Pay cuts, benefit cuts or both for school system?

Tue, 02/17/2009 - 5:08pm
By: Ben Nelms

157 Fayette teachers face unemployment to plug $14.5 million budget gap

Pay cuts versus benefit cuts is one likely choice facing the school system, according to Fayette County School Superintendent John DeCotis in a Feb. 11 letter to all system employees.

DeCotis said a budget-cuts committee recommended a minimum 2.5 percent annual pay reduction for all employees, though a maximum 3.5 percent reduction could be required to retain some of the employer-paid benefits.

“Let me point out that while the lowest paid people on our staff will take a greater hit with the benefits, the pay reduction will have a larger effect at the higher end of the pay scale. A 5 percent cut is proposed if paid benefits are not reduced. Every pay and benefit reduction impacts all employees, including the superintendent, county office staff, school staff and all other programs.”

On the committee’s recommendation to cut the employer-paid portions of medical and dental insurance, DeCotis said that such cuts might not occur.

“Many of you have said that if we have to cut what the school system pays toward benefits, you would rather we leave medical and dental insurance intact as much as possible and cut contributions to life and long-term disability if necessary. The committee recommended cutting the employer-paid portion of both medical and dental in half, and completely eliminating the paid portion of life and long-term disability. Reductions in benefits payments by the board will impact lower-paid employees more than higher-paid ones. Therefore, there is consideration not to cut benefits payments at all.”

On the issue of tuition for the children of employees not residing in Fayette County, DeCotis said, “This is an important benefit to our employees, but let me explain why the committee is recommending tuition. The cost to educate a child in our system is $8,241. The local taxpayer has to shoulder about $4,241 of that cost for each student. Like everyone else, our taxpayers are feeling the hurt from this economy. Even so, they showed their support for us and voted in favor of the SPLOST in November, which is helping to minimize cuts. The recommended tuition is $1,000 to possibly $1,500 per child to help offset the cost. This item, because it will have a big impact on our employees, will require further discussion.”

Concerning the recommendations on staff allotments for positions in the various schools, DeCotis asked that staff refer to the eBoard section of the website to see the school levels proposed for reductions. DeCotis said nurses are currently in the allotment for next year.

Though not included in the letter, the Budget/Allotment Committee recommendation targeted 157 in-school positions. Of those, the committee called for a reduction of 100 staff in elementary schools, 22 staff in middle schools and 36 staff in high schools, for a savings of $7.787 million.

Concerning the new Rivers Elementary School, DeCotis said the expenses of staffing the new facility led the committee to recommend that it not open as a full elementary school. Rivers could be used as a setting for school system satellite programs and could be converted in the future to a charter or magnet school.

The budget/allotment committee is addressing a $14.5 million revenue shortfall. DeCotis told school system employees the board will continue budget cut discussions Feb. 23. Public hearings will be conducted on Feb. 25 and 26 if the board believes pay cuts are necessary. A vote on the budget reduction issues will take place at a meeting scheduled for Feb. 26, he said.

DeCotis in the letter told school system employees that once budget cutting decisions are made the school board has asked the Budget/Allotment Committee to begin working on a restoration plan to get the system back to where it was before the cuts were made.

“As I said in the beginning, none of us want to do any of the things that have been discussed, but there is no choice right now,” DeCotis said. “It is important that our school system family support each other because together we can manage our way through this situation. It is going to be a challenge but I promise we will do our best to maintain our excellent programs for our children during these difficult times.”

DeCotis asked employees to utilize the podcast and eBoard features on the school system’s website to stay current with issues facing the board.

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mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 10:23am.

The pay reduction will have a larger affect at the higher end of the pay scale.

"Affect" is not a noun. It never is. I don't know who is responsible for writing the word "effect" this way, DeCotis or the newspaper reporter. Either way, it is shameful.

The comment itself is pretty dumb. Yes, 2.5 percent of $80,000 is a greater number than 2.5% of $40,000. What's the point of telling us that "the pay reduction will have a larger effect at the higher end of the pay scale"? In fact, the less you make the more the cut hurts, so one could argue that the pay reduction will have a larger effect at the lower end of the pay scale.

It is so sad to see such poor education on display.

shadowalker's picture
Submitted by shadowalker on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 12:23pm.

