Why not cut these school budget items?

Tue, 10/27/2009 - 3:52pm
By: Letters to the ...

I am not in the habit of sending anonymous letters, but I must this time, because what I have to say could cost me my job.

I am employed by the Fayette County School System. If the county continues to cut pay, I will not be able to make the mortgage payment on my house. I know for a fact that many folks are in more dire straits than I am. What I don’t understand is why?

Even before the recession Fayette County teachers earned less than any other metro school system. We are the only school system in the area facing such massive cuts. Where did the money go? Is it due to poor management? No one seems willing to answer these questions.

I never complain without offering a possible solution, so here goes.

1. [Superintendent Dr. John] DeCotis needs to cut his “programs that weren’t cut” that he’s always touting. If they can be cut, then cut them.

2. Combine the community school, career and technical education, and open campus programs — one building, one director, shared staff.

3. Close the Bee hive - it’s nice to have, but not essential

4. Why do we need a superintendent, an assistant superintendent, and a deputy superintendent? Lose at least one.

5. Why does the assistant superintendent need two secretaries and a bookkeeper?

6. Do we need a full-time testing coordinator (with secretary)? Why can’t the curriculum coordinators handle this?

7. Why do we have directors of curriculum (elementary and secondary) and an Instructional Department (with four secretaries)?

8. Why does the Technology Department have 12 employees and the computer system is never totally functioning two days in a row?

9. Why does the After-School Program have five employees at county level when many of our schools don’t even have the program?

10. We have school counselors; do we need 11 school psychologists (several of whom have patients on the side)? Why can’t we hire under temporary contracts when the Special Ed testing load gets heavy?

11. Speaking of Special Ed: fewer and fewer children are testing into special ed due to RTI and the number of special ed teachers has been cut. Why do we need 15 employees at county level (not including three secretaries and a bookkeeper)?

12. Find out what the REACH (five positions) and MAINSTAY (three positions) programs do (I haven’t a clue). Are they essential or just nice to have? How many children do they actually serve?

13. Close down the Welcome Center; it doesn’t work; parents show up at the schools anyway and are really annoyed when they have to travel into the LEC.

Our system only has 30 schools. Why do we have so many employees at county level when teachers in some schools have 26-plus children in their classes and are having to buy their own supplies?

I’m calling on our state government to order an independent audit of the school system’s budget. We also need a manpower study to point out where efforts are being duplicated, where departments can be downsized or eliminated and to explain WHY we have 150-plus people at county level for a 30-school system.

Name withheld by request

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Submitted by tchr1 on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:28am.

Suck it up, hunker down, batten down the hatches, and prepare for hard times, but stop complaining! You all sound just like our whiny students, and you’re embarrassing yourselves and me as a co-worker. Have you all forgotten that you work for a government bureaucracy? What do you expect from a government school system? Waste and excess is an inevitable byproduct, and to ask your precious FCBOE to be an exception is naïve.

As for teachers arguing it’s “unfair” for Fayette County educators to earn less than any other metro school system, think about what you are saying. Of course you make less than other metro area systems. The school system can pay us less simply because we teach better students. It’s a trade-off, but many of you don’t realize this because you’ve never taught outside the county. “I can go to Clayton County and make more money”. Ok, venture beyond the county lines and try that out. Many of you won’t last a week once the reality of public education outside Fayette County smacks you in the face, but your old positions won’t be available since folks are lined up to get into this system.

And Mr. Joseph Jarrell, for whom I have the utmost respect, I respectfully disagree. The teachers of Fayette County are not our most valuable asset. The students of this county and their families are what make this system great, and I’m saying that as a Fayette graduate and current Fayette County teacher.

Folks, you all need a reality check.

Submitted by allegedteacher on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 6:47am.

