DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – Educators in Decatur are waiting for news about their jobs. Decatur City Schools is poised to eliminate more than 30 jobs before the end of the school year. Its a matter of funding and preparing the budget to build two new high schools.
Superintendent Ed Nichols tells WHNT News 19 they need to drive down the school system’s debt before going to the bond market to borrow money to build the new schools.
Decatur has two high schools, and both are quite old. Austin High School opened in the 1960’s, Decatur High School opened in 1950. Plans are on the table to replace both schools, but Superintendent Ed Nichols says they’ve got to trim the budget before going to the bond market to borrow money.
“One of the challenges that we faced is, until this year, we had had a declining enrollment for about 7 years, and as we lost an average of about a hundred students a year, we lost the teacher units from the state that funded them. But we kept them. Essentially we paid for those locally,” Nichols said.
It means Decatur has about 130 teacher units more than what the state is paying for. The good news is enrollment is up this year and Nichols says that means they’ll get more teacher funding from the state. The bad news is they still expect to trim more than 30 positions. The goal is to save between three and a half and four million dollars.
“But we feel like we can do that without too much change in our programs,” Nichols explained.
Nichols says as employees move on or retire, they look at each of those positions to see if they really need to be filled. He says they’re looking at all aspects of their staffing to see if there’s a place to save. He says the last place they’ll look will be in the classroom.
Nichols says bus routes are also being examined carefully and he says some schools may offer a staggered schedule for students.