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Brewton school officials discuss need for tax hike

By By BILL CRIST Publisher
That's how Stephanie Walker, chairperson of the Brewton City School Board of Education, described the upcoming Dec. 9 ad valorem tax vote in Escambia county.
The board voted unanimously to approve the budget for the coming fiscal year. This year's budget contains nearly $9.2 million in revenue, most of which will be coming from the state. Expenses are expected to top $9.3 million.
Smith said the schools received the funding for state-mandated raises and increases in other employee costs, but that the money had to be used for those items. He said the state had cut funding for textbooks, teacher training and library improvements this year.
Smith said what the state will likely do next year is increase the divisors, or the formula that determines how many teachers it will reimburse the local system for. The figure is based on student population, and an increased divisor means that the class size will be larger, meaning fewer teachers will be needed. He said the cut in state funding would amount to approximately $550,000.
The schools will receive slightly more than $2.2 million in local revenues, with just over $5.4 million coming from the state. The remaining funds will come into the system through special programs that fund specific services the three schools offer.
Smith told the board that the system would receive a state allocation of $33,647 to be spent on at-risk students. Twenty percent of the funds, or $6,729, must be spent with community based, non-profit organizations.
The board voted to allocate the smaller amount to Hope Place Family Resource Center to provide after-school tutoring at the elementary and middle schools. The school's portion will fund 100 percent of an instructional aide over the in-school suspension program at the middle school and 25 percent of an instructional aide at T.R. Miller High School.
The board also approved Smith's recommendation to appoint Mary Bell, Lisa Atkinson, Sharon Peacock, Kathy McMillan, Vicki Fussell, Jamie Peacock and Dr. Baxter Baker to the High Hopes Advisory Board.
The board received two bids for gas and diesel fuel and approved the low bid, which came from Southern Energy Company in Monroeville.
In other business the board: