The Cullman Times
A positive sign for Alabama’s schools and economy surfaced this week in a report showing the state Education Trust Fund is on track to meet targeted tax collections for the fiscal year.
For local school officials and others across the state, stability in the fund is welcome news. The state’s public school system has been hammered by proration for years, which has weakened efforts to fund technology, expand professional development and other areas of education that directly impact students.
Even the brighter news from the state is being received with caution by local school districts. The damage caused by proration and the lag in the economy will take several years to correct if the trust fund continues the upward trend.
Nonetheless, with the vast amount of revenue directed to the trust fund everyone can feel some optimism that the economy may be thawing. The condition of the General Fund remains horrible, but outside of economic conditions it will never be in good condition without some changes at the state level on how revenue is divided for education and other services.
Alabama has a lot of potential in its economy with the state’s renewed interest on existing industry and new investments. The governor and the Republican leadership are largely in agreement that sustained growth can only be earned through a greater expansion in the private job market. Government’s role should be geared more to creating an attractive climate for investments, not swelling its ranks with bureaucrats.
But, for now, the news is at least positive for schools. Avoiding another round of proration would enable educators to begin restoring or replenishing some key programs for students. That’s important for everyone in Alabama. Strong schools are the foundation of growing a ready and able workforce, which is a leading factor in gaining new businesses and expansions.