Huxford growth plans may halt

Published 11:04 pm Monday, April 16, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
If Escambia County residents do not vote in the 3-mill tax for the Escambia County School system in the June 5 election, Huxford Elementary School will be forced to put off necessary facility renovations and restoration.
According to Escambia County superintendent Billy Hines, he is not allocating a specific amount of money per school. However, Atmore area schools could stand to lose nearly $300,000 overall if the tax is not renewed.
"The Atmore area tax would be $297,000," Hines said. "I am unsure how much would go to each school because of different needs."
Huxford Elementary School principal Betty Warren said that if the tax renewal is not passed, it would not affect her school as far as teacher units are concerned, but it would affect the school in other ways.
"It will not affect us as far as foundation points go as long as enrollment stays up," Warren said. "The money would be used for capital outlay for our school."
Hines agreed with Warren, stating the tax could be used in elementary schools for building improvements.
"The money would be used for capital improvement," Hines said. "If we renew this, it would free up any money for improvements. It is pretty simple in elementary school because most teachers are already allocated by the state."
Warren said Huxford does not have a gymnasium and when stormy weather occurs, the children are not able to have a rest from class.
"We don't have a gym," Warren said. "On rainy or cold days the kids have to stay in the classroom and watch videos. We have more behavioral problems on those days because the kids don't get to take a break."
A gymnasium would not only be useful for the children on stormy days, it would also be useful if the school ever wanted to host a program or have an assembly. The library is located in the auditorium, along with the reading coach, the computer lab and the nurse's station, causing the room to become very crowded. Assemblies and programs are not feasible in the auditorium because of everything else that occurs in that area. A gym would allow for a location for the school to have different assemblies.
"If we had a gym, it would not only help the kids during inclement weather, but we could also have a place to host programs," Warren said.
Warren said it is important that residents pass the tax to better improve facilities children are educated in.
"We could get closer to capital outlay that needs to be improved or built," she said.
If the tax is renewed, Warren said it would show people from other areas that Escambia County is concerned about the education of our children.
"It sends a message to the public and to anyone who might be wanting to relocate that we are interested in our schools and our children," Warren said. "The funding is important to meet our needs."

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