Fayette School Board moves closer to decision on furloughs

The Fayette County Board of Education Tuesday will discuss whether to impose additional unpaid furlough days for school employees

to offset further state funding cuts.

School board members previously said they would wait until April to determine whether to absorb the anticipated furlough days for all school system employees or to impose the furloughs in order to have a larger surplus amount for additional cuts expected for the coming school year beginning July 1.

The board is in the unenviable position of having to soon decide which course to take on the furlough issue. Their decision will be tempered by a recently announced 6.35 percent decrease in the county’s worth and the likelihood of further state cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year and the one that begins July 1.

Each furlough day for school system employees equates to approximately $600,000.

In all, the board was told last month that the combination of falling local revenues and the likely state cuts for next year could result in a decrease of $15 million below current levels.

Rumors of impending cuts to programs by the board have surfaced from both school system employees and parents. Some expect potential cuts to various extracurricular activities, including the pay for the coaches involved.

Many school systems across metro Atlanta are experiencing a similar situation as Fayette. Some are projecting larger class sizes, the elimination of some bus routes and a variety of staff and programs and, in some cases, the closure of schools.

Fayette County’s preliminary tax digest figures showed what tax levying entities around the county had been expecting. Those numbers show that Fayette County’s overall value decreased by 6.35 percent for 2010. Hardest hit were the unincorporated areas and Fayetteville.

The total worth of the county for 2010 is projected at approximately$5.384 billion with last year’s values at approximately $5.748 billion, a difference of approximately $364 million, according to Fayette County Tax Assessor Joel Benton.

Meantime, the Georgia Senate on March 26 passed SB Bill 515, the Educator’s Salary Protection Act, by a vote of 35-11. SB 515 prevents school systems with more than six percent of their operations budget in a reserve funds account from imposing additional furlough days on school system employees prior to June 30.

Even if passed by the House and signed by Gov. Perdue the law, as it stands now, would not apply to the Fayette County School System since it does not maintain an officially designated reserve account.

Next door in Coweta County, the school board earlier this year committed to absorb up to three furlough days in the event that the state approved the cuts. The Coweta County School System has more than $22 million in its reserve account

eodnnaenaj1
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I am absolutely rolling on the floor laughing -

cut sports, especially secondary school sports, that's a good one! In Fayette County, you have got to be kidding, sports take precedent over most things. Someone should ask around and find out about the 'token' for the team who 'beat the pants off . . .' then talk about sports being cut.

The Wedge
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Do you want to start a ruckus?

then do what my school system did during my sophomore year in high school. A levy didn't pass and austerity came into effect. They eliminated all sports except football and girls's volley ball, boy's and girl's basketball, and boys and girl's track, and they eliminated busing district wide. We went an entire school year without busing. You were required to be a school, but they didn't bus you. The school system had probably 1200 students K-12, but we survived. Oh the gnashing of teeth that action would bring here! sacrebleu!

Bonkers
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wedge

Was there no teacher or staff layoffs?

The Wedge
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Bonkers

none that I can recall. They did save money on coaching positions (who were also teachers) being cut. You have to realize that staffing was entirely different than here:
K-6: 4 teachers per grade, 1 PE teacher, 1 Principal, 1 secretary (JR high as well)
7-8: maybe 6 to 8 teachers teaching hour long instruction blocks
9-12: i cannot recall the exact amount, but teachers teaching by subject in 1 hour blocks. 2 PE teachers, 1 nurse, 1 asst principal, 1 principal, 1 secretary

That was only my local school system - there was a larger school in the county that I do not remember what they did. We did not have the numerous staff positions that the county board has now. Very few adminstrators- more teachers by percentage

allegedteacher
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self-serving teacher comments on possibility of add'l furloughs

New flash, FCBOE! I teach (note the word "teach" as opposed to "volunteer") because I like it, I'm pretty good at it, I'm getting better at it, AND it pays my bills. It has its perks, as well as its down side. I respectfully request you refrain from any more furlough days this school year. My best and simplest suggestion, based on being an insider, is that you SERIOUSLY consider dropping some of the deadweight in consulting and coordinating positions. If it is as I have heard and you intend on cutting some of the postplanning days, consider the state in which our gradebooks, classrooms, and paperwork could be left without the proper attention. We teachers in Fayette County really do provide a great service to our children and parents; please allow us to continue in that tradition. Only thing is that I'm not going to do it for free.

wanttoknow
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Out of the Box Solutions

