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Officials decry lack of school funding

Superintendent of Hale County Schools Frank Stegall and Superintendent of Marengo County Schools Luke Hallmark both have the same problem when it comes down to it, Lack of Funding.

Both systems received their 2002-2003 school accountability reports on Thursday and Marengo County and Hale County are very similar in terms of overall grades. Both systems are struggling to produce money for the schools in their system, but both superintendents are very happy with the quality of their schools even though they have little to no support.

“We don’t have any locally funded teachers or programs for the youth,” Stegall said.

He also said with the limited resources they have thanks to the new appraisal system in which the mill was raised from $70,000 to $90,000. This just further hurts their system in the long run because every system needs to have the state average of 31.59 mills. The Hale County system is currently at 14.62 mills.

“With the resources we have we can either spend money on the back end of the system with the kids who are thinking of dropping out and help them stay in or either you can spend the money on the front end with the kindergarten age either way you leave one group out,” Stegall said.

In the Hale County 2000 census Stegall points out some alarming percentages. He said only 35 percent of the people in Hale County 25 and older have high school diplomas. He also said that 52 percent of the women age 12-20 in Hale County would become pregnant.

The system did very well overall on its report card considering the funding they receive. They are CLEAR with WATCH and PRIORITY for the SAT and CLEAR for the Alabama High School Graduation Exam and Writing for grades five and seven.

He made a final comment about the direction that the State of Alabama was taking towards education.

“Until Alabama starts caring more about its children and not about the dirt and trees, things will never change,” Steal said.

“It’s hard to compare apples to apples when everyone else is using oranges,” Hallmark said.

He said the system is getting a lot for the money they’re currently receiving. He also said that the schools are still providing a good, solid quality education.

Hallmark agrees with Stegall about the new appraisal hurting the local systems. The Marengo County system is currently at 13.27 mills, while the state average is 31.59.

Hallmark’s system did very well overall on its report card considering their funding problems. They are WATCH with PRIORITY for the SAT and CLEAR for the Alabama High School Graduation Exam and Writing for grade five and CLEAR with WATCH for Writing grade seven.

He hopes that the funding issues will be resolved soon so they could offer drama classes, art classes, foreign languages and other extra activities.

“I would like to see how we could do if we had the money to spend,” Hallmark said.