The Anniston Board of Education voted Wednesday not to renew the contracts of 33 employees, most of them teachers.

Most of the contracts have an effective end date of May 24, though six end in June. Staffers include nurses and members of child nutrition programs, as well as teachers at every school in the system, including the high school, middle school, three elementary schools and Cobb Pre-K. The board voted unanimously on the measure without comment during a called meeting Wednesday morning.

“There’s a process that we use; the vast majority of those people will be brought back,” said Robert Houston, board president.

Houston said school principals will over the next weeks hold evaluations for employees and determine which ones will be hired back into local schools, if they’re still available. Some won’t be hired back, he said, and part of the process is designed to keep the contracts of those employees from renewing automatically.

He said he was uncertain how many of the employees would be brought back, but he said principals are eager to start the evaluation process.

“It’s happening pretty quickly; some of the principals have already asked about how fast they can start. They don’t want to lose good people,” Houston said. “If you don’t tell them something before summer is over they’ll be trying to find new jobs.”

Angela Morgan, an Alabama Education Association representative for public education employees in Calhoun, Cleburne and Randolph counties, said the board’s decision not to renew contracts wouldn’t have been made lightly.

“With the shortage we have, you risk losing the teacher altogether because they’ll be snapped up elsewhere,” Morgan said.

In her role with the AEA, which offers representation and advocacy for its members, Morgan interacts with local educators frequently. Her job includes helping members with anything from professional grievances and employment problems to training.

Speaking by phone Wednesday, Morgan said she was headed to Randolph County, where school systems have already posted jobs and are searching for new educators.

Morgan said Anniston is the only system in the area that has a “blanket pink slip” policy.

Houston said the non-renewal is an annual process with non-tenured employees. Tenure in Alabama comes at the end of the third year of employment with an institution, according to state law.

Morgan said she didn’t believe choosing to not renew contracts and hire back those employees was a way to avoid teachers earning tenure.

“If in their contract they’re in their third year and would be up for tenure, (not renewing) could be a way to not give tenure. But if they rehire those people that are in their third year ... they still get tenure,” Morgan said.

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560. 

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