THARPTOWN – Melissa Harrison said to keep teenagers interested in the library and in reading, it’s important to have the latest books.

“But when you are limited in funding, that’s hard to do,” said Harrison, Thaprtown High School librarian.

She said since 2008, when legislators removed line item funding from the state education budget, school libraries have struggled.

“Now, we have been put back in the budget, but we’re getting a third less than what we once got. It’s just hard to keep the library updated with materials on less money,” said Harrison.

She said Tharptown has a new high school library, and she wants it to have up-to-date items for students.

She said grants from the Franklin County Development Program have helped. She recently received $1,200 to purchase new books.

Funds for development commission grants come from TVA in-lieu-of-tax payments made to Alabama counties. The money, which is dispensed by legislators, must be used to promote economic development, education and recreation.

“It’s tough times in public education. These funds help bridge the gap,” said Franklin County Superintendent Greg Hamilton. 

Brad Bolton, a member of the Franklin County Community Development Committee, said the committee has always tried to help education. In the grants recently awarded by the committee, $26,900 of a total amount of $60,100 went to schools throughout the county.

“It goes for different things, but it is all used,” Hamilton said.

Bolton said requests from schools are taken seriously.

“The (Franklin County Community Development Committee) is always pleased when we can put technology and books in the hands of students,” Bolton said. “They are our future, and we must prepare them for such. The FCCDC is a lifeline to our local school system in attempting to fill funding gaps where we can."

Since the program began in 2009, Bolton said it has returned more than $1.48 million to projects and organization throughout the county.

tom.smith@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5757. Twitter @TD_TomSmith.

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