Parents concerned about school cuts
Published 12:00 am Friday, May 21, 2010
After the recent announcement of cuts in the Andalusia City School System, plans are underway to present a master list of concerns from the “concerned parents of Andalusia High School” students to members of the ACS school board.
Thursday, the group – which consisted of an estimated 50 parents and 10-plus students – met to discuss the issues most pressing in their system – specifically, the cutting of the personnel and programs approved at Monday’s board meeting. Those cuts were attributed to proration and declining sales tax collections.
“We know there are a lot of decisions that have to be made,” said Teresa Ward, who acted as the meeting’s chairperson. “We all have concerns and questions on how things have been addressed.”
Those questions and concerns, which ranged from the board’s recent actions to the system’s five-year plan, are expected to be presented to the board next week; however, the first question on the minds of parents was “the overall picture of the system.”
“We can all say we have heard concerns about the lack of leadership in this difficult economic time,” Ward said. “What parents want to know is about our dollars – where are they being spent and how.”
Other overall concerns were:
• the ratio of recent cuts in administration and staff to cuts of non-tenured teachers.
• maintenance and upkeep schedules on school facilities.
• test scores – how they compared those in other neighboring systems.
Concerns related to the high school, specifically the loss of the choral program and other electives, as well as a proposed move from a block system of course scheduling to a seven-period day, dominated the meeting.
Ward said the AHS teaching staff was cut by four core teachers, which “leaves three teachers for each subject for four grades.”
“We need to ask who is preparing our children for the difficult classes in college,” Ward said. “What are they going to do with the 90 children who have signed up for choral if there are no other electives for them to take.
“(With the schedule change) it would mean a loss of 22 instructional hours per semester,” she said. “And teachers still have to compress the same amount of material.”
Specific concerns voiced for the middle school and elementary school were few, with the most discussing “disciplinary problems” at AES and the focus on “teaching to test” inside the classroom.
Janet Atkinson reminded parents that the cuts were due primarily to reductions in overall funding, and that one solution could mean parents paying more out of pocket for property taxes.
“The one thing that I hope we all take from this meeting is that our property tax may be the only way to have a stable income to fund teachers,” Atkinson said, stating she had spoken with a local realtor about how Alabama property taxes are some of the lowest in the nation. “We’ve got to remember that there is a lack of funding (for these programs and personnel). We can complain all we want to but…just know that might be something that comes up.”
The night’s meeting ended with a request for all concerned parents – from those in attendance and those not – to contact their respective school board members.
“We want our children to have all the opportunities they can,” said Dr. Reid Kerr. “I know we all feel that way. Get on the phone with the school board and superintendent. They need to know how concerned we all are.”
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