Sup’t. Bearden warns Fayette schools facing up to $20 million in cuts for next year

In a somber “Welcome back” letter to faculty and staff on Aug. 17, Fayette County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden asks for input in figuring out how to slash up to $20 million — or nearly 12 percent — from an already austere school budget for the 2013-14 school year.

The budget for the current school year calls for spending about $177 million but receiving only $163 million in tax revenue. The shortfall this year is being made up by spending almost all the system’s cash reserves.

“We continue to see a decrease of revenue at the local level (property taxes), austerity cuts from the state ($15 million for us this year alone), and declining student enrollment,” Bearden wrote in the letter posted on the system’s website.

“We reduced our expenditures from last year to this year by more than $11 million,” Bearden continued. “To balance this year’s budget, we reduced our work year and benefits for all staff. We also eliminated more than 80 positions throughout the system. We were able to avoid a Reduction in Force, and we protected programs and services for students.

“In spite of all of these cuts, we had to exhaust most of our fund balance,” Bearden wrote. “Unless we see great improvement in the economy that translates to additional revenue for our system, we may have to reduce our budget by as much as $20 million for the 2013-2014 school year. This will be an arduous task; I am asking for your input.”

Bearden said he has formed a task force charged with coming up with additional budget-cutting recommendations. The report is due ”prior to the Christmas break.”

Bearden listed the following as cost-cutting “suggestions” already made and “taken under advisement”:

“• Continue to maximize savings and efficiencies — We will monitor all vacancies and only fill those positions that are deemed critical to our mission. We will continue to be energy efficient and cost efficient with all purchases — last year we increased our fund balance over $7 million by implementing these initiatives.

“• Consider school closures and redistricting — each closed school saves approximately $800,000.

“• Outsource custodial services — anticipated savings is $1 million.

“• Continue to reduce/combine county office positions through attrition. Last year we reduced county office positions and saved $380,000.

“Note — we currently spend $182 per student less than the state average on general administration-source DOE. For example, we are funded for six full-time assistant superintendent positions, but employ only one deputy and one assistant superintendent.

“• Continue to reduce staff in all other categories through attrition — cost savings is dependent upon the number of positions we reduce.

“Note — we currently employ 152 more positions than the state allocates, primarily teachers and counselors. We have reduced the number of certified staff in our system by more than 200 positions since FY’07.

“• Reduce the number of assistant principals to be more in line with the state funding formula for these positions. We currently employ 14 more assistant principals than the state allocates — cost savings is $1.2 million.

“• Additional “shut down days” — each day saves approximately $700,000.

“• Elimination of all 1st grade paraprofessionals — cost savings is $1.2 million.

“• Consolidation of bus routes.

“• Reduce stipends for supplements.

“• Eliminate all middle school athletics — cost savings is $210,000.

“• Salary decrease for all employees. Every one percent reduction in salary will save $1,325,000.

“NOTE — Employees who spoke at a board meeting in the spring of 2011 overwhelmingly preferred “shut down” days to percentage decreases in salary.

“• Consider a tuition policy that would allow students who live outside of Fayette County to attend our schools. This policy can be written to ensure specific guidelines for acceptance, and how a student could lose the privilege of attending our schools.

“• Consider asking our citizens, through a referendum, for an increase in the current millage rate.

“NOTE — Property owners in Fayette County are paying less in property taxes than they did several years ago.

“Members of the Task Force include: Sam Sweat, Chair; Laura Brock; Chris Horton; Linda Beaubien; Lynn Ridgeway; Audrey Toney; Rae Presley-King; Randy Hudson; Louis Robinson; Eddie Pollard.”

Larry Sussberg
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BOE & Funding

Thanks for your response.

What about revenue cuts from the county and the state?

Can we assume the county is consistent throughout the year based upon reassessments done at begining of the year?

Is GA consistent throughout the year after the budget is finalized or do they make cuts throughout the year that impacts the budget?

As I read around what happening in other GA counties, the problems appear the same as Fayette with a few exceptions.

Sorry I can't attend the meeting, but concerned by what happens. Clearly we have a problem which is compounded by the fact that our children are involved.

