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Reader challenges Hayden’s assertions

Dear Editor:

Recently Mr. Dave Hayden came to my door and handed me his “Open Letter to All Stakeholders in Chilton County Education.” Mr. Hayden’s letter states that 12 new, non-teaching, high-paying units have been created since 2000.

He continues, “For the most part these dollars are being wasted.” He suggests the money could be spent on repairs or even to build a new school rather than for “unnecessary non-teaching jobs created for friends and kin.” Mr. Hayden’s letter is grossly inaccurate.

I went through all the Alabama State Department of Education profile reports for the past nine years, received information from the state department, and checked with our local school system to verify the following:

From 2001/01 to 2008/09, a difference of 11.5 positions has been added in the other certified category of staffing. Of those new positions, 9.5 are salaried at teacher level and two are at administrator level.

Eight of those positions were school reading coaches that were mandated by the Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) and paid through ARI. These state funds cannot be used for any other purpose. Mrs. [Mildred] Ellison was superintendent when ARI was mandated.

One classroom improvement coordinator was added following a mandate by the federal government and paid through federal funds. These federal funds must be returned if not used for this purpose. Mrs. Ellison was superintendent when No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandated classroom improvement.

One testing coordinator has been mandated by the state for years but was not made into a separate position until the testing requirements of ARI and NCLB made the fulltime positions a necessity. Local funds are used for this position. Ellison was superintendent when the testing mandates went into effect.

One special education program specialist was added by transferring a special education teaching unit to program specialist. State special education funds can only be used for special education. Mr. (Keith) Moore was superintendent when the transfer was made.

The half unit has been difficult to track, but is quite likely, the Attendance Supervisor. This state mandated position was once funded by a .5 teaching unit but was transferred to At-Risk funds that can only be used for At-Risk programs. Ellison was superintendent when the .5 teaching unit was regained by the transfer.

Mr. Hayden’s assertions are wrong, and I want the public to know the truth. All but one position has been mandated, not created locally. Federal and state funds for all these positions could never be used to repair or build school buildings and would have, in fact, been lost to our school system if these positions had not been added.

I must surmise from his letter that he either lacks knowledge about state and federal program funding or he wishes to mislead voters by appealing to anti-government feelings. Either way, his credibility as a candidate is diminished.

Margo Gibson,

Retired Jemison High School principal

Thorsby, AL