Schools brace for proration’s impact

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 4, 2001

Staff Writer

Local leaders in education are making plans to cope with the 6.2 percent proration announced Friday morning.

Hank Jones, superintendent of the Troy City Schools, said "6.2 is better than 8 (percent)," which was the amount anticipated.

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But Jones said he is concerned the state may come back and raise the percentage.

"I have a horrible fear it will turn out to be more than that," Jones said of the 6.2 percent proration announced Friday morning.

Until Jones meets with board of education members, principals and teachers, he is "not exactly sure" what the impact to the school system will be.

He plans to meet with principals on Monday and other school officials and board members next week, as well.

For now, cuts are being made in unnecessary expenses and utility usage and he is not anticipating personnel cuts this year.

"I can’t say, for us or other school systems, that won’t be an option in the long term," Jones said.

Since the city school system does have money in reserve, it will not likely be as hard hit as some school systems.

Jones said he sympathizes with those that "don’t have any or enough reserve" because there is no way to "make it up" and those school systems will be the first to cut personnel.

Pike County Schools superintendent John Key was in Montgomery for the announcement on Friday and could not be reached for comment.

Troy State University has announced a series of cost-cutting measures designed to deal with proration without disrupting service or quality of education for its more than 11,000 students on TSU’s campuses.

Immediately following Gov. Don Siegelman’s announcement, TSU leaders directed immediate fiscal changes at all system campuses.

Approximately $2.3 million must be cut from the university system budgets, said Douglas Patterson, vice chancellor.

"This means specific steps are required by all the Troy State family to continue a successful school year for our students," Patterson said. "Taking care of our people ­ students, staff and faculty ­ remains a foremost priority."

Certain aspects of the universities’ program, such as library services, salary and benefits, will not be affected by proration.

Remaining funds available for specific items, repair/service of equipment, travel, materials and supplies will be cut 30 percent in order to conserve scare resources. Faculty and staff vacancies will be filled only a critical-needs basis and an even more aggressive utility conservation program will be implemented.

Patterson said these steps will be necessary to ensure students do not suffer any loss of the quality of their education, despite the hardship of proration.

According to information provided by the State Department of Education, about 100 of the 128 school systems will need to borrow money from financial institutions. Those school systems with adequate cash reserves will watch as those reserves diminish during proration and rebuilding those reserves will be a concern for the next several years.

Proration is retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year, meaning state funding will be reduced based on the entire fiscal year budget.