Federal

Judge Orders Alabama To Spare Schools From Cutbacks

By Bess Keller — February 28, 2001 2 min read

An Alabama circuit court judge last week blocked Gov. Donald Siegelman from cutting aid to K-12 classrooms by 6.2 percent and gave the legislature until early this week to devise another plan for plugging the state’s deep midyear revenue hole.

Circuit Judge Tracey S. McCooey handed down the injunction on Feb. 22, just before state lawmakers went into a special session on school funding that the governor called the day before.

The judge declared that the proposed cuts, which lawmakers had little choice but to make under the state’s current financing law, would violate the Alabama Constitution. “There is no question that a right exists which needs to be protected, specifically the right of every child in Alabama to receive an equitable and adequate education,” she wrote.

The ruling came in a suit filed by a coalition of Alabama school groups and districts, including the Alabama Association of School Boards and three dozen poor districts, after the Democratic governor ordered the across- the-board cut in the state’s education budget. (“State Budget Woes Hit Schools in Deep South,” Feb. 14, 2001.)

Sharp drops in revenue from income and sales taxes that are earmarked for education dictated the cuts under existing law, which the governor said last week was neither wise nor fair to the state’s schoolchildren.

But Gov. Siegelman also blasted the injunction as he put forward his own legislative package to deal with the shortfall. “One of Alabama’s 150 circuit judges has decided to impose her own solution, one that quite frankly will make things worse because it will jeopardize higher standards and be devastating to higher education,” he asserted.

Alabama’s dedicated fund for education pays for colleges and universities as well as public schools, so higher education officials fear that sparing K-12 education could force devastating cuts on college campuses.

Deadline Is Tight

State leaders signaled last week that they were unlikely to meet Judge McCooey’s deadline of Feb. 27 to come up with an alternative funding solution that would comply with her order. Legislative leaders were reported to be strongly considering an appeal.

But the groups that had challenged the cuts were jubilant. “It was a good day for Alabama’s K-12 children,” Susan Sims-deGraffenried, the executive director of the school boards’ association, said of the ruling.

With higher education leaders voicing alarm, the Alabama board of education, which oversees two-year colleges as well as precollegiate schools, had a mixed reaction to the ruling.

“We are pleased there’s been some measure of protection in K-12; however, we have some concerns over the continued funding problem for postsecondary institutions and even for universities,” said Thomas E. Salter, a spokesman for the state education department.

A version of this article appeared in the February 28, 2001 edition of Education Week as Judge Orders Alabama To Spare Schools From Cutbacks

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal How Political Backlash to Critical Race Theory Reached School Reopening Guidance
A lawmaker wants Miguel Cardona to repudiate the Abolitionist Teaching Network after federal COVID-19 documents referenced the group's work.
6 min read
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.<br/>
Graeme Sloan/SIPA USA via AP
Federal Biden Team: Schools Can Go Beyond Trump Rules in Response to Alleged Sexual Misconduct
The Education Department's guidance, released July 20, states that Title IX rules from 2020 lay out "minimum steps" for educators.
3 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Fact Check: After Furor Over 1619 Project, Feds Adjust History and Civics Grant Plans
A previously obscure history and civics program has weathered a political storm, but what exactly has changed?
4 min read
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP
Federal 'Stop CRT' Bill, Votes in Congress Add to Political Drama Over Critical Race Theory
Sen. Tom Cotton's legislation and votes about critical race theory in the House underscore the issue's potency in Washington.
5 min read
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a hearing to examine United States Special Operations Command and United States Cyber Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal year 2022 and the Future Years Defense Program, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Washington.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill March 25 in Washington.
Andrew Harnik/AP