Board of Education member Bacallao’s plan will not close budget gap

The Fayette County Board of Education has made it clear that they need to close a $15 million deficit in next year’s budget. In order to reduce some of this deficit, three elementary schools and one middle school are slated to be closed.

[Board member] Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao stated to the crowd of about 900 at the Jan. 28 board meeting in Sam’s Auditorium that she will not vote to close schools.

Dr. Bacallao has put forth several items that she states will prevent any school closures and restore student days to 180. The BOE has posted the answers to some of Bacallao’s suggestions on their website at under “Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers) regarding the FY14 budget.”

In her Alternate Plan, approximately 90 percent of Dr. Bacallao’s $6.5 million savings comes from reduction of 49 teachers, 12 assistant principals, cutting an undetermined number of 240-day employees to 210 days, and cutting the Welcome Center back to being opened two months (June and July), reducing more positions.

These position cuts are in addition to the cut of 100 certified, 100 para pros, 10 school secretaries, five high school parking lot attendants, elimination of middle school athletics, reduction of an unknown number of central office positions, outsourcing custodians, and reduction of supplements/extended day contracts that were proposed by the FCBOE’s Cost-Cutting Committee.

Only $670,000 of Bacallao’s $6.5 million savings comes from changing the bus zones to one-and-a-half-mile radius, but that number of $670,000 also includes the elimination of 30 bus driver positions.

Dr. Bacallao will tell you that the FCBOE can save $1.35 million by reducing 18 teachers while testing/approving more students for the gifted program and having more teachers acquire endorsement in Gifted.

But what Dr. Bacallao cannot say is how many teachers will the FCBOE train as gifted teachers and how much will it cost for this training.

She also cannot say for sure how many students will be found and classified as gifted after testing all of these children, let alone what cost will be incurred by the school district for testing of these students.

Another thing Dr. Bacallao does not seem to either understand or tell you is that since it will take about a year for gifted testing/placing of children and teacher endorsement to be obtained, another year has gone by without seeing any of this $1.35 million. In fact, since the QBE is based on last year’s numbers, the FCBOE will not see any of this money before FY 2015 or more likely FY 2016.

For years, the Band-Aid approach has been used to balance the budget of the FCBOE. While the school district needs to right-size itself with the number of employees, the idea that testing more children for gifted to acquire more money from the state of Georgia and trading personnel for school buildings in the face of declining enrollment is absurd.

Dana Camp

Peachtree City, Ga.

The Mole
The Mole's picture
Joined: 07/13/2010
Mary Kay-- Stop

Mary Kay needs to realize the campaign is over. She has only been in office a month but has divided the school district with her rhetoric.

I Heart Fayette
I Heart Fayette's picture
Joined: 04/28/2012
Bigger Concern

It is unboardsmanlike to make sweeping pronouncements in the press that undermine the work of the board as a unit. This behavior has plagued us in the past and it looks like it is going to continue. The public deserves a board that is open to input that is collectively reviewed and considered, committed to working in collaboration for the good of all, and knows how to de-escalate stress in times of trouble, not feed it.

Gerrie van Zyl
Gerrie van Zyl's picture
Joined: 10/26/2012
New ideas and debate is always good, but there comes a time.....

We must give credit where it is due. Bringing new ideas to the table is always good. It forces us to question assumptions and sparks off new lines of thinking. For this we must give Mary Kay credit. Many of her ideas certainly got me thinking, even if they did not solve the $15m budget gap they had value in the debate.

But there comes a time when leaders must face up to the tough choices - and then a continual stream of new contrary ideas becomes disruptive. We probably passed that point last week, maybe earlier. Already the negative fall out of Mary Kay's deeper cuts into instructional staff is visible. Teachers have been rattled, many feel their positions are uncertain, and some are scared.

At a time like now, this is intolerable. We have to remember that the ultimate goal is to balance the budget AND to restore the Fayette school system to the #1 position in the state. To do this will require that we focus and mobilize the school system and the community around the proposal put forward by the Superintendent. We must quickly make the cuts and then look to a great future.

It remains to be seen if Mary Kay can make this transition. If she can, we may have the makings of a very effective BoE. Let's give her the chance.


ginga1414's picture
Joined: 09/01/2008
No More Band-Aids, PLEASE!

Just do the surgery and get it over with!

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Bacallao is a sweet lady who excels in teaching teachers how to teach.

Even though Dr. Bacallao is an expert in teaching teachers, she ironically is willing to cut 49 teachers.

According to Dr. Bacallao’s calculations, her plan will reduce a $15 million deficit by $6.5 million. Where does she plan to find the other $8.5 million?

lt47's picture
Joined: 06/07/2010
Yep. You got it. Amen.

Let's be realistic. We have had the Board strangled by the 3-2 vote of former educators with their own agenda for development of the county, special interest folks using the BOE transportation department to facilitate air shows. It is now time to wake up and smell the stuff we are left with. We need Board members who are willing to forget about,” what’s in it for me”. We need Board members to put their concerns for their own wallet aside and get on with the job they were elected to do.
EVERY Board member should be making decisions for the education of ALL the children of Fayette County. Your child’s education should not suffer because I want my little darling to attend school in the same building I did. Not just Brooks, Tyrone and Fayetteville. Not just gifted students, special needs students, athletics, band, art, technology………..Not just to get elected or re-elected to the Board.
We didn’t get here overnight. It was a long road of getting nothing done year after year. Well, it isn’t pretty. My Daddy always said, “This is where the rubber meets the road.” The medicine will not taste good, but please give us Board members who will take the heat and finally, do what needs to be done.

ImFedUp's picture
Joined: 10/07/2010
It47 ... Amen and Amen!

Very well written, 47. Additionally, let us parents stop talking down this mandatory move in front of our children and start being positive. We must prepare them for the inevitable future.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
Your spot on

Dr. Bacallao may be a fantastic educator, but she lacks the financial accumen to manage a budget such as the FCBOE. Her campaign preyed on the emotions of those communities losing schoools. Her plan was full of holes and unsubstantiated data.

Since we have to live with what we elected, we need to push her into championing another cause. Something on the education side such as special ed, advanced teacher training, ect.. Maybe Ms. Key can assign her to a task.

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