Pensacola, Florida
Monday August 20th 2018

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Miracle, With Strings

They weren’t praying. But it looked kind of like they were. On any account, prayers had been answered.

Reverend Lutimothy May stood huddled in the hallway with his A.A. Dixon compadres. Having just ducked out of the school board meeting, the group was buzzing.

The word “miracle” tumbled from the huddle at least twice.

Somehow May had convinced Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas to reverse his recommendation to close the A.A. Dixon Charter School of Excellence.

“We just worked out an agreement,” May said breathlessly after breaking from the huddle. “Closing was not the best option. We had a choice.”

Superintendent Thomas had been plainer way of putting it just prior to Tuesday’s board meeting.

“This school will have an opportunity to see if they can make it through the year,” Thomas said, explaining that if the charter failed to dig itself out of a financial hole or if it received failing grades on standardized tests again, the school would voluntarily shut down.

Most of the standing-room-only crowd gathered for the Escambia County School Board meeting was not yet aware the Superintendent had spared Dixon. There was a thick bold line through the item on the agenda, with the word ‘DELETED’ to the side. Questions were being asked.

When May took to the lectern, he let the the crowd know they could finally take a breath. They’re kids would be continuing in the same school for at least a year. The teachers would have jobs for at least a year.

“I think he deserves a hand,” May said, “for pulling that off the agenda.”

The audience gave the Superintendent and board a round of applause. Some also took the opportunity to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“I was there last year. I’ve been there since the beginning,” said fourth-grade teacher Rebecca Cook, as she explained to the board how the school catered to students falling behind at traditional schools. “I’ve seen them learn, I’ve seen them grow. I’ve seen them change.”

Eula Hines, a mother of three students at Dixon, said she lived near the school. In addition to its academic offerings, she told the board it benefited the area.
“If my kids miss the bus we can walk,” Hines said. “A.A. Dixon is what the neighborhood needs.”

Hines also said one of her children was far behind his grade level. Expectations weren’t high.

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