Archived Story

Superintendent looks back on school year

Published 4:43pm Friday, May 31, 2013

Another busy school year in Chilton County came to a close last week and sent about 460 graduates into the higher education and workforce world.

But as hundreds of non-senior students enjoy their two-month summer break, local administrators, teachers and the Board of Education will continue their work to prepare for the 2013–2014 school year before students return on Aug. 19.

Funding is an ongoing issue county schools must grapple with as they wait for the state Legislature to release final funding totals for the new school year.

“Funding is an issue,” Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden said Thursday. “It’s always been an issue, but we’re going to do the best we can with what we have, and good things will come out of it.”

Hayden said he has been told Chilton County Schools will lose about $69,000 in funding from the federal government next year because of sequestration and cutbacks in federal dollars available for schools.

Additionally, a statewide, 2-percent pay raise for teachers—the first pay raise for K–12 teachers and support workers since 2008—will go into effect in the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

According to Hayden, county schools lost several certified personnel positions, which include teachers, counselors and other support staff.

“That’s a number that had changed every time I got a piece of paper the last three months,” Hayden said. “Last year, we had 485.66 certified personnel units. It will be 478.96 this year.”

A total of 479 personnel units would equate to about $40 million in salaries, plus fringe benefits.

Hayden said the board would dedicate much of the summer to making sure open positions at each school are filled and obtaining necessary paperwork for newly hired employees, as well as those retiring or resigning from their positions.

“Now is a big time for personnel,” he said. “We’ll spend most of the summer getting those things in place.”

Last year, Chilton County Schools’ transportation department received about $2.5 million in state funding to operate its buses, but it needed $3 million.

The remaining $500,000 had to come from taxpayers.

“You’ve got to have your buses on the road, you’ve got to be safe, you’ve got to have a driver in them and you’ve got to have fuel,” Hayden said.

The board has also relied on help from taxpayers to fund current expenses, which cover the salaries of janitors, maintenance workers and school nurses.

Last year, for example, the state provided Chilton County schools with enough funding for six nurses when 11 were needed.

“We’ve held our own here; we just don’t have many extras,” Hayden said. “I think we’re serving the students very well, but I guess you always want to offer more.”

The board has not made any more decisions about the structure of pre-kindergarten programs such as PALS since board members voted on May 21 to post an opening for a certified special education teacher position.

Regarding projects at school campuses, renovating the old Jemison Middle School building next to Jemison High is maintenance supervisor Wayne Howell and his crew’s largest single project this summer and will be completed by August.

Hayden mentioned the passing of Jemison Intermediate student Christopher Rico and former JHS principal Margo Gibson as he reflected on the 2012–2013 year.

“We certainly want to remember these people, but for the most part it’s been a good year,” Hayden said.

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