BoE’s cost-cutting idea: Teachers give back raises

Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:03pm
By: Ben Nelms

The pressure is on. The Fayette County Board of Education met Monday to continue the cost-cutting conversation that has been going on for months, including a request for a voluntary teacher give-back of promised raises.

The board will survey all school system staff, asking them to consider foregoing the remaining portion of their 2.5 percent raises, a measure that would generate approximately $2 million in savings.

Indicating that tough decisions will likely come at the next regular meeting, board members discussed several new potential cuts, including furloughs, deferred compensation and a reduction in the number of days worked.

The board is potentially facing a $2.6 million deficit, a figure that could swell to $6.1 million if the General Assembly does not act to reverse the previous decision by Gov. Sonny Perdue to withhold the state property tax grant and if Fayette County commissioners decide not to re-bill property owners for the amount usually sent to counties by the state. The grant amounts to $3.5 million in revenue for the school system.

If approved by the board and enacted effective Feb. 1, mandatory 1-day furloughs of classified employees such as parapros and 4- and 5-day furloughs of custodians, some secretaries and some central office staff would save approximately $305,000 between now and June 30.

The voluntary 4- and 5-day furloughs of contracted employees such as principals, assistant principals and other central office staff would save $193,000.

Additionally, a 1-day furlough for teachers would save $500,000, with those wages being essentially deferred until the beginning of the next fiscal year when payment would be due during the summer.

Board members also discussed a possibility of reducing work days for teachers and parapros. A reduction of one day for parapros and two days for teachers between now and the end of the fiscal year would save $1.036 million, though that amount would have to be budgeted and repaid under the 2010 budget.

Further work reductions, of both a voluntary and mandatory nature depending on the job category for other positions, would save $462,000.

Another cost-saving possibility that surfaced toward the end of the work session called for asking school system employees if they would be willing to forego their 2.5 percent pay increase for the second half of the fiscal year.

Those raises amounted to $4 million for the entire school year, so such a move would save approximately $2 million of the $2.6 million shortfall the school system is projecting.

In order for that to happen it would require the approval of all employees, said Superintendent John DeCotis.

Board members agreed to have the school system attorney contacted to determine how the question should be put to employees.

“That way we wouldn’t have to look at taking things like benefits,” DeCotis said.

While not as much at the forefront of the conversation Monday, issues such as employee benefits and the potential for adjusting them is one of many still on the table. The board has made a number of cuts prior to the current school year and has discussed a litany of others in previous months.

Relating to benefits, DeCotis said insurance carriers are working to have an open enrollment period in April that would take effect in May or June.

Throughout the work session discussion, it was obvious that board members were struggling with the reality that tough times are here and tough remedies are in the making.

“The months are going by,” said Janet Smola, with remaining board members agreeing. “We need a decision and we need to be prepared to act at the next board meeting.”

Board members agreed that they would like to see a comprehensive master list that includes all possibilities relating to budget cuts and cost-saving measures and how those measures would impact school system employees.

“We need a comprehensive list from the biggest impact to the smallest,” said board member Lee Wright. “I think we’ve got the pieces, we just need to see them all together.”

Comptroller Laura Brock said she would have that document ready before the Jan. 27 regular meeting.

“The litmus test should be what is the effect on student achievement,” Chairman Terri Smith said of the work facing the board on Jan. 27.

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Submitted by Brooks Parent on Thu, 01/08/2009 - 10:32pm.

What is this doing to teachers? All these rumors and scare tactics. They are the front line of instruction and they are going to pay the price for county office mistakes. In the end, our kids will be the ones to pay the price.

Submitted by wildcat on Thu, 01/08/2009 - 10:35pm.

so what does it matter?

Submitted by heatjam on Thu, 01/08/2009 - 9:53pm.

I am listening to the BofE podcast right now. Can anyone tell me why Counselors are 210 day employees but the children are only in school 180 days? Am I missing something?

Submitted by wildcat on Thu, 01/08/2009 - 10:12pm.

work 210. Two weeks before and two weeks after for scheduling purposes. At 1782 at WHS, it does take a while to schedule them all.

Submitted by mysteryman on Thu, 01/08/2009 - 10:00pm.


Submitted by PTC Observer on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 4:18pm.

The government has never done anything well and never will. Stop bellyaching about higher taxes for lower quality schools. Do something about it! If you want better schools, higher pay for teachers, better schools, then privatize the school system. Get rid of the kids that have no interest in educating themselves, they will end up as drug dealers and crooks anyway. Stop penalizing the good teachers and students and reward them with an educational system that really works. Enough is enough.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 11:59am.

"A reduction of one day for parapros and two days for teachers...."

This sadly shows the misplaced priorities of the School Board.

Who do YOU think should have priority in educating our children?

The School Board evidently feels that parapros provide much more benefit than teachers....

