State education officials request millions for 2015 - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

State education officials request millions for 2015

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The State Department of Education is aiming low when it comes to it's 2015 budget.

Originally, the department said they'd need $400 million more to fund education, but now they've slashed that number in hopes to get at least some of it.  

"So we've had to go back and make some cuts," says Dr. Craig Pouncey with the Alabama Department of Education.

During a State Board of Education work session a few weeks ago, Dr. Pouncey confirmed the State Department of Education would need $400 million more in 2015.

He knows that's not possible, especially since legislators have already said they have less than half that available for education. Dr. Pouncey is now cutting the request to $240 million.

"Unfortunately many of those cuts affect the classrooms in terms of materials, technology and staffing," says Pouncey.

That's why officials are asking for only the essential money needed to operate schools.

"It's the reality. We're at a place in Alabama where I'm not sure we've ever been before in the terms of the amount of money that's available and we have a lot of school systems that are at a point where they're having to borrow money to function," says State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice.

"We had to make a choice, and you can't do innovative things if the children don't have transportation to get to school or don't have enough teachers in the classroom, so it's a tough choice," adds Bice.

Dr. Bice has shared interest in bolstering middle schools despite limited funding.

He says that is the problem area for students who end up dropping out of school a few years later.

The state will hire back roughly 430 middle school teachers at a total of $32 million dollars.

Copyright 2013  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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