Decatur City Schools in Danger of Losing Teachers

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Decatur City Schools could lose a dozen teachers next year, that is, unless the city decides to pay their salary.

District leaders say it all has to do with the system's declining enrollment.
Fewer students equals less state money to help pay teacher salaries.

Decatur city schools are losing about a hundred students a year on average over the past decade. It's a system-wide problem, a trend now, that could very well mean fewer teachers in the long run, which could amount to larger classrooms and less one-on-one instruction.

"We have great programs but maybe not enough to anchor them to this school and to this community," said Dr. Ed Nichols, Decatur Ciity School Superintendent

Nichols says students aren't leaving Decatur schools to attend other nearby schools. He says the majority move completely out of the area. Interesting to note, the overwhelming majority of those students are among the 35 percent of students who do not participate in extracurricular activities like sports or music.

"Parents of kids in band and chorus and drama, we don't lose those, as many. In the discussions that we're having, parents say that we get opportunities to go but we want to stay because these programs are so important to our children and we might wait until they graduate," said Nichols

A simple philosophy, engage the student to anchor the family to the community.

"So we're partnering with Calhoun to offer 7 or 8 new technical career courses. We're looking at our high schools for ways to expand athletic offerings, wrestling and other sports that we don't currently have in place, and fine arts in the future," said Nichols

But as enrollment declines, so does state funding. So the real challenge will be to find ways to do more, with less.

Dr. Nichols says they regularly meet with students and parents in an effort to find out what courses and activities are most wanted in their schools.
He says the trend now is to customize education to the needs of the student, as opposed to days past when all schools offered the same, identical core curriculum and activities.