BoE short-changing parapros with cuts in pay

Tue, 03/03/2009 - 4:17pm
By: Letters to the ...

To the Fayette County Board of Education: I am a concerned Fayette County citizen, husband, father, homeowner, business owner, taxpayer, and active voter who has become compelled to voice some serious concerns.

Recently, the Fayette County Board of Education has been wrangling over budget shortfalls for the coming year and have been discussing remedies. In one recent release, we were told that non-contract employees should expect to suffer no more than a 2 percent salary reduction (e.g., parapros); yet, as of Feb. 25, a letter was dispatched intimating a possible lay-off of some parapros and a proposed cut-back from a current seven-hour workday to a six-hour workday, which would result in an effective loss of 13.33 percent of their salary.

Plus, in addition to this drastic cut, medical premium deductions will be increased. Also, this decade parapros have already suffered a salary reduction when their standard 190-day work year was capriciously and arbitrarily cut to a 185-day work year, resulting in a substantial salary reduction when this wealthy, high tax-based county was not in the fiscal and financial peril we find ourselves in at this time.

Additionally, these non-contract employees have not received step raise (years of service) supplements either of the last two school years that they have received every year for the past 20 years.

So, I am embarrassed and ashamed that the FCBoE has short-changed a group of dedicated and highly professionally trained employees. Notwithstanding, during this same two year period, contract employees have received step-raise supplements, and our fine superintendent has managed to warrant double-digit raises the last two years (16 percent in 2007-08 and 11 percent in 2008-09).

You folks should share my shame and embarrassment for this travesty. You are charged with making some serious far-reaching budget decisions which will certainly affect all of us, and it is my dubious distinction to hope that you, in good conscience, live with the results.

No one’s job is safe in these trying times of economic recession; but, no one’s job is safe from future elections, either. So please, use some wise, decision-making ability in tonight’s proceedings. As everyone has a stake in the results.

Also, I would appreciate if someone would avail themselves of the opportunity to dispel the rumor mill (grapevine) that circulated prior to the November 2008 elections that there would be no cuts in the system if the SPLOST was approved; it was, by the way.

Additionally, the state of Georgia is to start receiving federal bail-out money in March 2009; $2.2 billion is earmarked for education for the next three years. This is approximately $750 million per year, of which, Kathy Cox and the state board is allocated half the funding and the governor the other half for their respective education purposes.

Dennis B. Smith

Fayetteville, Ga.

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