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Governor Riley views city's school system as model for the state

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Gov. Bob Riley told a Hartselle audience if he could clone Hartselle's
school system he'd do it tomorrow.
He made the comment April 19 as featured speaker at Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting and awards banquet. The event was conducted in the Wright Center at West Hartselle Baptist Church.
"Economic development begins with education and you have one of the best school systems in the state. You have something unique in your hands. You have it all. You have a great lifestyle here," he stated.
"If we develop the best education system in the nation, we can become the prototype of what it should be in the southern states. The question is do we continue as we always have or do we change? We are going to have to decide if we want to be followers or leaders," he added.
Riley said he is holding out to limit a salary hike for teachers to 4 percent. The Alabama Education Association and some legislators are seeking a 6 percent hike. "This is an important issue," he pointed out. "If we pay more than 4 percent this year, we'll be in proration next year. We're still going to have to operate our schools and the special programs that mean so much to our students are the ones that will have to be cut.
"This is crazy! What's wrong with paying 4 percent now, talk about it again in eight months, and give them the rest of the raise if we have the money?" Riley added.
He said at a recent governor's conference, computer magnate Bill Gates made the following statement: "The way we educate our children in America is obsolete. We have a college graduation rate of 18 percent. It is 82 percent in Japan."
Riley said Alabama is ranked as the best place in a 17-state southern region to locate a manufacturing plant.
"The economic potential for this area is going to be phenomenal if you get one of three large industrial firms we're trying to get to come to our state."
Riley pointed with pride to changes that have been made in Montgomery to maximize the efficiency of state government.
"When I came in, I said I was committed to applying business principles to state government. In a very short time we have been able to cut $501 million out of state operations."
He ended his remarks by saying, "Let's make Alabama as good as Alabama deserves to be."