MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Education is planning top personnel cuts. reports that state interim Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson told board of education members that reducing the number of employees, known as exempt or at-will, is necessary. During a work session this week, he said “hard decisions” will need to be made.

The newspaper reports Alabama is ranked 31st.

“I cannot solve the issue of titles, positions, salaries without making some hard decisions,” Richardson said. “And I intend to do it.”

Richardson says state lawmakers were preparing to make cuts after seeing unnecessary spending on high-ranking personnel. A consultant hired by the Alabama Personnel Department conducted a study to look at job tasks, titles, and salaries.

Richardson and others started work on the reorganization last October. He says areas within the department will be realigned along with cutting employees.

Richardson says the goal is to have a more functional department with few moving parts and better communication.

“It left the door wide open both in terms of number and salary of individuals (who were hired),” Richardson said.

Richardson pointed out that not only does the law require board approval for the initial hire of at-will employees, it also states that employment of at-will employees ends when the superintendent leaves office.

The current organizational chart has the department divided into four major divisions, with a deputy superintendent heading each area. The proposed chart divides the department into two divisions, instruction and administration, and reduces the number of deputy superintendents to two.

“It has to be done now,” Richardson said. “That way the next superintendent doesn’t have to do this.”