Proposed BoE budget: Goodbye to 82 Fayette teacher, custodian positions

Slots to be eliminated: 63 teachers, 18 custodians, one secretary; adding 1 parapro

The Fayette County School System’s proposed 2012-2013 budget set to be adopted in mid-June shows estimated revenues of $163.1 million and expenses of $178 million — a nearly $15 million shortfall.

Despite $11 million in expenses cut from the current school year the Fayette County Board of Education will still have to use millions in its fund balance to adopt a balanced budget.

The projected $15 million in fund balance expected at the end of 2011-2012 school year on June 30 will be needed to balance the budget, according to Superintendent Jeff Bearden’s proposal that includes $178 million in expenditures and $163.1 million in revenue. Using what is essentially the entire fund balance to balance the 2012-2013 budget will also result in a projected fund balance of $67,425 as of June 30, 2013.

Looking at the revenue side, local property taxes this year were budgeted at $81.6 million and vehicle tags at $6.4 million. For 2012-2013, vehicle tags are expected to remain at the $6.4 million level based on a projected 93 percent collection rate. But property taxes are where the school system will take a large hit. Property taxes are forecast to shrink to $72.5 million, a decrease of more than $9 million due essentially to the 10.39 percent decrease in the tax digest.

The school system for 2012-2013 is also expected to see $220,000 in transfer taxes, $1.1 million in intangible taxes, $25,000 in interest income and $725,000 from other local sources.

As for state (QBE) funding, those dollars budgeted this year totaled $79.6 million while the level next year is expected to increase to $81.4 million, due in part to increases in funding to the teacher retirement system and step salary increases. Other state grants will bring in an estimated $325,000. Comptroller Laura Brock last week said she would report back on QBE earnings toward the end of the fiscal year in June.

The idea of using fund balance to balance the budget is what occurred last year when the fund balance was approximately $26 million and more than half of that amount was used to balance the budget.

So what is the difference in the $186 million in expenses this year and the proposed $178 million for next year?

In all, the proposed reductions in expenses over last year total $11.1 million. Going into the 2012-2013 school year there have been cuts such as the new 177-day school year that takes effect in July that will save $3.4 million and the proposed reduction of staff positions through attrition that will save at least $4.2 million. Other decreases include staff benefits supplements at $2.4 million, central office staffing changes at $388,000, reductions in the operations budget of $762,000 and other benefits adjustments at $269,000.

Offsetting the reductions are approximately $2.8 million in increases relating to health insurance for classified employees, the teacher retirement system and teacher step increases.

Bearden previously noted that 90.8 percent of the schools system’s expenses are in the form of personnel. That translates into the personnel portion of the 2012-2013 expenditures totaling $161.6 million.

With that comes proposed reductions in both certified teaching staff and classified non-teaching staff. Included in the proposed expense reductions are 62.7 fewer teachers for next year. Those reductions include 13.9 high school teachers, 19 teachers in middle schools, 18 in elementary schools, 2 in physical education, 6.5 in special education and 1 counselor. Proposed classified reductions include 3 regular parapros, 13 special education parapros,, 17.5 custodians and 1 secretary/bookkeeper. All but 13 of the positions are funded by general fund sources. Seventeen collaborative parapros are being added for a net increase of one parapro position.

Bearden previously noted the expectation that all of the personnel reductions could come by attrition since the school system loses upwards of 250 staff per year of its more than 3,000 employees.

Another aspect of the personnel reductions rests with the significant loss in student enrollment over the past several years. That decrease in enrollment comes with a decrease in state revenue that totals approximately $4,000 per student.

Fayette schools had a total enrollment of 20,316 in 2001. A study last fall by the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia showed that the school system added approximately 250-700 students during each of the years through 2006. It was in 2006 that the all-time high enrollment of 22,242 occurred.

The slide in enrollment began in 2007 has continued since that time, with enrollment numbers last fall placed at 20,296. Fayette schools since last year lost more than 700 students. The study projects the downward trend to continue over the next decade with the school system losing a relatively small number of students each year, especially in the next five years and through the end of the study period when Fayette is expected to see an enrollment of 18,647 in 2021. If the projection is correct, that represents a drop of 1,649 students over the current enrollment number.

Coinciding with the increase in students through 2006 was the opening of three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school between 2002-2007 to meet the needs of the rapidly growing Fayette County School System.

The school board in responding to the reduction in student enrollment is considering the closure of Fayette Middle School, Fayetteville Intermediate School, Hood Avenue Primary School, Tyrone Elementary and Brooks Elementary schools. The closure options will also include opening Rivers Elementary School.

