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Lawrence County Schools Budget Impacted By Paper Mill Shutdown

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala (WHNT) - The trickle-down effect of international Paper closing its Courtland plant continues.

Hundreds of families and businesses are reeling.  Even the Lawrence County School System is concerned about the impact this announcement will have on the district's budget.

Every school year, International Paper provides the school district with paper for the classrooms, for students, and staff.  That's about a $50,000 contribution.  However, Lawrence County Schools Superintendent, Heath Grimes says the loss of this paper donation is the least of his concerns, when compared to the long list of revenues the school will no longer receive, with the shutdown of the paper mill.

“It`s a $250,000 contribution lost in lieu of tax money, about a $20,000 loss in grants we`ve gotten this year, and then it`s yet to be determined, the part that`s most scary, and most difficult because we can`t know right now but it`s the impact of sales tax in our county,” explained Grimes.

Grimes says he must also consider the impact of families leaving the area to find new jobs.  With fewer students attending class, Grimes says his school system could lose state funding.  Grimes adds, those funds must be made up somewhere.

“We can take out some of the extras we have, those are choices we have to make,” said Grimes.  “However people are use to those extras.

Some of those extras include the school's notification system and bus tracking technology.  Things Grimes says his school district is proud of, but things that can be eliminated in order to stretch a new budget, without the cushion of cash from international paper.

Grimes says with the paper mill shutting down, the school system will be the largest employer in the county.

However, again he worries, teachers and staff may be cut down the road, to adjust to the impacts on the school system.