Kelley backs tax plan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2003

Gov. Bob Riley's accountability revenue plan continues to be a subject of major discussion among numerous sectors, especially education leaders as they strive to provide a quality education despite troubling economic times.

Finances were among the major topics of discussion during the regular meeting of the Andalusia City Board of Education Wednesday night.

Andalusia Schools Superintendent Pete Kelley said he and his wife had recently attended a function held by Riley and his administration in Montgomery where Riley's tax plan, a plan which will come before a public referendum on Sept. 9,

was the highlight of the affair.

Kelley said he feels there is a great deal of misinformation about the plan being generated, but said all educators need to become well-versed on the plan.

"I have pledged myself to work as hard as I can to get this plan passed," said Kelley. "There is going to come a time where we are going to get a local campaign going on that.

I think Sept. 9 is a defining date in the history in the state of Alabama. We are going to make significant steps forward or we're going to make significant steps backward. You can't overcome a $650 million deficit without additional revenue. People need to see the value and importance of education and this is our grandchildren and our children, and they are really going to have to pay the price (if the plan is not passed). Our kids and your kids and my grandkids who are going to be coming to school in Andalusia deserve the same education they get in Vestavia Hills or a Mountain Brook. We can't do it without revenue."

Kelley noted the system had to cut the art program at Andalusia High School this year because of funding, and had to release a science teacher who did not have tenure.

"We are eliminating a (art) program which has been in existence here for many, many years," said Kelley. "(Andalusia High School Principal Daniel Shakespeare) is an artist, and was the benefactor of being taught art and we've had art students win scholarships. We've got to have funding before we put that program back in place. We are going to work as hard as we can."

He said he was also unsure about whether it will be possible to have a music program due to financial difficulties.

"I am real impressed with the governor," said Kelley. "He has taken the stance that his political future doesn't mean anything to him, but he has come in and said he wants a first-class education system in the state of Alabama. (This plan) is not only for education, but it also relates to state troopers, assisted living and mental health and issues like that. If I remember my figures right, as far as southeastern states, we will still be the lowest taxed state and we will still be on the bottom. We are going to go out and do whatever we have to (to get the plan approved)."

In other business discussed at Wednesday's meeting, the Andalusia City Board of Education:

Approved a low bid for vehicle insurance from the O'Neal Agency.

Approved a low bid for ice cream from Blue Bell Creameries and for bread from Flowers Bread.

Approved changes in student/parent handbooks for all three schools in the system.

Approved the minutes of the May 23 meeting.

Set the date of the next meeting for July 28 at 6 p.m.