Education Report: Alabama Senator Proposes School Construction Project

Three quarters of a billion dollars, that's what Senator Hinton Mitchem's program would give Alabama schools.  He says,  "It's clear to me the people of Alabama want their children to go to modern and safe schools."

Montgomery County already has a more than $300 million facilities plan. The Montgomery City Council and the County Commission have given financial support for the project. Board member Charlotte Meadows says Mitchem's plan would give additional support the system needs. "What a wonderful thing to put priorities where they need to be in the state of Alabama," says Meadows.

Under Mitchem's plan the, $750 million would be divided between K-12 schools and higher education. K-12 would get 75% while higher education would take in the remaining 25%. Higher Education Partnership Executive Director Gordon Stone says, "We certainly agree that the time is now for the state to make these capital investments. However, we work vigorously to ensure that the bond proceeds are equitable. "

"Our universities have other ways to raise money," says Mitchem.

"We have to put money where our children are starting out. If we don't catch them while they are in middle schools and high school levels, they won't make it to the college level," says Meadows.

In response to today's announcement, Governor Bob Riley's office released a statement. It reads: "Governor Riley proposed a bond issue for schools last fall as part of plan 2010, and last year he proposed a $500 million supplemental appropriations bill for school construction, repairs and technology upgrades. Unfortunately, the legislature at that time refused to bring his proposal up for a vote. If legislators now want to join Governor Riley in this effort, then today's(Thursday's) announcement is a good, positive step forward. "

So what happens now?  That's up to the legislature when they return to work on March 6th.