Atmore Moves Toward City School System; Supporters Want To End Racial Divide, Failing Schools

March 12, 2019

The Atmore City Council took the first official step Monday toward the possible formation of a city school system as supporters push for an end to a racial divide and failing schools.

The council voted unanimously to begin the process to find a consultant to study the feasibility of operating a city system, with a particular look at if it would be affordable.

“We have smart kids right here in Atmore,” Loumeek White, president of Atmore Citizens for Change, said. The group has spearheaded the drive to split Atmore’s schools away from the Escambia County (AL) Board of Education.

White said many of the “smart kids” no longer attend school in Atmore. Instead, they travel to Northview High School in Escambia County, FL, or to Escambia Academy, or schools in Flomaton (also part of the Escambia, AL, system), he said, adding it has created an obvious racial divide.

“The white kids are going to Flomaton and Northview,” he told the Atmore council and a crowd of about 75 that attended Monday’s meeting. “You’ve got to see the separation.”

According to the Alabama Department of Education, 322 of the 368 students at Escambia County High School in Atmore are black or African American.

“Our high school is on the failing list with Alabama schools, not for the first time. And our problem is we continue to fail. Why? Because we send $6 million to Brewton…Only when our leaders are faced with the possibility of losing that ($6) million are they ready to talk to us and give us crumbs,” council member Susan Smith (pictured left) said.

“The superintendent said I’m not giving Atmore anything because the schools here and the equipment belongs to the county. And yet you pay taxes,” Smith told the audience.

Atmore’s city attorney, Larry Wettermark, will bring a proposal for a feasibility consulting company back to the council, most likely at their next meeting on March 25.

As the council adjourned, city officials, council members and audience members held hands and prayed for the future of Atmore’s children.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Pictured above: Atmore Citizens for Change President Loumeek White (left) and Atmore Mayor Jim Staff discuss a city school system during an Atmore City Council meeting Monday afternoon. Pictured below: Council member Susan Smith explains her support for a city school system. Pictured bottom: City officials, council members and audience members held hands and prayed after the meeting. photos, click to enlarge.


27 Responses to “Atmore Moves Toward City School System; Supporters Want To End Racial Divide, Failing Schools”

  1. educator on March 13th, 2019 4:43 pm

    Starting a new system will not make the same students more motivated to learn and increase involvement. Teachers are teaching and working hard. However, for students to learn, they must put in the work and school must be a priority in their homes. Children cannot learn when they come to school hungry, tired, and undisciplined because they are lacking this at home. I agree high expectations are needed! Our teachers have high expectations but unfortunately many of the homes in our community do not. That is the problem.

  2. Mary on March 13th, 2019 4:15 pm

    You obviously do not know what you are talking about. Let’s put some facts on here for you and everyone else. If you look up Hugh Fountain you will see how successful his coaching career is NOT just at EA. So what do you want us to do? Why fault a man for being successful in what he does. I am beyond grateful that my son plays football for this man. He is not only a coach but a godly man and truly cares for each player. Coach Fountain became the head master because he is the definition of a great man. Since you obviously don’t know him the definition of a great man is personable, has integrity, is honest, always positive, truly cares, hard working, respectful, dedicated to his job, and loves each of the students. EA is not all about sports he has gotten rid of several teachers to better the students education. The school is constantly trying to get better. My son loves his school and so do I.

  3. DJC on March 13th, 2019 3:43 pm

    @ Educator:
    Very good point of view. Teachers are only a part of it. The schools would need plenty of good counselors and mentors on staff to help guide the students as well.
    Education isn’t the only issue. Sex, drugs, and violence is more prevalent at ECHS than other areas. This is an issue everywhere of course, but caring parents hope their kids will graduate without entering a world of drugs or becoming a teen parent.

  4. Daphne Cook class of 83 on March 13th, 2019 8:44 am

    Excited to see these amazing leaders come together! College Prep classes were so strong at ECHS in the 80’s that college was easy the first few years bc I was so far ahead of other incoming students. I taught a class at ECHS as a guest last year and I was sad to see the low self esteem and poor hygiene of many students. This community is strong enough to work together and rebuild a great system but I strongly agree that it starts in the HOME! There is no substitute for having a strong moral foundation , showing Respect for self and others and taking personal responsibility for behavior.

