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Ex-board head: Fund Hartselle schools or return them to county

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A former school board chairman said the Hartselle City Council is failing in its responsibility to fund education.

If city leaders are not willing to fulfill their duty, they should give the schools back to the Morgan County system, he said.

Bob Schofield, who served two terms on the city school board in the 1980s, wants to put the current council on a most- wanted poster for "failure to support" the schools.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley has met with Schofield about his concerns. He calls his proposal preposterous and said he has no plans to return Hartselle schools to the county.

"I believe we are adequately funding the schools when you look at the percentage of our general fund that goes for school funding," the mayor said.

Last year, Hartselle spent about 11 percent of the city's revenue on schools. Most of that went toward a $1 million bond payment.

Superintendent William Michael Reed said the council has been generous to the school system.

"Like anything else, we could use more money because expenses go up," Reed said.

In March 1975, a unanimous council voted to form a city school system beginning July 1, 1975.

The only opposition at the time came from two students. They presented a petition with 208 names opposing the decision because the name change from Morgan County High to Hartselle High would affect class rings and band uniforms already purchased.

Schofield knows his proposal will anger some, but he says city councils, including the current one, have "failed in their fundamental responsibility" to adequately fund schools. He alleges that councils have taken money earmarked for schools and used it to keep the city afloat.

In 1962, for example, 75 percent of a 2-cent sales tax the council imposed was to go into a special account for "school building, equipment and teacher fund."

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