Bad news not as bad as it could have been

Published 9:04 pm Friday, July 24, 2009

Expected bad news just got unexpectedly worse.

With state tax revenues earmarked for education continuing to decline as a result of the recession, on Friday Governor Bob Riley said the level of proration in the Education Trust Fund must be increased to 11 percent for the 2009 fiscal year, which ends September 30.

Demopolis Interim Superintendent Dr. Neil Hyche said they were prepared for proration to continue, and they they expected it.

However, he said they we’re not expected what was handed down.

Proration is the process of cutting appropriations when revenues fall short of projections.

Tax collections earmarked for the Education Trust Fund have dropped 10 percent since December, when Governor Riley declared proration and released $221 million from the education Rainy Day Fund to lessen proration’s impact to 9 percent.

Then-superintendent Dr. L. Wayne Vickers and his staff and the Board of Education did a good job of tightening their belts then. It ensured the school system would weather this storm with minimal bruising.

However, very few expected this economic downturn to be this harsh and last this long.

With 11 percent proration and release of the rainy day funds, education spending by the state is $5.7 billion.

To put that in context, education spending by the state was $4.2 billion in 2003 and reached a record high of $6.7 billion in 2008.

It’s times like these that the importance of the Demopolis City School Foundation makes itself even more known. It’s also times like these that local industries like Rock Tenn and Georgia Pacific set up to the plate with their big bats time and time again.

We thank each of you who chose to make a donation to the City School Foundation this year. You will make a huge difference in the life of our future leaders.