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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Council Begins School Funding Debate

Fairhope, Alabama. (fairhopetimes@att.net)


COMMITTEE SEEKING GUIDANCE
Brewer, Boone, Ford

In the wake of the failed tax referendum last March and the financial crisis facing the Baldwin School Board in coming years, the Fairhope city council has begun discussing the hot-button issue of how to continue its supplemental academic funding to the five area county schools; and what the ultimate goal of the city's Education Advisory Committee should be.

(video below)

The council has appropriated $350K for the last 3 years, from 'community development' utility fund accounts.

At their last two meetings, EAC members had expressed the need for more direction  from the city council, especially regarding the overall goal: Mayor Kant has set being within the top ten in the state based upon high school graduation testing as his goal; but the council as a body has never formally endorsed that.


EAC TO MAKE PRESENTATION
Burrell at left

Council President Burrell said he had been "getting a lot of phone calls" asking whether a city-run school system is again under serious consideration; EAC member/council liaison replied the committee intends to make a full presentation at the next council meeting.

She said three alternatives will be presented; but the committee needed to know if being in the top ten is the actual goal of the  council as well, which appropriates the money.

(In theory, city councils set policies for municipalities and mayors administer them.)

Brewer: "The mayor keeps saying that (top 10) ... we don't ... ."

"We can say it all day long ... that that's our goal ... but if we don't take action ... put teeth behind it ... its not going to happen ... ."

Burrell: "So, this council needs to ask ... do we really want to do that (top 10)?"

"Yes," Brewer replied -- or it was only an "empty proclamation."


THREE POSSIBILITIES

Brewer said the EAC will offer three alternatives for consideration:

1. Stay where we are. The $350K per year will not be enough to make the top ten goal.

2. Create a special tax district, to raise about $1.3 million per year, enough for 7 - 8 new teachers.

3. Update the 2010 independent school system study to see if there is any interest in such a thing now.

Voters in School District 6 would have to approve a 3 mil property tax increase for option two. This (referendum) was being seriously considered by the mayor and council over a year and a half ago, but was put on hold until after last March's referendum.

About option three Brewer added, "there couldn't be any intelligent discussion without knowing what the numbers are today."


COMMITTEE'S MOTIVES QUESTIONED

Councilman Ford said he had heard that the real purpose of the EAC was "to get a city system all along" -- and asked if "they didn't hear the people say ... no more taxes (last March)?"

Ford: "Seems to me ... ever since I've been here ... the last 20 years ... there has been a group ... every time they get knocked down on a city system ... they come back at it in a different way."

Brewer replied, "You can look at it any way you want ... that is not the case ... ."

Brewer: "The EAC came and asked this council to support the tax (March referendum) for the entire county," which it did unanimously by Resolution.

Brewer: "What we (EAC) are saying ... people in Fairhope do want better schools ... but how are we going to get there?"

Ford suggested a fourth alternative: "getting another (county) school board" -- and Brewer concurred but added "we only have one representative there."

Councilman Boone sat silently through the discussion, Rich Mueller was absent due to illness, and the Mayor was out of town on electric utility business.





5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ford is correct, Brewer and the vocal minority are wrong! You ever had a real job and know what its like to provide for yourself?

Anonymous said...

huh? what does that mean?

Anonymous said...

It means, one person is right, one person is wrong and if you've never worked in your life you don't understand the burden of taxes. That simplify it for you?

Anonymous said...

Don't argue with Brewer...she is always the smartest person in the room. Just ask her...

Anonymous said...

Listening to Mike Ford's ramblings is the best argument for term limits anyone could ever make ...