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BOE votes on CSFO, new principals

News Staff Report

The Escambia County Board of Education is keeping its collective fingers crossed that the county school system will soon have a new chief accountant to look after its finances.

Board members voted during a special called meeting held Monday, June 3, at the Brewton Central Office to offer the job to Avery Ford, currently the Chief Schools Financial Officer (CSFO) for Conecuh County.

Ford was chosen by a 6-1 vote over Flomaton Town Clerk Carrie Moore to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Rochelle Richardson, which went into effect February 29. Six of seven BOE members interviewed both candidates during a May 30 meeting at Flomaton High School. (District 1’s Kevin Hoomes was not able to attend the interview session.)

On Monday, District 3’s Mike Edwards made a motion that Moore be offered the job, but the motion died for lack of a second. Later, Edwards cast the only ‘no’ vote when a motion was made to hire Avery.

Prior to the vote, W.S. Neal High’s FFA quartet entertained education officials and guests by performing several songs in a tune-up for the upcoming state competition.

The school board also approved several personnel actions Monday, including the transfer of former Transportation Director Forrest Jones, currently serving as principal at Escambia County Middle School (ECMS), back to his former position.

Layton Knight, Escambia County High School’s basketball coach and most recently the high school’s interim principal, will replace Jones as ECMS principal on a probationary basis.

The board also named Jennifer Lee as the new principal, also on a probationary basis, at Rachel Patterson Elementary School (RPES). Toya McMillian, who has been principal at RPES for the past four years, was recently tabbed to fill the principal’s slot at the county system’s new K5 alternative school, which will be located at ECMS.

School officials reported recently that the county has more than two dozen students of that age who require “intensive intervention.”

Getting back to the CSFO, BOE members are hopeful in offering the position to Ford.

“I sure hope everything works out; we need somebody in that position,” BOE President Loumeek White said. “I hope we don’t have to go through another search.”

The school board thought the issue was settled in March, when Brewton resident and former school system accounting specialist Kristal Wardrop was chosen from several candidates as the new CSFO.

White and BOE attorneys were unable to come to terms with Wardrop, who reportedly demanded a five-year deal instead of the three-year pact that was offered. That restarted the search for a permanent CSFO.

Richardson accepted the county CSFO job in July 2022 and held it for 20 months before stepping down. Her only accounting experience at the time of her hiring came from the seven years she spent as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk and account analyst for the Mobile County School System.

Such a lack of experience won’t be a problem for Ford, who is in his second stint as Conecuh County’s CSFO and has also served as chief accountant for Thomasville City Schools.

Until a contract is signed, the board will continue its contract with Criterion K-12 Consulting Evaluation Support Services, under which the firm has provided — at $825 per day, plus expenses — a retired CSFO on an as-needed basis to make sure payroll, federal reimbursements and other critical accounting obligations are kept timely until a new chief accountant is hired.

In other business Monday, board members:

*Approved a trip by Escambia County High School color guard / dance team to attend band camp at Troy University June 16 through June 20.

*Awarded a $185,570 bid to Construction Managers, LLC. to replace damaged flooring in the cafeteria at Escambia County High School.


The following personnel recommendations by Superintendent Dr. Michele Collier were approved by the board.

These abbreviations are used:

Escambia County Board of Education – ECBOE

A.C. Moore Primary School – ACMPS

Rachel Patterson Elementary School – RPES

Escambia County Middle School – ECMS

Escambia County High School – ECHS

W.S. Neal Elementary School – WSNES

Academic Recovery Response Plan – ARRP


1. Daphne Sullivan, TEAMS math teacher, ECMS, effective May 31, 2024


1. Kim Yarber, JAG career specialist, ECBOE, effective July 24, 2024, replacing Suzanne Helton

2. Lauren Darden, gifted education, Office of Special Education and Student Services, effective August 1, 2024

Employment change

1. Forrest Jones, from principal, ECMS, to transportation supervisor, ECBOE, effective July 1, 2024, replacing William Mills


1.  Leah White, elementary teacher, from ECMS to RPES, effective August 1, 2024

2.  Nataschia Kidd, elementary teacher, from ECMS to RPES, effective August 1, 2024

3.  Karl Smith, assistant principal from ECMS to RPES, effective July 24, 2024

4.  Susan Hartley, teacher, from WSNES to ACMPS, effective June 3, 2024

Summer employment

1. Lauren Kirn, ARRP summer teacher, ECMS, effective May 30, 2024

2. Deborah Salyers, ARRP summer math camp teacher, RPES, effective May 30, 2024

3. Deanna Edwards, ARRP summer aide, WSNES, effective May 30, 2024


1. Travis Stanton, CTE – construction / masonry technology instructor, ECHS, effective July 24, 2024

2. Nicole Jones, counselor, Flomaton Middle / Alternative schools, effective August 1, 2024


1. Layton Knight, probationary principal, ECMS, July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2026

2. Jennifer Lee, probationary principal, RPES, July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025