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TN Valley school leaders discuss funding issue on Nov. ballot

Published: Oct. 28, 2014 at 1:14 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 25, 2014 at 2:15 AM CST
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MADISON, AL (WAFF) - School leaders around the Tennesee Valley say new mandates imposed by the state legislature can turn into unexpected burdens for local school boards, even if they seem like inherently good ideas, like fighting obesity by requiring students get more time in physical education.

"Obviously if they wanted to mandate more PE hours, that would cost more in staff, more P.E. teachers and things like that. So that's another one that hasn't passed but it has been talked about in the last few years." board, terri johnson

Under Amendment Four, which is on the ballot for the November general election, any new programs or standards the state requires of school systems, without also providing the money to execute them, must get a two-thirds majority in the state legislature to pass.

It's a protection city and county governments already have in the state constitution, but local school boards don't.

"Local money will be spent for local decisions," Dr. Fowler said. "And that state money will be spent on state decisions. And that sounds very reasonable to me. Sometimes the state may think that we have a little bit more money in our coffers than we actually do."

Last week, the Madison City School board passed a resolution supporting the amendment, and school leaders say they'll be speaking out to urge voters to support it on election day - and not be turned off by an amendment that may seem strange and confusing on the ballot.

"A lot of legalese in the written description... people are like 'Whoa, I don't know that I really understand that, so I don't know that I want to spend time making a decision on that,'" said Fowler.

Other organizations voicing their support of Amendment Four are the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Business Council of Alabama.

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