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Public meeting May 15 on Huxford gym, expansion

Architiect’s rendering

News Staff Writer

As Escambia County education officials prepare for the upcoming construction of Huxford Elementary School’s (HES) first indoor recreational facility, the public is invited to hear an update on the $8 million project, along with a rough timetable for completion.
The public meeting will take place at 1 p.m. next Wednesday, May 15, in Huxford Auditorium.
Representatives of the architectural firm heading up the school’s expansion program — which will also include a classroom for 8th-graders and a storm shelter for community use — will be on hand, as will county school system leaders and school board members.
“I am incredibly pleased to announce that PH&J Architects will be at Huxford School for building addition updates,” HES Principal Leah Fuqua said. “The architectural firm will hold a public presentation to highlight the details of the new addition. [Superintendent of Education] Dr. [Michele] Collier, [Assistant Superintendent George] Brown, and [Deputy Director of Operations Shaun] Goolsby will also be present.”
Huxford Elementary, which opened for the 1928-29 school term, is the only public school in the county that does not have access to a gymnasium for physical education classes. The lack of such a facility has forced school officials to hold all PE classes outside, or in the school auditorium or classrooms when inclement weather has prevented the outside exercise.
The project, which had been put on a back burner for most of a year, got a shot in the arm when an anonymous donor, later identified as Poarch Band of Creek Indians, pledged $3 million to help finance the expansion, which will also include an 8th-grade classroom. The school’s student population currently includes kindergarten through grade 7.
Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) funds will be used to pay the balance.
Goolsby told Escambia County Board of Education members in March he expected to begin the bid process in late summer. He is expected to provide an update at the May 15 meeting.
Fuqua said she expected the public gathering to draw a large crowd, based on the interest expressed by parents and other stakeholders.
“I anticipate this meeting will be well attended by community members and will be standing-room-only in our auditorium,” she said. “This addition has been many, many years in the making and it is truly a dream realized for our children and our community. As the principal of our precious school, I am beyond thrilled.”