Ala. education dept. seeks more money after drop in student grades during pandemic

Ala. education dept. seeks more money after drop in student grades during pandemic
Education department presents budget request to lawmakers on Tuesday, January 26th. (Source: wsfa)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama State Department of Education requested money from state lawmakers to help students falling behind in school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers held budget hearings for the Education Trust Fund on Tuesday in preparation for the legislative session, which begins Feb. 2.

“Students are falling behind in many areas. A lot of that has to do with being quarantined, being in and out of school,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey said.

Currently, about $18 million is allotted for summer reading camps. Mackey asked state lawmakers Tuesday for another $18 million more for more summer reading camps.

Those camps would help kindergarten through third grade students.

“Brain development says they need that consistency,” he explained. “Well, this year has not been a consistent year for students.”

Mackey said he expects a lot of students will need to be in the camps, especially during the Summer of 2022 when leaders expect coronavirus restrictions will ease.

Another budget request includes $26 million for districts to hire more school nurses.

“Our nurses are absolute essential and an absolute essential part of what we do in school,” he said. “And their our real heroes.”

ALSDE also wants more money for teacher professional development and special education. The department asked for a total increase of about $460 million.

Lawmakers will look through this budget request and then determine how much money they want to give the department of education.

The general fund budget hearings will take place Wednesday and Thursday.

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