Archived Story

BOE: New law will save time, money

Published 8:39am Thursday, June 23, 2011

Last month’s passage of the “Students First Act” is a victory that local school boards say should save them both time and money.
The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley on May 26, keeps tenure protection for teachers while also giving local school systems and community colleges the authority to fire bad teachers and problem employees for justifiable causes.
In addition, it removes the costly and time-consuming federal arbitration for termination appeals and replaces it with an appeals procedure that guarantees due process for teachers while also ensuring cost savings for local schools.
“I do think it’s a good thing,” said Philip Baker, superintendent of the Tallapoosa County School System. “You have so much red tape to go through when you want to transfer a teacher or a teacher has a problem. It takes time to solve the problem. This will solve the problem for us. It’s also very cost-effective, I think.”
Alexander City Schools Superintendent Lou Ann Wagoner agrees.
“I think that it will be really beneficial,” she said. “I think that some of the information has been a little misleading to the teachers but this will streamline the procedures that the board has to take and will make it more cost-efficient and less time-consuming.”
Wagoner went on to reiterate the fact that the law does not mean that tenured teachers will use their tenure status. “They will still earn tenure,” she said. “They will still have that safety net.”
Baker also pointed out that as long as teachers do what they’re supposed to do, they really don’t have anything to worry about.
“They still have rights and will continue to have them,” he said. “We just ask them to do their best, do their job, and there’s not anything to worry about. The bottom line is we’re there to try to do what is best for the kids. We think this will aid us in every way.”
State Representative Chad Fincher (R-Mobile), who co-sponsored the bill with State Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), said in a press release issued by House Speaker Mike Hubbard that passing the bill was the right thing to do for both students and teachers.
“The people of Alabama have long awaited reform of the state’s tenure laws and I’m proud that we’ve made it possible,” he said.