For being touted as the formal establishment of a separation agreement, much disagreement has arisen. Already.
Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey issued his rulings on contentious points between the Baldwin County Board of Education and the Gulf Shores Board of Education on Jan. 16. His instructions were for the two boards to accept his ruling and vote to accept the agreement.
Dual meetings by the two boards on Jan. 17 came out with two different results. It breezed through in Gulf Shores with a unanimous vote. The same day, Baldwin County’s board rejected a resolution on the agreement, instead authorizing Superintendent Eddie Tyler to seek a legal remedy.
“We will seek relief from the courts,” the county’s lawyer, Don Beebe, said.
At stake is about $7 million Gulf Shores is to receive for the months of June through September for teacher payroll and in earmarked sales tax revenue. Gulf Shores will become an independent school system on June 1.
“We don’t know the exact amount because we don’t know exactly how many teachers we will have,” Gulf Shores Superintendent Matt Akin said. “Whatever that number is, the state department will determine it and say ‘Gulf Shores, here’s your money to pay the teachers who were employed last school year and are now employed with you.’” Akin said it would be about $1 million for each month.
Tyler also said he doesn’t believe the new Gulf Shores system should receive a share of the sales tax earmarked for schools during those same four months.
“There are a lot of issues to disagree with in [Mackey’s] letter, but the most glaring is that the state superintendent directs some $7 million in Baldwin County revenue from this school year to a school system that has no students enrolled for this school year — while also directing us to pay all of the expenses through the end of this school year,” Tyler said. “Our disagreement is over money, which belongs to the Baldwin County taxpayers and not Gulf Shores.”
Those sales taxes, Gulf Shores School Board President Kevin Corcoran said, will amount to about $2 million. Corcoran said $2 million would be 11 percent of Gulf Shores’ school budget and would amount to 0.6 percent of the county board’s budget.
Mackey indicated on Friday in published reports he believes the conflict can be resolved. Meanwhile, Tyler said he thinks Baldwin County should move forward with a legal challenge to Mackey’s ruling.
“We are glad to know [Mackey] agrees with us that foundation funds from this school year cannot be provided to a school system which has no students enrolled, but we don’t believe that further clarifications from the superintendent are going to solve the disagreement between the parties at this point,” Tyler said.
“We believe that the better and more expeditious resolution is to take this matter to court, where the parties can continue their negotiations and/or clarifications under the supervision of a judge.”
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