Escambia County School District

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

After nearly a month of virtual learning due to the coronavirus, Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas has had a chance to see the successes and challenges of educating the district's 40,000 students outside the classroom. 

“Well, I think it’s gone as well as you could expect; we’re seeing progress each week,” said Thomas in regards to his assessment of the distance learning taking place throughout the district.

The Escambia County School Board is moving ahead with its search for the district’s first-ever appointed superintendent. At its regular meeting Tuesday, the panel appointed the members of a Citizens Advisory Committee that will assist in the selection process, which is still on track despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We approved the appointment of 22 individuals to serve as our workgroup to help us in reviewing the applications,” said board chairwoman Patty Hightower, who’s been overseeing the search process.

UWF

With schools across the state closing because of the coronavirus, students of all ages are continuing the spring semester at home.

“As we’ve moved to remote instruction, we’ve had to move to remote advising and remote student services, and we’ve done it in a way that continues the important support that our students need," said University of West Florida President Martha Saunders in a video talking about the transition to online learning and student life at UWF.

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Local school districts are making plans on the fly as the response to the coronavirus continues to evolve. If there was any good news for local school superintendents it’s that this week was already a scheduled week off for spring break.

"The plan was always to use our custodial staff this week to completely deep-clean all the classrooms,” said Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.

Pensacola High School

The Florida Department of Education has released graduation rates for 2019. Statewide, there was a slight increase of .08 percentage points to 86.9%.

With one exception, there also were gains in graduation rates in school districts across region.

“Well, the news is that for 2019 our graduation rate for on-time graduation is 84.8%,” said Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas. This marks a 4.1% increase of 2018, when the rate was 80.7%.

usda.gov

Question: how do you feed more than 40,000 children two to three meals per day, five days a week, for 180 school days? WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody recently visited the Escambia County School District to find out.

Lunch time at Ferry Pass Middle School is where more than 1,000 students are served daily. The kids come to the cafeteria in separate waves – rather, shifts.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

In the aftermath of the deadly mass shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida, school safety and security has been pushed to the forefront.

The February 2018 shooting in Parkland left 17 people, students and staff, dead. Seventeen people were injured.

With the new school year now underway, district officials here in Northwest Florida provided an update on some of the measures they’ve taken to improve campus safety.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Summer is over for students in Northwest Florida, as they head back to class Monday for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

There is a lot of optimism for the new year, and offiials have been checking off a long list of things that had to be done to get ready. 

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A review of school grades issued by the Florida Department of Education for 2018-19 shows increases in student achievement across northwest Florida.

Escambia County School District

After five previous defeats, a narrow majority of voters in Escambia County finally approved a 2018 referendum to switch from an elected school superintendent to an appointed one.

The Escambia County School District is now laying the groundwork for hiring the district’s top administrator by next fall.

To help with the process, board members have hired a search team from the Florida School Boards Association; the estimated cost is $25,000.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The statewide push to increase the number of graduating high school seniors who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) wraps up soon.

Already, this year’s Florida FAFSA Challenge has been a great success in the Escambia County School District.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Achieve Escambia recently released its 2018 report card and set some audacious community goals for improvement, beginning with school readiness.

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Students across Northwest Florida are heading back to school. The first day of classes is this Monday, August 13.

To get an update on readiness in the Escambia County School District, WUWF caught up with Superintendent Malcolm Thomas last Friday as preparation for the new school year were wrapping up.

General Readiness

Clipart by Scout

Education officials across Florida are digging into the details of their school and district grades for the 2017-18 school year to see where they can make improvements when classes resume this fall.

The Florida Department of Education released the grades on June 27.

Florida now has more than 1,000 “A” schools (1,027 schools) up from 987 in 2017 and 763 in 2016. The percentage of schools earning an "A" increased to 32 percent, up from 30 percent in 2016-17.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Students whose families live in the Navy Federal area of Escambia County are gearing up to attend two brand new schools.

Members of the media gathered at Beulah Middle School’s main lobby area on Wednesday, taking in that “new school smell.”

The school is 205,000 square feet under one roof  and cost $45 million, funded by the Local Option Sales Tax. Eventual student capacity will be around 1,200.

The first stop on the tour – led by Assistant Principal Marietta McCaskill – was a state-of-the art gymnasium for the Beulah Bears.

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