Superintendents React To Gov. Bentley’s Accountability Act Amendment

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- Governor Robert Bentley said Wednesday he wants a two-year delay on the private school tax credits established by the Alabama Accountability Act.

Bentley said that will give the state time, before the tax credits kick in,  to repay $423 million that must be paid back to the education rainy day fund by Sept. 30, 2015.

Several members of the North Alabama Superintendent's Association gathered today for their regular meeting and a little lunch at Greenbrier Barbeque Restaurant. If there is one thing they can all agree on it is two thumbs up for the governor's amendment. Along with orders of hushpuppies all around at the luncheon was the palpable presence of a resounding and collective sigh of relief.

"As superintendents we're thrilled," says Madison County's David Copeland, "because that gives us two years to work on issues and we certainly hope it becomes law and we're able to do that."

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Jan Davis' district has no failing schools, but she says she is still thankful for the opportunity to reevaluate.

"I think sometimes we're all guilty of over-correction and I believe it's wise to step back and celebrate small victories and take a conservative approach when making change," Davis says.

Huntsville's top educator says the amendment gives those involved at all levels a chance to make the most impact for students.

"Too often we do ready, fire, aim," says Casey Wardynski, "and these kind of things really take a little more deliberation and it provides opportunity for the state entities to think about it because the Department of Revenue has a role, the Department of Education's got a role and it gives folks in school systems time to think on how to go about executing this new law as well."

Madison's Dee Fowler says the proposed two-year moratorium will allow a laser focus on the ultimate goal: no failing schools in Alabama.

"Everyone will take a moment to reflect and take a couple of years to look at this and say what is actually the best way we can help failing schools, what's the best use of money and what's the best outcome for the children in the state, so we're very excited about this opportunity," Fowler concludes.

The state initially budgeted $40 million for private school tax credits in line with the Accountability Act. Governor Bentley reiterated Wednesday the amount the state owes the rainy day fund is a definite while the cost of the tax credit program is unknown.