Hines expects Atmore's support

Published 1:14 am Monday, May 21, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
The time for citizens of Escambia County to make a decision about the 3-mill tax renewal for the county school system is quickly approaching.
June 2 is the date that area residents will have to choose whether they will vote to renew or ban the tax and Escambia County School System superintendent Billy Hines is hopeful for the schools' sake that the 3-mill tax is renewed.
"If the tax does not pass, Atmore schools will lose $297,000," Hines said. "This money can be useful for capital improvements and teacher units. A lot of times we don't know the teacher unit needs because we don't know the enrollment for the following year. The schools always need maintenance – new floors and heating and cooling replacements. We always have to repair things."
Hines believes that it is imperative that the renewal passes because of the growth of Atmore. There are many things that the schools have done to make the educational system in the city more attractive to newcomers, but these things have to have funding in order to continue.
"We are hopefully preparing our schools for the future growth in the Atmore area," he said. "The first thing people will do when coming to Atmore is surf the Web site. We have an attractive web page, www.escambiak12.net, paid for out of a grant. It is easily accessible. People always want to know about businesses and schools."
Not only has the school system created a Web site, it is also trying to keep up with technology in other ways with field trip modifications and distance-learning, a program that allows a school to share teaching resources with another school through communications technologies.
"We are trying to stay up-to-date technologically," Hines said. "We did a virtual field trip, which saves on field trip costs. It is a live field trip at the school site. It doesn't need a bus, it saves time and it saves cost. We are going to do distance-learning next year."
It is vital for citizens to understand that their taxes are not going to rise if the renewal is passed.
"Whatever they paid this year they will pay next year," Hines said. "This is actually one of the oldest taxes in the county."
Hines is optimistic that the renewal will pass in the Atmore area.
"I feel like the people are understanding that this is nothing new, that it's a renewal," he said. "I think they are also understanding that education is the most important gift we can give our children. As this economy we are in becomes global, we always need to stay up-to-date in our techniques and we all want what is best for our children."

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