County BOE hopes for stimulus aid

Published 12:35 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

Covington County Schools superintendent Sharon Dye said at Tuesday’s board meeting that schools should know by April how much funding they are set to receive if President Obama’s stimulus package passes Congress.

Dye said she had attended a meeting earlier in the day where the stimulus package was discussed in detail.

“Our speaker was from the American Association of School Superintendents who works on federal policy,” she said. “He said what we’d like to see is the House version of the bill pass — it’s more school friendly.

“He also said we should know by the end of April how much they should get,” she said. “His advice to us was spend it quickly.”

Dye said Gov. Bob Riley also announced that an estimated $550 million will be cut from state education funds and that this stimulus money will “hopefully, offset some of those cuts.”

“We have never experienced anything like this (stimulus package) before,” she said. “It’s exciting and we’re going to have to work closely with the state department on how to spend the money.”

Chief financial officer Shauna Robertson said the board’s financials are “holding steady” despite decreased revenues and they, like other systems across the state, are holding out for news of President Obama’s stimulus package.

“We’re kind of in limbo,” she said. “I do know that if we don’t have the money from that stimulus package, we’re going to have some very tough decisions to make in the future.”

Additionally, the board approved a resolution opposing legislation that would establish a uniform start date for all schools.

Board members agreed that each local board of education is the best governing body to decide when students should start back to school — not legislators.

“Each year, the vote keeps getting closer (to setting a uniform start date),” said board member Jeff Bailey. “It may be closer this year. Who knows?”

Under the Code of Alabama, each system is required to set a uniform start date within its system. Board members agreed they are the ones charged with making the decisions that are in the best interest of the students of Covington County.

“After all the consequences of poor student performance are significant under accountability programs and pushing the school start date back will rob students, we feel, of much needed instructional time prior to the performance testing,” Dye said.

The board will submit the resolution and ask all legislative members to vote against any bill on the measure.

In other business, the board:

agreed to take bids to re-roof the board of education building.

agreed to employ Stephanie Sowell Taunton as reading coach at Red Level School.

voted to require all non-school organizations to request permission in writing before making improvements to school facilities and grounds.