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WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 2007
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$16 million for local schools
Bond issue for educational capital improvements clears House committee

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Decatur and Morgan County schools would receive more than $16 million for capital improvements in a bond issue that cleared a House committee Tuesday.

Colleges in Morgan and Limestone counties would share another $5.3 million of the $1.1 billion proposal approved by the Education Appropriations Committee.

The bill now goes to the full House and, if it passes, to the Senate, which must pass it with six days remaining in the regular session.

"I think the bond initiative may be the best bill we've passed for schools this year," said committee member Rep. Jeremy Oden, R-Eva. Oden said the bond issue focuses on small schools, poor schools, and helping schools improve facilities and technology.

As the state's largest two-year college, Calhoun Community College would receive the largest two-year-college appropriation, an amount Oden said "can do great things" for the campus.

If the bill passes, area school system allocations would be:

  • Decatur City Schools — $7.3 million.

  • Hartselle City Schools — $2.9 million.

  • Morgan County Schools — $6.1 million.

  • Athens City Schools — $2.5 million.

  • Limestone County Schools — $7.3 million.

  • Lawrence County Schools — $4.8 million.

    Calhoun's share would be almost $3.6 million, and Athens State University would get $1.8 million.

    Two-year colleges would share more than $48 million, with another $171 million going to four-year universities.

    The bill also includes a $13 million catastrophic-loss allocation for some school systems that lost property to disasters in recent years. Cullman County would receive $2.7 million for tornado-related school damage.

    Separate from that, Enterprise City Schools would receive $32 million the Legislature already has approved to help rebuild schools destroyed or damaged in a March 1 tornado.

    Oden said he likes the bill's $11 million technology fund. He and other committee members said systems could use the money to help introduce students to new technologies they will need in the work force.

    The bill also includes a $15 million for Black Belt school systems in some of the country's poorest counties, $20 million for work-force training for new industries, $9.5 million for the Alabama Technology Network and $24.5 million for a state trooper/corrections department training facility.

    A $14 million allocation for the Department of Youth Services would help improve facilities at local juvenile detention centers.

    Allocations to state four-year schools would include almost $4.3 million to Alabama A&M University, $72.6 million to The University of Alabama system, $35 million to Auburn University system and $3.4 million to The University of North Alabama.

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