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School bells ring Monday

Almost in unison, Brewton City Schools and Escambia County Schools will be ringing the bells Monday morning beckoning students to a brand new school year.
With very little change in either systems enrollment, classes and curriculum are remaining steady for the 2010-2011 school year.
Escambia County School Superintendent Billy Hines said no major changes in curriculum are occurring in the county this year, however one new system will make getting messages of importance to parents less troublesome.
“We implemented the ‘Instant Notification System’ during the last three months of school last year,” Hines said. “We are expanding that system and will be using it more for the coming school year.”
Hines said the program will give administrators throughout the county an opportunity to inform parents about school cancellations, special meetings, or other last-minute announcements.
“We didn’t really have a way to send out a mass message to parents when school had to be cancelled for various reasons,” Hines said. “This system will allow us to make one phone call and have a message sent by phone to every parent in our system. With this system, if we have a flood, hurricane or snow, like we have in the past, we can make that call and every student who has a phone number listed in our system will receive a call alerting them of the school closing or other emergency situation.”
At Brewton City Schools, Superintendent Lynn Smith said no major changes are expected at any of the three schools in the system.
“We aren’t making any changes to our basic curriculum this year,” Smith said. “One thing that is changing a little is that (T.R. Miller) high school is tagging onto the reading initiative. We’re doing that to encourage reading at the high school level. That will help students improve their reading skills.”
Smith said more focus will be given to encouraging reading beginning with ninth grade students in an effort to prepare them for graduation exams and ACT exams.
“We plan to begin this new initiative with ninth graders,” Smith said. “As they get closer to taking the ACT, those reading skills will help them be better prepared to make better scores. Our focus will be on improving the skills of students.”
On the enrollment side of things for the county system, Hines said the numbers are holding steady with little change at any level.
“All of our schools are pretty much the same as last year with our enrollment numbers,” Hines said. “We won’t have a clear picture of total enrollment until Labor Day and after.”
Hines said state enrollment numbers are counted beginning the Tuesday after Labor Day.
“The State Department of Education looks at our enrollment numbers during the 20 days following Labor Day to get a clear indication of the students we will serve for the year,” Hines said. “That’s when it’s important to make sure students attend classes every day to get a clear count. Those numbers directly relate to allocations we get for funding for the next school year.”
Smith said numbers at city schools are seeing little change in the early stage of student counts.
“We aren’t seeing much change in our enrollment at this point,” Smith said. “Our numbers at the elementary and middle school levels are about the same as last year. At the elementary school we have about 450 and about 385 at the middle school. That’s about where we were last year. At the high school, we are down just a little with about 360 currently enrolled.”
Smith said the only major problem he sees with the beginning of school will be current construction in the Belleville Avenue area.
“It’s going to be a mess for the next several months,” Smith said. “We just want all of our parents to be careful and patient as this work is done. Be mindful of the detours. It might be good to either come a little early in the morning so you won’t be late getting your children to school. In the afternoons, it might be a good idea to plan to come a little later than normal so you won’t get caught up in the afternoon rush.”
Escambia County Schools beginning bells will ring at 7:35 a.m. Brewton City School beginning bells ring at 8 a.m. unless otherwise instructed by school personnel.