$1.08M coming from jobs bill

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 19, 2010

The recently signed $26 billion federal “jobs bill” equates to nearly $1.08 million for Covington County’s three school systems.

President Obama gave final approval to the plan, which is designed to save the jobs of thousands of teachers and government workers nationwide. Alabama’s 133 school systems will share the $149 million statewide allotment.

Locally, each of the three school superintendents call the funding, while much needed, “just another band aid” to school budgets.

The Andalusia City Schools System should receive approximately $348,000 from the measure, interim superintendent Ted Watson said.

“We’ve been told that the budget for 2012 is equal to what California saw in 2008 for state government,” Watson said. “It’s been called catastrophic for Alabama. Over the last two years, the ACS has received $1 million in stimulus funds, but unfortunately the state education trust fund just subtracted those funds from our budget.

“This (new) money is necessary to maintain status quo and is just going to spackle the holes in 2012,” he said.

Terry Holley, Covington County Schools superintendent, said the unanticipated $464,000 the CCS is set to receive will “help,” especially when considering how proration has impacted education budgets.

“We’re anticipating an additional 2 percent of proration by Sept. 30,” Holley said. “And it’s been predicted that there could be an additional 5 to 7 percent more on top of that for the 2012 budget. If that’s the case, these (new) funds will be wiped out completely so we can continue at our current level.

“While we appreciate the money, it’s just another band aid,” he said. “Next year, I don’t think those band aids will be there. We’re going to have to be smart and look at every aspect of the system and make sure we maximize the money to its fullest potential.”

Holley said he and fellow superintendents must look at the “long term impact of what will happen.”

“Let’s face it, the economy is not there, and the economic growth is not there,” he said. “And we have to plan for three to five to 10 years down the road. We have to be smart with our money.”

Opp City School Superintendent Michael Smithart said the system will receive $275,000 and will use the money “for anything that goes to students, such as teachers, counselors and even bus drivers.”

The bill also furnishes $133 million for the state Medicaid program; however, it is expected the medical care program will experience at least a $64 million shortfall at the beginning of the next budget year, which begins Oct. 1.