Watson: ACS could bring back choral program

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Andalusia City Schools is currently accepting applications for a potential part-time choral teacher – a move, interim superintendent Ted Watson said , is in response to the community’s outcry over the loss of the high school’s choral program.

Last month, school board members voted to non-renew contacts of five non-tenured teachers, impacting both core subjects and elective courses, including the high school and middle school choral program.

Days later “concerned parents of Andalusia High School” met to discuss the changes.

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.

“Obviously parents being concerned has brought this issue to the forefront,” Watson said. “But even more importantly, about 90 students at the high school expressed concern they would miss the chorus class.”

Watson said the board is trying to be as “prudent and judicious with tax dollars” when making decisions, which is why the position is being advertised as a potential part-time spot.

“We are trying to put together courses and programs that fit the needs of our kids as opposed to a broader blanket of courses,” he said. “If we have a need for only a quarter-time or part-time teacher, we are trying to make that happen. We are working diligently to meet the needs of our students.

“The term potential is being used because funding is still an issue, but all options are being explored in order to bring this and other programs back to ACS,” he said.

“The reason we may have quarter-time or part-time teachers is because we are going to use current teachers who are qualified to teach some of these courses. We are trying to use what we have within.”

Watson said it is unknown when the board will reach a decision on if the choral program will return. The application period will close June 22.

“But we are working to try and make this happen,” he said.

And despite preliminary discussions to change the class schedule format at AHS, Watson said students will remain on the four-block system.

“It’s no secret that we are fighting to make a schedule that will work for our students,” he said.

“Everybody likes to budget and think they have ‘x’ amount of dollars,” he said. “But we are having to prepare for and look at the future. The (2011) budget was supposed to be the most realistic budget that we had, but now we have the oil spill and the economy didn’t recover like it should have. The 2011 budget looks as if it could be prorated.”