City schools may receive BP settlement

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Troy City Schools could receive $125,000 from a proposed settlement from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

The settlement recommendation, approved during Tuesday’s called meeting of the Board of Education, would help defer the more than $300,000 in lost sales tax revenues in the wake of the 2010 spill that wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast. It comes as part of a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of government entities affected by lost tax revenues due to the spill’s impact on tourism.

“When we gathered data … we had an approximately $300,000 shortfall (in tax revenues) that year,” said Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent.

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The Troy City Schools joined the lawsuit nearly three years ago, on the recommendation of school board attorneys. “I never thought we’d see a penny,” said board member Roxie Kitchens.

Steven Curtis, attorney for the board, said the settlement recommendation is “comparable if not better” than similar cities and entities involved in the suit. Locally, the City of Brundidge agreed to a settlement recommendation of more than $50,000; the Pike County Commission, nearly $40,000; and the City of Troy, more than $170,000.

“These are recommendations for settlement amounts,” said Curtis, who said the Beasley Allen firm in Montgomery is handling the suit. “It’s my understanding these agreements have to be approved and returned to the court by July 15 … At that point, if BP agrees, the settlements will be approved.”

Curtis said the settlements are a result of a separate lawsuit and filings and are not included in the $3.2 billion settlement being made with the State of Alabama. “This is separate and in addition to that,” he said.

Hicks said the district has not made any plans for the funds. “We’ll wait until we actually receive them,” he said, adding that the one-time windfall could be used for technology investments or equipment, but not personnel. “Whatever we do it’ll be invested in the students’ education.”

In other business on Tuesday, the board approved several personnel actions, including resignations of Brandon Lee, Charles Henderson High School social studies teacher and baseball coach, and Heather Mitchell, Charles Henderson Middle School English teacher and head softball coach.

The board approved the hires of Casey Moore, CHHS English teacher; John Cole, CHHS JROTC senior Army instructor; Tiana McWhite, CHMS counselor; Karen Kerfoot, CHMS English teacher; Jeremy Jones, CHMS science teacher; and Michele Cole, CHMS in-school support aide.