Hines: Anxious about vote

Published 2:23 am Monday, June 4, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Escambia County School's Superintendent Billy Hines had just one word – "anxious" – to describe the way he is feeling now that the time is approaching for citizens to go out and vote for or against the county's 3-mill tax renewal.
Atmore schools stand to lose $297,000 and Escambia County schools will lose a total of $600,000 if the vote is not renewed in Tuesday's election.
A lot of Hines' time campaigning for citizens to vote "yes" for the renewal has been spent in Atmore, informing people of how important the renewal is and what will happen if the tax is not renewed. He said that he has done everything in his power to get the word out about the renewal.
"I've spent most of my time in Atmore than anywhere else," he said. "I don't know what else I could've done, I've been to every activity possible. We have done everything we possibly can do."
The elementary schools in Atmore, which include Huxford Elementary School, Rachel Patterson Elementary School and A.C. Moore Elementary School will not be able to conduct capital maintenance projects that are needed if the tax is not renewed.
Former HES principal Betty Warren said that the school is lacking in funding for a new gym and a new gym is what the school needs. HES students do not have anywhere to go on cold or rainy days, which causes many behavioral problems at the school because the students do not get to take a break from the classroom. Not only would HES students have a place to go during inclement weather, but a gym would also provide a space for the school to have educational programs throughout the year.
A.C. Moore principal David Nolin said that not only does his school need a new gym, but if the tax is not renewed, he will also lose a teacher, which means his class sizes will increase. With larger class sizes, there is less individualized attention for the students.
Rachel Patterson principal Susan McKenzie said that if the tax is renewed she will finally be able to begin putting down new tile in the school. The carpet in RPES is more than 20 years old and she is concerned it is the source of some of her student's allergy problems and feels that tile is cleaner and more sanitary for the children.
Escambia County Middle School has big plans for the future but if the tax is not renewed, some of the plans will have to be forfeited.
ECMS principal Zickeyous Byrd said that the middle school is attempting to be a part of the model middle school concept, which breaks students into groups that travel together from math to science to history then English. If the tax is not renewed, this pod method will be ruined because Byrd will be forced to let go of two to four teachers.
Escambia County High School also has some plans that can only be achieved if the tax renewal is passed.
Kyle Ferguson, ECHS principal, said there are many things he would like to do for the school, but that he would especially like to hire two history teachers. According to Ferguson, history is the portion of the graduation exam that gives students the most trouble. He said that the high school needs someone who can help those who are struggling in the subject.
There are several things that can be done in area schools if the citizens of Atmore keep the 3-mill tax alive and Hines just wants the people of the county to vote and he hopes that their vote will be in favor of the students.
"I just want the people to get out and vote," he said. "I hope the people back the children of Escambia County.

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