Positive end for 3 school systems despite economy, proration

COVINGTON CO., AL (WSFA) - Opp city school teacher Kristie Meeks had a fleeting thought she might not be retained considering the economy and cuts totally more than 20% over five years.

"That thought crossed my mind," she said.

But Meeks is returning due in part to school superintendent Michael Smithart. Smithart started saving money and making smart moves three years ago which happened to be his first year on the job.

"What we did was look ahead. We saved money through attrition and other programs," Smithart said.

And all that planning and saving means Smithart will have enough money to replace three teachers who retired this year.

The Opp city school system is a district that's managed to sock away more than $2 million in a rainy-day fund, more than the required amount mandated by the state.

Andalusia city schools took the same conservative approach. Although they chose not to renew the employment of 10 people this week, we're told the system intends to replace at least half of those positions.

It's a similar story with the Covington County school district.

Thanks to a strong retail base in Covington County, Opp city schools alone get $700,000 a year. That sales tax plays a critical role for the local school districts year in and year out.

Opp city school system has a $13 million budget and a little more than 1,300 students in three schools.

"We do have local support," said Smithart.

"I'm where I'm supposed to be with the kids," said Meeks who teaches 7th grade math.

Back to Kristie Meeks, she's wrapped up another school term and looking forward to the next.

No more worries for at least one more year.

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