15 Andalusia teachers could lose jobs

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 5, 2010

Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly McAnulty estimates she will have to cut at least 15 teachers at the end of this school year.

“We’re going to lose personnel – bottom line,” she said. “We cannot employ one more person than we earn. But, everything is dependent on the education budget.”

McAnulty, like all school superintendents, is waiting on the state legislature to pass next year’s education budget before she determines just how many cuts she will have to make.

“This budget situation is as much of a crisis situation as I’ve seen,” she said.

McAnulty said the system has worked for the past three years to keep people employed, but the system cannot afford to do that in the next budget year, as the system only has reserves to last until November or December.

The current year’s prorated budget was reduced by seven teaching units, McAnulty said, which means the system is funding 18 teaching units at the local level.

McAnulty said there are currently 116 classroom teachers employed in the school system. That total doesn’t include counselors or principals.

The board of education had hoped to get an additional 3 mill ad valorem tax implemented based on its belief that a constitutional amendment passed in 2006 requiring every system in the state to receive a minimum of 10 mills of unrestricted funds should mean more money for them. When campaign literature was compiled by the state in support of the amendment in 2006, the department of education listed Andalusia among the “underfunded” systems, which would benefit from the amendment’s passage. However, after the amendment passed, Andalusia was not included among the systems the departments listed to receive an increase.

In February, the board asked the county commission for the additional funds. Commissioners voted to keep funding at current levels.

McAnulty said those additional 3 mills could have saved four jobs.

McAnulty said the system will likely have some teachers retiring, but said that doesn’t necessarily mean it will help the programs.

The system has certain programs it must maintain in terms of state requirements for graduation, special education and other federal programs.

State law requires school systems to notify teachers of transfers or layoffs no later than the last day of school. McAnulty said she won’t wait that long.

“That’s not fair to the teachers,” she said. “This is their livelihood. They need to know what’s going on. It’s not going to be easy. But it has to be done.”

McAnulty said she will have to look at cutting both non-tenured and tenured teachers.

“We won’t look at cutting all non-tenured teachers, that won’t help our programs. But we have special protocol we have to go through if the teachers are tenured. Again, this isn’t going to be easy, but I am committed to share those decisions with people as soon as I possibly can.”

McAnulty said the system has already cut from their maintenance and transportation personnel.

“We have maximized all of our resources. We go on very few field trips, every purchase is scrutinized, we are hardly repairing anything,” she said. “We haven’t bought new technology in a year. But, we haven’t impacted the classrooms that much. Of course, teachers didn’t get supply money this year.”

McAnulty said this is a stressful time on teachers and principals, as well as the central office, which is responsible for making stressful decisions.

McAnulty said ACS is doing better than more than half of the school systems in Alabama, who have resorted to lines of credit just to make ends meets from month-to-month.

“We have managed very well with what we have,” she said.

“I want people to understand that nothing is certain until we get a budget.”