400 teacher aides to see 25% paycuts as Huntsville City Schools readies to trade a local company for a troubled out-of-state company
On Thursday, the Huntsville City Board of Education will vote on how they handle staffing for over 780 support positions in the school district ranging from cafeteria workers to Special Education Aides. Many people in the community have raised concerns as this could have a huge impact on the future of Huntsville City Schools.
The vendor being recommended by the superintendent has a history of hiring unvetted workers and has been involved in multiple court cases for things like child porn and sexual misconduct. Other vendors are raising questions about how the bid was evaluated, why the district is proposing pay cuts, and why there were no specific specifications about past performance or other factors to block low-quality vendors.
This will cause a lot of problems for Huntsville City Schools and parents, according to Carlos Matthews of Uplifting Huntsville City Schools:
Why this matters: This contract represents 26 percent of all the employees that work in HCS. This includes the teacher aides that work with special needs kids, Pre-K teachers, security guards, and more. If the district is unable to fill these jobs with qualified people, it could further degrade the quality of education in Huntsville and compound issues around the desegregation order. I’m all for public-private partnerships, but the Board has to be smart about how it approaches it.
It appears the district needs to go back to the drawing board and rebid this contract with some input from principals and instructional leaders in the district.
— Current bid proposes a 25 percent pay cut for 400 teachers aides ($15.00 an hour down to $11.25).
— The bid specifications did not include any qualitative requirements for vendors related to past performance or references from other Alabama school districts.
— There are currently 3 vendors serving HCS for staffing – all of which the superintendent is recommending be replaced by an out-of-state company with no prior experience in Alabama schools and a questionable history.
— There are disputes about how the bids were evaluated and whether Alabama bid law has been followed.