ST. CLAIR COUNTY -- While St. Clair is one of the fastest growing counties in Alabama, it is among the lowest in how much money it spends on students attending its school system.
At a recent Board of Education meeting, BOE member Mike Hobbs said according to School System Snapshot, the average amount statewide spent on a child going to school is $9,389. He said the average spent on a student in the St. Clair County school system is $8,094. (Data from the Snapshot report includes fiscal year 2016).
“We are $1,300 less than what the average is,” Hobbs said. “Now, I am not talking about Mountain Brook or Trussville that is up in the $12,00 to $14,000 range.”
Hobbs said the lowest-funded school system in the state spends $7,615 per student, meaning St. Clair is $400 away from funding students at the lowest level in Alabama.
“There are 137 school systems in the state, and we are ranked 130th in funding per student,” Hobbs said. “We have to do something to generate some real revenue.
“We’re about to spend $300,000 on a roof for one school. We need $20 to $30 million to build some new schools. I want to do something while I am here on this school board. We have to start thinking about what we can do to generate some new revenue.
“I am proud to be from St. Clair County. It’s my home, my community. I didn’t grow up here in this county, but I am here now. To find out we are that low when it comes to funding our students is like a punch in the gut for me.
“As a board, I think we need to start doing something to generate some revenue for our students.”
Hobbs said he thought the school system as a whole is doing a great job with what it has.
BOE President Scott Suttle said when you think about what the faculties have done with limited resources, it would be staggering to think what they could do if they were funded at the average level.
Schools Superintendent Mike Howard said system teachers and staff are doing things right and are doing a lot with a little.
Reach Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.