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Proration could affect instructional support

Gov. Robert Bentley declared three percent proration to the education budget Monday before following up the proclamation with a State of the State address Tuesday that painted a less than ideal picture for Fiscal Year 2012.

The declaration of three percent proration seems to end months of speculation regarding the financial climate of FY12.

“We were getting variations in report. On average with all the stories and all the reports we heard, two percent (proration) would have been in the middle,” Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin said Tuesday evening of the expectations many had regarding the amount to be prorated from the state’s education budget. “School systems across the state took quite a hit.”

Griffin said the declared amount to be prorated represents approximately $360,000 for Demopolis City Schools.

“The governor did declare three percent proration for Fiscal Year 11, which ends Sept. 30, 2011,” Griffin said. “Basically, the three percent proration is about $360,000 of allocation that’s not going to come from the state.”

As of Tuesday evening, Griffin and other superintendents around the state had yet to be made aware of the specifics of Bentley’s budget proposal.

As such, Griffin was unable to provide exact insight into what areas will be trimmed should the proposal clear both the House and the Senate.

“(Bentley) has stated for Fiscal Year 12 that his budget does not include the loss of any contract days for teachers,” Griffin said, pointing to the fact that the governor’s proposed 2012 budget still calls for 180 classroom days and seven professional development days for teachers.

That decision answers speculation that the legislature could revert back to the 175-day school year in an effort to cut costs.

Additionally, Bentley’s proposal offers no alteration to the divisors.

“It is the same number of teaching units,” Griffin said.

With no changes in the amount of contract days for teachers or the number of teaching units, Bentley’s proposed budget would likely have the greatest impact on support areas.

Griffin indicated that he could not speak specifically about how Demopolis City Schools would be affected until after he studies the proposal Wednesday.

However, he did offer that preliminary numbers for Demopolis would seem most likely to affect instructional support.

“The preliminary numbers for our instructional support — Demopolis has had a slight decline in students just this year.

“We appear to have taken a slight hit in the assistant principal and counselor area,” Griffin said. “That is not official. That is just preliminary.”

As public school systems around the state await the finalization of the budget, some are afraid the final blow to FY12 finances is still to be dealt.

“That’s a fear of mine is we could have a call for another percent or so before September,” Griffin said, pointing to his trepidation regarding a potential repeat of the Fall of 2010 when Gov. Bob Riley declared an additional two percent proration.

“At this point, schools are operating at about 30 percent less than we were in Fiscal Year 08.”