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County schools receive donation for Turtle Point

By By CONNIE NOWLIN Special to The Standard
In addition to dealing with the need to increase revenue or cut services, the Escambia County Board of Education also had several other issues on its plate at its regular monthly meeting.
The board received a donation from the W.T. Neal Trust to pay for the operating expenses for the Turtle Creek Science Center for an entire year.
The donation, more than $150,000, was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal fiscal report.
In addition to accepting the donation and thanking the Neal Trust, the board awarded bids to Southern Energy for bus fuel.
In order to save money on the fuel, the transportation department has lowered the specifications on the fuel for busses to 87 octane. That measure alone stands to save the system $10,000.
Because the board is unsure it will have enough money to cover the school years' expenses, it voted without discussion to borrow funds, not to exceed $2 million, for the fiscal year 2004. The loan came in the form of a line of credit through the United Bank in Atmore.
Also on the agenda was changing the job title of Jerry Weeks, who was the information technology specialist, so that his job description fit under a federal program. In that way, Week's salary will be 75 percent paid by the federal government, rather than from state funds.
The board also passed a resolution that allows the schools, faculty and staff to work for the passage of the board's request to increase the countywide ad valorem taxes. A state law prohibits the use of school property, equipment or time to work for political issues, but the resolution passed is specific to a single vote.
A second resolution was passed asking that the Escambia Board of County Commissioners call for the vote on the proposed increase in ad valorem taxes before the end of the year.
Powell said the reason he outlined the cuts now was so voters would know what they are facing before they decided how they would vote.