  5. Educator on March 13th, 2019 8:32 am

    Saying all the smart kids left Atmore schools, is a slap in the face to the students in the Atmore schools. There are many smart kids in the Atmore schools. Saying bring back the white kids and the scores will improve is racist. Why would anyone say the minority children cannot learn. This attitude is unacceptable no matter who is saying it. Does the County system need to do better? Absolutely. But has anyone noticed the State Report Cards improved a letter grade for the Atmore schools? Some making negative statements about schools, teachers and administrators are the very parents that refuse to believe their child is ever wrong. Even with video evidence, some parents insist their child is not to blame. A city system will have the exact same issues if parents, pastors, teachers, administrators and the rest of the community do not work for a common goal, a good education. That starts with students expected by all to do their best academically, but most important to behave at school. For those saying staff members do not care about the students, shame on you. Teachers spend countless extra hours and money out of their own pocket. Are there some staff members complaining? Yes. Why? Probably because they are being held to a higher standard than before. Bottom line we need to work together to help our children. If the city does start a system, we need to work to make it the best we can. If the County continues to educate our children, we need to do the same and all work together.

  6. parent on March 13th, 2019 7:35 am

    I look at some of the other schools in our area and then think of when my children were in high school at ECHS and think that the real problem is a lack of parents(support, discipline, attention, love, presence….). When you are at a football game and the visitor stands are fuller than the home stands, where are these children’s support system. A tree can’t grow tall without good roots and neither will our children.

  7. Puddin on March 13th, 2019 12:55 am

    On sorry. I guess it isn’t funny. But it made me laugh to hear Northview described that way.
    So, if Atmore does ceded from Escambia School district, how will we pay for the schools? 6 million won’t go very far. Teachers and ESP personnel pay. Insurance. Building and bus maintenance and insurance. Supplies and utilities. This adds up fast. I havent done the math, but I’m guessing 6 mil won’t even touch it.
    Perhaps a better way would be for Florida to quit taking in our kids. Then work on making our schools better. We could start with setting higher goals for the students. Rewarding academic achievement instead of wasting time and money on sports. Add in some personal responsibility and back up the teachers. Insist on respect for authority and actual consequences for misbehavior. A safe learning environment where kids, from pre-k thru graduation, dont have to worry about being physically assaulted on a daily basis. I have other ideas, but those are the easiest to fix.

  8. Former student on March 13th, 2019 12:43 am

    The problem is definitely not a race issue, thats an excuse. The problem is mainly because of lack of home training, and noone wants to send their kids to a school like that, it has been failing for years. This is the same school that not too long ago had a bunch of kids jump one kid, what we need is to put body cameras on these teachers, so when parents come up there blaming every teacher for the way their children are behaving, and can defend themselves with proof, if the parents don’t get control of the situation after repeated problems then expell them. The teachers are there to teach, not raise your children.

  9. Northendbratt on March 12th, 2019 9:07 pm

    The smartest person in that room is Mr. Loomed White!!!!You all would be smarter to listen to him…..

  10. Oh.Well on March 12th, 2019 7:55 pm

    Same tired politicians trying to fix the same old problems in Atmore…in the end nothing will change…although someone will make a lot of money doing the study
    Just to find out the city can’t afford it.

  11. Neighbor on March 12th, 2019 5:27 pm

    The problem is plain and simple! The parents need to raise their own kids to learn to respect authority! The teachers job is not to raise your children but to teach them. When they have kids that come in with behavior issues, because momma and daddy aren’t parenting at home, the teacher can’t do a thing about it. Because usually the parent comes to the school and blames the teacher. Raise your kids at home to understand if they go to school and dont act right, your going to tear that butt up when they get home! Nothing to do with the color of your skin!

  12. Bewildered on March 12th, 2019 1:50 pm

    Throwing money at poorly performing schools hdoes not solve the underlying problem. You can learn just as much in a barn as in a mansion if you are motivated to do so. I wish the new teaching staff the city will employ much success.

  13. Residents on March 12th, 2019 1:44 pm

    I look at it like this and I have a child in Atmore High School and he will be graduation this year thank you Jesus but, what I see is they is only concern about the so called popular students. And bring in Photos with them. And half of the teacher really don’t care because the students don’t care and the students don’t care cause the parents don’t care. Yes there are a lot of smart kids there but it’s like they is getting looked over for the ones that can get the most like on Facebook, Twitter,and Snapchat. If only we can bring back them teachers that I had when I was in school they stayed on you and your parents to make sure you did what was required. The good old days smh

  14. Former resident on March 12th, 2019 1:35 pm

    Personally, I do not think it’s a “race issue” that is the problem. It’s a “culture” problem. They say that a fish rots from the head first. Definite lack of lasting leadership. The BOE has certainly catered more to east end of the county.

