Shoals Scholar Dollars program asks for gas tax to fund scholarships

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – There’s a plan being proposed to Shoals area county commissioners which could put 600 students a year into secondary education through public funding.

One-hundred forty-one high school graduates, who had no other hope of going to college this past fall, were given a chance through Shoals Scholar Dollars.

Executive Director Randy Pettus said the scholarships started this past year to help educate the future workforce.

“We had too many young men and young women that were dropping out of school because they saw no future that they were able to get a scholarship,” said Pettus. “This is a stop-gap scholarship.”

However, Pettus said to keep the scholarship program going, they need a permanent revenue stream.

Over the past couple of weeks, county commissioners in Colbert and Lauderdale counties have been presented a plan that would add .04 to every gallon of gas sold in the Shoals.

Pettus said they have been raising funds through the private sector, but there’s just not enough money.

“Based on the number of students who have applied, it’s going to cost $600,000 a year to keep two classes enrolled at Northwest Shoals,” Pettus explained.

If the gas tax plan did go through, Pettus said they could expand to offer two year scholarships to UNA also.

Any new gas tax must be approved by the state legislature and then voted on by the citizens in each county before hitting the gas pump.

Shoals Scholar Dollars board members hope to be able to present the funding plan to the legislature during the upcoming session.