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DCSF to use grant money to aid teachers

The Demopolis City Schools Foundation has suspended its grants process for the first time in its 16-year history, coming to the aid of the school system following the state’s announcement of forthcoming cutbacks and a larger proration rate.

The $50,000.40 in DCSF grant money will help fill the gap left in the schools’ budgets after the state eliminated teacher fee funding. That money will be divided among the four schools in the system to aid with shortfalls caused by the expected 11-percent proration to be declared by the state later this year.

“Since we can’t take a $50,000 hit in our checking account in October, we are splitting the money,” said DCSF executive director Jan McDonald. “The first half will be eligible to be used on Oct. 1, and the other half will be available next semester.”

McDonald said the money was split among the schools proportionately, based on the number of teachers each school has.

“Westside, with 48 teachers, gets $7,017.60,” she said. “U.S. Jones has 39 teachers, so they’ll get $5,701.80. Demopolis Middle School has 34.5 teachers, for $5,043.90, and the high school has 49.5 teachers, for $7,236.90.”

Those totals reflect the amount each school will receive each semester. Each teacher unit is to get $292.40 for the entire school year, or $146.20 each semester.

“That will all follow the state guidelines for teacher fee money,” McDonald said. “They can pool it by grade or subject matter, if they wish. The faculty and staff can decide to give that amount of money to each teacher. It’s up to them. We just want to know how it’s being used, and we’ll be asking for an evaluation at the end of the year.”

Proration is the amount the state has to cut from the education budget to maintain a balanced budget.

In December, Gov. Bob Riley released $100 million in the Rainy Day Fund to help offset the declared proration for last year. Last month, the remaining $116 million was released, and the proration rate for this school year is expected to be 11 percent.