(FOLEY, Ala.) New teachers in Baldwin County started new jobs Monday thanks to the penny sales tax renewal.
Sixty eight percent of voters in Baldwin County approved the amendment in November. It is expected to generate $28 million dollars a year. Seventeen new teachers were added, some are new positions. Others filling spots where cuts had been made in the past.
The superintendent says its all thanks to the penny sales tax and some good housekeeping.
"I looked all over the state but I really wanted to stay here in Baldwin County and I'm glad that I waited, " said Fine Arts Teacher Rachel Thomas.
Thomas is one of the 17 new teachers. The recent University of South Alabama graduate is thankful to be employed and thrilled to be a part of the team offering art, drama and music programs to more students at Foley High School.
"It can make the difference between enjoying high school and not enjoying it. It gives students the opportunity to join clubs organizations and get involved in things they didn't think they might like...like art some people don't necessarily know they will like art or are artistic, " said Thomas.
The school system credits the penny sales tax for the new hires but is also counting on money saved in paper, supplies and books after implementing the digital renaissance computer program.
"During the cut backs of several years ago we lost many electives not only in the arts but in the sciences and other areas," said School Superintendent Dr. Alan Lee.
Today the new hires were placed at middle and high schools where the student teacher ratio had become an issue.
"The reality was in the fall prior to the approval of the penny tax we were holding back on expending money because there was a possibility that we would not win that penny tax vote. Had we not won the vote, it would have been devastating and we didn't want to put in place costs or contracts in hiring teachers that we might have to reverse at the end of this school year, " said Lee.
It's estimated that the digital renaissance computer program is saving the system close to $400 per student in paper, books and other materials.
That money will also be used to hire more teachers in the future.