Thanks again.

Larry

americanpatriots
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Answer to Larry Sussberg's question

The state QBE payments are made monthly. The county pays the school board their share of property taxes monthly with the majority of the money coming when our taxes are paid in November. Other revenue is also paid monthly, i.e., car tags revenues are collected and paid based on the owner's birthday. Other incidental revenue is received throughout the year.

You can view the current years budget online.

I hope that helps answer your questions.

Jim Richter

Larry Sussberg
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AmericanPatriots - BOE

Hi Jim,

Not knowing the process as it pertains to budgets, I realize that BOE sets an annual budget and their "revenues" are based upon real estate taxes and GA state funding.

Do you know how often Fayette County makes payment to the school system (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually) and when and how do they advise the school system of tax reductions due to property reassessments?

Same for GA? How often does the state send funds and what about their notifications of downward adjustments?

Thanks
Larry

americanpatriots
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School capacities & enrollment figures

The Fayette County school enrollments and school capacities can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

This information will help you understand just how serious our declining enrollment has become and how many schools that need to be closed and consolidated.

Bearden’s proposal to only close 3 schools and shift students to Rivers Elementary will do virtually nothing to solve the problem we are facing.

Several knowledgeable and experienced people have studied the excess capacity issues and they have all come up with the same conclusion, and that is: AT LEAST 3 OR 4 MORE SCHOOLS MUST BE CLOSED.

Be sure and attend the forum Thursday evening at Fayette High School, 7 PM. Bring your friends and neighbors to this extremely important event. Your home values will certainly be effected by whatever is decided at this and the meetings that will be held over the next two or three months.

Jim Richter

https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=4067&AID=3...

americanpatriots
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aliquando - It's his wife now

They were married recently - third time for Bearden.

aliquando
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All top and no bottom!

No teachers, bus drivers, custodial staff, para pros, or cafeteria workers. Weak. Fire your girlfriend first. You invented a job for her.

americanpatriots
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School closing task force is a joke

I too see the task force as one comprised of people that will only be looking out for their jobs.

Have you seen the organization chart included in the 2011 CAFR Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (click on the following link and go to pages 10 & 11). You can print these pages out - be careful and don't print the entire report - just print pages 10-11). You may have to copy and paste the link below.

http://www.fcboe.org/files/finance/2011cafr.pdf

You can't convince me that all of these central office people are necessary.

I spoke at length (about one hour at lunch) with an ex-employee of the central office and he told me that many of the positions on these charts do absolutely noting a large part of the day. He told me he finished everything he had to do in the finance and purchasing departments within an hour or so everyday and the rest of the day was spent chatting and having coffee with others who also had nothing to do. He characterised it as a typical government employee make-work program.

Jim Richter

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Task force, schmask force. Big whoop.

Dr. Bearden’s task force is a sham. By including the cream of the overpaid crop at the county offices, this task force will be looking out for Number 1. Why wouldn’t they? Nuk had great suggestions about the types of people who *should* have been appointed. In naming this group, Dr. Bearden has relinquished the chance to involve people who could have contributed smart, business-based solutions.

Why will it take nearly four months for the task force to come up with recommendations? Once they present their report, there will probably be another four months of discussion before any decisions are made. This pace is too slow.

$380,000 savings from reduction in county positions? That’s it? There’s still a lot more fat to cut at that level.

We keep piling up surplus buildings (East Fayette Elem., Rivers Elem.), which somehow become incredibly useful for things like a training kitchen for cafeteria workers or a school for a handful of special ed students. How many empty/half-empty schools are we going to keep? This surplus will grow once Hood Ave., Fayette Intermediate, and Fayette Middle (plus ???) close next year. We need to get rid of some of this real estate instead of retaining and maintaining it.

