Breaking down the lottery process

September 19, 2017

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The following article is part of APR’s on-going series on gaming and the lottery:

Polling on both sides of the political aisle indicates that the voters in Alabama support the right to vote on a lottery and legalized gaming — and overwhelmingly support a lottery and legalized gaming. By participating in lotteries across state lines in Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, Alabamians have paid millions of dollars to educate the children of those states. While some questioned the continued viability of state lotteries, several recent large jackpots and the continued popularity of scratch-off tickets demonstrate that lotteries are still sources of significant revenue for lottery states. The lottery debate in Alabama has been historically broken down in the Legislature over four issues:

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Sentance’s resignation: There’s one person to blame

September 14, 2017
Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The relatively short state education nightmare is over.

Michael Sentance resigned on Wednesday, bowing out a day before he was sure to be fired by a state Board of Education long tired of dealing with him.

The end of Sentance’s tenure was, ironically, the one thing he managed to handle appropriately.

Quiet. Respectful. Appropriately communicated.

Had Sentance demonstrated those three qualities a bit more regularly in his day-to-day efforts as schools’ chief, he would likely still be with us.

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Great teachers make great students

September 14, 2017

By Sen. Cam Ward
Alabama State Senate

Over the past few years, I have made it a point to visit elementary and high school classrooms across Senate District 14. The passion of the teachers I meet never fails to inspire me. For many teachers, education is both a career and a calling to shape the lives of young people. Most educators work long hours, taking papers and tests home with them to grade after dinner with their own family.

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Experts weigh-in on lottery

September 13, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Soon after taking office, Gov. Kay Ivey disbanded the Alabama Gaming Task Force along with other commissions authorized by former Gov. Robert Bentley. Ivey’s administration saw the gaming committee as another way to toss a thorny issue on an ever-growing trash heap of legislative avoidance. According to several members speaking on background, the task force was never going to offer a concrete recommendation but merely a laundry list of options. Over the next several months, The Alabama Political Reporter will publish a series of interviews with lottery experts to understand how to best implement a lottery.

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Alabama’s education circus never stops

September 7, 2017
Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama State Department of Education circus keeps chugging along.

As department staff and superintendent Michael Sentance gear up for an all-important board meeting next week – yet another meeting that could bring an end to Sentance’s tenure – ALSDE has been dealing with fires on a number of fronts.

News of Sentance’s decision to fire popular deputy superintendent Jeff Langham has angered most of the state’s education community. Several sources have told APR that State Board members were also angered by the move and see it as the final indication that a future with Sentance at the helm is unworkable.

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Sewell opposes cuts to Head Start

September 1, 2017

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, August 31, 2017, U.S. Representative Terri Sewell, D-Selma, sent an email to constituents where she praised the Head Start program and lamented proposed cuts to the program for impoverished children, including the closing of some Head Start Centers in rural Alabama.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell wrote, “You might know that Early Head Start has provided educational jumpstarts to children ages 0 to 3 in parts of our congressional district and has expanded those services to the Choctaw, Dallas, Marengo, and Wilcox County service area. The language-rich activities that Early Head Start provides, such as reading, singing, and talking, are proven to lead to better life outcomes. The addition of Early Head Start in these rural Alabama counties is a big step forward. “
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Sentance is having money problems

August 29, 2017

Larry Lee
Education Matters

News that the State Department of Education’s projected operating budget for next year presently has a deficit of $8,028,074 fell on board members like an anvil last week.

Andy Craig is the chief money man for the Department.  He revealed that at the moment, the projected budget has receipts of $30,100,000–but expenses of $38,128,074.

Much of this shortfall is attributed to Sentance’s habit of hiring administrators at six-figure salaries like a drunk sailor spends money on shore leave.  For example, the present budget shows personnel expenses of $23,581,134.  This jumps to $26,495,799 next year.  Compounding the problem is that there are a number of vacant slots now at ALSDE.  There are seven jobs in Career Tech that have not been filled.

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State Superintendent Michael Sentance responds to evaluation with poor marks

August 11, 2017

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

State Superintendent Michael Sentance defended himself on Thursday from a Board of Education evaluation that left him with an average rating of 1.3 out of 3 with 1 being the lowest he could have scored.

Sentance said on Thursday during his response that he has had some shortcomings as the State Superintendent but said he would like to continue the “great task at hand.” He received the poor review last month after his annual evaluation was done after only 11 months since his hiring.

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Sentance survives ― again

August 11, 2017
Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Michael Sentance has survived another Alabama Board of Education meeting.

For at least the third time in his 11-month tenure as the state superintendent of education, Sentance entered a board meeting on Thursday with his future in doubt. He walked away with his title intact after a conciliatory statement that he read to board members.

Following Sentance’s brief statement, school board vice-president Stephanie Bell asked for discussion, and then, seeing none, called for an adjournment. Board member Mary Scott Hunter – a Sentance supporter – attempted to speak but was cut off by Bell and the vote to adjourn.

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It’s Judgment Day for State Superintendent Michael Sentance

August 10, 2017
Alabama Superintendent Michael Sentance

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Will State Superintendent Michael Sentance stay or go?

That question will be answered by the Alabama Board of Education on Thursday during a scheduled 10 am meeting. Two sources close to the board say the decision on Sentance’s termination is fluid and can go either way, but that a solid majority were leaning towards firing Sentance as of late Wednesday afternoon.

A source close to board vice-president Stephanie Bell said she does plan to call for a vote to terminate Sentance during Thursday’s meeting.

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