AEA will fight Birmingham teacher layoffs

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM (WBRC) - The Birmingham School system is looking at a $30 million deficit in fiscal year 2011.

One Birmingham grandparent of 12 children, Gwendolyn Harris, is worried about the impact on the quality of her grandchildren's education.

"They may not be able to go to school. They may not get a good education if they lay the teachers off, if they can't pay them," Harris said.
However J.W. Maye, a Birmingham School Board Member has a simple message for parents: Don't panic.

Maye is opposed to big cuts in the school personnel.

"I do not advocate getting rid of our personnel. We don't need to fire folks. We need programs to keep our children so we can get more money from the state," Maye said.

Birmingham continues to lose about a thousand students a year. This leads to a drop in state funding. The Alabama Education Association realizes there is a problem and is willing to help find a solution. But, AEA is opposed to drastic job cuts.

"If the superintendent and board come with a plan that hurts employees, AEA will oppose it," Lance Hyche with the AEA said. "We are going to fight save members jobs. We will oppose plans that put employees on the street."

Hyche says the school board can still cut their legal expenses and look for ways to trim energy costs.

Meanwhile, Gwendolyn Harris hopes the money can be found somewhere.

"There are going to be bad off and kids are not going to be as educated as they should be," Harris said.

Birmingham Superintendent Craig Witherspoon is working on a plan to the deficit which he will present to the school board at a later date.

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