ECMS stands to lose two teachers

Published 11:17 pm Monday, April 23, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Class sizes will grow and teachers will be lost at Escambia County Middle School if residents do not vote to renew the 3-mill tax for the county school system in the June 5 election.
Principal Zickeyous Byrd said that because of the loss of federal funding, he is already in danger of losing four teachers. He is able to keep two of those four teachers if he cuts out programs.
"Because of reduction of federal funding I am set to lose four teacher units," Byrd said. "I could cut four programs and keep two of the teachers. With that I am strapped, there is no more funding."
Byrd said that without the tax he is certainly going to lose two teachers, even with cutting the four programs.
"I would definitely lose two teachers out of our fifth or sixth grades," he said.
ECMS is attempting to enforce the model middle school concept, which divides the students into groups and provides them with consistency and individual learning.
"Because we've been in school improvement, one of the things we need to do is to decrease class sizes," Byrd said. "The model middle school concept is basically research that splits teachers according to course subjects. Students will be broken into teams. Teams will go to reading, math, science and language arts. The fifth graders would be placed on a team, which provides a smooth transition from elementary school. They would stay with their pod."
Byrd said that without having the taxes renewed, the model middle school concept would not be able to be enforced.
"Without the tax renewal, it would totally disfigure the pods," he said. "You can't do it with three teachers. We would not be able to do the system."
According to Byrd, with the loss of teachers, class sizes will get larger, which is not good for the students.
"With two teachers being lost, it forces class sizes to go up," he said. "This would hinder more individualized instruction, which in the long run would have devastating effects when they get to the seventh and eighth grades."
Escambia County School Superintendent Billy Hines agreed with Byrd's sentiment.
"When you take teachers away you have to adjust class sizes," Hines said. "We want the lowest teacher-pupil ratio to maximize instruction."
The school is providing upperclassman with a new program in which students have to keep a particular grade point average. This means when they are in the fifth and sixth grades they will need individual attention from their teachers.
"They must have at least a 3.0 GPA to get in the seventh-and eighth-grade program," Byrd said. "We want to provide as much help as we can in the lower grades."
Overall, ECMS needs the tax to be renewed in order for the school to stay at its very best.
"It is going to hurt us tremendously if the tax is not renewed," Byrd said.

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