District Looks To Cut Jobs; Could Carver/Century Be Closed And Merged With Bratt And Ernest Ward?

April 22, 2008

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Could Carver/Century K-8 School be closed and merged with Bratt Elementary and Ernest Ward Middle School?

That is just one money saving idea tossed out by one Escambia County School Board member.

Jeff Bergosh, the District 1 member on the board, proposed closing Carver/Century before the upcoming school year and busing the students to Bratt. But district officials have said that no schools will be closed for the 2008-2009 school year.

School Closures

But for the 2009-2010 school year, school closures could be a reality. The school board is in the process of reforming the School Attendance Zone Advisory Committee (SAZAC) that led to the recommended closures of Byrneville, Pensacola Beach and Dixon elementary schools in 2001. (Byrneville and Pensacola both reopened as charter schools.) The original SAZAC committee’s recommendations, along with those of Superintendent Jim Paul, also led to the closure of Woodham High School.

The third phase that the original SAZAC proposal years ago was to take place by 2017. It included closing Ernest Ward and converting Molino Park Elementary into a K-8 school, consolidating the two into a mega school in Molino.

Budget, Personnel Cuts

Meanwhile, Monday night, School Superintendent Jim Paul said the district is now in “survival mode”.

The Escambia School Board discussed ways Monday to save nearly $15 million dollars. The plan on the table from Paul includes:

  • not filling 35-40 district level jobs to save $1.7 million
  • reassigning 40 administrative clerks in elementary schools to save $845,081
  • not filling 16 exceptional student education (ESE) teacher’s jobs to save $705,392
  • not filling the positions of two deans, five counselors and six librarians to save $381,410

Overall, the district is looking at eliminating about 115 teachers and 90 support personnel, mostly through attrition. There are no administrator level positions on the chopping block in Paul’s proposal.

The school board spent nearly four hours discussing the various possible budget cutting scenarios Monday, but they did not vote to make any changes at this point. They will reconvene in a special meeting on April 29.

“I’m almost amused when people come up here and talk about cutting the fat, ” Paul said. “We are down into the muscle now.”

“We’ve eliminated, eliminated and eliminated these past few years,” Paul said. “There’s no more fat.. I mean you can talk about fat all you want. There’s no more fat. It’s now into the muscle that’s what we’re cutting.

The budget shortfall is being blamed on high fuel and utility prices coupled with lower revenues from property and sales taxes.

NorthEscambia.com will continue to follow this story and keep you updated.

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