education

Officials say closures of state parks are among the potential impacts of proposed budget cuts to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Department leaders and others met at Oak Mountain State Park today.  State Parks Director Greg Lein says additional cuts could be devastating and officials want lawmakers to preserve the department's funding. Lein says the parks system's emergency and reserve funds are depleted.

Voters in Athens have defeated a school tax proposal by a wide margin.

Residents rejected a 12-mill tax increase yesterday by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. They also turned down a proposed bond issue for school construction.

The new property tax would have funded capital projects worth more than $70 million for Athens city schools.

Superintendent Trey Holladay says the system now must find a different way to move ahead with school renovations and new buildings.

The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education has named its acting superintendent.

Deputy Superintendent Walter Davie was tabbed as the top administrator for Tuscaloosa County Schools at a meeting this afternoon.  Current Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford is taking a leave of absence due to deaths in the family and sickness.

Officials say the decision the change was a mutual decision between the board and Swinford.  Officials hope to know more about Swinford’s status next week. 

Alabama legislators believe a second special session is inevitable.

Lawamkers are deadlocked on how to fill a more than $200 million budget shortfall.

Lawmakers are at the halfway point of the session and have yet to pass a major revenue bill in either chamber.

Gov. Robert Bentley says funding cuts passed by the House of Representatives are unworkable. He says lawmakers must keep working to a find a solution.

Alabama’s lawmakers are back in Montgomery for a special session to work on the budget.

Governor Robert Bentley is seeking a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. He also wants to raise the business privilege tax on larger businesses while giving smaller ones a tax cut.  The governor has also suggested ending the ability of taxpayers to claim a state income tax deduction when they pay their federal Social Security taxes.

Governor Robert Bentley has released his tax and budget proposals ahead of next week's special session on a budget shortfall.

Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis says the state is at a critical point, and must either make cuts to state services or find new revenue.

The governor is seeking a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. He is also seeking to raise the business privilege tax on larger businesses while giving smaller ones a tax cut.

Two more counties issuing Same-Sex Licenses

Jul 22, 2015

Two more Alabama counties say they will issue wedding licenses following the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.

Both Houston and Henry counties have refused to issue any licenses because of gay marriage.

But the Dothan Eagle reports that probate judges in both counties say they will now issue marriage licenses to anyone.

The change came at the end of a 25-day window in which the U.S. Supreme Court could have reconsidered its decision.

Charter School guidelines, AARPs "Back to Work" program

Jun 11, 2015

The Alabama Board of Education has approved initial guidelines for regulating future charter schools in the state.

The board on Thursday voted in favor of regulations that include stipulations such as approval timelines, funding and safety.

The guidelines are rules temporarily set in place before a June 17 deadline.

State Superintendent Tommy Bice says the guidelines adopted are "broad categories" that will be addressed in permanent guidelines the board is putting together.

The University of Alabama is teaming up with Washington to study the nation's water. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association just unveiled its newest national center on the Tuscaloosa campus.

The twenty four million dollar National Water Center is a collaboration between several federal agencies. It will become the U.S. center for water forecasting.

NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan says they plan to hit the ground running at the new center with a research project starting this summer.

House approves Education Budget, Lake Wedowee fishing

May 21, 2015

The Alabama House has unanimously approved a nearly $6 billion education budget for 2016.  All 105 votes from state representatives went towards approving the Education Trust Fund budget.  A number of House Democrats and Republicans commended education budget committee chairman Bill Poole on an unusually smooth spending plan.

Alabama voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to give new protections to public schools against unfunded mandates enacted by the Legislature.

Amendment Four requires that at least two-thirds of the Legislature must pass a law that causes city and county boards of education to collectively spend more than $50,000 in local funds if the state is not going to pay for the increased expense. Currently, that can be done by a majority vote.

educationnews.org

The Alabama Education Association was once the unquestioned power in the Alabama statehouse. But that's changed since Republicans won a supermajority in the House and Senate in 2010.

Lawmakers around the country have made significant changes to teacher tenure, expanded charter schools and introduced different versions of voucher programs. But in Alabama, these kinds of changes have been part of a political upheaval not seen in most states.

Legislation that would allow city and county school systems to opt out of state education laws could come up for a final vote in the Senate next week.

A school flexibility bill cleared the House on Feb. 14 and was approved by the Senate Education Committee in a 5-3 vote Wednesday, with Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no. A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says the bill is a priority and could come up for a vote as early as Tuesday.

Gov. Robert Bentley says he's ready to sign whatever version of the bill the Legislature passes.

istockphoto

Financial experts say the fiscal cliff agreement in Washington will cut funding for Alabama's public schools and colleges by at least $70 million annually.

The fiscal cliff settlement affects Alabama differently than most other states. That's because Alabama is one of the few states that provides its citizens with a state income tax deduction for the federal taxes paid. The federal settlement allowed a temporary reduction in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare to expire. It also raised the tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

Trance Mist / Flickr

The Alabama Legislature's 2013 regular session has started.

Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey started the session in the Senate at noon. Speaker Mike Hubbard gaveled the House into session at 12:10 p.m.

The session will last until mid-May. Lawmakers must complete the session in 30 meeting days during 105 calendar days.

Major issue facing lawmakers will be balancing the General Fund and education budgets in a year when funds are expected to be tight.

Pages