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Book funding program created

Nobody wants to talk about it, and some people didn't even believe it was the truth; but school systems across Alabama are bearing the brunt of a terrible financial crunch. With the release of the education budget for FY 2004, school systems all over were faced with the task of compensating for massively reduced funds.

One of the areas hardest hit for schools - textbooks and technology. Zero funding was the rule from the State, and new textbooks just weren't in the picture.

Andalusia City Schools has developed a plan to help offset that loss of funding, with some assistance from the City of Andalusia's Utility Board and Covington Electric Cooperative. But, those three entities can't do it by themselves - they need help from the people, and that's just what they're hoping for.

"This week, the Andalusia City Schools will begin a sign-up campaign that will offer area residents an opportunity to provide additional support for the city schools for textbooks through a consumer's utility bill," said Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Pete Kelley.

This new program is tax deductible, and will be used exclusively for the purchase of new textbooks, Kelley added.

"We're very optimistic about this program," Kelley said. "This is a way for people to help out voluntarily, and know exactly where the money will be used. All money will be used exclusively for textbooks."

And it's going to take some serious help for funding to get those textbooks.

"We've been informed that the average cost for a textbook is $81 per book," Kelley said. "We're looking at $135,000 for the Andalusia City School System. At Andalusia Elementary School, in grades K-3, we use consumable books, and those cost $56,000 alone."

In order to help inform parents and grandparents, the schools are sending home informative letters explaining the situation to parents, and giving them opportunity to contribute to the cause.

"The parents will be receiving a letter from the schools soon with progress reports that outlines the program and how they can help out," Kelley said. "It explains the process of contributing and how the program works. Of course, if the parents have any questions, they can contact their child's school, or the Board of Education office."

The school system couldn't have developed and implemented the program without a little help though.

"Covington Electric Cooperative and the City of Andalusia has been extremely helpful with this, as has the marketing department at Alabama Electric Cooperative," Kelley said. "Everyone has been extremely helpful, and we know that the people will rally around the students to provide a better education."