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Officials with the Escambia County (Fla.) Board of Education, Ernest Ward, Greenhut Construction and Sam Marshall Architects break ground Thursday on a new school project.
Officials with the Escambia County (Fla.) Board of Education, Ernest Ward, Greenhut Construction and Sam Marshall Architects break ground Thursday on a new school project.

Ground is broken on Ernest Ward Middle School project

Published 4:08pm Thursday, August 8, 2013

A crowd was on hand Thursday morning in Walnut Hill, Fla., for a groundbreaking ceremony for Ernest Ward Middle School.
According to officials with the Escambia County (Fla.) Board of Education, the $17-million project was funded completely by the county’s half-cent sales tax and construction is slated to be completed in 18 to 24 months.

Escambia County (Fla.) Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said the new school project has been a long time in the making.

“This is a really exciting day,” Thomas said. “It takes an idea — a concept — and makes it seem a little more real.”

Thomas said he and the board could not give enough thanks to the people of Escambia County, who voted for the sales tax.

“This is funded totally by the tax,” Thomas said. “That money is spent only on school locations. To the taxpayers of Escambia County, we are very grateful.”

Of 67 counties in Florida, Escambia is one of only 16 that has passed a sales tax to benefit school programs and projects, Thomas said.

Deputy Superintendent of Schools Norm Ross said the new school building, which will be constructed between the current facility and the football field, will replace buildings built in 1945. The current building will be torn down, after the completion of the new project.

“This facility behind us started in 1945,” he said. “This project is certainly overdue.”

Ernest Ward Principal Nancy Perry said the new facility would allow Ernest Ward to improve its educational procedures with updated methods.

“This new facility will be a 21st Century learning environment,” Perry said. “This is an exciting day for our school, community and our students.”

The new facility’s construction will be a combined effort between Greenhut Construction and Sam Marshall Architects, both of Pensacola, Fla.

Officials said students would remain on campus during construction.

“We are ready to move from an architectural design to the moments the bulldozers roll,” Thomas said.

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