Boothe ‘pushing’ for
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2000
answers about PCBOE funds
By BETH LAKEY
Two weeks have passed and there is still no answer about what happened to the $427,000 the Pike County school system was promised for the School-to-Career program.
State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, said he spoke with the governor’s office Tuesday morning and was told no more than before.
"I’m pushing those people up there (in Montgomery) as hard as I can," Boothe said.
"I hope to hear something this week."
The committee overseeing the grants was supposed to meet Aug. 24, but failed to do so. Another meeting was scheduled for sometime last week.
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.
Key said state officials had "assured" him of the money and the system hired someone for the job.
Boothe said he was told during the Tuesday morning conversation to be patient and wait for an answer.
But, time is running out for the school system.
At the Pike County Board of Education’s Sept. 18 meeting, members will be forced to fire Ann Barbaree if the money isn’t 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.
Boothe said he and State Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, haven’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 soon.
Boothe and Mitchell 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, because of the program’s benefits.