The Randolph County board of education has become the firth board in the state to pass a resolution asking for the repeal of the Alabama Accountability Act. They join Baldwin, Mobile, Montgomery and Tallapoosa counties in doing so.
For those who might not know, Randolph County adjoins the Georgia state line in east Alabama. About halfway between Auburn and Anniston with U.S. 431 splitting it from south to north.. And though it is only about 75 miles as the crow flies from the county seat of Wedowee to downtown Atlanta, Randolph is about as rural as you can get.
Just 23,000 people scattered between Bacon Level, Wildwood, Wadley and Graham. Only 2,300 students in a system of eight schools. Free-reduced lunch rate is 67 percent.
John Jacobs is the superintendent of the county school system. Like all rural educators, he understands the financial challenges faced by such systems. He knows the several hundred thousand dollars diverted from his system by the AAA could be well spent locally.
“When you are struggling to maintain a one month operating reserve as the state requires,” says Jacobs, “it’s hard to understand how taking money from your students to pay tuition for someone to go to private school benefits your own system.”
The accountability act was passed in 2013 and through 2017 has diverted more than $100 million from the Education Trust Fund. Like Randolph County, more and more local systems are calling this diversion into question.