Schools could net #036;1.2 million from funds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2006

Gov. Bob Riley announced Wednesday that he plans to ask the Alabama Legislature to approve a supplemental appropriation that would give all of Alabama's public schools, colleges and universities anywhere from $600,000 to $19 million for school renovations, repairs and construction needs.

The funds can be used by the school systems for new construction, building repairs and upgrades, and to pay down debt which school systems incurred from previous construction projects.

&#8220This $500 million is one-time money, and it will be used wisely and responsibly on these one-time expenses,” Gov. Riley said. &#8220There are tremendous needs in every school system in Alabama. We should direct this one-time appropriation to address those needs without raising taxes, incurring debt or spending it on recurring expenses.”

If the legislature approves the governor's request, this could mean an extra $1.2 million for the Butler County School System.

&#8220Fourteen cents out of every dollar we collect goes to debt service,” Mike Looney, superintendent of Butler County Schools, said. &#8220We don't have any additional funds for capital improvement needs. That $1.2 million would certainly help to meet those needs.”

Funding levels for each school system are set by a formula so there is no hint of politics involved in the distribution of the $500 million. Each system throughout the state will receive a minimum of $200,000. Additional allocations above that are based upon a system's student population.

Butler County presently boasts over 3,500 students according to its Average Daily Membership. ADM is the average number of students who attend a school system in the first 40 days of the school year.

There are several construction and renovation projects presently in place throughout the school system, with Georgiana High School, for example, making plans for a new football stadium.

Keith York, principal of Georgiana High School, said that this money would certainly be &#8220very beneficial” to the school system.

&#8220We definitely have certain upgrades that are needed to our facilities,” York said. &#8220Our buildings here at Georgiana High are very old. And, we have a lot of other needs, too. The parking lots and the roads surrounding the school itself are in need of repairs.”

&#8220We have definite needs in the Butler County system,” Rep. Charles Newton of Greenville said. &#8220We have many old buildings in Georgiana, Greenville and McKenzie that need renovations.”

&#8220The governor recognizes that there are a lot of needs for construction improvement funds all over Alabama, and the needs are here, too,” Newton said.

Gov. Riley will formally introduce his school construction plan when the Alabama Legislature begins the 2006 regular session next week. The governor will deliver the annual State of the State Address at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10 to a joint session of the legislature at the State Capitol.