Schools want more dough
Council considers upping board’s piece of the pie to $250,000 above bond costs
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A cap put on local funding for Hartselle schools 16 years ago has come back to haunt the city’s elected officials.
At a budget review hearing on Monday, Superintendent Dr. Mike Reed requested an appropriation of $250,000 above bond retirement for the 2006-07 fiscal year. This amount is $195,537 more than what the school system received in 2005-06.
Dr. Reed used an audio-visual presentation to illustrate what’s good about Hartselle’s school system and how more local funding is needed to keep it strong. For example, the school system received $1.25 million from the city in 1990. At that time, schools received five-eights of the revenue generated by 2 cents of the city’s 3-cent local sales tax. A percentage split was implemented in 1962 to ensure revenue growth for schools as sales tax revenues increased.
The council changed the way schools shared in sales tax receipts the following year by removing the percentage split and making them subject to an annual appropriation to be determined by the city’s governing body. In recent years the amount appropriated above bond retirement has been in the neighborhood of $55,000. In 2005-06, the schools received a total amount of $1.069 million, or $179,755 less than what they received 16 years ago.
Reed made a comparison involving supplemental teachers to show how rising costs in salaries and benefits are taking a bite out of educational opportunities for students.
In 2005-06, the school system had 18.61 local teacher units. Their salary and benefits were paid solely with local funds at a cost of $908,308. This year the number has declined to 16.8 but the cost has increased to $976,825.
Reed pointed out that Hartselle schools receive less money from the city’s general fund than other school systems in the area with fewer students. Among the school systems he listed were Arab at $2 million, Cullman at $2.7 million and Athens at $3.2 million.
The chief question on Mayor Dwight Tankersley’s mind was how the money would be used.
School board chairman Dr. Andy Dukes said some of the money would also be used to fund courses such as drama and foreign languages at the junior High School.
Councilman Bill Smelser asked Reed if he would be willing to employ an outside firm to do a study of coach’s supplements.
Reed said such a study has been discussed by the board but said it would take some time.