Time ran out, what#039;s next?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003

It's been three days since the Andalusia Board of Education had to make the unpleasant choice of not renewing the contracts of 13 educators and support personnel. The reality has had time to set in for the dismissed teachers.

Such a sad reality, but one that nevertheless had to be made. The budget called for it and state law required it.

Thirteen people. Lives changed, jobs lost. Education damaged.

Their disciplines range from maintenance to math -- kindergarten to high school.

Faced with an uncertain future now, these 13 people must now decide whether to seek employment elsewhere -- perhaps in Florida or Georgia -- or wait and see if the school board will be allowed to "rehire" them when the school term starts.

In a memo sent to all 128 school boards in Alabama Monday, State School Superintendent Ed Richardson advised school systems to wait until the last possible moment before making budget-related staff cuts -- a complete contradiction of advice he gave just last week.

Has Dr. Richardson, a former superintendent in Andalusia, lost his mind? Has he forgotten that he told schools they have waited long enough?

What is the answer?

State law requires school boards to pass out pink slips before the end of the school year to personnel not being renewed, otherwise, an employee's contract would automatically be renewed for the following year.

Andalusia City Schools had no other choice. School ends next week. They waited as long as they could for the saving graces of the governor's might pen and the legislature's bickering to end. It hasn't come.

Now, time is up and these 13 must decide what's next for them.

And now, we must decide what's next for our schools. Is there a way to save them?

The answer is yes, they can be saved. But what, if anything will actually be done to save them? We await the governor's plan with all the anticipation of this year's senior class on graduation day.