Submitted by rbueker1 on Thu, 01/08/2009 - 1:53pm.

If you only knew what the pay scale was for parapro's then you might understand...taking out even one day would be devastating, especially with the economy the way it is

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 7:34am.

Teachers do not get paid enough for what they do. A teacher puts in a 50-60 hour week, and must answer to not just their own administrators, but to parents, kids, and the community. As a note, Fayette County administrators tend to cave in readily to parents in a conference - my kids' teachers are SO relieved when the first sentence out of my mouth is "relax, I know my kids aren't perfect, and tend to procrastinate." Sad state of affairs. Furthermore, teachers must pay their own educational expenses for classes they are required to take to maintain certification. We are facing a wave of teacher retirements coming up, and moves like this will just make teachers retire at the first possible opportunity...oh yeah, there's a hiring freeze on.
Mothball the schools that are unoccupied for now, let the Board members give back their own raises, and leave the teachers to teach. Asking them to give back their raise is absolutely ridiculous. And no, I am not a teacher, just an exasperated parent and taxpayer.


Submitted by RT Tugger on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 12:23am.

This is just the kind of lame talk I've come to expect from this BOE. You'll all be staring googly-eyed at your comprehensive list, playing eenie meenie miney moe. It is your failure to budget, your unwillingness to make the tough choices sooner, your very questionable spending on speculative land deals, and your failure to understand or acknowledge where we've been headed that got us into this mess. Don't come asking for more taxes. I didn't vote for your SPLOST and I sure don't want you in my pockets yet again. See you at the next meeting!

Submitted by RT Tugger on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 11:22pm.

"Throughout the work session discussion, it was obvious that board members were struggling with the reality that tough times are here and tough remedies are in the making." Gee, so they're just now getting it? Aren't they a brilliant bunch?

Submitted by mysteryman on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 7:44am.

The glory days have been gone for almost two years now, first it was $5.00 a gallon gas, We tightened our belts, then the cost of a gallon of milk hit $4.00 a gallon, We had to cut back on starbucks, Property taxes have continued to rise during this time even though the value of my properties is down at least 40%. We quit eating out three or four time a week. My 401k and IRA are in the crapper, we learned our lesson and gave away the hummer. What have you had to give up Mr Decolitis???? I cant hear you please speak clearly into the mic...Cat got your tongue, imagine that....See yall at the meeting....PEACE...

Submitted by mysteryman on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 11:05pm.

You know right before school started for the year, i ran across my neighbor at Wal-mart. I happened to notice his cart was full of school supplies, a large number of school supplies, more than enough considering he only has one kid.. When i asked what all of this was for he showed me a list prepared by the borad of education, of required items to be brought to school the first day. I was appalled to see this list for outside of pen and paper, what do our taxes furnish, to these children besides books, and from what ive been hearing lately those are in short supply as well. Its time to get back to the basics folks, somebody please flush the toilet down at the B.O.E cause it stinks...GOD BLESS..

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 8:27am.

I agree somewhat on the school supplies, but my (SMHS) son's English teacher got one carton of copy paper this year that was supposed to last the entire year. Speaking from past experience, that might last through giving one semester's worth of tests. And what do teachers do when their one measly carton of paper runs out? They are forced to go to Staples to buy another carton out of their own (shrinking) paycheck. Yes, there is a school supply list, but a teacher's list is ten times as much.


Shoebox's picture
Submitted by Shoebox on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 10:41pm.

Someone needs to redo the budget and stick to it...that's what I've had to do!

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 9:00pm.

That's what Clayton's BOE said they're going to do.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Submitted by mysteryman on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 8:49pm.

Teachers give back nothing, how petty for the board to try to save face at the cost of the troops. All they have to do is mothball the school on Sandy Creek, to shore up the budget. Its the thorn in their side anyway, for ground was broken on this project last summer, With all of them smiling for the camera, check the archives. Makes a lot sense with all the foreclosures and layoffs, it should have never been started in the first place. Decolits you get an F, on the sense test. For when this project was started, THE WRITING WAS ON THE WALL, so to say. Peace...

Submitted by Linda Wheatley on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 8:54pm.

One teacher posted he would be glad to give back his 2.5% raise for a paddle and the ability to use it--LOL! I thought that was pretty funny!

Submitted by Linda Wheatley on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 6:55pm.

Give back....
money for property taxes
money for sales taxes (splost)
money for supplies or any classroom expenditures
money for benefits
manageable class sizes
paraprofessional assistance
meager little pay raises..........
When will it ever be enough???????????

Submitted by Brooks Parent on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 8:53pm.

Wasn't it their favorite saying for every expenditure that couldn't be covered in the general fund: "Can't we pay for this out of the reserve?" And guess what happened??? No reserve to carry us through these hard times!

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