Schools must be careful with funding

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003

This may be one of the toughest times for school systems in Marengo County since the days of the Great Depression. For that matter, every school system in the state could say the same thing.

Gov. Bob Riley has indicated that he’ll do everything within his power to eliminate the projected budget shortfall for schools, but as most superintendents can attest, other governors have said the same thing.

We can all feel a little security in the fact that Riley has done more to change Alabama’s system of government than any governor in decades past. He has outlined a plan for changing the constitution, and we should expect to see reform from that plan.

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It also shouldn’t surprise citizens if an election is held this fall to vote on a tax increase in Alabama. Riley has promised he’ll do everything he can to cut waste from government spending, but that doesn’t mean the state won’t need new revenue this year, and in years to come.

With that said, we believe it is proper to encourage our educators and their leaders to follow all guidelines they have for their school systems. A recent audit revealed that the Marengo County School system has dipped into one fund to help cover other educational costs.

We do not believe &045;&045; and the audit does not suggest &045;&045; that the Marengo County School System has done anything illegal. At the same time, now is when schools must take extra care of the money granted to them by the state.

In the case of the Marengo schools, money from the Children First fund was used to pay for other educational expenditures, and though those funds surely were needed, Superintendent Luke Hallmark must work extra hard to keep funds in the correct account.

Yes, money is money, but there’s a reason we must abide by the guidelines set out by the state: The funding crisis in Alabama will one day come to a close.

We believe voters in Alabama, when given the chance, will make a wise decision about the revenue needs of the state and we think the funding gaps will close.

When that happens, and when Alabama has more funds to disperse through the schools, we want the state to know we deserve a portion of the money and that we will spend it wisely.

Having a scar on our records will not help when our schools ask for money in the future.

Yes, these are hard times on our schools, and during these times, it’s even more important to do everything by the letter of the book.