Bearden earlier this month said closing the schools and opening Rivers Elementary would bring the county’s elementary schools to an 85-87 percent capacity and would save more than $3 million per year.

The next meeting to discuss the board’s preference on the optional plans is expected to come at a workshop in July or August. The board at that time is expected to make a decision that will provide the school boundary redistricting committee with the information needed to begin its work.

Public hearings will also be held to solicit public input. The entire process is expected to be completed in December in time for the implementation that will take effect in the 2013-2014 school year.

But even if the five schools are closed and more than $3 million saved it remains to be seen how the school board will reckon with not having a substantial fund balance to draw on this time next year when preparing to adopt the 2013-2014 budget.

milton06
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Shame on you

Shame on you for posting this dribble and trying to damage the reputation of two outstanding administrators at arguably the best high school in the county. I'm sure you have documented evidence of the dates where these two people "burst into a class and belittled the teacher in front of the students" or is this something you overheard at the Waffle House? I'm am really sorry to inform you that it is impossible for any leader to make 100% of their employees happy 100% of the time. McIntosh is a better school today because of the caring, competent leadership team that has made some unpopular changes. A newspaper blog is no place to air personal vendettas.

Dondol
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No, shame on you

for burying your head in the sand and not paying attention to whats happening around you. You know who the teacher is, do your due diligence and go ask. On another note, it has come out that as broke as we supposedly are, all department heads at FCBOE are getting new Ipads at the start of next year. Here we are talking about firing the very one's that make our system work because of a lack of funds and they are going to purchase a couple of hundred Ipads. Its time to Clean House people, call the County and make your voice heard!

driftwood
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Thanks Dondol

Thanks for reposting. I, too, found the content very interesting.

thinkingisgood
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What will we do in 2013 2014

Evidently we are cutting to the bone this year and borrowing to balance the budget. I think of one or two ways we can save money, but it requires expenditure. Retro fit the buses to use natural gas this would save a money in the cost of gasoline. Take a long look at the number of Administrative positions and see who and what can be cut. Replace some of the board members during this next election with new board members with business backgrounds. WE need to make the office of school superintendent a elected position again in Georgia. The county needs to encourage more industry to come build in Fayette County this is the only way we can increase the tax base.

Robert W. Morgan
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An elected superintendent, thinkingisgood?????

I agree that thinkingisgood, but you need to think this one through. If we were to have elected superintendents as we once did, candidates for the office would have to meet 2 requirements. 1. They would have to be a resident of Fayette County. 2. They would have to be working in education to be taken seriously as a potential superintendent and they would most likely have to be a principal or administrator who by definition works directly for the existing superintendent.

Now with the exception of a retiring or departing superintendent, that means all candidates will be running against their boss and losing would put you in an awkward position after the election. Even is 2 principals ran against each other for an open seat would have an uncomfortable aftermath.

Bad idea. As an example, has anyone seen Thomas Mindar lately?

AtHomeGym
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RWM & Thomas Mindar

He's probably riding shotgun with Barry Babb!

yellowjax1212
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Keep In Mind

The best candidate may not be local.
If you knew that you would face re-election every four years, especially in this political climate, you are not likely to attract the best possible candidates.
AND
When you get politicians involved at that level you get candidates like Don Haddix.
When you get candidates like Don Haddix, they run their mouth.
When they run their mouth, they get sued for Libel.
When they get sued for Libel, the stick the taxpayers with the legal bills.
Don't get stuck with the legal bills. :)

DrB
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Someone has to do something

I have been reading your posts with great concern for several months now and I kept thinking SOMEONE HAS GOT TO RUN!! Tuesday I decided that someone was me.

www.barrymarchman.com

ginga1414
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ABSOLUTELY!! A Step In The Right Direction

I agree with Robert W. Morgan. Thank you so very much Dr. Marchman for wanting to represent the children and parents of Fayette County.

I have visited Dr. Marchman's website and I strongly encourage everyone else in Fayette County to do the same. He is extremely well qualified in every shape, fashion, and form.

Thanks again, Dr. Marchman!

Robert W. Morgan
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Well now, this is a big step in right direction

Thank you Dr. B for stepping forward and good luck in your campaign. We need more people like you.

fc1989
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Not a business

This argument about school (and government) being a business is not valid. If the school system were a business then revenues would be determined by delivery of service or product. The revenue stream from taxes has no link to the number of students except on the state side of the equation but that is a false equation. The state does not fund the local systems based on what it cost to educate a student, they only use student population to allocate the funds budgeted.

If the school system were a business then the school would stop serving markets and product lines that are not profitable. The non-profitable product lines are special education, credit recovery,pre-k, ESL, summer school and Title I. These programs cost more to run than the core of education. Yes the system gets federal money for these types of programs but not to the extent that the programs cost above the normal core programs.

