Schools scramble to keep teachers

Published 12:04 am Friday, May 20, 2011

With only a few days left until the school year comes to an end, and still guessing what the state’s final education budget will look like, school officials are looking at ways to keep as many teachers and programs as possible.

The budget timing is troublesome because state law requires that teachers whose contracts are not renewed be notified before the last day of school. Both the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives have approved an education budget, but their versions differ slightly. Both budgets cut approximately 1,200 teaching jobs.

“It’s going to be a tight budget,” said Andalusia City School Superintendent Ted Watson. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep as many teachers in the classroom as possible.”

High school chorus and middle school art classes became an issue after budget cuts were made last year. Following public outcry, the city board of education comprised with a plan the put teachers in those positions part-time. Watson said that arrangement will continue.

“We are going to keep the same agreement at the middles school with Mrs. (Addie) Simpson teaching art and Mrs. (Paula Sue) Duebelt teaching music at the high school,” he said.

Watson wouldn’t comment on whether or not some teachers may get pink slips next week.

Watson said there have been teacher losses from retirements; however, they are essential classes such as math and home economics.

“We’re going to have to replace those units at the high school,” he said. “We’re just hoping for the best.”

In Opp, Superintendent Michael Smithart told board members Tuesday, that they will have to decide next week whether or not to provide music and art.

Smithart said for the board to keep these programs available to the students, they will either have to use local funds or approve the flexing of the public school fund allocation to maintain current staffing.

OCS chief financial officer Linda Banks told board members there would be a shortage of about $140,000 needed to continue art and music.