In a poor economy, a good business takes advantage of adversity by making good use of the assets that are held within. How about upgrading our facilities by using our almost empty new elementary school on Sandy Creek Road to upgrade facilties for students at two of our oldest. . .Fayette Elementary and Fayette Intermediate. Utility costs should be better due to modern equipment and those kids would get the "bells and whistles" that kids in the rest of the county have gotten as each new school has opened. The distance from old to new is probaly less than 4 miles, so we could give the kids something that they deserve. There would be no need for new staff as we could move the staff from the old schools to the new one. Maybe we would also see better test scores due to the better equipment (new computers) and excellent facilities. We finally upgraded the kids at East Fayette by moving them to the new Inman facility, so lets do the same for these deserving kids at our 2 left over dinosaur facilities.

Then the school board could sell the property where the old schools are located for commercial development or maybe even someone would be interested in razing the property and building some affordable housing for 1st time home owners (Geez. . . an idea that actually brings in money for a change). Part of the problem we have is that our school population is decreasing, so we really don't need the additional new school for growth purposes. What our county does need however is affordable housing so that teachers, police officers, fire fighters and entry level college graduates can afford to live in our county where they work. These people can't afford the $250,000 and up homes that represent entry level homes, much less the $500,000+ homes that are all over our county (Oops. . . Maybe they can make a bid on the many bank owned properties). These young couples moving to our county would eventually mean new babies that would repopulate our declining school rolls, increase our property and sales tax collections through the spending of their paychecks in our county, all the while bringing in an educated labor force of new citizens who will hopefully take pride in living in our county and take care of their property since they have a vested interes in their investment of time and money in our county.

Increasing our tax roles (not our tax rate) will solve our problems. . . Having better schools and facilities will bring in new residents. . . .CLOSE DOWN THE OLD AND MAKE GOOD USE OF THE NEW SCHOOLS BY GIVING ALL FAYETTE ELEMENTARY STUDENTS THE BEST FACILITIES AVAILABLE. . . ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE SITTING EMPTY!

jpopeye
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out box

I don't get over to that school area, is it really empty?

It seems like there is agreement on closing schools in the county. I'm not sure that is a solution to the problem but I guess it might help. I know most people consider the local school to be a part of their community. Closings are very hard to do.

Given the timeframe I think we will see furloughs before school closures.

g8trgrl
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school cuts

Instead of cutting middle school sports and possibly the secondary sports at the high school level - how about the board closes Bennett's Mill Middle School? There are about 500 kids in a school built for 1200. They could go to Booth & Whitewater where there is plenty of room. You could save the salary for a principal and put the teachers at the other schools. The proposed cuts coming to this county are going to be painful - people in Fayette better wake up and see what is in their kid's future. Threats of music cuts, art cuts, sports cuts ..... scary!

We have a chance at changing the Board of Education dynamic this fall - vote someone new in!!!!!

jpopeye
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Ref school cuts

Closing Bennett's Mill might be something to consider. That area of Fayette was filling in pretty fast when they built the school and things have slowed down. It might not save very much money though, and the cost of shutting it down/starting it up when needed would be significant. Can anyone post some figures on what the net gain of closing BMMS would be?

What about some out of the box thinking on school activites? If cutting the activities kept schools going and taxes low the community/business markets could cover music, art, and sports. Our kids are the number one priority, finding the solutions might mean we think about all possibilities - even those that are scary. ☺

Revenue problems are; either we don't collect enough, we are doing too much, and my favorite (the one we most often ignore) we are doing something grossly wrong that is making it impossible to balance the equation.

People do need to wake up. Voting someone new in will not solve anything by itself (look at Italy). New or old, good or bad, whoever is "in" will simply have to deal with the problem of balancing the equation or changing it. Our kids are the number one priority.

Bonkers
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jpopeye

No complicated, expensive study is needed! If the school staff can't do this, they can't teach either!

Looks easy to me---whatever teachers would be there if open would not be needed if closed. Also all staff there. Many of the main office staff who support another school would also be gone. Lots of dough.

Must cost a fortune to A/C and heat a big school building for kids. Maintenance must be expensive.

It should be rented to someone else, cheaply, just enough to keep it maintained.
There, do it. We have a recession.

jpopeye
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So it looks like two people see closing BMMS as the solution

It seems like the funding shortfall might be more than this saves but it must be a step in the right direction. I don't really have that much knowledge about the situation so I'll have to defer to others. I encourage everyone to think of alternatives that serve our community. Thanks for looking at my ideas.