Tag: Education

House Approves Improved Benefits for Newer Teachers

The Alabama House on Thursday approved a bill to modify retirement benefits for newer teachers in the state. Advocates say more attractive benefits, including the ability to roll over sick leave and collect retirement after 30 years, will help with the state’s teacher shortage.

The bill is a scaled-back version of legislation that has previously passed the House and died in the Senate.

Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, told Alabama Daily News that House Bill 93 will reduce disparity between the older Tier I and newer Tier II retirement tracks and help keep young teachers in the state.
Read more.

School Funding Change on the Move in the Legislature

Between the fall of 2019 and fall 2020, 59 public school systems’ enrollment grew by nearly 6,500 students.

But under the state’s current funding structure, systems have to fund most of that growth, including hiring the needed teachers, out of their local tax revenue, and state funding is slow to catch up, if it ever does, educators say. For some of the systems with the largest growth, that’s hundreds of students and millions of dollars.

Senate Bill 9 would amend the state’s Foundation Program to calculate growth so systems don’t have to wait a year for per-student funding, which this year is about $6,271. It would estimate non-virtual enrollment based on the previous years’ growth. Read more.

AEA Selects New Executive Director

Amy Hubbard Marlowe is the new executive director of the Alabama Education Association, the organization’s board of directors announced this week.
Marlowe has served as interim executive director for two years and previously worked in the association’s governmental relations, public relations and research and technology branches.

The AEA’s primary legislative goal this session is a significant pay raise for educators, the press release said. Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to request in the proposed budget she sends lawmakers this week a 2% increase, ADN reported last week.
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Fultondale High School Too Badly Damaged by Tornado to Use Again

The end came earlier than expected for the Fultondale High School facility.

After the school suffered heavy damage from this week’s EF-3 tornado, Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin announced Friday that the building would no longer be used for in-school education.

“We have been assessing the damage since Monday night. At this point, it does not appear the building will be able to be occupied again. The damage is that extensive,” Gonsoulin said in a statement sent by email and Facebook to parents and staff.
Read more.

Mental Health Services in Schools Improving, More Help Needed

Mental health support in Alabama schools has improved since the Alabama Legislatures appropriated $4.5 million toward the effort last year, but education leaders say more help is needed.

Education and mental health leaders held a joint press conference in the State House Wednesday, announcing a renewed push for more funding from the Legislature. 

“I think we have made major impacts, particularly under the situation right now with COVID, but I think there is still a dire need for services, collaboratives, as well as tools for these people to have,” Kay Warfield, the Alabama State Department of Education’s education administrator, said.  
Read more.

How Are Schools Handling Spring Semester Classes Amid COVID Fears?

The continuing spread of COVID-19 throughout the state of Alabama has raised questions about how schools plan to go into this 2021 spring semester, which begins Tuesday.

Several schools have altered their plans from their fall semester operations, while some are continuing with the same conditions they had before the holiday.

Particularly given the new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 that has made its way into the United States, safety precautions and social distancing measures are a top priority. Read more and see list of school systems.

Alabama Students in Fourth and Eighth Grades Score Below National Averages in Math, Reading

When the National Report Card, an assessment of educational progress, came out for 2019, the results were not great for Alabama.

Alabama students in fourth and eighth grades lag behind the country in the overall reading and math scores. Worse, average reading scores for Alabama students actually went down from where they were the last time the assessment was done — just two years earlier.

And race and ethnic gaps remain evident in the scores, with white students scoring close to the national average in reading and math, followed by Hispanic and black students, in that order.
Read more.

Back to School: Metro Districts Moving From Virtual to Face-to-Face Instruction

As metro Birmingham school systems learn to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, many of them are changing back to traditional class schedules, or at least something closer to it.

In general, many systems that began with only virtual learning to start the year already have moved toward allowing students back on campus, at least part time. The Jefferson County School System, for instance, is in the midst of a staggered plan to get students back to school in person full time.

Others plan to reassess their schedules at the end of the first nine-week grading period, late this month. Read more and look up your school district.

On Second Thought: Hoover City Schools Return Elementary Students to Classrooms, but Not Older Kids

The Hoover City School District has altered a decision to return students to classrooms on a full-time basis because of a turn for the worse in local COVID-19 data.

Instead, parents of children in fifth grade and younger who opted for in-school education will attend classes four days a week beginning Monday, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the system. That’s up from the two days a week that those students attend now. But those in grades six and higher will stay with the staggered two-day schedule — a reversal of a previous decision by the system to return to in-school classes every day. Parents who opted for virtual learning for their children may continue using that system.
Read more.