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Fate of north end schools pending

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Staff Writer
A proposal on the consolidation of some schools in Escambia County Fla., may come up as soon as next week's board of education meeting.
At a meeting Tuesday night at Ernest Ward Middle School, Linda Finkelstein, District 5 school board member, encouraged dozens of north end residents to attend the board's workshop on Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. and the board meeting on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.. both at the Hall Center, downtown Pensacola.
Schools on a possible consolidation list include Bratt, Ernest Ward, Barrineau Park, Molino, Byrneville, Century and Carver.
While fielding questions from the audience, Finkelstein made her position clear.
Looking at consolidation is one way the school board is trying to find $2.3 million to cover health care for teachers. Finkelstein said the board has to find money this month, but also has to plan long-range to have money in reserve.
When someone in the audience suggested that the school board get out of the insurance business, Finkelstein suggested that teachers who want a "Cadillac" insurance plan should pay for it.
Newly elected Superintendent Jim Paul has suggested cuts that will save about a half million dollars over the next 30 months – "a drop in the bucket," Finkelstein said.
One parent said he would take his 11-year-old daughter out of the state of Florida before he would send her to Tate High School.
Another parent said she thought 95 percent of the community would take their children out of public schools all together.
When asked if consolidation is a "done deal," Finkelstein replied that it is not, but that it has been discussed and is being considered.
Finkelstein said protecting the north end schools has to be a parent-community initiative.
Redistricting also will be considered at the Dec. 18 workshop.