Florence schools ask city for $3 million in continued funding

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The Florence Freshmen Center was paid for through a 2012 bond issue to the city school board. (Carter Watkins - WHNT)

FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – A bond issue bought in 1995 by the city of Florence to fund capital projects and other initiatives within the school system is set to be paid off next year.

Now the school system is approaching city leaders asking for earmarked sales tax money to continue coming their way.

Within the Florence City Schools District, construction has hit nearly every campus due to growth in the number of students.  About 4,500 students walk the hallways each day, forcing the district to build new facilities and expand existing schools.

“Education is the gateway to a thriving city.  And so our discussion was just working through as changes occur, but keeping in that vision so we can keep Florence City Schools a leader in the state,” said Florence Superintendent of Schools Janet Womack.

But the growth has come with a price. The school board was forced to go to the bond market in 2012 to get an extra $20 million.

In 1995, the City Council appropriated 37 percent of a one-cent sales tax to be earmarked for education to pay off a bond issue.

With that bond being paid off in 2015, the school system has asked for the $3 million a year which is brought in to continue.  Essentially, this would cover the 2012 bond payments and provide funds for other school programs.

“A vision doesn’t end at a certain point if we continue to do what’s right for kids. We just believe with our board and the city council and the mayor, with us working jointly together the city will continue to thrive for years,” Womack said.

School board leaders say if the funding is cut, the system will be forced to possibly cut programs and staff to make up for the lost revenue.

The Florence City Council could take up the funding matter as early as November.

The $20 million bond issue received by the Florence City Schools in 2012 was financed for 15 years.