School board eyes more budget cuts

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:11pm
By: Ben Nelms

State may slash 5% in already reduced funds; BoE sets up 5 committees to plan what, whom to cut

With the effects of the recession still evident, the Fayette County Board of Education Monday night talked about what additional state budget cuts might mean.

The original $185.5 million Fayette budget was hit with $3.95 million in state cuts around the time the school system’s fiscal year began July 1. Those cuts came in the form of three staff furlough days to be taken before Dec. 31, a 3 percent reduction in pay, a 5 percent decrease for nurses and a 5 percent cut to transportation.

Bumping up the tax millage rate one-quarter mill to its statutory maximum added $1.58 million, with the budget now at $183.1 million.

So what would additional state-imposed cuts look like in terms of a monetary impact?

Comptroller Laura Brock said there is some talk of upcoming cuts of up to 5 percent more. Each state-imposed furlough day costs $425,000 and each 1 percent pay cut amounts to $857,000, she said.

Brock suggested a combination of one or more potential ways to offset those cuts. The school board could opt to use its $1.625 million in contingency money incorporated into the current budget or it could utilize a reduction-in-force during the second semester for non-contracted staff.

The board could also choose to reduce the supplemental amounts paid toward employee benefits. Regarding state-imposed furlough days, Brock explained that each furlough day in Fayette amounts to $620,500 rather than the $425,000 paid through state dollars. That is because Fayette employs a large number of staff, teachers and otherwise, who are paid, not with state QBE (Quality Basic Education) dollars, but with local tax dollars.

The school system is currently establishing five committees to review other areas that might be tapped to save on expenditures.

Those include extended day for those teaching extra classes, extended year for teachers paid to instruct failing students after school or during the summer, supplements paid for coaching and academic teams, transportation for tightening bus routes and school day/calendar to look at shortening or lengthening the school day or school year.

Anyone interested in serving on one of the committees can contact Kathy Smith at

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Knowitall's picture
Submitted by Knowitall on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 5:00pm.

I wonder how many of you out there are aware the Fayette County Board of Education has to borrow money to meet the payroll. Yes, you read correct, BORROW! And unfortunately all the borrowing which has been done by the board yet our teachers are some of the lowest, if not the lowest paid in the metro Atlanta area. With this said, why does the FCBOE need to borrow money? Oh, maybe too many big chiefs with big titles and big salaries. What kind of title (and big salary) did the former principle of McIntosh receive when she was promoted to a new job? Really, stop cutting the salaries of those on the front lines who teach our children. Trim, no, cut the fat from the big wigs! That is a no brainer!!!!!!

Knowledge is the key to success

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 5:49pm.

you have 2 on the board with a teaching background and nothing but the kids at heart. Those 2 didn't want all the land bought and the excess schools. They were out voted.

Our money is going for land. Acres and acres of it. Want to see it? Go down to Inman school, or look on the BOE website. They have a picture of it and a for sale sign under it.

Land around Rivers Elementary...? They have that too, they just don't have the guts to post that on their web site for sale as the other.

Our BOND money is tied up in this.

Teachers...want to see where your days off without pay are going? Ride by Rivers...

Someone should get a recall going so we could get a new person's name up and on the election ballot this fall!

Ok guys...!! Here is your it!

Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 6:15pm.

I think if you compare the administrative salaries plus the bond payments together (for the land) you might find that if ALL of the administrators were fired and ALL of the Bond money was paid for the land, that there still would NOT be enough money to pay the budget!

REVENUE is down from taxes. People can't pay any more taxes right now--especially the 10-15% who have no job or only a small paying one.

So layoffs will be required in both the admins and the teachers.
This thing will not get any better for several years, I think.

If not for the Federal bail-out of the schools and cities here, many more teachers and cops and firemen would be laid off by now.

The feds are not likely to furnish much more next year. You can forget about the state of GA helping either.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 6:27pm.

they didn't...they have wasted our money and saved none for a rainy day.

We have paid for Smola to have a 'learning experience' with other people's money. And someone else to be on there, Smith, who's husband was in TCG holdings and I don't know what other LLCs.

I want a majority on there that vote with the children's interest is that simple.

Submitted by Bonkers on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 2:44am.

I don't get what you say!

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 6:30am.