In addition, a business would no longer serve customers who cannot behave in their establishment. They would call the police and have them removed and banned. At some restaurants it says no shirt no service. If you act up at a Braves game they can ban you from Turner Field. Schools cannot pick and choose its' clients. If I run a contracting business I can choose the jobs and clients I want to serve. If I run a restaurant I can choose to serve alcohol or not. Schools must serve all students who attend regardless of the cost. A business makes decisions based on profitability not on requirements of the state and feds to make sure everyone gets a required level of service.

Charter schools (and private schools) however are run like a business. They go after the best clients (and best paying clients) and when the clients don't meet their profile they quite serving them...or fire them. The school system can't fire their customers and when they try they face costly lawsuits.

If you want the school system to be run like a business then you will have to leave some children behind. This is not the business' fault.....not everyone is in the market for what the school is supposed to offer which is an education. You aren't given an education... you get an education which is requires action on the part of the student.

I am not saying that it should be run like a business I am saying that you can't, because it is not a business, it is a government service.

reddawg44
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If you want to be absolutely literal about it....your right

Thank you Captain Obvious for pointing out all of the ways that a school in not and cannot be a business for all practical purposes. Now, to restate what I already posted, I believe that there are AREAS of the school system that can be run like a business. For example, instead of taking a massive hit on bus transportation for half empty busses all over the county, have every student who rides the bus even once pay a $25 surcharge. Does that cover the entire cost of the transportation side of the equation? No, but it certainly helps. That is what I am talking about in terms of the school system being like a business. A business does not give up money every which way, but instead attempt to save money any way they can and if they can't cut something because it is vital to the business, they try to make it as cost-effective as possible.

Perhaps that clears things up?

fc1989
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Cost effective yes....

.. but you can't charge for bus service when you can't even charge for lunch. If it is so obvious that it is not a business then why do so many think you can run it like one. The half empty buses would not cost less if they were full. Yes you could have less routes and therefore less drivers but the only way to fill them up is to design longer routes. Start picking the kids up at 630am instead of 7am and drive them around for an hour and a half. The real savings are in the salaries and benefits which equates to people. The current budget has 90% going to salaries and benefits. Several years ago it was only 85%.

You have 200 drivers and if you cut consolidate routes and save 5% of your drivers you reduced your salaries by (10 x $25,000) $250,000. The problem hear is that parents will not stand for it at all. The $25 fee would generate $250,000 if half of the 20,000 students paid the fee. I do not know what the percentage of riders is. An amount that is worth the effort. Now who is going to collect and track the fees to make sure that everyone pays? What about those that cannot "afford" it? Are you going to refuse to pick up those that do not pay? That means more responsibility for the bus driver or even a lawsuit for unfairly charging the families that can least afford it. The system has the same problem with fees for extra sports.

Cutting costs and efficiency does not mean you are running like a business. My point is this phrase is over used and misused. It is a pet peeve of mine. I have taken too long to say that. However, reducing costs should be reviewed in all areas. Since the system has gone from a budget of $200M in 2009 to $170M in 2013 it sounds like costs have been reduced and the easy pickings are gone. Unfortunately the only way to really raise revenue is to raise the millage rate but since it is maxed out that is not an option without voter approval. Would this really be raising taxes by raising rates, tax revenues are down because property values are down. I bet most of us are paying less in property taxes now than 3 years ago.

What business models that do need to be followed are scaling back (close schools), downsizing (less employees doing more), and market focus (reduce programs). Now I am even saying to run it like a business. Now raise prices until you cover marginal costs to the point where supply equals demand.

PTC Observer
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fc1989 - I haven't thought too

I haven't though too much about this, but it would seem reasonable that one solution would be to have the parents bring their children to a pick up point. Why do we have all these buses driving twenty five feet each stop?

Let's say we have the parents take all the children to a park, the park could be marked off by school. A crossing guard could be assigned to keep kids out of the way of the buses. Each bus would pick up a bus load of kids at a certain time based on grade? Having centralized pick-up points could save a lot of gas too. Parents could swap off on days to take kids and neighbors kid to the pickup point.

Anyway, I am certain there are a number of creative ways to reduce the number of buses and bus drivers. Let's think outside the box on this.

Or we could just sell off the entire school system and privatize it, now that' the best option, IMO.

driftwood
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Yes, thanks

Thank you for the input. Did not know that about the posts.

driftwood
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What happen to earlier post?

I recall from yesterday, a post, regarding administrators at one of the high schools, however, it has disappeared... does anyone else remember that particular post? Find it interesting that it is no longer online.

