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'Why Can't Our Kids Go To School Together?' Asks Board Member In Alabama

Inside Livingston Junior High School in Sumter County, Ala. The state does not send extra dollars to districts that serve low-income kids.
Inside Livingston Junior High School in Sumter County, Ala. The state does not send extra dollars to districts that serve low-income kids.

Unlike some other states, Alabama does not send extra money to districts that serve low-income kids or those that have limited income from local property tax dollars.

That's why, says principal Tramene Maye, at Livingston Junior High School in Sumter County, one former classroom leaks when it rains. Garbage cans catch some of the water, but the moldy smell and buckled floor prove they miss plenty. Around the school, it's a similar story: broken windows, peeling paint, cracked floor tiles. Maye insists there just isn't enough money to fix it all.

Sumter County school board member Julene Delaine says Sumter schools have another challenge. Basically all of their students are African-American, but roughly a quarter of the county's population is white.

"They live in this county, but they will not send their children to the schools in this county," Delaine says.

For more on Alabama school funding, click here.

The story of Sumter County is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR's Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students. Join the conversation on Twitter by using #SchoolMoney.

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