Such is the case with the recently passed federal jobs bill that was opposed by all Alabama’s federal Congressional delegation except for lame duck Artur Davis. The bill passed despite their opposition and now Alabama schools have $150 million to divide between them in a year when an already slowing economy is brought almost to a halt by a massive oil spill that plays havoc with tourism and therefore with sales tax collections that fund education.
What is the practical effect of this money coming to Alabama? Well, it didn’t get here early enough to add teachers or other employees. In fact, the $10 billion in the bill for education is to be used strictly for retaining or retraining education employees who have a direct impact on the classroom.
None of this money can be used for central office employees. It can’t be used for trips or capital expenditures. It must be used to retain teachers or other personnel who have a direct impact on the classroom.
Most of the superintendents in the Coosa Valley area in Talladega and St. Clair counties plan to use the money to keep what they have in the way of teachers, teacher’s aides, or others who directly impact the classroom.
Some school systems might choose to delay getting their money. If they have this year’s budget covered, that’s not a bad idea. Going into a new year with somewhere between $750,000 and $1.5 million, depending on the system, provides a bit of a cushion to superintendents and boards of education.
In times like these, a cushion can be a good thing. This national jobs bill was a long time coming. Now that its benefits are here, we salute those in Congress who had the foresight to approve it.
We thank you, and our students here in northeast Alabama thank you.