Schools are in Proration

Superintendent of Education Joe Morton
Superintendent of Education Joe Morton

By Eileen Jones - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's not official but Alabama schools are in proration. That means there's not enough money to meet their budgets. The state can cut non-personnel expenses or borrow money and the passage of amendment one provides a source for the loans.

Every time you buy something from a store a portion of the taxes you pay goes to education. The problem is people aren't buying much these days and that means fewer dollars are going to the public schools. State School Superintendent Joe Morton is not happy about what lies ahead. "I stay worried but I also stay optimistic."

And, Morton has a lot to worry about since the economy took a downturn. Expenses like fuel and utilities are up but available money is down. "October receipts were down over 13-per cent from October of 2007," says Morton.

That's why the schools are in proration but it's not official yet because the Governor hasn't declared it. Morton says that will come soon. "It's kind of like throwing darts on a board. You just don't know yet. We're going to have it. Now, whether it's going to be four per cent, five per cent, six per cent, seven per cent or another number it'll be real hard to make that call today."

But, expect that call at the end of this month or the beginning or middle of next month after the Governor has evaluated November's receipts. And, because of the amendment voters passed on Tuesday, the state will be able to borrow money if proration is seven per cent or less.

"If it's nine per cent, we'll just have two per cent proration, but two percent is a lot easier to take than nine per cent and I'm not saying nine. That's just an example," says Morton.

And, predictions are next year's budget will be even worse. If the rainy day funds are emptied, the state will only be able to borrow from them the money it puts back.

And, the October shortfall will be made up with checks going out Thursday night. That means schools will be able to pay back the money they borrowed or transferred to make last Friday's payroll.