published Friday, May 13th, 2011

Schools present budget to county


by Dan Whisenhunt

Hamilton County commissioners on Thursday heard from Department of Education officials that they still are trying to figure out how to close a $14 million budget shortfall.

Superintendent Jim Scales, whose contract is being bought out by board members, said schools officials approved a continuation budget rather than make several controversial cuts he had proposed.

“The budget we presented was balanced, but there were some very, very steep cuts,” Scales said.

Commissioners asked few questions. Commissioner Tim Boyd said he was unhappy with the size of the central office and that his constituents had to pay fees and buy supplies for their children to attend school. Commissioner Fred Skillern wanted to know “where the shortfall would be spent” if the county had the money.

Afterward, Chairman Larry Henry said commissioners should have more information by June 15 when the state Legislature adjourns. By then school officials should know how much money they’ll receive from the state and whether the state will approve raises for teachers.

“They ought to be able to bring a budget back to us just shortly thereafter, I would think,” Henry said.

Henry and Skillern said the hearing Thursday was just a formality.

“By law they have to come, and by law we have to hear them, and by law they can put it off,” Skillern said.

School board Chairman Everett Fairchild said the change in leadership will add some complexity to the budget process.

“A new administration will have its own priorities,” he said.

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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