Teacher units needed at Neal

Published 11:05 pm Monday, April 16, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell
John Knott said he needs more computers and teachers for his students at W.S. Neal Elementary School.
But the principal is afraid that if a school tax renewal does not pass in June, he may not even be able to maintain what he has.
"My student body has grown by 55 students in the last three years," Knott said. "I don't see any reason to believe that growth will slow down. Right now, I could use an additional three teachers and some additional support personnel in the school."
Escambia County voters will go to the polls June 5 to decide whether to keep two decades-old property taxes designed to benefit schools.
Up for a vote is a 3-mill district tax and a 1-mill countywide tax. In an August vote, city voters passed the 3-mill tax designated for city schools.
County voters did not pass the 3-mill tax designated for county schools. The 1-mill countywide tax – which benefits both school systems – also failed.
The non-renewal of the tax would cause county schools to lose about $600,000 each year, while the city school system would lose about $70,000 annually.
"We desperately need another computer lab and a teacher for our students," Knott said. "We need resource teachers in math and other areas. I would love to be able to add some programs that we don't have now. It would be wonderful to have an art teacher on staff, even if it's just a half a day of art, it would be a great addition for the students." Knott said that even though additional teachers and computers would greatly benefit the students already enrolled at the school, simply maintaining the quality of the education currently offered at the school takes money.
"We have to constantly update software and technology at the school," Knott said. "We have things that wear out with regular use. Just maintaining our current facility, furnishings, computers and such take money. We can't afford to be cut by even one dollar without losing the ability to serve our students well."
Serving the students well would be a benefit to the entire area by educating students in a way that makes them productive citizens of the community. In 2006, W.S. Neal Elementary met all of their AYP goals without any problems.
"We are proud of the accomplishment we made in meeting our AYP goals," Knott said. "We were able to do that because of the dedication of our faculty and staff to the education of the students we serve. We have a great bunch of people working with the children here. We don't want to lose what we have and we want to add more to make the educational experience and exposure as good as possible for our students." Knott said he hoped that every voter would see the importance of passing this tax renewal and make their way to the polls on June. 5.
"I can't emphasize just how important voting for this renewal is to our school system," Knott said. "The education of the children that will someday run this world we live in is at stake. Every vote counts."

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