Dondol
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Driftwood

I had a copy of the post you were inquiring about, copied it because I thought it interesting.
"I'll tell you one place they could cut
The Principal and Registrar at McIntosh need to go. Since the Principal was elevated to this position she has made it her job to try and strip the school of the Teachers that care and go the extra mile. She now is going after our new District Star teacher(English), taking away classes stating that the teacher had poor writing skills. How can a teacher that teaches AP classes and has been teaching for 20 years suddenly have poor writing skills? This is just the tip of the iceberg to what is going on at this school. These teachers have enough pressure on them with on-going budget problems and everyday teaching situations without having the Principal and Registrar constantly belittling them in front of students. Yes these two don't even have enough management skills not to burst into a class and belittle the teacher in front of the students, don't believe me, ask your kids. Parents have been going to the County office and meeting with officials but to no avail. Everybody has problems at work at one time or another, but the harassment that is going on at McIntosh is going to far. How can a Teacher competently teach their class if they are constantly looking over their shoulder, in fear for their jobs. What kind of Education do you think your children are going to get. And yes the students are talking about this."

wildcat
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Had a copy?

You were the original poster. The question is...why did you post it, delete it, then repost it and write that you "copied it because you thought it was interesting?" That's really weird.

eodnnaenaj1
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I did not see the post,

what did it concern? The budget? Or something else?

eodnnaenaj1
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I did not see the post,

what did it concern? The budget? Or something else?

reddawg44
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Removed Post

Yep, I remember it. It was talking about McIntosh's principal and registrar and how they were belittling an AP English teacher and trying to get her fired. It was there yesterday, but now its not. That is quite intriguing.

eodnnaenaj1
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Interesting indeed -

teachers need all the support co-workers, parents, and students can provide. If there was a comment like this, Citizen please repost it.

Editor
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Citizen didn't remove the comment; poster did

Remember, you can always remove your own post from this site without asking me or anybody else. I scanned the post and left it as it stood. Nobody here touched it.

The poster must have had second thoughts, as posters sometimes do.

The software underneath the site allows as a default the power for a poster to change ("edit") his/her post, which includes to delete it altogether.

If the poster deletes his/her own post, we cannot retrieve it. It's gone from the database.

eodnnaenaj1
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Thanks

for the input.

AtHomeGym
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Reply

So where is Git hiding out these days?

eodnnaenaj1
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Hello there AHG,

I have not heard from ole Git in I can't tell you how long, I have no idea what he is up to these days. I just keep showing up for work and hope he keeps signing the paychecks! LOL!

In fact there are several from that group that I haven't heard from in a long long time. I guess folks just get too busy and fail to keep in touch.

Hope you are well and life is good.

Cyclist
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Hello there Jane1

Come to think of it.......where have you been????????

heatjam
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BYOT

Don't forget that the FCBOE is spending tens of thousands of dollars on putting the BYOT in place at all of the schools...including those that they intend to close. How many parents out there are going to allow their elementary school student to bring in a laptop, tablet...?

yellowjax1212
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Tough Times

Tough Times call for tough decisions. County growth is flat. Enrollment is down and looks to continue that trend in the near future. The BOE is faced with some very difficult choices. Schools will need to close (already in the plan) and personnel will have to be cut back (already in the plan). If there are less schools because there are less students, you need less teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, etc.
The only part of this equation that they could possible get wrong is to NOT make cuts at the Administration level. Without those you absolutely gut morale for all the school-based personnel and leave the taxpayers scratching their heads.
Dr. Bearden, if this is the plan you stick with...you got it wrong.

driftwood
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County Office Personnel Needs to be Cut

Agree with Reddawg44 about how we got here, but now we need to deal with these tough times. I, too, noticed that there was no mention of County Office Personnel being cut... why??? Just like any other "business", the higher ups are spared and those in the trenches are the ones that get the axe. The sad thing is, we all know of those individuals that were promoted to the County Office b/c they could no longer function at the school level. So sad, so very, very sad. The Board should start asking questions and start doing their jobs.. we cannot vote out County office personnel, but we sure can vote out Board Members!!

reddawg44
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County Office Personnel Needs to be Cut

Driftwood, you are correct on the county office personnel. However, I have a theory as to why they are not cut in this county or any big business in general. The "higher-ups" are few in number. Meaning that if you cut their pay or positions, you are not ging to cut that much in the big scheme of things. Contrast that with the 3,000 plus teachers. If you pick on them and find something to take from them, then multiply whatever you take by 3,000 and that is pretty significant. That is also the lazy way to go because one cut fixes many problems whereas cutting a little here and a little there required much closer observation and consternation and work. That's my theory.

