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Consolidation on Tuesday's BOE agenda

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
School consolidation involving Bratt Elementary, Byrneville Elementary and Ernest Ward Middle schools is on the agenda for Tuesday's Escambia County (Fla.) Board of Education meeting.
If the board follows the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) established by Superintendent Jim Paul, Bratt Elementary and Byrneville Elementary schools will be closed.
Last week, the committee submitted the following recommendations to Superintendent Jim Paul and his staff:
Establish a K-8 school by closing Byrneville Elementary and consolidating at either the Carver or Century Elementary school site.
The committee's explanation read: "The committee supports the concept of K-8's. In fact several committee members attended K-8's in their youth. We feel that the closing of Byrneville while admittedly eliminating a neighborhood school, will in the long run, serve the students of the area in a more effective way."
Establish a K-8 school at Ernest Ward and close Bratt Elementary, transferring Bratt students to Ward.
Explanation: "The committee had a rather lively debate on the merits of the two potential sites for this school. Ultimately the availability of extra curricular facilities at the Ernest Ward site convinced the committee to select this site over the Bratt site."
Build a new K-8 school in the Molino area and close Barrineau Park and Molino Elementary Schools transferring their students to the new K-8 facility.
Explanation: "The committee felt very comfortable with the staff recommendation regarding Barrineau Park and Molino. The students will benefit from the expanded curricular offerings, while the district will benefit from the reduced operating costs."
The committee also recommended closing Pensacola Beach Elementary and transferring students to Cook Elementary; closing Suter Elementary and transferring students to Cordova Park Elementary, Scenic Heights Elementary, Holm Elementary and Brentwood Elementary Schools; closing Yniestra Elementary and transferring students to Hallmark Elementary, West Pensacola Elementary and Dixon Elementary Schools; closing the Judy Andrews Pre-K school and move the program to an appropriate alternate site in a nearby school.
The committee made the following recommendations in special programs: move the PATS Center to Brentwood Middle School; move the Brown Barge magnet school program to Brownsville Middle School; close Old Hometown School; and close the Environmental Studies Center.
The committee further recommended that the district staff explore the option of closing and selling the Garden Street offices and other properties and moving the functions to the Brown Barge site made available by moving the Brown Barge magnet program.
The committee estimated the economic impact to the district of the above recommendations at $2 million per year. This does not include proceeds from the sale of th Garden Street properties.
The Blue Ribbon Committee was organized by Paul earlier this year to review the district's operations and make recommendations on possible consolidations. The committee first met in February.
Members of the Blue Ribbon Committee are Tim Wright, chairman; Eric Nickelsen, vice chairman; Jack Fetterman, Nick Edwards, Roy Chancery, Cathy Roch, Marie Young, Cathy Fell, Ed Gray, Arlene Costello.