Hows about the phrase

I thinks your a dump @#$ and you better worry about more the spelling
in the near future.
People like you only make that comment to feel superior.
and YOU ARE (your not) youre STUPID

Submitted by mcg on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 2:27pm.

Just wanted to correct you on one point, mapleleaf. "Affect" can be used as a noun to refer to a feeling or emotion, or as an expressed or observed emotional response. Granted, these definitions are most often used in the medical community by psychologists or psychiatrists, but you were incorrect when you said that it is never used as a noun.

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 4:47pm.

I must concede I have never visited a shrink and don't associate with them very much.

Nonetheless, the dictionary does indicate that in the field of psychology "affect" is used as a noun to mean an emotion or mood associated with an idea or action, or the external expression of such a feeling.

Trust me, the folks quoted in The Citizen are not qualified as shrinks. It is out of pure ignorance that they use affect as a noun. They do mean effect. My dictionary has a note on this which states that "in general use, affect is only used as a verb," just as I used it in the caption.

Yes, the person quoted calls himself a Doctor. Still not a bona fide shrink.

Submitted by Linda Wheatley on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 9:38am.

“Let me point out that while the lowest paid people on our staff will take a greater hit with the benefits, the pay reduction will have a larger affect at the higher end of the pay scale."

I don't understand this quote-yes-people with higher salaries will lose more in the pay reduction model...but it is coming out of a bigger salary to begin with! I would be happy to take his salary and try it out for him!

Submitted by localyocal on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 10:29am.

“Let me point out that while the lowest paid people on our staff will take a greater hit with the benefits, the pay reduction will have a larger affect at the higher end of the pay scale."

What he was trying to say is the higher paid and more valuable employees, including all the admin staff would taking a hit as well. But since they are all overpaid it would not be to bad, the little people would be more directly Effected. You know, the usual can't afford the health care offered can't afford to contribute to retirement.

Shoebox's picture
Submitted by Shoebox on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 9:26am.

The only people to be cut SHOULD be anyone who is NOT a teacher! There are NEVER enough teachers! Cut teachers, downgrade education. Perfect student/teacher ratio: 10/1. We are nowhere even near that in public school!

Submitted by fayetteparent on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 9:52am.

Someone please clarify, is it possible that Clayton Co is bussing kids, HS in particular, to over the county line schools? I have heard that kids ride their bus to Riverdale High and catch a bus that takes them to Fayette Co High. Same goes for some to Henry and Spaulding.

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 4:19pm.

Didn't you know, it's only three bus loads at the high school, but it's four at the middle school. But the busses meet at Mundy's Mill because it's closer and a straight shot.

I yam what I yam....Popeye

Submitted by fayetteparent on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 6:07pm.

I know I live under a rock, but are you for real? It is legit? How can they do that legally? Stupid question, ... do they pay to go to schools, like if it were a teacher's kid they are talking of them paying for them to attend out of district but what about these kids?

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 3:27pm.

But this takes the cake.

aliquando's picture
Submitted by aliquando on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 12:56am.

I live in this county and teach here. I have not heard one word about the BOE taking pay cuts? They should be held responsible along with the County administrators for spending the reserve and not preparing for our future. Thank G-D that I have prepared my family financially for an economic slow-down. We should reduce staffing. We can do this without hurting our child's education. I have one in elementary and one in middle. If you really want to get irritated, look at how much we spend on special education. We do a great job, but we are paying through the nose for it. I am sure I will take a few shots for that last comment, but I let it stand. Good Night!

Submitted by Andre65 on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 12:46pm.

I'm wondering how much money is spent on special education, too. At my daughter's school it is a well known fact that an out of district kid was allowed to attend AND was given his own private teachers. Including summer school!! He was even arrested AT THE SCHOOL and still was able to finish the year. Now his sister attends the school, I guess with special permission??? And, get this, her schedule was just changed because her mom didn't want her to have a class in a trailer. What is going on?

Submitted by baroombrawl on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 7:39am.

Don't feel too badly. When times get really tough many of us will cut throats to have more.
Even the Baptists!
It has to do with the human nature of feeling that you "deserve" more than others and need not share much. You know "sow the seeds" with the church and 10 times will be returned (to you).
It is taught in the Bible, I think!

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