On restoring teachers’ pay cuts, Fayette BoE is sympathetic but wary

The topic was whether to restore the remaining 3 percent pay cut to Fayette County School System employees instituted two years ago.

The Fayette County Board of Education in a non-voting work session on April 11 heard the particulars relating to the restoration and were given a glimpse of the numerous financial factors that might impact their eventual decision and next year’s budget.

“Please keep in mind that revenue is a projection,” Superintendent Jeff Bearden said at the outset of the discussion. “The economy over the last two years is an educated guess at best.”

The desire by the board to restore the remaining 3 percent of the larger 4.5 percent cut from two years ago has been the subject of conversation among board members and school system staff since the cuts were instituted, due in part to the increasingly large fund balance that has grown to approximately $19 million.

The salary reduction two years ago came as board members looked for ways to make up a projected $5.8 million budget deficit at that time.

Board member Janet Smola on April 11 reminded the board that they were told two years ago that the school system would essentially be in the red if the 4.5 percent reduction in salaries was not made.

There has been and continues to be none on the board who does not want to restore the previous pay cut to employees. The lengthy April 11 discussion was replete with the insistence that the cuts be restored as soon as possible. In that regard, Smola said she would like the cuts restored now. Some others on the board thought it best to see how other state and local revenue issues unfold in the coming weeks.

The school board in January restored one-third of the reduced salaries.

School system Audits & Financial Reporting Coordinator Tom Gray at the Monday night work session laid out the financial picture for the board in the upcoming budget discussions in preparation for the new fiscal year budget that begins July 1.

Though stressing that nothing is written in stone where revenues are involved, Gray said the potential ending fund balance on June 30 could be $18.89 million. Offsetting that amount to the tune of nearly $12 million are a number of factors, including the restoration of the salary cut, and leaving a potential 2012 ending fund balance of $6.9 million.

Those calculations include the caveat that the property tax digest remains unchanged, that property tax collections and other local revenues meet the 2011 budget numbers and that state revenues for next year equals the initial financial allotment figures for 2011 prior to last year’s budget cuts, Gray said.

Gray said the $12 million offset for the coming year included $5.2 million for the budgeted annual deficit, $4 million to restore the remaining 3 percent salary cut, $1.26 million in former federal stimulus positions transferred to the General Fund budget, $800,000 in textbook needs not covered by the one-cent sales tax and $660,000 in health insurance increases.

Superintendent Jeff Bearden at the end of the discussion said his intention was to continue to look at the variables pertaining to the budget and report back to the board with recommendations during the upcoming budget process that will end prior to the implementation of the new budget on July 1.

A part of that budget discussion will include the amount to be held in reserve.

Sleeping Beauty
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Restore the Money

Teachers in this county put in hours above and beyond what they are paid for. How many other occupations have responsibilities not only as teachers, but social workers, nurses, counselors, and mentors just to name a few. It's time that the those at the top recognize that Fayette county teachers want to produce top quality graduates and are proud of the job they do to promote this county's schools. The teachers deserve the money that was taken away, they have proven time and time again their worth. It's about time they get it back! In additon, as I understand it, the teachers that have reached the top of the pay scales with experience, haven't gotten the extra those that are on steps do and were some of the hardest hit. It's time we pay for what we get and support the teachers.

wildcat
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hours above and beyond

I agree. As per the snow days I have been keeping track of my time beyond the 8-4 hours. I have almost 90 hours logged and was very surprised. I've not done anything different from what I've done over the past 18 years. I guess I have been working above and beyond for a long, long time. Perhaps it is time to rethink how much extra time and effort I give? We are all paid on the same scale regardless of our work ethic and the past few years I have felt as though I am being used. The past two years I have run myself into the ground working two jobs. I'm almost half a century old and am starting to feel it. I hope the money is restored.

soundofm
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The teachers earned their pay

If we want to keep good schools in this county, we better start treating the teachers better. According to earlier newspaper articles, Fayette pays its teachers well below what is paid in other metro counties. Don't forget that most counties DID NOT cut teacher pay as was done in Fayette. So, let's return the lost pay NOW.

I understand from several teachers that many educators in the county are looking to "jump ship" and will apply to teach elsewhere. It seems many have had enough of the low pay and the lack of appreciation for all the hours they invest.

roundabout
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Invest?

Many teacher's invest time for the money and benefits.
They get paid what the county and state allows!

G35 Dude
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Yes Swami, and maybe
Quote:

Many teacher's invest time for the money and benefits.
They get paid what the county and state allows!

Yes and maybe that explains the following statics:

# In a typical year, an estimated 6 percent of the nation's teaching force leaves the profession and more than 7 percent change schools.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

# Twenty percent of all new hires leave teaching within three years.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

# In urban districts, close to 50 percent of newcomers flee the profession during their first five years of teaching.

Source: Darling-Hammond & Schlan, 1996

Smart Woman
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Budget Deficit

$5+ million deficit has been placed into the budget every year and the fund balance has grown. According to this article, $5.8 mill deficit projected in 2009 and $5.2 mill deficit projected again this year. Why is the comptroller stuck on this number?

