AMSTI funding may be cut

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Supporters of a program that gives hands-on instruction in math and science are concerned that the program may be in jeopardy as the state legislature debates the 2009-2010 education budget.

The Alabama Math and Science Technol-ogy Initiative was created in 2000 as a way to help Alabama public school students better compete in the important subjects of math and science. A school that participates in the AMSTI program receives special hands-on materials and projects that cover every grade level.

Tina Maloy, AMSTI specialist at the Troy University Extended Learning Center and a retired Red Level School teacher, said Wednesday that state AMSTI director Steve Ricks has advised all AMSTI staff that the program’s funding could be cut considerably in next year’s budget.

Ricks’ estimates range from zero to $10 million — all of which would be far below the $37 million that AMSTI received in the 2008-09 budget.

“This has been a very successful program for many years in our state,” Maloy said. “This program is at the forefront of educational programs in the nation — we are training other states and countries on how to adopt similar programs in their areas.

“It would be a shame if all of a sudden, they look at cutting the funding drastically without notice.”

Maloy said that eliminating the AMSTI program’s funding entirely would result in the loss of services to 11,000 teachers and 260,719 students at AMSTI schools, the closing of nine of the 11 AMSTI sites, including the Troy location, and the termination of more than 200 staff members.

Schools currently served by the AMSTI Troy site are Red Level School, Pleasant Home School, Fleeta Jr. High School, Straughn Middle School, Straughn High School, Florala City Middle School, Opp Middle School, Opp High School, Andalusia Elementary School, Andalusia Middle School and Andalusia High School.

Maloy urged any parents of children in AMSTI schools to contact their legislators and ask them to continue to provide funding to the program.

The Associated Press reported that the Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee Wednesday approved a $5.6 billion education budget for the 2009-2010 school year.

The budget would maintain funding for popular programs to improve student proficiency in reading and math and science, like AMSTI, but would cut funding for textbook and classroom supplies.