023