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Hartselle OKs plan including new school, not funding

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com ∑ 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The Hartselle Board of Education approved a $36.155 million capital plan that includes a new high school but no funding source for the project.

Alabama law requires school boards to prioritize their capital needs and rank them. Although there is no funding source, school leaders here said the new school is Hartselle's most important need.

"The only thing we can put on there is 'funding pending,' " Superintendent William Michael Reed said.

The school board started talking about a new high school before former Superintendent Lee Hartsell left office. The issue resurfaced again in October 2006, when board member Jeff Gray put the issue on the table.

The school board had planned to launch a property tax increase campaign, but City Councilman Bill Drake is refusing to vote for a resolution asking Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, and Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, to sponsor legislation for a vote on the proposed 12.5-mill tax increase.

Although it is not law, Grantland and Orr have said they will not sponsor the bill unless the council vote is unanimous.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley supports the new high school and has proposed other funding schemes that include a 1-cent tax increase, but a council majority has rebuffed his plan.

Drake's position is that he's seen no evidence that Hartselle residents will support the tax increase. History supports him. Hartselle voters overwhelmingly rejected new taxes for schools in 1990 and 2004.

The school was one of 17 items in the capital plan. The second item was renovating the cafeteria at Hartselle Junior High, with an estimated cost of $650,000.

Reed said the system plans to use part of the $2.8 million Hartselle is expecting in state bond money to pay for that.

The superintendent said he wants to do this project during the summer but isn't sure when Hartselle will get its share of bond money.

To demonstrate what it called its commitment to the new high school, the board offered $1 million of the state bond money in July for the project.

Hartselle capital plan projects

The following is a list of projects on the Hartselle Board of Educationís five-year capital plan (duplicate projects are for different buildings at the same campus):

1. New high school, $33 million; 2. Hartselle Junior High renovations, $650,000; 3. Football parking lot paving, $100,000; 4. Roofing at Hartselle High, $100,000; 5. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Hartselle Junior High, $120,000; 6. Roofing at Hartselle High, $125,000; 7. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Hartselle High, $300,000; 8. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Hartselle High, $450,000; 9. Roofing at Hartselle Junior High, $500,000; 10. Roofing at Hartselle High, $225,000; 11. Roofing at Hartselle High, $200,000; 12. Renovations at Crestline Elementary, $40,000; 13. Renovations at Barkley Bridge Elementary, $90,000; 14. Renovations at Hartselle High, $100,000; 15. Renovations at Crestline, $40,000; 16. Additions at Crestline Elementary, $75,000; 17. Renovations at Hartselle High, $40,000.

- Hartselle Board of Education

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