County schools should be part of #8216;Black Belt#039; funds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mike Looney is right to question the exclusion of Butler County in a provision of a proposed bill in the House of Representatives that would make available construction and capital improvement funds for city and county school systems in the Black Belt.

A $15 million segment of the massive $1.052 billion bond issue is earmarked specifically for that economically challenged area of our state. Systems in Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter and Wilcox Counties plus city systems in Demopolis, Linden and Selma are included in the special provision.

Butler County is not. It should be.

Looney, the superintendent, hopes to convince members of the legislature to amend that list so that the oversight can be changed prior to the actual voting on so important a measure.

His rationale is just. Butler County has long been identified as part of the region. Demographics are similar. The geography is contiguous. Statistical comparisons are endless. And the need is great.

The local public school system is moving forward. Momentum is building, optimism growing, and programs expanding.

The system is positioning itself nicely not only as a provider of quality education, but as an example for others - especially in the Black Belt - of what can accomplished when there is a plan, innovative leadership and adequate funding.

Rightfully including Butler County in the special regional package would mean approximately $1 million for the system and its children. It is needed money. It will be used well.