State bond bill would give a boost to county's schools

By Staff
Mike Self, FCT Sports Editor
Governor Bob Riley said on Wednesday that he may increase the size of his proposed bond issue to repair or replace aging, rundown schools from $500 million to as much as $750 million.
Riley originally proposed the bond issue during his 2006 election campaign, and he has recently indicated the possibility of a larger bond issue based on current budget estimates.
"We hope the bond passes, because the money could be a great help to our schools," Russellville superintendent Dr. Wayne Ray said.
Russellville has a few capital projects in mind, including installing air conditioning in the middle school gym.
"We have volleyball and other activities in the gym that start early in the school year when it is still very hot," Ray said.
The legislature is expected to vote on the bond issue in March. If approved, the money would become available in the fall, and the projects would begin next spring.
"Depending on how much money it is and how it's spent, that could really be a great help to us," Franklin County superintendent Bill Moss said. "I've heard that we may get $1,000 per student, which would be about $3.1 million total. That would definitely be a shot in the arm."
Moss said that money from the bond issue would be more advantageous to the Franklin County school system if it could be used for maintenance and repairs and not just new construction.
"If it has to be spent on new construction, then it really won't affect us that much," Moss said. "We've already borrowed money to pay for our new construction projects at Tharptown, Vina and Belgreen. We have some other projects in mind, though, like a sewer system at Vina, a multipurpose gymnasium at East Franklin, and some cosmetic repairs to some walkways at Red Bay, that this bond issue could really help us with."
Moss also said that he thinks K-12 schools should receive preference over two-year and four-year colleges when it comes to appropriating funds.
"I have nothing against those two-year and four-year schools, but they have other ways of raising money," Moss said. "They can raise tuition, for example. Most of them already have nice facilities with fully-staffed maintenance crews.
"I think K-9 and K-12 schools should take priority. It's mandatory for these kids to go to school, and it should be mandatory that we provide them the best learning environment possible."

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