By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The Escambia County Board of Education, sitting one member short, gave unanimous approval during a June 1 special meeting to the expenditure of more than $650,000 to pave the way for portable classrooms at Flomaton Elementary School, which is, figuratively speaking, bursting at the seams.
The action increases the estimated cost to nearly $1 million of helping the school deal with a continued influx of students until a new school can be built on 100 acres the BOE recently purchased.
Before school board members accepted a $675,680 bid from Walker Construction & Consulting Services of Milton, Fla., Deputy Director of Operations Shawn Goolsby let the six members present know that the amount would not cover the cost of the classrooms themselves. (District 7’s Coleman Wallace was unable to attend due to a conflicting doctor’s appointment.)
“This is not actually for the portables,” Goolsby said. “This is for everything that goes into the work to get the portables in there — the sewer, fire alarms, Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible ramps, sidewalks, canopies, everything the state requires us to have. Without that, we can’t get the portables. This is the most expensive work, but it has to be done, regardless.”
After District 6’s Sherry Digmon asked how many classrooms would be needed, Goolsby revealed the estimated cost of leasing enough portable buildings to meet the school’s immediate needs.
“That’s for four classrooms, actually one bathroom and three classrooms, and there are a lot of small things that are required to get those portables in there,” he explained. “Then you have the architect fees, so I’d say it will take roughly $250,000 to $300,000 for three years.”
When asked why the board couldn’t just buy the portable buildings, Goolsby said he had tried.
“Purchasing is not an option,” he said. “I’ve reached out to the company and asked about purchasing, but they said there are none available. If, down the road, some become available …”
After District 3’s Mike Edwards commented, “I don’t think we have a choice,” and made a motion to accept the bid, the board voted 6-0 to do so.
The BOE also approved the purchase of two new Ford F150 crew-cab trucks for the maintenance department. The trucks will be bought off the state bid list, from Stivers Ford of Montgomery, for $33,938 each.
Goolsby explained that the new vehicles would replace two high-mileage trucks, including one that currently needs a new engine.
“These are to replace the trucks with high miles,” the DOO said. “One of them is down, in the shop, and it’s going to cost us $30,000 for a new motor. We can get a new truck for $34,000, so …”
He suggested that the two trucks being replaced be sold at auction on the govdeals online site.
The other major issue discussed during the session was the stationing of medical personnel on the sidelines during home and away football games involving the county system’s three high schools — Escambia County, Flomaton and W.S. Neal.
“We need athletic trainers for our three high schools for football season (that’s our only contact sport), primarily to diagnose concussions, but trainers are not available,” said Superintendent of Education Michele McClung.
Assistant Superintendent George Brown said the ability to spot concussions was the most important aspect of the job.
“We need somebody on the sidelines who is certified to assist at least with concussions — that’s my biggest concern — and also provide medical advice to the limits of their training. Concussions are things a coach can’t see, so the players need to be assessed by someone who’s medically trained.
“We’re looking basically for certified EMTs, nurses, doctors, somebody who will be willing to give the time to each one of our schools during football season. It’s in our athletes’ best interest, it’s in the board’s best interest. It’s a reasonable amount to pay.”
Those who apply to fill the positions will be subjected to a background check, he added.
Brown said school officials would try to establish a medical presence at junior varsity (JV) and middle school games, too. He said the total cost, for varsity, JV and middle schools in all three feeder patterns, would only be “a total of $6,150 for a whole year.”
Those who fill the role will be paid $125 per game. District 5’s Loumeek White asked if the sideline medical professionals could also be paid mileage, and several board members agreed with the idea, but the original motion was not amended.
In other action during the June 1 session, BOE members:
*Approved the superintendent’s attendance at the July 5-9 Innovative Schools Summit, “Addressing Learning Loss. Culture Responsiveness. Supportive Discipline.” McClung, whose contract requires board approval for any out-of-state conference, said this year’s summit would be held “either in Texas or Vegas.” The cost of the trip will be paid out of Title II funds.
*Approved a revised salary schedule to extend the work period of student maintenance helpers through July to help wax and clean floors, move furniture, etc.
*Approved a recently tabled board policy revision regarding credit cards.
*Approved the Code of Student Conduct for the 2023-24 school year.
*Reminded the public that the next scheduled BOE meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 29, at the Central Office in Brewton.
Prior to the special meeting, during a workshop, school board members listened to and watched a presentation by Schneider Electric USA’s Kyle Keith and Jordan Migues.
The global company, headquartered in France, has proposed a partnership with the school system under which Schneider would handle projects dealing with upgrades to heating, cooling, lighting and other systems at the county’s various schools, for a 10-percent fee. Among the information provided was that some of the HVAC systems, light fixtures and controls for heating and cooling are from 20 to 30 years old.