Cuts mean fewer teachers in Andalusia schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 21, 2010

After three years of hard-hitting proration, Andalusia City Schools has been forced to cut teachers and make other personnel changes to get through the tough economic times.

“We have lost more than 25 percent of our budget in the last two years,” ACS superintendent Dr. Beverly McAnulty said. “Our chief financial officer, working with leadership, has worked miracles to stretch our dollars and keep the impact from the schools. We have cut every line item but personnel until now.”

At Monday night’s board meeting, the board approved non-renewals for five teachers, and those cuts impacted both core subjects and elective courses. The non-renewals included the choral teacher who splits her time between AHS and AMS; a chemistry and physics teacher at AHS; an AHS math teacher who taught algebra; an AHS English teacher; and an AMS social studies teacher. In addition, the AMS art teacher who is retiring is not being replaced. With the exception of the choral classes, McAnulty said there are other teachers at the high school certified to teach those subjects.

McAnulty said the teachers were being cut because of the heavy burden proration put on the system this school year.

“ACS carries 12 local units. These are teachers or certified staff not covered by earned state units,” she said. “Add that with proration this past year, we had to pick up an additional seven teachers the state stopped, which brought us to funding of a total of 19 staff completely out of local funds.”

As a result, McAnulty said the system’s operating reserves were reduced by more than $50,000 per month in the past year, even with the cuts the system made.

In the days since the cuts were announced, most of the public outcry has been about the choral program.

“Andalusia City Schools has been very fortunate for many years to have a choral program,” McAnulty said. “Many students have enjoyed their experiences in class and productions. I am so pleased that we were able to maintain our program at the elementary school because a lot of schools do not have elementary music. I am also very pleased that we are going to be able to continue the keyboarding program at AMS next year.

“All of our 2010-2011 high school students will have had the opportunity to take chorus as a class previously. Additionally, AHS has many quality theatrical opportunities and there is always the wonderful homecoming production for our talented students.

“We have avoided cuts for two years, when we really could have and should have made them, but we bought time in hopes the economy would improve,” she said. “Unless you activate a reduction in force policy, non-tenured teachers must be cut first.”

The total number of ACS employees has decreased about three teachers per school year since the 2007-2008 school year. In the 2009-2010 school year there were 197 teachers in the system. McAnulty said the system would save about $70,000 per teaching position eliminated.

“Plus with the uncertainty for the future — there’s the issue of what happens in 2012 and you have tenured teachers you can not pay,” she said.

Teachers aren’t the only personnel cuts the system has turned to.

Monday night, the board accepted a low bid for janitorial services at Andalusia Middle School and Andalusia High School, but did not take any personnel action on the matter.

The effort was met by objections from UNISERV representative Vivian Jones, who voiced concern for contracting janitorial services when there are teachers being cut. McAnulty said the system has the potential to save between $20,000 and $30,000 with the change.

“Having clean schools is such a priority,” she said. “It says to students and staff ‘you are important.’ That was identified as a top concern when I came here five years ago.”

McAnulty said the board has offered training and purchased new equipment to help aid in this concern.

“I want to say that we have several workers who are some of the finest and are dedicated to our schools; however, overall absences have been a major concern. “Since August 2009 through March, our building services staff has been absent 118.5 days,” she said. “When we moved the high school to a contract we found that our school was clean and I believe the staff and students appreciated it.”