I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Facilities Plans Move Forward for Escambia County.....No Independent Study Will Occur
After a two hour meeting on the subject of student growth in Beulah and how to best meet facilities challenges district-wide going forward, the plan remains the same despite my objections.
I brought a PowerPoint presentation where I delineated some of the rationale for the need of an independent, unbiased study to provide the board sound recommendations based upon science, facts, and trends. Such a study would have been good as it would have either validated the current plan or perhaps it would have illustrated a better plan.
I've previously stated my legitimate objections to this plan here, here, here. here, here, and here.
In a nutshell, I strongly feel that current capacity should be examined and school attendance zones re-balanced before new large scale construction is funded. We have too many schools that are way, way under capacity, to include Molino Park that sits half empty and Warrington Middle School that is less than 60% occupied.
The next school in Beulah should be either an Elementary or a K-8---that is what is desperately needed there; Re-locating the Woodham Middle School population out to a brand new school in Beulah is not the answer when currently, as a district, we dramatically under-occupy our existing middle school capacity already---we only utilize 76% on average----and our student population is declining. This is occurring even as big housing projects emerge Beulah--which is another problem all together: Why are parents choosing Pace, Gulf Breeze, Baldwin County or even Okaloosa over Escambia when they come here for jobs?
Brown Barge Middle School and PATS center sites should not be shuttered and moved, that building, despite its age, is in decent shape.
We have made BIG facilities mistakes in the past and we're about to do so again in my opinion, with the taxpayers footing the bill and too many students in portables for too long even after this plan is implemented..
With an independent, unbiased planning firm conducting a study--- it would have more than likely been free of political influence and the board could have chosen a better path. Only two board members felt this was a good idea ( a study ) so instead we go forth with the plan which puts a new middle school next to an existing middle school, does not remove students from the Beulah portable farm, and does NOTHING to help Jim Bailey Middle School's massive overcrowding issues.
Yes I'm disappointed, but at least I'm on the record with an alternate plan that would have revealed the optimal plan. But I realize this is politics and decisions will not always go the way I want them to go. Doesn't mean I will ever go along with a plan that is badly flawed....
The PNJ covered the meeting, you can read their piece here.
or, you can watch my presentation to the board beginning at minute 42 of the meeting here.