Education system also targeted
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle School Superintendent Dr. Lee Hartsell is optimistic about Gov. Bob Riley's plan for the future of education in our state. Hartsell is quick to say, however, there are many details that remain to be worked out.
"Right now, all we've really seen are little snippets of what's proposed," Hartsell said. "I'm hoping we'll learn more about it at the next superintendent's meeting."
The next state superintendent's meeting is set for June 24.
And while he doesn't know all the details, Hartsell said he likes what he's heard about much of the plan. The best part, he said, could be the move to give local systems more control over their money.
"More control would certainly be helpful," he said. "Now, what we get can only be spend in that category. If we cut something, we have to cut across the board. Unless proration is declared, we can't move money around."
Riley's $1.2 billion plan – which encompasses a wide range of tax increases, legislative reform and education spending – includes unearmarking some of the money local systems receive. The plan is currently winding its way through the legislature and will go before the people for a vote in September.
A survey released last week by the Alabama Education Association's Capital Survey Research Center shows 52 percent of Alabamians were in favor of Riley's plan.
As for now, school systems across the state are laying off teachers and support personnel trying to make up some of the funding shortfall. Hartselle's system has been lucky so far and hasn't had to layoff any teachers.
"We have a couple of aids, mainly in special education, that we didn't need because of a change in pupil numbers, but we've not let any of our teachers go," Hartsell said.
The system did cut back in several areas, including not filling positions left vacant by retirements and resignations, eliminating a bus route and cutting back on supplies. The system also received a $300,000 appropriation from the city to help cover the shortfall.