By Terry Schrimscher
TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville City Schools Board of Education presented a proposed budget for the fiscal year 2022 during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on July 19, 2021.
Jim Kirkland, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Trussville City Schools presented the first reading of the budget, which he expects to revise before the second reading in August. State law requires schools to have at least two public hearings before approval of a budget.
“This is purely a draft because there are a lot of things from the state I don’t have yet,” said Kirkland. “There are several allocations that have just not been released to the schools yet,” he said. Kirkland said he expects the state allocations to be announced soon which will enable him to present a more complete picture in the second reading on August 31.
The proposed budget contains a beginning balance of $27,748,935.04 and an ending balance of $29,198,338.84. The fiscal year begins on October 1, 2021, and ends on September 30, 2022.
Total revenues for FY-2022 are expected to be $56,552,253.72 with total expenditures of $55,441,268.35. Updates to those figures will be included once state allocations are announced. The budget will be posted for viewing online at www.trussvillecityschools.com.
Prior to the regular meeting, the board held a 30-minute work session to discuss several issues related to the planned school year.
Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill said the schools are planning to open on schedule on August 11 following CDC guidelines but are waiting to see if the state offers further guidance.
“All we have are CDC guidelines,” said Neill. “The Alabama State Board of Education has asked the Alabama Department of Public Health for specific guidelines for Alabama.”
According to CDC guidelines, masks should be worn by individuals two and older who are not fully vaccinated and schools should maintain three feet of distance. According to Dr. Neill, 99% of students are planning to return to school in person. As of today, only 13 students are planning to attend virtually across all grades.
Neill said schools are waiting on a ruling from the State of Alabama on the Alabama Literacy Act which could require third-grade students to be retained after this year if they do not read to a standard.
“The state legislature wanted to delay the requirement to retain third-graders if they didn’t make certain reading standards this year. They wanted to delay it for two years,” Neill said. “It did pass the legislature but it was not signed by the Governor and the Governor wants to wait until the ACAP results are in,” she said.
Governor Ivey vetoed the bill from the legislature on May 27 and issued a statement saying she would revisit the issue after a review of the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP) results.
“I am requesting that the State Superintendent of Education and his staff provide the board, and the public, a full and complete review of the Spring 2021 Assessment results in all subjects and grades, but in particular the data on reading in the early grades as soon as the data are available and have been analyzed,” Governor Ivey said in the statement. “Once that is completed, I will ask the Alabama Committee on Grade-Level Reading to review the relevant data and make recommendations regarding any necessary action. All the aforementioned work can take place this year, well ahead of any deadlines identified in the Alabama Literacy Act.”
Neill explained the current bill could cause some third-grade students to be retained after the end of this school year.
“There would be year-long intervention. The parents would be alongside us as partners” Neill said. “It wouldn’t be a surprise at the end of the third-grade year.”
She added that the Governor could decide to extend the deadlines once ACAP results come in.
Superintendent Neill also addressed recent nationwide controversies over the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
“The state superintendent of education is having to deal with the media frenzy on Critical Race Theory,” she said. “CRT is not part of the state curriculum but the state board of education is going to release a statement on that at their next meeting. They have voted to send a resolution to the state legislature on that,” she said.
“It looks like we are going to maintain our curriculum,” she said. “There are two research institutions that have researched the teaching of history in all 50 states. Both research institutions agreed that three states teach history the way it should be taught—without bias and without controversy—are Tennessee, California and Alabama,” she said.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute rated the curriculum of all 50 states and Washington D.C. on the subjects of Civics and History. Only Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia) earned a rating of “exemplary” in both subjects. Twenty states received failing grades.
“It’s likely nothing will change,” Neill said. “We will keep our curriculum just like it is because we do a better job in Alabama than some other states do in terms of teaching history.”