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County schools losing students and tax revenue

Marengo County School Superintendent Luke Hallmark expressed concern Thursday over a 12.4 percent decrease in enrollment for county schools since the 1994-1995 school year.

According to figures Hallmark provided, John Essex High School has had the highest decrease with 31 percent and A.L. Johnson High School with the next highest decrease at 17.2.

Hallmark again stressed the antiquated nature of current state education funding. "It’s not helping us at all," he said.

In addition, Diana Luker, custodian of funds, told the county Board of Education that sales tax revenue is down. For the year-to-date, sales tax revenue is short $91,000, she said, and if the trend continues, the county system will see a short fall of $162,000 for fiscal year 2002.

The ad volurem taxes are a little above last year, Luker said. The county system is working well to keep expenses down.

In other action from Thursday’s county BOE meeting, Stan Stokley was named the new principal at Sweet Water High School.

Johnson High School has received a $100,000 Workforce Investment Act (WIA) grant. It will allow the school to have a summer program from June 3-28 for students who apply under the WIA program, and the school will be able purchase 25 computers to run the program in the fall in a computer lab.

The school will automatically qualify for another $100,000 grant at the end of the year, Hallmark said.

The Johnson High alumni are funding the erecting of a new sign for the school.

Hallmark said the gym at Essex High School will be renovated to make it more of an activity center. The seating area will be replaced.

Karen Lindsey, a teacher at Marengo High School, recently received two grants. One grant will help her work to become a

nationally certified teacher, Hallmark said.

Also, a $1,300 grant from Dollar General will go toward purchasing backpacks for Lindsey’s kindergarten students.