School Board's Smith: ‘I’m an open book’
Tue, 10/21/2008 - 4:43pmBy: Ben Nelms
A review of the most recent financial disclosure statement filed by Fayette County Board of Education Chairman Terri Smith in January raised questions on her fiduciary responsibility in one company and a company owned by her husband that was not noted in her report.

Her financial disclosures are the subject of an opinion column on this page by former Peachtree City Mayor Steve Brown.

In Section II of the January 2008 financial disclosure statement relating to fiduciary positions, Smith said she held no fiduciary positions with any business entity.

Smith listed seven companies as a business or investment interest connected with her husband James Smith and none for herself. Her husband, in addition to owning a plumbing company, also has developed several residential projects in Fayette County, some located near current schools ...OR ON FORMER SCHOOL-BOARD OWNED LAND.

In one of those companies, James W. Smith, Jr., Inc. d/b/a Action Plumbing, Inc., Terri Smith is listed as secretary of the corporation, according to corporate filings with Georgia Secretary of State. Created in 1979, the most recent annual registration was filed in March.

Generally, the position of secretary is held by a member of a corporation’s board of directors and is considered a fiduciary position.

Referencing her Section II entry, Smith said Tuesday she has never been responsible for any aspect of the company’s operation and did not consider that she had any fiduciary responsibility for it.

“I thought the question meant if I was responsible for any money. I don’t have responsibility for the money, I don’t pay bills or work for Action Plumbing, never have. If I have any legal responsibility, I didn’t know it,” Smith said.

Not noted in Section VIII of her Financial Disclosure Statement was Sisbro Investments Corp., an entity created in 1997 with its most recent annual filing in March 2008. Her husband, James W. Smith, Jr. is listed as the CEO, CFO and registered agent.

Asked about not including Sisbro while accounting for seven others, Smith said the company was one operated by her husband and his sister. Her husband bought his sister’s portion after the sister’s death, Smith said, and she believed the company had been closed and ceased to be a functioning entity.

Having her say on the two issues, Smith acknowledged that her husband’s work in development and her service as a school board member sometimes puts her in the bulls-eye of speculation. It is terrain she did not shy away from.

“I’m an open book. I’ve never done one thing to profit from anything the school system has done,” Smith said emphatically about herself and her husband. “We’ve never sold anything to the school system. His companies have not sold anything to the school system. There was one time when a company he was with bought seven acres in Shamrock Plaza (in Tyrone) because they had the highest bid and had outbid Howard Guthrie. I abstained from that vote. There was nothing underhanded or secretive and I’ve discussed that transaction numerous times since then.”

On the broader issue of the impact of a school system and developers on a community, Smith said a direct link exists between public schools and the communities of homes it serves.

“I don’t believe being a developer or in construction is bad for the community. Anybody who thinks that’s evil doesn’t understand how economic growth works. Most everybody in Fayette County lives in a home built by somebody in the growth industry,” Smith said. “And the opposite of growth is decay. Communities can go down, school systems go down and people leave.”

Gene61's picture
Submitted by Gene61 on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 4:43pm.

Cut those you dont need... Rehire them when the system can afford them. Stop buying land and selling it off to developers... Stop supporting the children of illegals who pay ZERO taxes and yet burden the system further.

Now, after all this is done, its time to elect a new board and we the tax payers demand more accountability .As for the statement made earier that teachers are coming out their pocket for supplies, have you met the taxpayer, hello i'm the one who lost his job and is hit every year with a larger and larger supply list that often goes to those who dont even bother to buy one item..

I never saw this outcry about land etc before. Even I didnt bother to study the issue myself until now .. So we're here, stop whining and lets flood the meetings and demand change. Or SHUT UP.

Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 6:02pm.

I vote for your last statement.

Submitted by pattert2 on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 9:13am.

Curious---why is it saying 3% pay cut when it's 4.5% paycut?

It's all so mind boggling----hurtfull!!!!

Submitted by freedomofspeech90 on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 10:06pm.

No other county has taken the cut backs like Fayette County has. It's ridiculous when apparently we have some of the "best teachers, schools, etc" in the state of GA. And I guess the pay cuts helped Dr. Decotis keep his pay raises of 50 grand 2 years in a row! And what a joke the school board says at a Board Meeting that w/ all the cutbacks they will keep the airconditioning on for teachers afterschool as a "perk." What an insult. So many of these teachers involved in extra curricular sports, clubs, organizations, and more do so much for students. And for what? Ya, for the kids b/c that's their passion, but its sad to be taken granted for!

