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Obasohan proposes changes for school system

Selma City School Superintendent Austin Obasohan presented an evaluation of his first three months on the job and proposed improvements for the system Thursday night.

During the school board meeting Obasohan laid out 10 goals he plans to complete by fall 2009.

The school board acted on one of his proposals immediately by voting to accept a reorganization of central office personnel. The move means at least four jobs will be cut, saving more than $341,000 in annual salary and benefits, and several other positions will consolidate. The changes go into effect July 1.

The school board will also wait before filling the vacant assistant superintendent slot.

“We are in an economic hardship right now, and the government is going to declare proration in the next few days,” Obasohan said. “We have to make some sound fiscal decisions. For right now that’s what I’m proposing, and if we need to (cut more jobs), that depends on how hard we take proration.”

Alabama State Superintendent Joe Morton said Thursday that Gov. Bob Riley is expected to officially declare cuts to the education budget next week.

The declaration will make up to $437 million available from a rainy day account that voters approved by passing Amendment One in the Nov. 4 general election.

Riley and financial officials have been waiting to review income tax and sales tax receipts before making a decision to see just how dire the situation is.

State Sen. Hank Sanders, chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee, said it would be best not to drain the fund because tough economic times will continue next year.

“It’s a rainy day fund, and I’m afraid the hardest rains having not yet come,” Sanders said.

Obasohan delayed his report because the school system was awaiting the result of an audit by the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. The audit is complete, and school board members are expected to meet with the auditor as soon as Monday or Tuesday to conduct an exit interview.

In his report Thursday, Obasohan also listed 16 accomplishments he has made so far, including: developed a fair salary matrix that rewards performance and years of productive service; completed a goal setting workshop; established positive relationships with state education leaders and local political, religious and municipal officials and media; visited and monitored schools.

An advisory committee of area residents also recommended goals to Obasohan that ranged from physical school improvements to fundraising and teacher retention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.