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Units may be cut

Reality is setting in for hundreds of teachers across the state.

According to Alabama Education Association reports, as of April 23, more than a thousand teachers and support staff received notices of non-renewal.

But Pike County and Troy City Schools seem to be thick-skinned enough to ward off most of the heavy blows of educational funding cuts-at least for another year.

Gov. Bob Riley did, however, give Alabama superintendents hope for a permanent solution to the funding crisis when he addressed them at their annual meeting Tuesday in Montgomery.

Troy City Schools Assistant Superintendent Tony Stetson, who attended the meeting in place of Superintendent Hank Jones, was unavailable for comment.

But Jones said if a solution is not reached soon, Troy City Schools will cut five state-funded units before the new school year.

"If we don't have a definitive solution by the end of the school year, we'll have to cut those units," he said.

Jones did not know what units would be cut, but he did say three would come from Troy Elementary School and one each would come from Charles Henderson High School and Charles Henderson Middle School.

Pike County Superintendent Mark Bazzell said the meeting offered hope for the education crisis.

"I was pleased with Governor Riley's comments," he said.

"He spoke with passion about where he wants education to go.

He made it clear that education was on the front burner."

Representatives from the Alabama Education Association, Campaign for Alabama, Alabama Association of School Boards, the Council of Leaders in Alabama Schools and the Alabama Superintendents' Association were also present.

Bazzell said their presence was unusual, but that they were there for a purpose.

"To me, that was the underlying message," he said.

"That everyone is working hard and coming together to find a solution that everyone can live with.

When a solution is reached, we're going to see a unified front."

Riley did not offer specific solutions at the meeting, but Bazzell left feeling very optimistic.

"What I heard in Montgomery Tuesday makes me very optimistic," he said.

"There is still a lot of work to be done, but I'm more optimistic now than I have ever been."

He added that even though funding for Pike County Schools is not as poor as it is in other systems, a permanent solution has to be realized soon.

"We've been blessed to have the extra one-cent sales tax," he said.

"We're grateful for the County Commission's willingness to look after the children in our schools."

The tax expires this September, but Bazzell has already asked the commissioners to keep it alive.

"It will affect how we make personnel decisions for next year," he said.

But, Bazzell assures the school board will not make any drastic cuts and that most of the cuts will deal with services the school offers.