Lawrence County Schools In Funding Crisis

MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) – Lawrence County schools now say they may have to eliminate as many as a dozen teacher positions. Superintendent Heath Grimes tells us not only does Lawrence County have the lowest property tax rate in the nation, but the loss of the county’s largest employer is draining students and money out of the system.

Not just the lowest ad valorem tax in this state, but in the United States. It means less funding for schools than any other system in the area.

“We do not have enough revenue to support our schools and with local units and the facilities and operations and maintenance,” Grimes says.

With the loss of International Paper, which was the county’s largest employer, it means there will be even less.

“We are going to have to make some tough decisions this year, as everybody knows, and we will have to non-renew some people,” Grimes warned.

Grimes says they’ll probably eliminate all of their locally funded teacher units, which means about a dozen classroom jobs will be lost. He says they’re also looking for other areas to cut. He says they have to, in order to keep the school system afloat.

“We’re going to have to increase our revenue some way and that may have to be through tax dollars.”

Grimes says at some point in time, the county is going to have to explore the option of calling for a referendum to raise property taxes in order to keep schools open.

33 comments

  • Concerned Parent

    This makes no sense, the parents of these students have been told over and over that consolidation of schools will take care of the financial problems. While consolidation may have made sense, it didn’t fix the financial problems as promised. As with most companies that struggle financially, start at the top and let some of the secretaries sitting around at the board of education office go. It makes no sense to have 10 people to answer phones and type up whatever letters that need to go out. Clean house from the top!! We need our teachers, They are a very important part of the future of these children, secretaries are not.

  • Jon Calhoun

    Here’s a crazy idea… Increase your property taxes. You have the lowest in the nation!

    That’s embarrassing. Think about the poorest sections of our country. Does Lawrence County come to mind? Even a one cent increase would make a ton of difference.

    Don’t blame the superintendent, blame the county commissioner and constituents. You’ve spoken loud and clear about what kind of value you place on your kids’ education.

  • Jon Calhoun

    The Superintendent should give an ultimatum.

    Raise taxes or there will be no more extra-curricular activities. He’ll cut some costs, but not enough to hire those teachers back. It will be a just punishment of those stingy constituents.

    Maybe then you all will wake up and realize what you’re doing to your own district.

    • Time for the RIGHT CHANGE

      Jon you are probably correct that extra-curricular activities may have to be looked into. However, there are many issues in the school system that rank higher on must address before taking away sports. We have poor leadership issues and back door politics that rank first in need of addressing. It does not matter how much money is collected in taxes if the people that make the decisions choose to be popular instead of leaders.

  • Jim M

    No one likes to pay taxes but schools rely on property tax revenues to support the schools across the country. As the article stated that their property taxes in the county are the lowest in the country. There might need to be some adjustments to the property tax to make it work for the schools. Hopefully that paired with sound financial management within the school system will keep them in the black. You can only cut so much to save money.

    • Big Earl

      Will increasing property taxes.get the state of Alabama educational system, out of 42nd in the nation?

      • screw aarp

        No! the AEUA , will only want more money, tax payers contiue to feed the monster with no real improvement.

      • Christopher

        Since you know so much about where the state of Alabama ranks, I guess you also know that some of the major variables included in that ranking is the amount of money spent per student and the student-teacher ratio. If you throw out those two variables, then your statistic resides on shaky ground. Furthermore, guess who determines the amount of money spent per students and the student-teacher ratio? It is not AEA but your illustrious state legislature… Just for the record, I do not think more money is the answer unless it is used wisely and appropriately.

      • screw aarp

        Christopher,you are correct about the money part of your statement, but , heres the rub, I want the great teachers to be rewarded, but not the ones who are skating through their tenure, I am sure you will agree with me that this is a BIG problem,with the tenure system. Christopher, your a great teacher, and you should be rewarded, but not the skaters. Iam sure you know some of the skaters at your school,right?

  • Jim

    Cut sports out of the schools and say you wont bring them back until property taxes are raised or some type of sales tax levy from the county is passed…

  • Joshua

    Its all a lie they say they are broke but yet they are building a new gym at the high school and a new lunch room/ storm shelter at the elementary school It is just poor use of money ….but yet Heath Grimes is still there?

  • concerned parent

    Investing in a new lunchroom and storm shelter is an investment in our children but to invest in more paper pushers is not! Again clean house from the top and not within our teaching units.

    • Big Earl

      Teaching units, theres the problem. 42nd in the nation . what if property owners are tired of paying taxes for YOUR kids?

  • tom dann

    Heath Grimes makes $109,000 annually & 2nd in charge (johnny yates) is making $100k… and the county is forced to cut 12 teachers??? How about this… stay off the golf course during the work week & take a pay cut… The IP closure is a front…. :-)

  • Angela Norton

    But yet and still he just built a new school in Hatton and building something new in moulton why cant we save that money no more building anything and cut off the air and light off at the schools at night and cut some of these non since job.