  15. Scott walker on March 12th, 2019 1:21 pm

    Well maybe if atmore schools had teachers worth a damn parents wouldn’t want to move there kids to better schools. Have had problems with teachers at both the middle and high school level. And not just me but other people I know have moved kids primarily do to teachers acts toward there kids.

  16. DJC on March 12th, 2019 12:58 pm

    There is nothing wrong with wanting what you think is best for your kids. And unfortunately, the odds of them getting a decent education with the current situation in Atmore are slim. I love Atmore, but the schools are affected by the lack of economic growth, attractions, community and parent involvement.

  17. Resident on March 12th, 2019 11:57 am

    My children attend Escambia Co schools in Atmore and I assure you they are VERY smart!

  18. Atmore resident on March 12th, 2019 9:53 am

    Why is this being pushed off as a race issue? It is no surprise that Atmore schools are failing. I attended a private school years ago because of the poor academics and environment provided by the public school system. Those issues had nothing to do with race. Might I add that there are multiple cultures and races represented at EA, Flomaton, and Northview. Yes, Atmore should find a resolution to the academics issue but stop pulling the race card. Let us get to the root of the problem. Why are the children failing? Do teaching methods need to change? Why are children not motivated to learn and meeting requirements? Get back to the basics and problem solve.

  19. jason ward on March 12th, 2019 9:41 am

    Yall are going to have a mess. Be careful what u wish for.

  20. 429SCJ on March 12th, 2019 9:24 am

    Sit next to me, you will become smarter.

  21. Clueless Bob on March 12th, 2019 8:22 am

    Having the conversation and positive dialogue is always good way to start. This is a tough topic but has to be made. And, I really can’t blame anyone for wanting to get away from Escambia County Alabama school system. Not only is the funding unequally dispersed to the preferred schools in Brewton and Flomaton, but also the hiring practices are selective. Barnett and her underlings for years have indulged in preferential and selective hiring, favoritism, and nepotism. The system is full of buddies and they’re daughters. They’re buddies always get assigned to the “good” prefered schools and everyone else gets a position they didn’t sign up for. It’s just a matter of time before a class action lawsuit is filed because everyone knows it’s going on and they’re tired of it.

    As for our children and students, give them a fair chance to learn and be in diverse environments. They didn’t ask for this circumstance and it’s up to the adults and parents to bring about the changes they will need to succeed. This is a good start I believe, and I cannot wait to see how this unfolds. Atmore’s economy should support a city school as long as the casino cash and tourists keeps pouring in.

  22. Resident on March 12th, 2019 7:55 am

    I must say that whoever took these pictures did an excellent job. The ones on this page and the photo gallery really tell the story. Great photo journalist! Really adds to the story

  23. Jenn on March 12th, 2019 6:52 am

    What dose race of a child have to do with getting a good education? Wasn’t it a generous donation from tribe that supposed to had helped this school from a failing school system..but word is..that money wasn’t used wisely

  24. CW on March 12th, 2019 5:36 am

    While it is true that many local white kids do go to Northview or the Academy, a lot of white people (and black people) are simply moving away from the Atmore area all together. There are no good jobs to keep people here, unless you consider working at the casino a good job.

  25. George L Adams on March 12th, 2019 3:13 am

    It’s a beautiful thing to witness how change is conceived. All parties involved should be encouraged to stand firm and move in unison, encouraging and reassuring one another that unity will sustain the community. The future is made manifest in times like these. Expect challenges at every turn. This is what one might call “The good fight.” Fragility has to partner up with resiliency. Plan your work, order your steps, work your plan, and ask for help if need be. For those still straddling the fence, either lead, follow, or get out of the way. The light at the end of the tunnel is change, and it looks like it’s moving in our direction. Talk it out, walk it out, work it out, but never quit. Just a few words of encouragement from an old soul who gets home sick from time to time. Godspeed!

  26. Hollie on March 12th, 2019 1:50 am

    The superintendent doesn’t care, Atmore gets what’s left of the crumbs as long as he gets a paycheck he doesn’t care and neither does his assistant. Atmore high school has been failing school and it’s not just the students. Everytime I turn the radio to listen to the Atmore station all I hear about is Escambia Academy, I’ve even called in asking about a football game of Atmore high school and they didn’t know. Why not call yourself the Canoe radio station? All E.A. is worried about is winning a football game. Their coach is the head master. We need a program that puts the students and their academics first then sports. Focus on what’s right for the children. We live in Atmore and send our child to a private school in Pensacola. Best school by far.

  27. Resident on March 12th, 2019 1:35 am

    Why don’t the kids just get smart? Nothing is stopping them but themselves.

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