Education budget gets first look

Published 7:29 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

Lawmakers in Montgomery will begin to discuss the proposed state Education budget for the next school year today.

“There was a budget introduced that they will start debate on Tuesday,” said Troy City Schools Superintendent Linda Felton-Smith.

“The budget is better than we anticipated, however, we do not have all the final details.”

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According to the The Birminham News, the proposed budget was revealed after officials had warned the state could possibly lose more 3,000 teaching jobs under the new budget.

The report stated that despite economic difficulties, officials have said school systems should be able to keep the same amount of state-funded teachers this year as they did last year, a welcome surprise to administrators.

“The bill that is before the Legislature is not perfect, however it’s the best we can expect considering the economy,” Felton-Smith said.

“Under the circumstances, it’s about the best we could have hoped for,” agreed Dr. Mark Bazzell, Pike County Schools Superintendent. “This, at least, should not be a prorated budget.”

In recent years local school systems have had to tap into reserve funds to make up for proration.

Whether that will need to happen this school year is not yet clear.

“To determine whether local reserves would be needed we’d also need the federal budget,” Felton-Smith said.

The federal budget will come out in late April around the time when the current legislative session ends and the finalized state budget is anticipated to have been completed by then.

Felton-Smith said the current budget proposal does not provide funding for student materials, technology, library materials, professional development or common purchase.

Under the current bill, those areas, along with locally funded teachers will have to be taken care of by alternate resources.

“We’ll try to fill in the gaps as we did last year with the remainder of the stimulus money we have left,” Bazzell said.

The budget must be passed first through the state House of Representatives before moving on to the Senate for debate.