  • Angela Shields

    Everyone besure to support the ones who are against the Lottery come election time and Vote NO on your ballots again!!….Take a look at the Huge Billboard as you cross the TN state line as you go to buy your ticket…at just how much money it puts back into their schools…TN, FL, GA or MS sure dont mind taking the money that should stay here in our own State..It keeps their teachers in jobs and their children getting a good eduction..Its not rocket science!!

  • Kathleen Roberson

    Yep, cut the cost off the top. People are taxed to death, and it never solves the problem. They’ll just spend it unwisely and ask for more.

  • Time for the RIGHT CHANGE

    I do not have a problem raising taxes if that solves the issues. However, cutting non-performing teachers, school consolidation, making positions for employees that cannot or will not do their jobs, funding some schools extra-curricular because of lack of parental support, moving teachers/principals that flagrantly violate state/local policies to other positions, continuing to build over priced buildings, and county commissioners that continue to make poor decisions or refrain from making unpopular decsions are the REAL issues and need to be addressed first!!!!!!!!!

  • Tired of Politics

    The buildings are needed, lots of maintenance is needed, and additional teachers are needed not taken away. The issue of cutting in my opinion would be for trimming fat at the top. I know for a fact that not all people at the board is needed or even wanted but the problem is that they are under a contract and they can’t get rid of them. Getting rid of teachers is not needed or even wanted but its the only place that they can cut cost because thats where they can choose to not renew contracts the easiest. Its not always the best choice or desired choice but legally the only choice available. No one in Lawrence County looks down the road and plans ahead, its all reactionary. Placing band-aids where surgery is needed and not planning ahead for preventive measures is the worst problem we have.

  • Karen

    So since he is cutting jobs does this mean his $100,000 annual salary will be cut also and if they cut jobs I hope it’s not done based on the buddy system that we are used too.

  • Momof2

    The new school building in Hatton was a must. I hated to see it torn down, but it needed to be done for the HEALTH ISSUES of the children that attend Hatton High. And as far as cutting our extra curricular activities, what about all the kids who get scholarships to go to college from these activities? Did you think of that? I myself know of several very intelligent young adults who would not have been able to afford the wonderful opportunities to go to U of A if they didn’t have a scholarship. I hope and pray that our small schools stay open. I love knowing that my child is not over looked because of the large amount of kids in the class. Smaller numbers mean the teacher is better able to follow the ridiculous “no child left behind” act.

    • fed-up

      Yeah, the new building at Hatton was a must. The students had to leave Mt. Hope (which is practically a new building,) and go to Hatton which was full of asbestos, and mold. The county would be better served if Hatton Elem was transferred to Mt. Hope which is bigger, and more modern than what they have at Hatton, but will that ever be done? NO! Wonder why??

  • fed-up

    Heath Grimes is a joke in Lawrence county. He says that the county is losing students due to IP closing, but what he is not saying is that the county is losing students because of the consolidation. There are a lot of cuts that could be made, such as school nurses, which is also a joke. I know the county has at least 6 school nurses, and what do they do? Nothing! They can’t even give an aspirin, all they can do is call a parent when kids get sick!!

  • Plum tired of bull

    There is something our county probably ranks very high in. Administrative salaries in the BOE that could be cut and save hundreds of thousands. When we correctly manage the money we have. We find we have more money to manage.

  • Austin

    I was a former student inside a great school called Mount Hope. We got consolidated and I left the whole county’s school system to a neighboring county. All of what is said is true. They are building all of those things. The gym they are building? They built a new one after it was broken from storms and they have the Colliseum right next to the school also. IP has nothing to do with the school’s not having enough money. Parents pay out of their rears for ridiculous things that cost way too high. Maybe it might help to invest in NV cameras too instead of leaving hallways lights on too. You don’t have sports anymore locally in Lawrence County in youth. We have like 5 schools now, down from 10 or so. One county doesn’t make Alabama 42nd. Remove politics and every BOE member and put in all of the teachers in the county to make a new BOE. That way the ones actually teaching (you know, because teachers should be paid more than politicians because if it weren’t for that teacher, that politician would be uneducated) and let them decide things. I loved Mount Hope. I shed tears for it. I missed my friends the past 4 years of my life who I grew up with. I don’t see Grimes taking any pain for the county. For that check, you know what, put me in charge and I will take 70,000 a year towards funding myself because even 30K is enough. I would take the pain for this county and actually help.

  • N&M

    Well for starters, there is a HUGE problem with the teachers that are employed by the board that are not doing a thorough job in taking care of and teaching students. Rumor has it, the board is paying lawyers fees due to incompetent teachers and others fees associated with this problem. Might want start somewhere along those lines (unnecessary spending) and cut straight from the top!

  • bp2010

    Cutting sports will not help. Some students only stay in school to play sports and if they are cut they will start dropping out or change school districts. The scholarships offered by sports help so many students who would other wise not be able to attend college due to financial situations. I understand the need for the new school and I agreed with the consolidation but the consolidation was useless with out combining all grades because you still have the same cost of running the small schools for k-7 grade. Combine all grades and eliminate the total cost of the schools, cut pay in the board (teachers do the real work by taking the time with the children so if anyone deserves 100k annually it is them) and quit blowing money on things that is not necessary.

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