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Marengo County Schools asks commission for more funding

Chester Moore, chairman of the Marengo County Board of Education, approached the Marengo County Commission during their March 12 meeting to request an additional two mils of funding of the six mils that were brought forward during the February meeting.

“We know that education is the foundation of any industry that comes into our county,” Moore said.

Moore listed several projects that additional funds would be used for, such as building improvements, science labs and vocational labs. Should the BOE receive additional funding, it would be earmarked for specific projects rather than go into a general fund.

However, Commissioner Jason Windham said voters approving the additional funding would actually harm the school district due to an Alabama law that requires all school districts receive a minimum of 10 mils in funding.

The Marengo County school district only have eight mils of funding voted in, and the county applies four percent in assessment and processing fees to those eight. To reach the required 10 mils of funding, the county provides an additional two mils but does not apply any fees. “You’re getting 10, but only eight of it is considered voted millage,” Windham explained.

If two more mils are approved by voters, they would have to replace the county-provided two mils and fees would be applied, resulting in the school district actually losing money, according to Windham. In order for the system to see any true additional funding, at least three mils would have to be approved by voters.

Even so, Moore said what the district gets now is not enough and that could affect whether industries come to Marengo County.

“Our people need to be educated to support whatever comes to our county,” he said.

The BOE will continue discussing possible avenues for additional funding.

The initial funding request from the BOE is based on the commission approving a resolution proposing a six-mil property tax increase in order to designate four mils of funding to Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital and two mils for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges in February. The resolution must be passed by the state legislature and voted in favor of by Marengo County residents in the next election before taking affect.

More on the county commission meeting will be published in next week’s edition.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 20 issue of the Demopolis Times.)