State funds critical to schools

&uot;Regardless of what happens with the governor’s ($1.3 billion) tax increase proposal, we face the issue of rapid growth and the need for capital outlay funds.&uot;

Those were the words of Shelby County Schools Superintendent Evan Major following a meeting of school superintendents from across the state in Montgomery last Friday.

The meeting was called by State School Superintendent Ed Richardson.

Major said Richardson informed the superintendents that the governor is &uot;sincere in his plea that we support the package of bills coming forward&uot; and that the governor &uot;sincerely wants to see education in Alabama improve.&uot;

Gov. Bob Riley is proposing several measures including a property tax hike to help the state overcome severe budget shortfalls.

Major quoted Richardson saying that if the governor’s package fails and the legislature does not have a budget in October, he will recommend that some schools across the state be closed.

On that note, Major said 50 percent of Shelby County Schools’ budget comes from state funds.

And while he said Shelby County Schools are in better shape than most, &uot;We couldn’t make payroll at the end of October without state funds.&uot;

Major stressed Shelby County Schools could not operate for an extended period of time without level or increased state funding.

&uot;I have faith in the people and the legislature that we will have a budget in October.

&uot;If the tax package fails, the worst scenario would be a terribly prorated budget,&uot; he said.

What about Shelby County School’s own 9-mill property tax increase proposal to fund school construction?

Major said the governor signed the Shelby County bill Friday that would allow the local school tax referendum.

However, he said, &uot;Certainly we’ve got to consider the fact right now with the governor’s package being voted on Sept. 9, it’s probably not a good time to go out with our local bill.

&uot;The board and I are studying to try to come up with the best plan.&uot;