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PCHS funding allocations changed

County school officials were hopeful that a bill making its way through the legislature would provide an extra $6.4 million for the construction of the new Phil Campbell High School, but they discovered on Thursday that wasn’t the case.
Franklin County Schools Superintendent Gary Williams said the school system will still be receiving the $6.4 million in funds created from House Bill 517, which passed through the House this week, but the funds will take the place of funding they had already been promised by the Alabama Department of Finance.
According to Williams, the money the state finance department had promised was to help front the costs associated with insurance payments.
“This money we received from the state was going to have to be paid back in insurance premiums over time but we needed it at the time in order to get the school rebuilt,” Williams said.
“This money that we’ll receive from House Bill 517, if it passes through the Senate and the governor, won’t have to be paid back so it will still help us in the long run by helping to keep our insurance premiums lower.
“When your school system is in the kind of financial crunch that we have faced the past several years, every little bit helps so even saving on our premiums is still a plus.”
Williams said it was hard not to be disappointed, however, when school officials originally thought the $6.4 million would be in addition to the funding they had already received.
Had that been the case, officials could have altered the budget that had to be changed in the fall when bids for the construction project came in over budget and add back some of the features that had to be changed or nixed.
“We were thinking that it would have been nice to have that extra cushion to do some of the things we had originally planned on doing,” Williams said, “but at the end of the day, we are just appreciative to receive any kind of funding we can to help with this project and help get our students and faculty at Phil Campbell back in a safe, secure learning environment.”
HB517, which passed through the House on Tuesday night, provides for the sale of $30 million in bonds that will help storm-damaged schools rebuild.
Napoleon Bracy (D-Prichard) sponsored the bill to help the Mobile County School System pay for damages at Murphy High School, which was impacted by the Dec. 25, 2012, tornado.
According to the bill, $15 million will be allocated to the Mobile County School System with the remaining $15 million split between Alberta City Elementary, Phil Campbell High School, University Place Elementary School, Holt Elementary School and Plainview High.
The bill must still be approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Robert Bentley before the funds can be secured.