Bentley says maybe no proration

Published 11:13 pm Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley

Local school officials aren’t holding their collective breaths over Gov. Robert Bentley’s announcement Thursday that there’s “a possibility” there may be no need to declare proration in the 2011 state education budget.

Addressing the state school board, Bentley said his staff is examining the numbers and would know more after December sales and income taxes are added.

Bentley also said he wouldn’t expect proration to exceed 3 percent, even if it is needed.

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Selma schools superintendent Donald Jefferson remembers last year when Gov. Bob Riley’s staff said they didn’t think the state would need more than 7 percent proration.

“Then, they added 2 percent more,” he said. “If it happens, I’ll jump for joy. But for right now, I’ll stay mum.”

School board member Holland Powell has consistently hammered away about the school system’s financial situation in public meetings.

Powell said even if the state didn’t declare proration, the school system would still face hard financial times.

“It’s welcomed news,” Powell said of the governor’s announcement. “It doesn’t change the fact the Selma School Board is in a financial crises.”

Powell predicted with proration and cost overruns on construction of the new Selma High School, the school system eventually would have to borrow money to make its payroll.

Officials with the Dallas County School System did not return repeated calls to answer questions about the governor’s declaration.

The state’s education fund totaled $5.4 billion in 2010-11.

It was shored up by federal stimulus funds. State officials said without those stimulus funds the state would have laid off about 4,500 teachers and school employees.