This is pathetic!

Submitted by longtimeresident on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 9:41am.

I know MANY teachers, and they have been absolutely abused by the incompetence of this Board. Due to ZERO contingency budget and the building of unnecessary schools, our underpaid, overworked teachers are getting even MORE work (bigger class sizes) at LOWER pay - - - and working MORE on their personal time since they were forced with furlough days. Oh, and I forgot to mention that they're dipping into their own pockets EVEN MORE for supplies given no state and/or local funding for adequate classroom supplies.

So, when is the Board going to be held accountable for such pathetic planning? I guess they must live 'pay check to pay check' since they apparently thought it was unnecessary to have contingency dollars in place for difficult economic times. Oh, wait......the Board and many at the home office who do NOT have to live 'pay check to pay check' like so many of these teachers are sitting comfy at HQ with their six figure salaries.

What a joke!

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 11:48am.

Got my tax bill....I called the tax office after I caught my breath...they said 73% of my taxes are for the schools. And looking over this, indeed they are!

What is so horrible is that most of this money is WASTED...LOOK ON THE BOE WEB SITE...WE HAVE LAND FOR SALE!!!

We have bond money still tied up in land. In Coweta the developers ...DONATE..THE LAND...

NOT HERE! We buy vast fields and then sell off what we don't use to build the schools to...THE DEVELOPERS...IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?


suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 11:52am.

I will sigh it 1000 times over....I will help you get signatures....and if the judge finds against it...I'll help organise the lynch party for him!

I'm really sick of this!

Submitted by g8trgrl on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 7:11am.

I can't believe anyone would waste their time on these "committees" to provide the FCBOE with ideas to work with. What a waste of time for the people who volunteer. Don't fool yourselves into thinking this board will utilize your ideas. It is just a cover to try to protect themselves as they continue to drive the Fayette County school system into the ground!

Submitted by Jaxxiesgirl on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 8:15pm.

So, let me see if I understand this correctly. The article says:

The board could also choose to reduce the supplemental amounts paid toward employee benefits. Regarding state-imposed furlough days, Brock explained that each furlough day in Fayette amounts to $620,500 rather than the $425,000 paid through state dollars. That is because Fayette employs a large number of staff, teachers and otherwise, who are paid, not with state QBE (Quality Basic Education) dollars, but with local tax dollars.

Perdue imposed furlough days which equals a cut of $425,000 normally but Fayette employs so many staff that it actually saved them $620,500 per day. This results in a difference of $195,500 extra that Fayette saved per day.

Am I the only one that finds it incredibly WRONG that 1) they didn't disclose this before now 2) they could have not asked for that much furlough time since they didn't need it because 3 days saved them more than what the governor's furlough day cut was for?????

Oh wait, I forgot.....they haven't exactly been good stewards of the money entrusted to them and the only way they think they should make up for that is by cutting employee salaries and benefits. Let's face it, a teacher's work week has never been 40 hours a week. It would be nice if the wonderful 7.5% paycut (including furlough days) also included less duties. It would be considerate to "furlough" the extra time spent on staff training and after hour meetings this year also. Maybe then the pay cut would be a little bit more bearable but continuing to ask for extra hours every week is just wrong. If that isn't bad enough, now they are considering more cuts.

I was wondering why they suddenly had extra money saved for a rainy day. Now I know. How about giving some back to the teachers doing the same job as last year but for less money?

Submitted by fc1989 on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 9:22pm.

Take a look at the state cuts.

You have to dig in deep to see that the state cuts are more than the furlough amount and that is why the system went the full 3 days plus ate up the pittily $1.5 million contigency in the budget so quickly. The state furlough amount is $1.3 million but the state cut total funding $3.9 million for a total of 5% of the state portion. The governor's goal was 5% total reduction in education spending and the furlough was supposedly optional.

The state funding shows total reductions of $12 million of which $5 million are traded with stimulus money. State funding calculation at

Your assessment of stewardship may not be arguable, but unfortunately when 90% of the budget is salaries and benefits there is little else to go after. The extra classrooms and land were built and bought with bond money. The bond money cannot be spent on operations.

