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Six Pike Co. teachers

lose jobs due to funding

By BETH LAKEY

Staff Writer

Pike County Schools Superintendent John Key had the unfortunate job of delivering bad news to six teachers on the last day of school.

On Thursday, the teachers were informed their contracts have not been renewed for the 2001-2002 school year.

Key said the layoffs were "because of the loss of funds" and there is a chance a total of eight teachers will not have jobs next year.

Although some of the non-renewals are because of proration, they are also "part of a reduction over the past few years," Key said.

About 30 teachers have been laid off over about a four-year period and, last year, 17 aides lost their jobs.

"Your looking at a substantial loss of payroll for this county," Key said of what the layoffs are creating.

He estimates the layoffs amount to over $1 million in payroll losses.

"It affects everybody," Key said of teacher lay offs.

Losses in funding for the county schools have forced Key’s hand. Those losses can be attributed to drops in population and proration, along with cuts made in the state budget because of decreases in sales and income taxes.

Cuts to the county schools amounts to 4.13 percent, which amounts to a $800,000 hit to the budget.

Another $163,324 loss in transportation funds amounts to "the equivalent of $1 million," Key said, explaining $13,566 for fleet renewal was taken away after the school system had already borrowed the money.

The governor’s cuts among the state’s 128 school systems ranged from the lowest of 2.60 percent for the city of Birmingham to the 4.58 percent for Greene County.

According to State Finance Director Henry Mabry, systems that use most of their state funds for teacher salaries were given smaller percentage cuts.

Key predicts the cuts to school systems across the state will result in more school districts in academic and financial trouble.

Non-salary money is still being cut by more than 11 percent, which is the same amount being cut from higher education.

A decline in sales tax receipts is also hurting schools systems like Pike County.

"We’re losing local dollars at a time when we can’t afford it," Key said.

He pointed to a history of financial problems in the educational system as the problem.

"In Alabama, we’ve never funded schools appropriately ­ never," Key said.

In its meeting Monday night, the Pike County Board of Education made several personnel decisions in addition to the layoffs. Board members:

· Accepted the resignation of Aris D’Andrea from her position as family and consumer sciences teacher at Pike County High School, effective July 1.

· Accepted the resignation of Mary Wilson from her position as custodian at Pike County Elementary School, effective June 1.

· Accepted the resignation of Edwin Arrieta from his position as Spanish teacher at Goshen High School, effective with the end of the school year.

· Accepted the resignation of Thomas Lawler from his position as science teacher at PCHS, effective with the end of the school year.

· Accepted the resignation of Dwayne Hudson from his position as English teacher at PCHS, pending his acceptance of a job with another school system.

· Approved the employment of Terry Wayne Law in the vacant bus mechanic position due to Johnny Dewayne declining the job offer.