Everyone needs to be looking at the ESPLOST fund. $17 mill balance. For what? This tax was for the following:
"If approved on the Nov. 4 ballot, the ESPLOST would be used to fund technology infrastructure, software and computers, purchase buses, and decrease bond debt. It would also fund facilities renovations, security and textbook purchases." Source-Fayette Neighbor 10/6/08

Why then can the $800,000 textbook expenditure not come from ESPLOST?

Chris P. Bacon
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Textbooks
Smart Woman wrote:

Why then can the $800,000 textbook expenditure not come from ESPLOST?

Excellent question, SmartWoman!

My first thought was that ESPLOST funds were not covering "consumable textbooks" (i.e. math workbooks) so I went and checked. According to the 06/08/09 board minutes, ESPLOST can be used for any and all textbooks, permanent and consumable, so your question is very valid.

Just a guess, but I suppose that the Board had x amount of ESPLOST funds budgeted for textbooks and this $800K is an unbudgeted overage. The FCBOE has a bit of a history with poor budgeting.

phil sukalewski
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Isn't it a shame that this is even a public debate

Isn't it a shame that this is even a public discussion? We're not debating in public whether the private workers who have taken pay cuts should get their pay restored.

If we had real school choice, (a.k.a. vouchers), we could take our children to the schools where we felt we got the most bang for our buck; AND the effective teachers would have a much easier time moving to a school where they were paid more for their services.

Funny how we enjoy choice and competition in the college system, but we let the bureaucrats & politicians make the decisions for us during our kids most formative years.

The Mole
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Public Discussion

It is your money. You pay these people including the board.

PTC Observer
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Phil S. - be careful

Be careful those kind thoughts will bring in the social liberal elites to this board in hoards.

pumpkin
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MAKE UP DAYS

Did these same deserving pillars of the community also lay out on snow make up days with the 50% of the sutdent body? If not did they do the proper reporting. Let them work a bit longer with their current pay the world is in deep crap. Everyone is cutting back no one has received a raise in some industries in over five years. Hell when you retire you will have it make not to even mention your summers.

Shut up and be thankful you are working.

The Mole
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Make-up days

Everyone whom did not work on the make-up snow days are required to make-up every single minute of all 5 days missed in January. Even those who worked the 3 make-up days are required to make-up an additional 2 days.

autojockey
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3% back pay for fayette teachers

Mr Bearden pay your teachers stop searching for reasons not to pay them.They worked while you had the audacity to go on vacation.

roundabout
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Attendance is not work!

Nothing can be defined as work until that which is worked upon is accomplished according to a defined plan by the payer.

Most teachers do get tired and some actually are able to teach valuable knowledge to students. Still, just attendance at a school by teachers is not work in itself!

If a laborer is paid a full days wages to load and empty 40 wheelbarrow loads of concrete per day's work but he only got 20 accomplished, then he only half worked and should be paid accordingly. The argument as to whether 40 is too many loads is null since others do it or they quit.

It is obvious that our students have been poorly taught for many years yet teachers and administrators have been paid their full promised wage until recently.

We must now stop paying ALL teachers limited wages, or sort out those who aren't successful and give the good ones a raise from the savings of laying off the worst ones. This would also include administrators. The first one to be fired would be the Superintendent in an unsuccessful district.

Pretended tenure or seniority is strictly a union thing and only applies in Universities to protect free speech.

Notice that the Superintendent of Atlanta schools is still there even after vicious scandals which showed obvious cheating and yet teachers and administrators are being protected and will leave with a bonus and a pension.

I'm not sure the standard tests are sufficient for measuring progress all by themselves. Simple interviews and conversations with students and teachers should be added.

Students who slipped by, for now, and can't learn should be shuttled to technical schools or job training. Start that at grade 1 for the future.

G35 Dude
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All problems solved!!
Quote:

It is obvious that our students have been poorly taught for many years yet teachers and administrators have been paid their full promised wage until recently.

So it's all on the teachers huh wise one? No child left behind requires that teachers teach to the lowest common denominator. Leaving smarter kids to twiddle their thumbs until the slow ones catch up. Parents in lower income communities may not take as much time at home with their kids to work on homework, not to mention that some kids just have more potential to learn. Teachers are measured on standardized tests so the system requires that teachers are forced to teach to the test. But that is their fault right swami? Low income districts have more discipline issues but that is a teacher problem too? Finally the wise has solved all of our problems. Just fire all teachers and administrators!!!!!

OK sarcasm off now. Yes, as in any group some teachers are below par but trying to measure their performance is a much harder task than you make it seem. Teachers are not factory workers that can be measured by the number of widgets that they produce. And to place all of the blame on them is not very intelligent. The system itself must be fixed first. As for the super in Atlanta he just needs to be in jail.

As for pay if you don't pay teachers a decent wage you will not have the best and brightest people wanting to teach. Then you'll complain even more about attendance not being work and about the results you are not getting.