But as I said, I believe that the county (school, police, justice department, etc.) need to examine everyhing thoroughly and cut any fat. This is the time. Yes, the task would be arduous but like a person who has over time grown fat, it takes work to remove the all of the extra weight that has been accumulated over time. One swift action does not remove countless pounds of extra weight.

G35 Dude
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Heres another angle reddawg
Quote:

The "higher-ups" are few in number. Meaning that if you cut their pay or positions, you are not ging to cut that much in the big scheme of things.

Yes reddawg but since these "higer-ups" make more, cutting one of them could save 2-3 teachers or 4-5 custodians or 10-11 bus drivers. They may be fewer in number but you get a bigger bang for the buck. And if the state says we have 8 too many anyway.........Well?

reddawg44
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Heres another angle reddawg

G35, I completely agree. All I am saying is that when you are talking about trying to "find" several million dollars in a budget, these people look at the "higher-ups" and believe they can't really solve the problem by cutting them. There are fewer of them, so while it may save several of the positions like you mentioned, its not enough. Also at play here is the fact that the "higher-ups" are the people they (superintendent & BoE Board members) actually know. They can actually put a face on these "higher-ups" while the teachers are faceless and many in number. Just like a corporate office. The top executives do not get the axe for similar reasons. Its the faceless minions toiling away in the cubicles that get the axe.

I do want to make clear that I am not in agreement with them not cutting some of these unneeded central office jobs. I am simply offering reasons as to why I think they all but refuse to do that. They look at it this way.

Option 1: cut some teachers, cut some central office personnel, cut some custodians, cut some bus drivers, cut some cafeteria personnel, cut some parapros, cut some under used and unneeded SRO's, cut some bus routes, add bus surcharge, increase lunch prices, increase sports activity fees and take a cut, etc. etc.

Option 2: cut every single teacher to the bare bones. Nothing else needed.

Which option is easier? Option 2. I am not saying that some teachers do not need to be cut either. They do. Everyone needs to bear the burden here but after and only after ALL of the fat is cut. Again, this is just my opinion, but if this county continues to cut teachers and expect the same results, they are sadly mistaken. This will turn into a classic case where the county wakes up one day and the school system is in shambles and they say "what happened?" Well, what happened was you cut until there was not cutting left to be done and the good teachers who can get jobs elsewhere left. They were the people that made the system go. Not the superintendent. Not the county office personnel. Not anyone else but the great teachers who devote so much time to the kids in this county. And who were they replaced by? None other than the teachers who were run off by counties who are doing the right thing and trimming fat (some which happened to be bad teachers). I can see it coming a mile away if they continue down this path.

Dondol
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.

?

Veritas
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No administrators cut....

This mental midget won't cut one administrator position. As he stated he's affraid of an administrator shortage.. Hello anybody home !!!! The state already says we have too many (8 positions over I believe)and won't fund them so the county picks up the entire tab for their salary . Dee dee dee this man is either dumb or completely incompetent.

Robert W. Morgan
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That's what the duly elected school board is for

to question these recommendations and ask Mr. Bearden about the need for those extra 8 administrators.

It appears that this school system is so bloated that the superintendent only supervises the administrators in the main office and all the administrators supervise the teachers, the buildings, the buses. I mean how embarrassing is it when the bloated and inefficient state government tells you that you are overstaffed?

abacus2
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Reductions at FCBOE county office

And the reductions at the county office are ... where? Yes, a 30 (soon to be less) school system needs 3 assistant superintendents. Oh, don't get me started ...

reddawg44
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Reductions at FCBOE county office

I think the bottom line is like so many other businesses (and yes, the school system should be a business) during the early 2000's, everything was about growth. The money was rolling in, more students, more housing, more schools, more teachers, more of everything. Then came 2008 and the economy and times have changed. I don't necessarily blame the county for being "bloated" because who wasn't during the early 2000's? the problem is that now the county needs to get back to basics and trim all of the fat. Yes, it hurts and people and families are going to be impacted. But the business model from 10 years ago will not work anymore or at least for the time being. The school system, as I said earlier, is a business and if they woudl conduct themselves that way then I believe they would be ok. A couple examples would be raising the prices of lunches to say $3. Yes, you still have your free and reduced students and that is fine. But what about everyone else? At least at that price every school cafeteria would not be operating in the negative each year. I read in a different column where a poster suggested a $25 surcharge to ride the bus. That cost would cover all year long or one day or any number in between. Bottom line is, the county is going to have to make some tough decisions in the near future because as the author of the article alludes to, for next year's budget there will be no fund balance to fall back upon.