Now that the board went to 20 mills on M&O the only hope to not be short is the economy to recover so everyone can pay their taxes on time. Aren't we lucky! SPLOST, as unpopular as it is, may have actually saved the board from choosing between teachers and computers. Hopefully the teachers would win out.

Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 3:57am.

Cut some headcounts! We can make do with fewer.
Who is going to pay those taxes? Those unemployed who aren't school employees?

Submitted by MacTheKnife on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 7:03pm.

You all desperately need a new Superintendant and a new comptroller. You also seriously need a new human resources director and a new school board.

Unless and until you replace these people you will be stuck with more of the same for quite some time to come.

And by the way, you are right, you should be told when you will be furloughed and for how many days, but since when did lowly teachers matter to the almighty human resources department, superintendant, or BOE?

I say again, unless and until your furloughs affect the general public, who then in turn call and voice disdain for the selfish incompetents working for the school system, you will suffer in silence and the system will continue to decline at your expense and to the detriment of local property values.

I would suggest you all challenge the BOE or superintendant to send out a survey to the teachers of your school system. They should measure the moral of teachers and building personnel and ask for the level of support that teachers feel (or do not feel) from central office employees and their Board of Education.

Clearly, if they REALLY cared, they would survey you and ask for input and feedback from you.

God help you teachers in Fayette County. I have seen many top notch teachers and administrators leave and know of many more that are attempting to leave.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 7:24pm.

I have seen copies of emails sent to ...some...on the BOE...a certain person's 1st reaction is almost allways.'I want to know...who told you that!" translated...I will fire them...

The teachers are scared and a few on the BOE are lying...a lot of people are matching answers on 'email trees' and they are not consistant!...


Just let it be known...we trust THEM..we don't trust you!

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 5:45am.

This is the kind of crap that occurs with cutting pay, etc.

Let the board layoff what people they can't afford (teachers and administrators) and be done with it!

No need to destroy morale of everyone, just the ones gone.

This scarce money will be around for years! Tax increases won't be tolerated.

Submitted by allegedteacher on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 6:02pm.

I respectfully submit to the FCBOE that they come clean with the school employees and just admit they plan to impose more furlough days and eliminate the county's contribution to the health insurance premiums. It is laughable what is ACTUALLY done in our schools with funding and personnel, as opposed to what is publicized.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 6:36pm.

It is a bitter pill to swallow when you have given your all at your job and made a difference. Then your pay, and you, are at the mercy of someone's bad planning and short sightedness.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 6:43pm.

"Anyone interested in serving on one of the committees can contact Kathy Smith at"

Incredible that when the public was saying "hold back on building ..more..schools", they didn't want our advice.

Now, when they have really screwed it up (3 amigos) its time to ask for voluteers to be the scapegoats! No, I think you have bullied you way this might as well keep going and take full responsibility for the outcome!

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 6:53pm.

why don't you get rid of ..sooo many people have suggested...a couple of your $100,000. plus a year, 9 month employeed..HOME OFFICE BUNCH?

It is just bull crapp that the people that work with the kids everyday are taking the hit. If these guys are soooo smart to pull down $100,000. plus a year in a 9 month a year job...please tell us all their merits...cause we don't get it!

SPQR's picture
Submitted by SPQR on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 7:57am.

Because in the real world when times get tough staff and middle management become expendable, and the operations level is protected as long as possible.

In the government world staff and middle management often are the last to go.

What they probably need is a hatchet man consultant to clean house of all the dead weight

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:23pm.

If you are going to give the teachers x number of days off without pay...why not give EVERYONE the same days off, including the kids and close the school for an extra 4 or 5 days. It would seem that would save a good bit.

Also, why are you paying health insurance for people who only work 20hr a week? I've never been anywhere they did that.

Submitted by Roadrunner on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 10:00pm.

and I know a lot of them ONLY do this job for those benefits, so I'm not as quick to pull it from them. Agree with most of the sentiment here, sacrifice should start at the top and only then work its way down.

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 6:08am.

So all CEOs and other corporate officers should first be laid off, huh.
Maybe just part of them.

Submitted by Scouter on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 7:33pm.

Some of the other companies I worked for always got rid of middle management when times were tough. The BoE should do the same. Look at those above the administrators and see how "necessary" the jobs truly are. I am sure that there are quite a few at the "home office" that could be laid off that would save enough so we can keep those front line workers (teachers and administrators).

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