We teachers have been accused of whining about our pay cuts and told we'll just have to buckle down and flip burgers during the summer AND teach 25-30 kids per classroom. Well, we ARE already teaching 25-30 kids per classroom, AND we see waste of taxpayer money every day. We get these little feel-good memos from the superintendent's office every now and then, congratulating us for doing such a good job in these "challenging" times. AND we're told that there are more bad times ahead but they trust us to hold it all together...with fewer materials, fewer teachers, and MORE administrative control. I am not aware of any job cuts among the many consultants, coordinators, directors, assistant directors, but I do know that to have one of these folks come visit my school to give this poor ignorant teacher guidance (when it's really just another step in a way-too complicated process to get service for a child) is a major scheduling ordeal. Some classes do not have the textbooks they need; the SmartBoards in all the classrooms are just great, but our underachieving technology department has put in filters that block a large number of the educational sites. But they fixed THAT with instructions on how teachers can unblock individual sites in their spare time. Sorry if any of you non-school employees are irritated by the complaints (and there aren't many actually typed out, since we are faced with termination if we voice too loudly our discontent), but you may choose to not read them. Some folks might actually like to read the viewpoint of those inside the school buildings day after day.

Submitted by tchr1 on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 9:26am.

Submitted by normal on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 7:32am.

It is fun to complain, but how about giving us some imput on where we will get the money that you think you deserve. Everyone is so greedy. Everyone wants more. Thats the problem in the USA. Everyone is basically broke now. Sure a few have funds left but wait until next year. Lots more foreclosures are coming so buckle down and do the best you can. Whining doesnt solve anything. I agree this all sucks but with an ignorant government spending the great grandkids money now, we will all suffer even more down the road. If your healthy enjoy your days. And for Gods sake quit using illegals to do your work. Keep the money locally only. No more money to mexico, and check the tags on trucks and cars you may be getting estimates from, If not georgia, get rid of them. Support your neighbors, not aliens or out of state temporary workers. This will help our local economy. Have a lovely weekend

Submitted by driftwood on Thu, 10/29/2009 - 3:17pm.

Regarding county level employees, has anyone noticed the new FCBOE website? On the old site if I recall, there was a listing of ALL county level personnel… you could actually find names and I do believe contact information. Well, guess what, not anymore…or at least I couldn’t find a listing. Perhaps someone with better skills at maneuvering websites than me can. To “contact” the FCBOE, you go through their public information officer. There are, however, email links for board members provided. My point in all this? Do they purposely not want us to know how many employees are located at the County Offices? Just asking...seems awfully suspicious to me.

Submitted by Bonkers on Tue, 10/27/2009 - 6:49pm.

I can understand why you would want staff jobs cut and not teaching jobs, however whichever group is cut will cut jobs! Plus, all the people you mentioned if cut would not balance the budget. Much more is needed to be cut.

It will very likely get much worse at least for the next two years or so due mainly to unemployment in general staying at or above 10-15%.

To meet future budgets, since taxpayers that are working can't afford any higher property or sales taxes, it is going to be necessary to cut teachers--not just teacher pay. Many, many people are in dire straights trying to pay for their homes without a job or with a much lesser paying job.

Foreclosures have just begun in all likelihood since the federal government has done about all they can to stop it.

Many teacher, police and firemen jobs have been saved, at least temporarily by the TARP, but that can not be continued.

I hate to say it but bagging groceries and flipping hamburgers may have to be done in the three month summer and maybe have to teach 25-30 students.

Submitted by Scouter on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 9:08pm.

Bonkers, I agree with some of what you said but to the FCBOE employee, you have to give that person some credit. It is usually the people who work at a company who see where the waste exists. We hear about whistle-blowers in the news who report deficiencies and wrongdoing and I have to believe that this employee may have good ideas on how to save some money.

I know that some places I have worked, often cut travel and training budgets when the company was having financial troubles but I haven't heard anything like this occurring with the school system. I know teachers need to keep up-to-date with their education but most often pay for the training with their own money. Shouldn't the school system cut travel and training for a couple of years so we can keep more teachers employed and reduce the student-teacher ratio. With the ratio increasing, you will start to see test scores drop and this will affect the whole community. If test scores drop, the school system's ranking will drop which will affect property values which will affect tax revenues.

The system needs to keep a low student-teacher ratio and cut other areas so we can keep the scores up and keep the property values from dropping.

Submitted by Bonkers on Mon, 11/02/2009 - 3:05am.

I don't know how to say it any clearer!

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