MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - About a mile off of Birmingham Highway is an arboretum that’s used by the students in the Montgomery Public School system.
It’s used as an outdoor classroom by many local schools, but due to recent budget cuts within the school system, the once fully-staffed arboretum no longer has any personnel on-site.
Tom Ringenberg used to work there, but he was among those let go.
“My main thing right now is to get the word out to the public and hopefully somebody out there will see this, and hopefully if MPS won’t make a move somebody else will offer some sources of funding,” Ringenberg said.
Ringenberg said he’s scared this is the first of many steps MPS will take to shut down the arboretum for good.
According to Tom Salter, MPS’s communication officer, the Montgomery County Board of Education recently voted to partner with the Montgomery County Commission and other local agencies to operate the arboretum. The partnership will allow those agencies to utilize the arboretum for events and functions.
As a part of the partnership, those agencies, along with MPS, agreed to split the upkeep. According to Salter, because of that, there was no need to keep the arboretum staffed. That’s why all of those working there lost their jobs.
Ringenberg said he doesn’t have a problem with the recent partnerships, but he believes keeping the arboretum staffed is necessary.
“I think for the arboretum to be as successful as it can be, it needs all the help that it can get. But, I really think they need their own, one or two staff members out there to help coordinate between the different agencies,” Rigenberg said.