Andalusians willing to pay more?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 22, 2010

As we listened this week to the voices in unison mourning the loss of a choral program in Andalusia City Schools, it was the bigger picture that struck a discordant note with us.

At its meeting Monday night, the board of education “nonrenewed” five non-tenured teachers, including an AMS sixth grade social studies. teacher; an AHS English teacher; an AHS chemistry/physics teacher; an AHS math teacher; and the AMS/AHS choral teacher. In the days since, we’ve also learned that an AMS art teacher who is among 16 system retirees will not be replaced next year.

The cuts were made in an attempt to balance the school system’s budget.

Surely, we are saddened by the loss of the choral program. But the reduction in teachers in core subjects is an even bigger blow to the city school system. As the system’s funding has decreased over the past few years, the board has made cuts in every area except personnel.

In the current budget year, proration has meant the board received $50,000 less per month than was budgeted.

And the coming year doesn’t look much better. While the legislature approved Gov. Riley’s education budget with a 3.2 percent increase over the current one, the crafters of the revenue side of that budget projected a $63 growth in collections of state income taxes, sales taxes and other taxes. Experts say the governor who takes office in January 2011 will immediately have to declare proration, meaning the city would have its funds cut again.

The Andalusia City School system has long been known as a place that offered students more – more electives like music and art; more languages; more upper-level classes.

If local residents want that tradition to continue, we’ll have to agree that we will pay for more, and we’ll likely have to do that with a property tax.

Parents and former students singing the blues about the cuts announced this week need to consider whether they’re willing to pay the proverbial tax man to have the music restored.