DCS to review enrollment policy

While superintendents around the state are trying to figure out how the new Accountability Act will effect their school systems, Demopolis City Schools is bracing for impact.

Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin noted Monday that the board will be reviewing the system’s enrollment policy in the coming weeks in view of the newly-minted Alabama Accountability Act.

The act would allow parents with children zoned for a failing school system to earn $3,500 in tax credits per child per year for transferring to a non-failing public or private school. Accompanying documentation circulated by Senate Republicans earlier this year listed every school in Marengo County outside of the Demopolis City system as failing. Other nearby schools on the list included those in Sumter County and Greene County as well as some in Hale County.

Assuming that list is accurate, parents with students currently enrolled in Demopolis City Schools but zoned for failing schools would receive the newly-created tax credits.

During Monday’s meeting of the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education, Griffin provided a sort of “State of the System” report.

“We received our allocations for 13-14. We lost 1.84 teaching units and another 1.5 in library media,” Griffin told the board. “What this is from is a decline in enrollment.”

Griffin spoke of the allocations for the coming year in conjunction with the cuts made from previous years as a means of providing analysis for where the school system currently sits.

Griffin explained that the state allocations as they pertain to Demopolis High School cover the core teachers, physical education teachers and the JROTC instructors.

“Basically every career tech program we have is local,” Griffin said of the source of funding for the school’s technology curriculum. “When you lose 169 students, that’s 11 teachers. Basically, we’ve lost 24 teaching units in two years. We didn’t eliminate 24 teachers.”

Griffin went on to explain that those 24 teaching positions have been retained by local funding, a decision board member Linda Russell said rests entirely on the superintendent’s shoulders.

“We all go to state school board meetings,” Russell said. “They tell us ‘Do not have local units. Keep them down.’ But (Griffin is) the one that is pushing for those.”

“There are school systems out there that are bare bones,” Griffin said. “It has been devastating. And now we’re faced with an Accountability Act. And we have a legislature that is labeling schools as failing after they poured these kind of cuts on folks. How dare they say anybody is failing.”

As of Monday evening, Griffin was reluctant to guess exactly how the legislation would affect Demopolis City Schools given the legislative confusion that has surrounded the bill.

“Where we stand right now, it looks like the original version of the law will be what stands,” Griffin said. “It is the most ludicrous piece of legislation in our state since its inception.”