Hoover officials propose giving schools $2 million

Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos Thursday made a proposal to give city schools $2 million for fiscal year 2009, an about-face from his original plan to drop school funding entirely.

Petelos said the $2 million funding was made possible when officials found $800,000 in the capital projects budget that had not already been allocated to any particular project. From there, officials decided to borrow $1.2 million from the capital funds. That money will be pulled from a road project that is already on the books, Petelos said.

“I really wanted to help the schools, and we were able to do this,” he said. “I never stopped looking to see what we could do to do something for the schools.”

Petelos said the proposal was met with concern from parents, who are upset the city would be giving less money to the schools. Last year, the city gave the Hoover school system $7.5 million.

“People asked us to take 10 percent off across the board,” Petelos said. “If we did the 10 percent cut across the board, it would have meant laying off 15 uniformed police officers, closing one or two fire stations and closing the library one or more days a week. I don’t want to sacrifice public safety in that regard.”

Petelos said the decision was made this week to offer $2 million to the schools.

He said that while the schools have a high reserve fund of more than $100 million, educators are dealing with proration and funding issues.

While Petelos understands parents’ concerns, he said he has to look at the big picture.

“I don’t have the luxury of being focused on one group,” he said. “I have to look at everything.”

The Hoover City Council will vote on the proposal at the regular council meeting Monday night.