Education budget meets approval

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Alabama Legislature gave the final OK to a $5.5 billion Education Budget Thursday, a budget local superintendents call adequate.

“It is not perfect, but it is the best budget we could get considering the economic conditions today,” said Troy City Schools Superintendent Linda Felton-Smith.

Pike County Schools Superintendent Mark Bazzell agreed verbatim — “not perfect” but “the best.”

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The budget will give local school systems essentially level funding for the fiscal year, which will span from October 2010 to September 2011.

For the second year in a row, school systems will not be provided state funds for classroom supplies, common purchases, library enhancement or technology. In addition, there will be limited funding for new textbook purchases.

State-funded teacher positions will remain the same, but on the local level superintendents aren’t so sure yet.

“We’ll probably need to cut back on locally funded teacher units,” Bazzell said.

“Most school systems have already cut back to zero, and we have 10 (locally funded teachers). We won’t lose all, but we may lose some (non-classroom) positions.”

Felton-Smith said Troy City Schools may also have to evaluate its staff.

“We…have teachers funded under the federal program. We have to put all those resources together to determine if we will have the same number,” she said.

The Associated Press reports this budget will be about 3 percent less than what school’s are getting on a scaled-back budget this year and 18 percent less than what school’s received in 2008.

Bazzell and Felton-Smith said they won’t know the full impact locally until they begin number crunching.

After two years of prorated budgets, educators are hopeful this year’s budget won’t follow the trend.

“We’ve been assured by folks in Montgomery this is not going to be a prorated budget,” Bazzell said.

“We hope we have a real budget that will not be prorated,” Felton-Smith said. “The difficulty with a prorated budget is that you have to look at your general fund to make up for the difference.”

Troy University Director of Government Relations Marcus Paramore agrees with superintendents in terms of the state budget.

“Everybody wants more money in the budget, and we would like to have a little more to work with, but level funding is what we wanted,” Paramore said.