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Proposed state bond could net $2.5 million for Hartselle schools

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The Legislature may approve money that can be used at a new high school before voters go to the polls in October.

If the Legislature passes a proposed school bond issue that may be between $500 million and $750 million, the school system could get as little as $2.5 million, Superintendent William Michael Reed said.

Assuming voters approve a proposed 12.5-mill property tax increase in October, Reed said, he will recommend that the board use the state funds to furnish the new high school, which has an estimated cost of between $25 million and $30 million.

"That would be my intention, but the board has the final vote," the superintendent said.

If the tax vote fails, the school systems could use the bond money to fund projects on its five-year capital plan such as a new floor for the small gym at Crestline Elementary and new shingle roof for the Pettey Center at Hartselle High.

The $500 million bond issue Gov. Bob Riley is proposing would net Hartselle about $800 per student, Reed said.

Sen. Hinton Mitchem, D-Albertville, has proposed a $750 million bond with about 25 percent of the money going to higher education. His proposal would put more money into Hartselle's coffers.

If Mitchem's plan passes, it would be the biggest for school construction projects since the Legislature approved a 550 million bond issue in 1998.

Of course, before any money is disbursed from Montgomery, state leaders must debate and reconcile details of the proposed bond issues.

"I have not seen the formula and the details of the bond, but I'm sure funding is going to be based on per student," said Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle.

Grantland, who has pre-filed a local bill that will allow Hartselle to vote on the property tax increase, said legislators will probably deal with the school bond issue later in the March session.

"I'm probably going to make some trips to Montgomery in February to start looking at the bond proposal," he said. "My goal is to do all I can to get as much money for Morgan and Cullman counties that I can."

Grantland's district covers students in both counties.

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