Many schools using credit lines to make ends meet

By Alan Collins

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Alabama school systems are scrambling to make payroll. Some have taken out lines of credits or plan to do so.

In Tarrant, the board of education has a line of credit, but taking out money is the last thing they want to do. "If we have to access that line of credit, it has to be paid back by the end of September with interest," Dr. Shelly Mize of the Tarrant School Board said.

The Tuscaloosa County School system had to use a $10 million line of credit to make payroll. "Obviously, after two years of consecutive proration, our system lost 17.1 million dollars," Tuscaloosa Co. Superintendent Frank Castanzo said.

The Birmingham school system rejected a plan to cut 20 jobs to save almost $900-thousand. The school system does have $20 million line of credit. "As we stated, our expenditures cannot exceed our revenues. Tough decisions, tough choices have to be made but we have remained fiscally sound," Birmingham Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said.

Still, the Alabama Education Association will push for the line of credit if necessary. "If at the end of the month and payroll cannot be met in the district, we are going to insist that the line of credit be tapped, because folks work for a living deserve a paycheck and we will insist they get it," Lance Hyche with AEA said.

The Tarrant Board of Education and others want to balance their budgets by the end of the school year and keeping their fingers crossed about next year. That is why everyone is praying the economy turns around soon. "It's an important aspect of our life. When it impacts education, it impacts children," Mize said.

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