International Paper donates to Lawrence County Schools

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MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) - When International Paper closed its mill in Courtland earlier this year, it meant the end of some 1,100 jobs. The lost tax revenue has hit the county's school system especially hard.

International Paper is giving the school system thousands of dollars worth of furniture and supplies it no longer needs. School officials say they're grateful but it doesn't come close to what the system has lost.

We only saw a few of the items at Lawrence County High School, but school officials say there were dozens cabinets and bookshelves as well as desks and chairs that showed up from International Paper.

"They have donated a lot of paper, first and foremost, to take care of us for the next two to three years. And that's a big deal because that's about $50 thousand dollars a year," says Lawrence County School Superintendent Heath Grimes.

Grimes says it's part of International Paper's exit strategy, to do as much for the local school system as they can. The mill closed earlier this year, idling some 1,100 workers. The lost tax revenue just for the schools alone will amount to almost two million dollars over the next two years.

"For us, that's unsustainable. It completely changes the complexion of the quality of education in our county. So we either have to replace that money or we have to make some significant changes that are not for the benefit of our students," Grimes warned.

And Grimes is keenly aware that a struggling school system does not help attract new industry to replace jobs that were lost. He says countywide, there are only ten teachers that are paid from local funds and cutting them all wouldn't bring the system any closer to solving their financial problems.