Stimulus plan would help Alabama schools

Published 5:57 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2009

President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package currently being debated in the U.S. Senate could mean much-needed financial aid for Alabama’s school system.

The stimulus plan currently stands at $900 billion and rising, with an estimated $140 million earmarked for education.

That funding could help halt the bleeding currently being felt in Butler County and schools across the state. A prorated education budget of 5.6 percent has meant a loss off $340 million for Alabama schools.

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Butler County alone lost $1.8 million in funding from the state.

Next year could see a revenue shortfall of $700 million – an 11 percent cut in current expenditures – according to the AEA’s Alabama School Journal.

The stimulus package, as it stands now, would grant Alabama $3.2 billion for education, which would be spread over a two-year period.

“The economic-incentive package will probably prevent further cuts in any agencies and will prevent cuts in services over the next two years,” Jim Min, Gov. Bob Riley’s top budget adviser told The Journal.

Superintendent Mike Looney said the stimulus plan would bring immediate relief to Butler County schools, but school funding in the future is still a great concern.

“Preliminary reports I have seen indicate these funds are going to be earmarked for specific programs such at the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Title I programs and school construction projects,” said Looney. “While these funds will be very helpful, they will not help us pay the power bill at the end of the month. I am hopeful that we can somehow come out of this thing with some local flexibility. Meanwhile, we remain hopeful but are only ‘counting the bird in the hand’ at this point. We are committed to doing much with the taxes our local community sees fit to provide.”