Both the accounts that pay for state government operations, the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund (ETF), ended the 2016 Fiscal Year basically flat when compared to the previous year, a sign that the state’s struggles to balance budgets will continue in the future. What would have been a moderately healthy year of receipts to the Education Trust Fund was dragged down by a drop in corporate income tax collections and the shifting of some revenue into the General Fund to cover anticipated shortfalls in that account. The perpetually struggling General Fund was buoyed by that revenue shift from the ETF and by the increase of tax rates on cigarettes, but was weighed down by a drop of non-recurring revenue sources and lagging collections of taxes on oil and gas production. For the Fiscal Year that ended Sept. 30, 2016, total receipts to the ETF were $6 billion, up only slightly from 2015.
There were more Alabama high school graduates in 2015 than the year before, and the class sent more students to college as their next step. Still, more than 17,000 state students with a 2015 diploma did not continue their schooling immediately.
Within that picture were disparities: Systems with low poverty rates sent most of their graduates on to four-year colleges and universities. Systems with somewhat higher poverty percentages still sent a large percentage of graduates off to college. However, more of those graduates start at a community college.
The top four Alabama high schools in terms of college-going rate are magnet schools: three in Montgomery and one in Birmingham.
These highlights come from a new report by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama that uses more extensive data now available from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. The full report lets you search for information by school systems and individual high schools. Here’s PARCA’s full report.
Too little money for Medicaid? Not enough dollars to deal with overcrowded prisons? A fight over taking parks money for other purposes? Why does Alabama always face budget problems? The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama has looked behind the legislative battles to root causes of the recurrent problem.
Alabama voters go to the polls March 1, and there’s a lot more on the ballot than the high-profile presidential race. In Democratic and Republican primaries, voters will nominate candidates for U.S. Senate and the state’s Public Service Commission president, Supreme Court and Board of Education, plus decide on an amendment. Voters in Jefferson and Shelby counties will pick nominees for judgeships, school board seats, district attorney and treasurer offices. BirminghamWatch and Weld For Birmingham, Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM, Starnes Publishing, B-Metro and Kaleidoscope are collaborating to offer this one-stop, interactive, factual, non-partisan Voter Guide. Candidate profiles, sample ballots, answers about issues, campaign contributor lists, info on where to vote and more.
The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and Alabama School Connection have taken deeper looks at recently-released tests of the state’s student academic performance. PARCA assessed results from Alabama high school juniors on the ACT college readiness test. Only 16 percent of them were “ready” on all four sections of the test: English, Reading, Mathematics and Science. PARCA considers factors affecting the 2015 scores and concludes: “Alabama has significant room to grow in producing high school graduates who are ready for success in college.”
The PARCA report dealt only with the test for high school juniors. But the “significant room to grow” conclusion applies to the huge body of results from the ACT Aspire test given in grades three through eight.