Huntsville school leaders eye staffing cuts to correct budget problem

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- Huntsville city school leaders are looking at cutting millions of dollars from their budget and that means some workers in the district won’t have jobs this fall.

Around 73 teachers and support staffing positions may be eliminated.

Huntsville City Schools Communications Director Keith Ward says the eliminations were a state recommendation. Alabama funds over 1400 teaching positions and Huntsville City Schools was funding 200 additional positions.

“One of the recommendations by the State is we try to eliminate some of those positions to get it down to around approximately 150,” says Ward.

New financial officer Tina Hancock says the cuts are in line with meeting their requirements to keep enough money in reserves, but she says the cuts don’t end there.

When hired this spring, Hancock was tasked with getting Huntsville city schools’ budget back on track by 2020.

“With the one month reserve, what we need to have is $18.3 million,” Hancock said.

On Thursday evening, school leaders presented cuts they referred to as ‘stuff not staff’.  But a savings of $4.3 million will come from losing 57 non-tenured teachers and 16 support staffers through attrition, non-renewals, and firings.

“The principals sent in a list of those teachers who could’ve been on a plan of improvement. Areas they may not need as much,” Hancock said.

So far, financial leaders say eliminating seven bus routes and combining some after-school activities along with the staffing cuts would create around nine million dollars in savings. That’s expected to give them around $15 million in the reserve fund by the fall.

“We need about $3 million more in savings to get there,” Hancock said.

Hancock says men and women who will not have jobs this fall have already been notified. Ward says some of those affected could be rehired in other positions within Huntsville City Schools.

On Thursday evening, the Huntsville schools nutrition director also proposed a plan to raise school lunch fees by 30 cents for students, and 25 cents for teachers and visitors. He says students who receive free and reduced lunches won’t be affected. So far, that plan hasn’t been voted on.