Life after Amendment One
Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, September 17, 2003
What happens to Brewton City Schools now that the statewide referendum known as Amendment One was soundly defeated on September 9?
The people of Brewton should be proud of Mayor Ted Jennings, the Brewton City Council and the County Commission for their financial support of Brewton City Schools. In addition, the five members of the Brewton City Board of Education have managed their fiscal resources very well. Because of their leadership, Brewton City Schools will be impacted by the loss of state funding this fiscal year, but the impact on student learning will be lessened compared to many areas across Alabama.
The Brewton City Board of Education and Escambia County Board of Education will work together to promote a countywide three-mill ad valorem renewal in conjunction with a countywide 10-mill ad valorem increase, which will be used solely for K-12 education in the Escambia County School System and in the Brewton City School System. This vote will be scheduled for December, and voters will have the opportunity to make a local difference in education since state funding has shown to be inadequate in recent years.
Why do we need this ad valorem increase? With the loss of state funding the last few years, this current year, and definitely next year, it is critical for our local citizens to make up some of the financial loss. By increasing the ad valorem millage, Brewton City Schools will not have to dramatically increase the student to teacher ratio in the classrooms when other school systems will have massive teacher reductions this spring. No programs will be cut, and Brewton City Board of Education can once again staff its schools to meet Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation standards. In addition, Brewton City Schools will be funded at a level that, based upon present day regulations, no additional funding increases will be required when a new facility is built to replace Brewton Middle School.
Why a 10 mill ad valorem increase? In order for school systems to receive funding through the Educational Trust Fund, each school system must contribute the value of 10 mills of taxation. By increasing our mills collected by 10, Escambia County School System and Brewton City School System will be able to have full use of our current millage, 7 mills for Escambia County Schools and 12 mills for Brewton City Schools, collected instead of having that amount subtracted from our state allocation.
Isn't it wonderful to live in Brewton? Brewton is a great community with a great tradition of excellence. After the Amendment One vote, a Brewton citizen said to me, "I know the schools will survive." He is right. The schools will survive; however, the people of Brewton don't live their lives to only survive. We want only the best opportunities for our children, our grandchildren, our friends' children, and even those young people we may never meet living in Escambia County. By supporting this millage renewal and a 10 mill increase for our schools, we will leave a legacy for those who come after us. Let's all work together during the next three months to have a positive impact on the lives of our children and give them what they deserve.