By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Friday, September 12, shortly after arriving to begin their Alabama Education Association (AEA) meeting, the AEA Board went into an extended executive session that lasted over four and a half hours. It is believed that AEA Executive Secretary Henry Mabry answered accusations from disgruntled board members that questioned his leadership style and the finances of the State’s education.
Both were challenged in an open letter that retired Executive Secretary Paul Hubbard wrote to the Board members. The 78 year old Hubbert questioned his successor’s leadership style, his ability to lobby the State legislature, his relationship with AEA staff, the AEA’s finances, and the educators association’s recent loss of both members and revenues.
After a four and a half hour Executive session, the AEA board members exited the closed room and went for snacks, before going back into open session. It was announced that no business had been actually conducted in the mammoth four and a half hour session, from which the press was barred.
After handling some routine business such as the promotions of Uniserve Directors, Executive Secretary Mabry took up the 2015 budget with the Board.
Dr. Hubbert in his letter to the board that he was concerned that the AEA was not living within its means and was worried about dwindling reserves. Secretary Mabry addressed most of these issues in the new 2015 “barebones” budget which he proposed early Saturday morning.
Sec. Mabry says this budget includes a reduction in legal fees, a reduction in the circulation and the number of issues printed of “The Alabama School Journal,” but did not include any layoffs in staff. Sec. Mabry reported that the “Alabama School Journal” will be transitioning to an online version cutting the costs of printing and postage. The cuts will allow the AEA to cut the rate that it has been utilizing its reserves.
The falling revenues are attributed to cuts made by the State in the number of education employees since 2008 and the 2010 law the new Republican Supermajority passed preventing the AEA from collecting it’s dues through automatic payroll deduction.
The new budget assumes that both revenues and membership will continue to drop next year. According to original reporting by The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman on Twitter, Executive Secretary Mabry said that the AEA will, “…have to have budget expenditures in consideration of lower revenue expectations in FY 15.”
The AEA Board of Directors unanimously approved Secretary Mabry’s budget and the meeting was adjourned in the early morning hours of Saturday, without any formal call for a change in leadership.
Despite the actions of retired Secretary Paul Hubbert and some recent electoral setbacks, Henry Mabry is still the Executive Secretary of the AEA and the organization has not plunged into chaos as one conservative blogger had publicly hoped.