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County school system plans public meeting

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
The first in a series of public meetings will be held next week aimed at providing the public with information regarding the Escambia County School System's funding crisis.
The meeting, to be held Jan. 14 at the Brewton Central Office, was among those initially planned by the Escambia County School Board during a recent meeting. Additional meetings have been set for Jan. 21 at Flomaton High School and on Feb. 6 at Escambia County Middle School. Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
During that board meeting, Superintendent Melvin "Buck" Powell informed the board that the State Department had indicated the Escambia County School System was facing upwards of a $5 million shortfall in funding for the upcoming 2003 and 2004 school year, an even somewhat worse outlook than was originally expected.
Powell proposed and the board accepted a motion to conduct three special-session public meetings, one each in Brewton, Flomaton and Atmore, in an open-forum format to discuss with the public what options were available to combat the shortage in funding, including the possibility of new one-cent sales tax.
While the board agreed to host the meetings, the dates and times of those meetings were just recently announced.
Powell said that the system needs input from local citizens and is hopeful that residents will attend the meetings and learn more about what the school systems are facing. While he said it is important for local residents to learn about the problems the board is facing, he also encourages residents to discuss their concerns and ideas. Either way, he said, with the way things are now, the key to the problem lies here in Escambia County.