Budget proposal may save teaching jobs

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A budget proposed by the House Budget Committee Tuesday afternoon could save hundreds of teachers’ jobs across Alabama.

House budget committee Chairman Jay Love Tuesday introduced an education budget that would cut fewer teachers’ jobs than the one already passed by the Alabama Senate.

The representative from Montgomery outlined his proposal for the Ways and Means-Education Committee Tuesday and the committee is expected to vote on the budget Wednesday.

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The full State House could consider it Thursday.

“Of the possibilities, this one is certainly the best,” Demopolis Superintendent of Education Dr. Al Griffin said of the proposed budgets. “None of them are great, but this one is the best.”

The Senate’s version of the $5.5 billion education budget for the 2012-2013 school year is approximately $150 million lighter than this year’s budget and called for the likely elimination of more than 600 teaching positions for the coming school year.

Love’s proposal puts expected job losses at about 350.

Love’s budget calls for a $30 million bond issue to purchase buses, which would allow lawmakers to free up $20 million of its current revenue, which was originally earmarked to fund the purchase.

However, even under Love’s proposal, class size would still continue to grow.

Gov. Robert Bentley proposed a budget in February that eliminated more than 1,000 teachers and added 0.5 students per classroom. The Senate killed that proposal but countered with a version that reduced the increase to 0.4 students per classroom.

Love’s proposal trims that figure even further to an increase of 0.135 students.

“We can absorb that,” Griffin said of the increase and loss of funding. “We would take that divisor increase and not eliminate any jobs. We could fund that locally.”

Under the Senate’s budget, Demopolis City Schools would likely lose more than $47,000 in other current expense funding, which would force administrators to look at how to offset that locally. Under Love’s plan, the school system would lose approximately $15,000, which Griffin said the system could weather.