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BOE approves revised salary schedule

News Staff Writer

The Escambia County Board of Education, meeting May 10 at the Central Office in Atmore, followed a lengthy workshop with a relatively short special meeting, during which the board approved revision of the school system’s salary schedule to account for summer schoolteachers, and a revision to the system’s Foreign Exchange Program procedures.
Superintendent of Education Michele McClung said one of the most important agenda items was the hiring of new teachers while the best ones were still available.
“The early bird gets the worm,” said McClung as the meeting began. “That’s why we need to do an emergency meeting. People right now want to shop around and get the best offer, or they want to settle in place and start dreaming and hoping for the opening of school.”
The salary schedule revision, which drew unanimous approval from the seven board members, was aimed at the educators who staff the county’s various summer school programs.
“We didn’t have this in our previous salary schedule, and we want to have our principals start staffing our schools,” said the superintendent, who pointed out that this year’s summer salaries would be paid from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program. She added that there would be no ESSER funds for summer school next year.
McClung explained that the county’s two middle schools (W.S. Neal Middle and Escambia County Middle) would be closed for the summer, with summer school students from each attending classes at the high school for which they serve as feeders.
“All our elementary schools will be open,” she said. “The middle school students will go to their feeder high school, give their teachers a little bit of a break. We need to let them decompress a little bit and gear back up.”
Sending the middle school students, as well as any students in grades 9-12, to the high schools will help with the costs of transportation, electricity and other items.
Summer school will be held for students in grades 1-5; (state-required) literacy camp and math camp will be held for those in grades 4 and 5. Students in grades 6-12 will study English and math.
Many kindergartners will take part in the system’s Jumpstart program, under which they will attend half-days for two weeks, with breakfast and lunch — but not transportation — provided.
McClung also reminded BOE members that a new state law requires third-grade students to post a certain score on ACAP tests during the upcoming school year or to be retained at that grade level.
She said she has written to state education officials and lawmakers, asking that the new law be reconsidered.
The board also heard from Secondary Supervisor Jason Weeks about revisions to the system’s Foreign Exchange Program to help any foreign student attending a county school to better acclimate himself or herself to a new learning environment.
“I’ve made a couple of revisions to give (the program) a little flexibility,” Weeks said. “The most important thing, I’m protecting the district as well as I can. At the same time, we’re providing an opportunity for foreign exchange students to have a positive experience, and to keep (the board) out of hot water when it comes to the Foreign Exchange Program.
“We want the students to be successful, and we need to ensure they can be. That’s why we need parameters set, if a student has no understanding of the English language, no way to communicate. We have some programs in place, but we shouldn’t put a student in that situation if we don’t have to.”
Board members also gave unanimous approval to the revision.