Published 2:41 am Wednesday, June 6, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Escambia County residents proved Tuesday night that they are 100 percent supportive of education by renewing both the 3-mill district tax and 1-mill countywide tax for the county school system.
Escambia County Board of Education superintendent Billy Hines was thrilled to hear that the taxes were renewed and believes that by passing the renewal, the county is showing other community's that Escambia County is one that truly cares about children's education.
"The news is that Escambia County supports education," Hines said. "We are elated over this good news. This shows that we are 100 percent behind education, it shows that our people support education."
Because county residents voted to renew the taxes, Hines feels that it sends a message that Escambia County wishes to thrive not only in business, but in education also.
"We sent a message loud and strong to business and industry that want to come into our area," Hines said. "We are a county that wants growth both educationally and economically. I feel it is a strong message we are sending everywhere about how we feel about our children."
Atmore schools would have lost $297,000 if the 3-mill tax had not been renewed. Because of Atmore's support, A.C. Moore Elementary School, Huxford Elementary School, Rachel Patterson Elementary School, Escambia County Middle School and Escambia County High School will be able to support teacher units and will also be able to utilize the money for capital maintenance.
Also, because the tax was renewed, the schools will be able to go forward with activities that possibly would have been cut without the money.
"I am tickled to death that we can go forward with our programs and give our children every opportunity that we have available for them," Hines said.
Citizens of Atmore were at the polls all day Tuesday casting their votes for or against the tax.
Atmore resident Vera Lufkin said that if the school's are in need of funding then she is willing to support that.
"Schools are very important and if they need more money and if it's reasonable, I'm for it," Lufkin said.
Schuyler Allen knows first hand how badly the educational system needs funding so he was also supportive of the tax.
"They need it," Allen said. "I used to teach at the middle school for 25 years and believe me, they need it."
Amy West Davis of Atmore said that the tax renewal was the only reason she came out for the vote yesterday.
"I really hope everybody comes out for the education part of this today," Davis said. "That's certainly what got me here."
Former A.C. Moore Elementary School and ECMS teacher Tessie Lyons showed her support of the renewal at Atmore City Hall where she voted.
"I strongly agree and think people should come out and vote today," Lyons said Tuesday about the 3-mill tax. "It would be very helpful in the future."
Rachel Patterson principal Susan McKenzie was delighted to hear that the vote was passed.
"I'm thrilled," McKenzie said. "I'm excited for the children of Escambia County and I think this sends a message to the community and to those thinking about moving to this area that education is important. I'm very proud that our parents and grandparents of the children of Escambia County wanted to do something for the children and I feel like education will move forward."
ECMS principal Zickeyous Byrd said he knew Atmore residents would support the tax because the people in the community have always supported learning.
"I feel absolutely wonderful and I'm thankful to the residents of Atmore for allowing our children to continue the successes they have had in the past," Byrd said. "I knew that Atmore has always supported education especially when they know that it is going to directly benefit children, so I had no doubts that they were going to pass it."
District 1 schools, which include W.S. Neal elementary, middle and high schools, passed the renewal with 68.93 percent of the votes. District 2 schools, which include Pollard-McCall Junior High School and Flomaton schools, passed the renewal with 64.94 percent of the votes. District 3 schools, which include Atmore schools, passed the vote with 60.23 percent of the votes. The 1-mill countywide tax was voted in with 69.32 percent of the votes.
Hines wanted to thank all of the citizens of the county for showing their support by voting Tuesday and also those citizens who spread the word about the vote, encouraging their peers to get out and support education.
"I just want to thank everybody that went out and voted and all the newspapers and radios because we are limited in what we can do to advertise this and if it didn't get out by word of mouth and by citizens we wouldn't have been able to get it out," Hines said.

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