With the start of the year just three weeks away for most districts, only seven private schools have signed up for Alabama's new program of tax credits to help students transfer from failing public schools.
The state Department of Revenue is developing regulations for the tax credits, and it reports that it hasn't seen much interest from private schools.
Robin Mears of the Alabama Christian Education Association says one reason is the lateness of the regulations. Schools start around Aug. 19, and the state's regulations won't be final until after that.
The leaders of two Alabama private school organizations don't expect many new students to apply in the wake of a law providing tax credits for students transferring from failing schools.
The executive director of the Alabama Christian Education Association, Robin Mears, said he expects less than 100 transfers to his member schools. The executive director of the Alabama Independent School Association, Randy Skipper, said he hasn't heard about any students inquiring about transferring.
The Republican majority in the Alabama Legislature has handed the Republican governor a major defeat by rejecting his proposal to delay the start of private school tax credits for two years.
The House voted against the governor's proposal 57-10 Monday. Then the Senate agreed 19-15 at the urging of the architect of the tax credits, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. Republicans provided the decisive votes.
Gov. Robert Bentley is spending the weekend trying to round up legislative support for his proposal to delay Alabama's new private school tax credits for two years.
Bentley spoke Saturday at the Alabama League of Municipalities convention in Montgomery and urged several hundred city officials to contact their legislators before the Legislature's last meeting day on Monday. Bentley said he's also contacting legislators by letter and in person.
The architect of Alabama's new private school tax credits intends to block the governor's proposal to delay the tax breaks for two years.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh of Anniston said families of children trapped in failing schools need the option of school choice now. Marsh said Thursday he intends to block the governor's proposal, either by getting the Legislature to reject it or never bringing it up for a vote.
The new law provides tax credits for parents who send their children to private schools rather than public schools rated as failing.
Gov. Robert Bentley wants the Legislature to delay Alabama's private school tax credits for two years.
Bentley told chamber of commerce leaders Wednesday that a delay will give schools time to try to get off the failing list and will help the state repay a $423 million debt before the tax credits begin.
House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate leader Del Marsh says they will discuss Bentley's proposal with their members.
The Alabama Senate has approved legislation saying private schools and non-failing public schools don't have to take students transferring from failing public schools.
The Senate voted 21-12 Thursday for a bill making changes to the Alabama Accountability Act. The bill makes clear that a student transferring from a failing school in one school system to a non-failing school in another system has to provide his own transportation. It also tightens up which schools will be designated failing schools.
The Alabama Legislature is one step away from passing a bill that would make sure private schools and non-failing public schools don't have to take students who want to transfer from failing public schools.
The bill making transfers optional won approval in the House last week and in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. The bill by Republican Rep. Jim Carns of Mountain Brook now goes to the Senate for what could be a final vote.
A sponsor of legislation designed to clarify Alabama's new law on private school tax credits says he won't push it for one week to allow more time for suggested changes.
The Senate Education Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the bill by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh of Anniston. The committee had planned to vote on the bill Wednesday, but Marsh agreed to a request from the Alabama Association of School Boards to wait a week to consider more changes. The senator from Anniston says he's willing to talk to various groups.