Jeffco BOE to suspend out of state travel

By Ashley Nix

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Board of Education has decided to go ahead with plans to suspend all out-of-state travel for children, teachers and administrators.  

Thursday night, the board voted to inform schools about the plan, which administrators estimate will save $100,000 and preserve one teacher from budget cuts.  Under the plan, which the board is scheduled to approve at its next board meeting April 22, no student, teacher or administrator cannot travel out-of-state without specific approval from superintendent Dr. Phil Hammonds.

Dr. Hammonds said there might be exceptions to the rule, but each and every case will come to his office first.

"The more we can do to stop the drainage of job losses I think that helps us all in the long run," Hammonds said.  "Over the next few weeks we've got to take a long look at how we preserve what we're doing now; with an eye on next year and the next, we have to remain stable, that's critical."

The travel ban is expected to last through September.

Leslie Chatta, lead mentor at Pinson Elementary, said Thursday she understands the realities of a tight education budget.  

"We are so appreciative," Chatta said of the board's possible action.  "It means a lot coming from administration; it does a lot to boost morale for the classroom teacher."

Superintendent Dr. Phil Hammonds says any way the board can save a penny or a dollar will help in the long run.

The school board also voted Thursday night to cut budgets by five percent, except for maintenance, transportation and information systems.  Those three departments will see budgets cut by three percent.

Jefferson County Schools spokeswoman Nez Calhoun said the budget cuts are expected to save the school system $216,000, enough to preserve four teachers from budget cuts.

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