County schools still in

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 27, 2000

dilemma over state funds


Staff Writer

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Aug. 26, 2000 10 PM

Questions as to when the Pike County Schools will get its $427,000 are still unanswered.

Since the Pike County Board of Education met on Aug. 21, legislators have been working to find out what happened to money supposedly promised to the county schools.

During that meeting, Superintendent John Key announced the state had reneged on a $427,000 contract with the school system.

He said the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs had promised the money with a contract already signed by Gov. Don Siegelman and Key for School-to-Work funds from the state.

Then, the week before the meeting, Key found out the money wasn’t available.

"We had been assured the money," Key said, adding the word "assured" was used by the state officials.

The school system had hired Ann Barbaree for the program and has had to fire her since there is no money available.

What upsets Key is the school system had already committed personnel to the program and the contracts had been signed before the money was pulled out of their grasp.

Now, officials in Montgomery are being asked where the money is.

State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, was told the committee supposed to review the grant proposals did not meet Aug. 24, as scheduled.

"According to the governor’s office, the committee did not meet Thursday," Boothe said on Friday.

"We should have word sometime next week," he said.

Boothe said he hasn’t given up Pike County will get the money.

"I feel good we’ll get the funding," Boothe said, adding changes in ADECA’s office have put things in "turmoil" and caused delays.

After talking with Nick Bailey, acting director of ADECA, and officials in the governor’s office, Boothe doesn’t "foresee a problem" in Pike County getting the money when all is said and done.

He was told "ours should flow right through" and expects to hear something by the end of the week.

Boothe and State Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, have both been talking with state officials and have pledged to continue working on the school system’s behalf.

Mitchell met with Bailey after learning of the problem. He said Bailey did not promise the money, nor did he say Pike County would not get it.

Larry Childers of ADECA said the grants are expected to be presented to Siegelman in "two to three weeks."

Key hasn’t given up on getting the money, either.

He said the School-to-Work (also known as the School-to-Career) program is one that is beneficial to many students. It helps At-Risk students and gives students employability skills.

"It’s something we’re getting a lot of mileage from," Key said of the program.