A very old axiom of politics is that “You dance with the one who brung you.”
However, it appears that state school board member Matt Brown, who faces a runoff with Jackie Zeigler on April 12, may not understand this. Brown has teamed with Senator Trip Pittman of Baldwin County to come up with SB 341 that would adjust how local school systems are allocated funds each year.
At present, because of how student enrollment is figured, systems actually run in arrears on student count. In hopes of helping growing systems, such as his home system of Baldwin County, Brown and Pittman have suggested altering current procedure to favor some systems. The only problem is that if someone wins, then someone else loses.
Which in Brown’s case means of the 13 local systems in District One, six of them would see their funding decrease. According to an analysis by the Alabama Department of Education, these are Butler County, Conecuh County, Covington County, Crenshaw County, Andalusia City and Mobile County.
This all becomes interesting in light of the fact that Brown was endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation and received $5,000 from their PAC on Jan. 18, 2016. This support was meaningful as Brown was the No. 1 vote getter on March 1 in Butler, Conecuh and Escambia counties and ran neck and neck with Zeigler in Covington and Crenshaw counties.
All of these are rural counties, the very ones who would be most impacted by SB 341. In fact, language in the bill refers to monies now allocated to declining systems as “wasted funds.”
So Brown would like to cause even more funding issues in school systems that are already struggling mightily–and these are the systems in the counties which gave him the most support in the primary.
However, this is not on the only irony in this little minuet. The other is that while Brown now professes to be very concerned about helping Baldwin County schools get funding, just 12 months ago he was working night and day to defeat a tax vote for them in Baldwin County.
Which leads me to another old political axiom, “He won’t stay bought.”