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Legislators, school board discuss session

Madison County legislators listened to concerns about school funding in a joint meeting with Madison Board of Education and school leaders on July 31 at the Central Office. (CONTRIBUTED)
Madison County legislators listened to concerns about school funding in a joint meeting with Madison Board of Education and school leaders on July 31 at the Central Office. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Madison Board of Education and school leaders met on July 31 with legislators from Madison County before the lawmakers returned to Montgomery.

Lawmakers reconvened on Aug. 3 for the 2016 Alabama Legislative Special Session.

School board members intended to “to educate (legislators) on how the budget dilemma in Montgomery is challenging public school districts,” public relations manager John Peck said. State representatives Mike Ball, Anthony Daniels, Laura Hall and Mac McCutcheon attended the session at the school district’s Central Office.

Specifically, the school officials’ objective was to refute claims about a ‘surplus’ in the education budget and that overall education funding is at its highest level ever, Peck said.

Board members pointed out $121 million in items not related to education that have been placed into the education budget. The board “also distributed a pamphlet that shows per-pupil spending of $5,180 in the proposed 2016 education foundation budget, which is still below the $5,578 in 2008,” Peck said.

Madison educators also provided statistics that documented how other current expenses have been cut. State funding for technology, libraries, supplies, professional development and textbooks through the years have declined or zeroed out over the past eight years, Peck said.

“Lawmakers agreed there seems to be a lot of misinformation about there being a ‘surplus,'” Peck said. The legislators “expressed a desire for citizens to let them know if revenues should be increased to protect school funding from being used help the General Fund.”

Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler and Madison board members thanked legislators for taking time from to discuss budget concerns.

On this topic, Alabama Board of Education representative Mary Scott Hunter discussed the special session in her email distribution on July 31.

“As we head into an uncertain budgetary time and with a special session of the legislature approaching, it’s important to remind ourselves and our political leaders that we expect a continued investment into our public schools and that we already have the results to show that we are well worth the investment,” Hunter said.

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