After failed property tax vote, Lawrence County education leaders face difficult budget cuts

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Monday evening, the Lawrence County Board of Education held its first meeting since voters shot down a property tax increase meant to help the financially struggling district.

No budget actions were taken, but budget cut proposals paint a bleak future for the district.

Lawrence County school district leaders face a $2 million budget shortfall and difficult cuts. Superintendent Heath Grimes opened the meeting offering his initial budget cut proposals.

"It's hard to make cuts that don't really affect students because we already made cuts. We've made cuts for a number of years so obviously we're getting into things that are really going to have an impact on students now," said Grimes.

Among the cuts proposed: School resource officers, central office staff, teachers, and coaching supplements.

For now, these are initial proposals and the school board is waiting until state lawmakers pass the education budget to take any action.

Grimes says they have to look at what budget items cost the system the most.

"Those aren't things I want to lose, but I think that's the issue here," said Grimes. "When we start making those decisions - at one point we started talking about coaching supplements and everybody was like 'we just got to lose them' but then we started talking about losing them, and people started talking about leaving, then all of a sudden we don't want to cut those. Same thing is going to be true with SROs."

Vocal opponents of the property tax hike plan to offer their own budget cut proposals. Mark Clark, leader of Citizens for Accountability says for now they're calling on the community to come together to find a solution.

At the meeting, Grimes also addressed his interview for the superintendent's position in Russellville City Schools on Monday. He assured everyone it had nothing to do with the recent budget vote. Grimes says he is simply seeking better opportunities for him and his family.

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