Schools want Amendment No. 4
Local school superintendents are asking voters Tuesday to vote “yes” on Amendment No. 4.
Amendment No. 4 would require lawmakers to pass, by a two-thirds majority, any measure that would cost local schools more than $50,000. It raises the voting threshold for legislators to force schools to pay for a new mandate from local funding.
Locally, Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith said there is no downside to Amendment 4.
“It doesn’t require a funding source and won’t affect taxes,” Smith said.
Smith said in 1998, the Alabama legislature considered a constitutional amendment that would ask Alabama voters to protect local government entities from unfunded mandates. When voters approved the amendment in 1999, it included county commissions and municipalities, but excluded school boards.
In the 2014 legislative session, Smith said the Alabama legislators unanimously agreed to let voters decide whether to protect local school funds in the state’s constitution.
“Voter approval of Amendment 4 would allow local school dollars to be spent on local priorities,” Smith said.
Escambia County Alabama’s Superintendent of Education John Knott said the issue is a critical issue impacting Alabama school districts.
“If Amendment 4 is defeated, the Legislature could continue to pass bills that impose unfunded mandates on boards of education by a simple majority vote of the Legislature,” Knott said. “In Escambia County Schools, unfunded mandates that we are responsible for typically costs us more than $1.5 million annually.
“Amendment 4 would rescue us from this direct hit to our finances,” he said. “There is no downside to Amendment 4. This is no new taxes or a burden placed on tax payers. The Escambia County Board members and myself support Amendment 4 and ask all voters to vote ‘yes’ for Amendment 4 on Nov. 4.”