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Plan would boost school coffers

By Staff
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
With election year at hand, Gov. Bob Riley is proposing spending the Education Trust Fund budget surplus on an array of brick and mortar projects throughout the state. Included in that plan is some $1.1 million for Hartselle City Schools.
Riley said he would like to see $500 million of the Education Trust Fund surplus go to public schools and universities. The majority of the money, Riley said, would be used for construction projects.
"This $500 million is one-time money and it will be used wisely and responsibly on these one-time expenses," Riley said. "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."
Riley introduced the plan in his State of the State address Tuesday.
The governor's proposal divides $250 million among public K-12 systems. The other $250 million is divided among two-year colleges, four-year universities, K-12 schools damaged by natural disasters and school systems that want to consolidate schools.
Funding levels are based on student population. Each system will receive a minimum of $200,000.
Riley's plan would give $1.135 million to Hartselle City Schools and $2.5 million to Morgan County Schools.
Two-year colleges, such as Calhoun Community College and Wallace State Community College, would split $25 million. The plan also calls for the University of Alabama in Birmingham to receive a separate $50 million appropriation for biotechnical research.
The trust fund currently has some $5.16 billion in its coffers. Money for the fund comes from sales and income taxes.
Riley's plan will likely receive opposition from Alabama Education Association officials such as Dr. Paul Hubbert. He said he would rather see the surplus used for teacher pay increases.