Huntsville City Schools To Request Budget Flexibility From State

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – With all the controversy surrounding the Alabama Accountability Act, it may be easy to forget that at its core it is still a flexibility bill.

The Huntsville City School Board already has plans to take advantage of that aspect of the bill with regards to state funding. School officials outlined their plans in a special meeting Thursday.

The request would allow the district to receive a lump sum in funding from the state, rather than continuing to receive funding under the current model.

The current formula links a district’s state funding to a calculated number of teacher units. However, a unit does not accurately represent the number of teachers in the district.

District leaders believe it to be stifling and inefficient.

“[The state] tends to cause us to allocate a quarter teacher here, a half a teacher to that school, and causes teachers to spend time going back and forth and unable to focus on the school itself,” explained Superintendent Casey Wardynski.

The current formula is complicated at best, but it boils down to this: it doesn’t allow the district to choose where the money should go.

“The money we get was based on where last years children were. But I need to educate this years children where they are now,” said Wardynski. “I just want the flexibility to do that and not have to put the teachers where the kids were last year.”

Under the new formula, district leaders would be able to send the money where the kids are. For example, putting more resources toward a failing school than one that is already thriving.

It would also allow district leaders to have a better picture of the next years’ budget far earlier in the year.

“We’d actually have enough information probably in February to begin budgeting. And when we’re budgeting we’re not just worried about state money but local money,” said Wardynski. “We’d like to be out there hiring new teachers as early as we can, because the best teachers are the ones who are hired first.”

Wardynski assures this change would in no way affect the student-to-teacher ratio or teacher pay.

State leaders have also considered this new formula for funding, and if approved Huntsville City Schools could become a pilot for the state.