Major cuts coming to Montgomery Public Schools

Major cuts coming to Montgomery Public Schools
The Montgomery County School Board votes for Option 3. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Montgomery County Board of Education had four budget options to choose from Thursday evening, all of which included staff cuts.

Before a packed meeting, the board voted to approve Option 3, which will require some of the steepest cuts to personnel of all the options.

The option the board chose stated that if the board decided against cutting its own compensation and outsourcing, it would need to cut $5.5 million in full-time positions.

As presented Monday, Option 3 called for cutting an estimated 101 teachers and administrators, as well as approximately 30 non-certified employees such as janitors, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. Thursday, those numbers were estimated upward to 114 and 30.

MPS Chief Financial Officer Jason Taylor said the cuts will happen "relatively immediately."

Four board members selected the option, but interim Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson has to approve it because the system is under state intervention. They will meet with him on Monday.

There was no mention of school closures at Thursday's meeting, but all four budget options included savings by closing consolidating schools and administrative buildings at some point.

The central office will also have $1.3 million worth of cuts. Those cuts will happen in two rounds - one at the beginning of January and one after the school year ends.

MPS is in a serious financial situation. Since 2014 it's seen annual enrollment decline by nearly 600 students per year. As that number drops, the system sees reduced funding from the Alabama State Education Trust Fund.

Additionally, the Montgomery County Commission has informed MPS that it intends to withhold $2.8 million in revenues raised for education or otherwise redirect the funds. The school system already gets the lowest possible rate of county tax revenue allowed.

Two years ago, the state accidentally gave $1.4 million meant for MPS to Pike Road schools that was never returned. MPS Board President Robert Porterfield said Richardson promised the money to MPS by Jan. 31. He hopes this will alleviate staffing cuts in the future.

The other three options each brought their own painful cuts. Every option puts the system on track to have a reserve fund of $22 million by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2018.

Option 1 called for cuts of approximately $775,000 in full-time positions of eight certified teachers and administrators and 15 non-certified employees.

Option 2 called for $5.4 million in cuts if the board couldn't agree on outsourcing some positions. That would have required 100 teacher and administrator cuts and 30 non-certified employee cuts.

Option 4 was similar to the option the board chose, the primary difference being the outsourcing option. It called for $870,000 in cost cuts, approximately 10 teachers/administrators and 15 non-certified employees.

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