Madison County Board of Education Counting On BRAC Funding For Improvement Projects

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - School districts across the Tennessee Valley are counting on funds from the Base Realignment and Closures Act (BRAC) to help fund building projects and expansions in the coming years.

The Madison County School District has found themselves in particular need for the funds, and called for a special meeting Saturday afternoon to address what to do if they get the money they have been hoping for.

Currently, the district has about $130 million worth of unfunded capital improvement projects.

"We have to operate transportation, kids have to have textbooks, we need more technology. There's needs and needs and needs and it's just a difficult time," said Copeland.

Saturday, the board voted on a five-year capital plan, that hinges on the hope of receiving as much as $55.9 million from BRAC. It would allow the district to build a new high school, as well as expand on two elementary schools and do away with the 47 portable classrooms used at schools across the district.

However, Copeland says there is a very real possibility the district could only receive $33.6 million, a $22 million difference that alters their list of priorities.

"The backup plan goes back to what we approved in December, which is combining Sparkman 9 with Sparkman High School and making that a true mega-campus," said Copeland. "It's not ideal in a lot of studies but it's the best you can do with the money."

No matter what capital plan the district settles on in the coming weeks, Copeland and the board members agree they will continue to come up against the same planning problems until a long-term solution is reached.

"Our everyday costs as well as operations are continuing to grow, our funding is continuing to be cut, and we're in desperate need for a new revenue stream," said Copeland.

Copeland says they hope to know how much funding the district will be receiving within the next few weeks. If they receive $33.6 million instead of $55.9 they will return to the capital plan approved in December.

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