By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

Board of education waits for state to move forward


April 30, 2020

At the video conferenced meeting of the Escambia County (Ala.) Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Superintendent John Knott gave updates on several issues and board members discussed the status of the COVID-19 social distancing mandate.

Knott said the board received a letter from Frazier Lanier Company regarding a lawsuit involved in the refinancing of a bond issue for the renovation of the W.S. Neal High School auditorium. The letter stated that the company is preparing all items to move forward but that it is at a standstill until further notice due to COVID-19.

Knott said he appreciated that the company kept the school board informed of what the next step is and how everything is progressing.

The board also discussed any proposals for the Student Code of Conduct 2020-2021. Board members Mike Edwards and Cindy Jackson made notes on some things they would like to see changed, revised, added or provisions made. Knott said he would highlight those changes in blue and send them out to the board members for review before next meeting. The Student Code of Conduct for 2020-2021 must lie on the table for 30 days. After that, additions or adjustments can be made. The board will then revisit any issues or changes and make a final approval.

Board member Edwards said District Judge Eric Coale with the Early Warning Truancy Program has not been able to review The Student Code of Conduct. Edwards suggested sending Coale a copy.

In other business, the CNP (Children's Nutrition Program) in the state of Alabama has been approved for EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) benefits for families on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.

“We have applied for a partnership program with Baylor University and been accepted that will allow students to receive meals thru the program,” said Knott. “That's 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches every two weeks. All students are eligible for that program. Meals will be shipped directly to students. That is something that will be able to help a lot of our families to make our students nutritional needs are met.”

Knott said during this time, all his educational staff is working to make sure students and parents have access to information and resources. Knott said he is looking to the state to determine what protocols should be in place regarding graduation ceremonies. He said he is waiting for Gov. Kay Ivey to give him direction of what to plan for in the future, for programs like Jump Start and After School Title I programs.

“All of our essential people are still working,” said Knott. “All of our teachers are doing an excellent job working from home, contacting and working with our students. I encourage everybody to keep an eye on our Facebook pages. They're sharing a lot of that information on those pages. I could not be more proud of what our teachers and administrators across the county are doing in keeping our students engaged.”

Today (Thursday, April 30) Knott has a video conference scheduled with Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey for guidance about after school programs over the summer, if they are allowed to start again, and graduation.

“We want to do whatever we need to do to be able to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of our students,” said Knott. “And we also want to give an opportunity for our parents to be able to participate in that ritual of graduation.”

He said a lot of systems are offering virtual options but that he needs to wait for guidance from the state before they make plans.

The board then approved the following recommended personnel changes:


Stephen Landrum, teacher at W.S. Neal High School, effective May 22, 2020


Beth Drew, Assistant Superintendent, Escambia County School System, effective July 1, 2020; Deborah Bolden, Principal at Escambia County Middle School, effective July 1, 2020; Cynthia Saucer, Reading Specialist at Huxford Elementary School, effective June 1, 2020; Marguerite Watson, Elementary Teacher, Huxford Elementary School, effective June 1, 2020; Jennifer Hall, Counselor at Pollard McCall Junior High School, effective June 1, 2020; Shirley Manning, office aide at Pollard McCall Junior High School, effective June 1, 2020; Sheila O. Fountain, speech language pathologist at W.S. Neal Elementary School, effective June 1, 2020; Kimberly Gafford, elementary teacher at W.S. Neal Elementary School, effective June 1, 2020; Randall Ray Patterson, science teacher at W.S. Neal Middle School, effective June 1, 2020

Employment Change

Coy Campbell, assistant principal (202 Contract Days) at W.S. Neal High School, to drivers education teacher (187 Contract Days), Flomaton High School, effective August 3, 2020


Approval of non-renewal and/or transfers of personnel for the 2020-21 school year.


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