Education budget passes committee

By: Denise Bradberry Email
By: Denise Bradberry Email

The Alabama education budget has passed the House Appropriations Committee.

It is now headed to the full House for debate.

The proposed budget could affect your child's classroom.

Although the FY11 school budget has a long way to go before the end of the legislative session, Enterprise Superintendent Jim Reese says he's confident about the $5.5 billion plan that just received committee approval.

“We have been told for the past year or two that FY2011 will be the most difficult year that we have faced; I think I'm more optimistic about some of the provisions in the budget than I would have been a couple of months ago,” says Reese.

That’s because the Appropriations Committee says they've found additional funding for schools.

One example being the bill signed into law Monday that increases spending from the educational trust fund by $38 million by making alterations to the teacher retirement system.

"We're doing the same thing that families are doing all over the state of Alabama. We have to change things here in order to get through a very difficult financial situation and I think the people of Alabama expect us to,” says Governor Bob Riley.

"It won't amount to a significant amount to one single school system, but when that goes into the educational trust fund that will help with the funding for the state,” adds Reese.

Reese says this budget may save teacher jobs across the state, but it doesn't allow for instructional support for items like textbooks and supplies.

“One thing that really helped us this year and last year is that the textbook needs in our system have not been as great,” says Reese.

Reese understands that the additional funding will keep lawmakers from taking away three to five school days this coming year. However, if it ever came down to loosing a few school days or loosing teachers, Reese says he'd want to keep his teachers in place.

The budget approved by the committee leaves funding for health insurance unchanged, which means that if costs for insurance go up over the next year, employees will have to pay higher rates or higher co-pays or other costs.

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