Bond with millions for JSU, K-12 schools headed to HouseBy Markeshia Ricks
Special to the Star
Reprinted here in its entirety.
Millions of dollars for Jacksonville State University and local K-12 public school systems remain in limbo as the biggest school bond issue in state history makes its way through the House of Representatives.
The House Education Appropriations Committee approved the proposed $1.052 billion bond issue Tuesday. But the bill must go to the full House for at least two more readings and a vote before it can be sent to the Senate.
Local school officials say they could use their share of the money to make much-needed capital improvements. But the continued Senate slowdown means that even if the bill gets off the House floor, it might not be passed by the full Legislature before the regular session ends in six days.
Jacksonville State University stands to reap nearly $4.6 million if it does. University President William Meehan said the money would be used to add a wing to the Ramona Wood College of Education and Professional Studies building.
“I’ve been president for nine years and I’ve been asking for a bond issue for about that long,” Meehan said Tuesday. “I’m very glad that we got one.”
With 75 percent of the proposed bond issue designated for K-12 public schools, individual local school systems would receive at least $1 million for new buildings, renovations, new technology, or to retire old debt. Some systems would receive far more. The Calhoun County system stands to receive about $7.9 million if the bond issue passes.
Jacksonville City Schools Superintendent Eric Mackey said the $1.6 million his system would receive likely would be used to provide space for seventh and eighth graders, but he’s skeptical about whether schools will actually see the money.
“I hate to say it, but we’re not counting on the money,” Mackey said. “We haven’t set any plans out there in the immediate future. We’re just going to continue doing what we’re doing.”
Mackey said the growing Jacksonville system is providing an extra set of books for students to keep at home because they don’t have lockers. It may be necessary to add portables in the next few years, he said.
“We’re really overcrowded on our high school campus,” Mackey said. “It’s not like we have kids standing outside or anything, but it’s full. We’d really like to have the money.”
What area schools stand to gain
Calhoun County Schools
Cleburne County Schools
Randolph County Schools
Anniston City Schools
Jacksonville City Schools
Oxford City Schools
Piedmont City Schools
Roanoke City Schools
Talladega City Schools
Gadsden State Community College
Jacksonville State University
Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind
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