Limestone superintendent speaks out on Accountability Act - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Limestone superintendent speaks out on Accountability Act

Dr. Thomas Sisk, Limestone County Superintendent Dr. Thomas Sisk, Limestone County Superintendent

Limestone County Superintendent Dr. Thomas Sisk said he was looking forward to the leeway his district would receive under the School Flexibility Bill. That was before Republican state lawmakers changed it into the Accountability Act, and changed the main purpose of the legislation.

The Flexibility Bill aimed to allow local school boards the ability to petition the Alabama Education Department for changes, such as hiring and classroom curriculums. The flexibility part was included in the Accountability Act, but the primary purpose of the legislation changed.

The bill, signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley, now allows a $3,500 tax credit for students who attend failing schools to transfer to private or better schools. If a school loses students, it loses funding, something Sisk said his district cannot afford.

"If a hundred kids, a hundred kids out of that 9,100 decided or qualified to go to a private school and received those tax tuition dollars, that would be $350,000. That would cost me seven teacher units. I can't make that money up," Sisk said.

Tanner High School was one of more than 200 failing Alabama schools on a list circulated by lawmakers. The list isn't official, and the superintendent said he does not believe Tanner is a failing school.

"Met 24 of the 25 AYP standards and showed up on one of these lists that circulated," Sisk said.

He added that his biggest concern is that education leaders were never told what was going to be in the finished bill.

"If your top educational minds, your top leadership, your state superintendent doesn't even know what's in it, you've got to wonder what's the motivation. And I don't know what that is," Sisk said.

The Alabama Department of Education will determine which schools are failing. Criteria for what constitutes a failing school has not been released yet.

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