Alabama charter schools, high hunger & poverty rates, and Gadsden tax workshop

Feb 24, 2015

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh

Alabama Republican lawmakers are getting ready for a major push for the establishment of charter schools.

A charter school bill will be a top priority for the GOP when the legislative session kicks off next week.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that operate outside the rules and regulations of regular public schools.

The bill, if passed, would allow up to 10 new charter schools to be established in Alabama each year. It would also allow school systems to convert an unlimited number of existing schools to charter status.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says charter schools will provide more options to parents and give school systems the freedom to innovate.

The measure is expected to draw opposition from both Democrats as well as the Alabama Education Association. They argue that charter schools would funnel money away from already underfunded public schools.

Alabama is ranked among the top ten hungriest states in the country.

Both rural and inner city communities suffer from disproportionately higher unemployment rates than the general U.S. population. This also leads to higher poverty rates.

Eric Mitchell is the Director of Government Relations for Bread for the World. He says this is an ongoing problem.

“More than 1 in 4 kids in Alabama are living in poverty, and these are kids under the age of five, so this is not only impacting folks currently, but hunger and poverty impact our future investments as well.”

Mitchell says access to quality food assistance and jobs plays a major factor in poverty and hunger in Alabama. He says this is an issue that needs to be dealt with on a local and national level.

Business owners in the Gadsden area can have their tax questions answered at a workshop scheduled today.

The Alabama Department of Revenue will give businesses a chance to find some answers for their new companies at the Gadsden-Etowah County Chamber of Commerce from 3 PM to 6 PM.

Amanda Collier is the Public Information Specialist for the ADR. She says these workshops provide an open forum for business owners.

“This is something that we’ve been doing and that we plan to continuing to do just to help out locals and it give them an opportunity to ask some questions to experts that they otherwise might not be able to get answered.”

The free workshop will cover a variety of topics such as employer withholding taxes, state and local sales taxes as well as property taxes. For more information, log on to the ADR’s website at http://revenue.alabama.gov

Prosecutors are working to derail a possible defense for an Alabama woman accused of making her granddaughter run until she died.

The state is asking a judge to prevent the defense from raising questions about the doctor who performed 9-year-old Savannah Hardin’s autopsy in 2012.

They’re also trying to bar Joyce Garrard’s defense from presenting any unfounded speculation about what else may have killed the girl.

Etowah County prosecutors say the 59-year-old Garrard made the girl run as punishment for a lie until the child collapsed. The defense blames pre-existing medical problems for her death.

Garrard has been charged with capital murder. Final jury selection could begin tomorrow.