Schools awarded $3.9 million

Published 3:43 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
After a billion dollar statewide bill passed last week, Atmore county schools and the Jefferson Davis Community College Atmore campus will gain money to fund necessary building maintenance projects.
Escambia County schools were granted nearly $4 million in bonds last Wednesday when Gov. Bob Riley signed into law the largest education bond issue in state history.
Escambia County assistant superintendent Randall Little said that he was glad that the bond issue was passed because schools throughout the state are in need of capital improvement.
"From the superintendents point of view, we are definitely thrilled with the state for passing the bond issue," Little said. "All the schools need this money, especially smaller school systems like Escambia County. Many of our buildings are older buildings and we'll need this money for infrastructure."
Each year the superintendent informs the state of the capital improvement needs of the schools in the county. The bulk of the money Escambia County schools are granted will be used in the Atmore area, Little said.
"The major priorities for next year are in this area," he said. "Right now the main priority is the heating and cooling system at Escambia County High School."
The Escambia County School System is not the only educational system affected by the grant. The state was granted $1.07 billion in bond issues, the first issue granted for Alabama for school construction since 1998. The bond issue will provide funding for construction and restoration for every county and city system, K-12, and public four-year and two-year college systems.
"Seventy-five percent goes to K-12," Little said. "The other 25 percent will go to colleges. They came up with that ratio based on student enrollment."
The state's K-12 schools will receive a total of $658.6 million. Escambia County K-12 schools will receive $3,902,869 and Jefferson Davis Community College was issued $956,162.
Susan McBride, president of JDCC, said she is not sure what the college will use the money for, but that there are several things on the campus that need improvements.
"We are very pleased that the legislature has issued this bond and that we will be getting some of the proceeds," McBride said. "We don't know for sure how we will spend it, but we are very pleased to get it and we have several projects that we will consider. There are roofs that need to be replaced and buildings that need to be repainted that haven't been painted in 20-something years."
McBride said most of the work done will be at JDCC in Atmore and that the money will only be used for capital maintenance.
"Most of the space that needs to be renovated will be on the Atmore campus," McBride said. "The way the bond is sold, everything we do has to be a capital improvement."
Because the bonds have to be sold, the schools will have to wait to receive the money.
"The state will sell the bonds so we will not get the money immediately," Little said. "Then the money will prorated to each school system."
Little said that gaining the nearly $4 million will put a dent in the capital maintenance budget for the county school system.
"This is a monumental bill for education for the state," Little said. "It will definitely help our capital plan budget."

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