State budget should not require more teacher cuts

Published 5:09 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Alabama Legislature passed an education budget Wednesday that Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden described as “not as bad as it could’ve been.”

The budget—which Gov. Robert Bentley must approve, as is expected—would include funding for 1,125 fewer teacher positions across the state than the current budget.

Chilton County’s share of those cuts would be six teacher positions, said Hayden, a number that should not require layoffs in addition to the employees that have already received notices of their employment not being renewed.

Hayden said he expects retirement and other yearly attrition, such as teachers leaving for other jobs, to at least be equivalent to the six positions the county lost, because some teachers simply would not be replaced.

More than 20 non-tenured teachers received non-renewal notices, or pink slips, at the end of the school year. Hayden said this was to account for original estimates that the county could lose as many as 15 teaching positions.

“If you don’t pink slip enough people, then there’s the chance you end up with someone the state won’t pay for and the salary has to come out of local funds,” Hayden said. “If you pink slip too many, you can always hire them back. That’s just the way we have to do things.”

The board has already approved layoffs for 17 non-teacher school employees, including nurses, janitors and secretaries/bookkeepers. An employee at the board’s central office has retired and will not be replaced.

“It’s been one of the more difficult things we’ve done,” Hayden said about cutting jobs. “I think we can all agree upon that.”

Also, three assistant principals have had their roles changed to half-time administrator and half-time teacher, and Hayden said it’s possible this scenario will be considered for other administrators.

“All of this is tentative pending the final number we get from Montgomery,” Hayden said of the state sending final counts for how many positions it will fund at each school.

Chilton County’s public education system employs more than 700 people, about 500 of which are teachers. State public schools this year employed 48,165 teachers.

The state budget also did not include cost-of-living raises for public school employees.

“Classes may be a little larger [because of the cuts]. There may be two janitors working at some places instead of three,” Hayden said. “We’re all taking up some slack. We’re doing the best we can do.”