Area schools receive $4.3 million

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2007

As part of the first bond issue for school construction since 1998, Governor Riley signed over $1.07 billion to benefit every K-12 school system and public two-year and four-year higher education school in the state. The bond issue is the largest in the state&8217;s history, and will provide schools with much-needed funds for capital improvements.

The K-12 schools are receiving approximately $658.6 million, or 74.5 percent of the bond issue, while the higher education school systems will receive $226.4 million, or 25.5 percent of the funds.

Each K-12 school was awarded a base fund of $200,000 and then they were assessed based on the Average Daily Membership formula. This formal determines how much each school with receive above the $200,000. The formula uses the school&8217;s average daily attendance in the 20 days following Labor Day. If more students attend school in that time, then that school receives a larger portion of the bond issue.

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Marengo County Schools

The Marengo County School System received $1.36 million portion of the regular bond issue and an additional $600,000 from the Black Belt School Systems Supplemental Allocation. Superintendent Luke Hallmark said that about half the funds will go to decreasing their debt.

Last year, they were able to make some improvements in facilities due to funds they received from the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act, also known as the GOZA bond.

With these acquired bond funds, the Marengo County Board of Education can pay off approximately half the debts of the school improvements that were begun in the previous year.

Hallmark said the Board will set a meeting to discuss where the funds will go.

Demopolis City Schools

The Demopolis City School System received $2.28 million from the bond issue. According to Dr. Wesley Hill, outgoing superintendent, the majority of the funds will go to projects that are already in the works.

Currently, they have begun construction on six new classrooms at Westside Elementary School and they are planning to add four new classrooms to Demopolis High School. Two other school improvements that will benefit from the funding are roofing for Demopolis High School and the stadium project.

This is the first time in a long time that the school system has seen benefits from a bond issue.

Linden City Schools

The Linden City School System received $618,908 from the bond issue. According to Dr. Walter Davis, outgoing superintendent, the funds will help to begin the restoration of the gymnasium at Linden High School.

In the past, they have put out bids for the project, but they have always come in above what their budget would allow for the system to spend. With the newly acquired funding, Davis said, the school system hopes they can secure a bid that is reasonable to get the project started.

The school board will put out more bids and then assess whether it is more feasible to renovate the gymnasium or build a new facility, he said.

Higher Education

In addition to the K-12 systems, local higher education schools also received funding from the bond issue. Marion Military Institute received $782, 670 and the University of West Alabama received $1.84 million in bond issue funds.

Black Belt Funds

In addition to the regular funds, Governor Riley authorized the Black Belt Schools Supplemental Allocation of $15 million. Each school in the Black Belt will receive some share of this extra bond issue.

Other Black Belt counties received the following bond issue funds: Clarke County, $2.88 million; Greene County, $1.35 million; Hale County, $2.88 million; Marion County, $3.22 million; Perry County, $1.88 million; Sumter County, $2.17 million and Wilcox County, $2.02 million.