Governors proposal could help school construction

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

In his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature Tuesday night, Gov. Bob Riley was expected to propose $500 million for public schools, colleges and universities to be used for repairs and construction if needed.

Shelby County Schools would be in line for $7.7 million of the total $250 million the governor has designated for public K-12 systems.

The other $250 million would be divided among two-year colleges, four-year universities, K-12 schools damaged by natural disasters and school systems that want to consolidate schools.

Each school system would receive a minimum of $200,000 with additional allocations pro-rated based on student population.

According to media reports, the Legislative Fiscal Office projects the education budget will have a $1 billion balance while the state&8217;s General Fund budget is projected to have a $412 million balance.

Riley said prior to the State of the State address, &8220;This $500 million is one-time money and it will be used wisely and responsibly on these one-time expenses.

&8220;There are tremendous needs in every school system in Alabama. We should direct this one-time appropriation to address those needs without raising taxes, incurring debt or spending it on recurring expenses.&8221;

Shelby County School Superintendent Evan Major was in Montgomery Tuesday.

He said he was hopeful regarding the governor&8217;s proposal.

&8220;I certainly hope that the legislature will pass this bill because it would give us much needed capital funds that would help with some additions where we have a lot of trailers in the county.&8221;

Major noted that the last school under construction the county, Chelsea Park Elementary, will cost about $14 million. So, he indicated the money could not be used to build a new school.

However he noted that there are hot spots in the county including Helena Middle School, Calera, Chelsea and Thompson. He said the one-time shot in the arm from the governor would help the school system address needs.

Major said he certainly supports the governor&8217;s proposal