Looks like Dr. Bearden is set on creating a tuition program for out-of-county students, complete with a policy that “can be written to ensure specific guidelines for acceptance, and how a student could lose the privilege of attending our schools.” Besides being poorly written, this statement is a great example of another wishy-washy policy that will mean absolutely nothing, nor will it be enforced. My guess is it will add to the current burden of out-of-county students we already serve in Fayette County, but without the intended financial reaping. The policy’s sole intent is to make money, not to improve the quality of education for Fayette County students, therefore the only “guideline for acceptance” will be to pay up. And if it’s a “guideline” rather than a “requirement” or a “rule,” well, there you have a crack in the door for abuse. And I’m sure any policy about “how a student could lose the privilege of attending our schools,” including late (or incomplete) payment of tuition, will include a generous number of warnings. Will tuition be collected up front, in full? If not, what are you going to do when the first tuition installment ends up being the last one?

More shut-down days? This shouldn’t even be on the list until a LOT more offices at 210 Stonewall Ave. and 205 LaFayette Dr. are vacated for good.

americanpatriots
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I hope many will show up 8/30/12 to hear Bearden

Nuk, I hope you and many, many others will show up at the August 30 meeting to hear Bearden's plan (or his lack of one) to close schools and how he plans to get us out of this financial mess.

Please try and get your supporters, or non-supporters, to show up for this meeting as this is such an important event.

Our school system has so much of an impact on real estate values yet most people will just bury their heads in the sand and do nothing.

I was also CEO of a very large corporation. I can't imagine any CEO in private industry putting up with the ridiculous forecasts Brock has fed us for at least four years. I know I would have fired her long ago and I also know the Board of Directors would have fired me for allowing this to go on.

How could anyone manage a business or governemnt agency with such inaccurate forecasts.

I contacted 14 Georgia school districts and read their budgets, CAFR's (Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports), monthly forecasts, and spoke with the CFO's or Budget Directors of several school districts. THEY ALL HAD ACCURATE MONTHLY REPORTS AND FORECASTS EXCEPT FOR FAYETTE COUNTY.

EVERY ONE told me the same thing - the mothly forecast is SO SIMPLE they could not understand how our school district had so many problems getting it right.

Consider this, 90% of the monthly expenses represents salaries and benefits and about 90% to 95% of the monthly revenue is known in advance!

WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT THE PROCESS? I sure wish I had had such a clear-cut source of information to come up with my one-year and five-year business plans!

The only time I remember seeing an accurate forecast in over four years, was the two months Brock was on maternity leave. The information was compiled and reported to us by a young man, Tom Gray, that temporarily took Brock's place.

Unfortunately, Tom was gone about two or three months after Brock returned and the monthly forecasts has been nothing but utter garbage from that point onward.

Jim Richter

Larry Sussberg
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Tech Academy

Some of the questions that may need to be asked/answered are:

1-Is having a central location more efficient than offering the same things in every high school so students have access?
2-If the BOE is going to be a main financial contributor to this academy, is it a net gain or decrease as related to item #1 above?
3-What courses have other academies inherited from the HS's and what do the academies offer now. Building a wood shed may be nice but do we need shed builders or HVAC assistants, specialized commputerized welders, etc.?
4-How involved is industry in the other academies? Do they donate equipment, money, tech advice, etc?
5-Are the classes being offered more in turn with today's job market and are the students getting jobs or moving on to Southern Crescent to pursue more advanced tech degrees?
6-Is Coweta and other GA counties benefiting with increased economic development because these academies exist?

I'm suspect we will hear more and possible answers to these and other questions soon.

Ideal scenario...no added cost to BOE or savings, and real tech program that delivers results = jobs & economic development.

Until then, it's all speculation.

As momma use to say, "Don't crack the egg, let it hatch because you can always eat that chicken later"

americanpatriots
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Nuk - I failed to mention

I failed to point out that the fund balance at the end of 6/30/11 was $26.3 million. So, the Fayette County school system burned through over $11 million of our "rainy-day" fund during the year ended 6/30/12 - which by the way was off by a mere $9 million (so much for accurate forecasting). And, they are on tap to consume another $14.2 million in the current fiscal year but, again, who is stupid enought to believe Brock's forecast?

The looming financial train-wreck couldn't have been more obvious! What would it have taken for the bean-counter, assistant supeintendent, and the school superintendent, to recognize what was happening?

Jim Richter

NUK_1
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americanpatriots: Yes

I am willing to cut a LITTLE(just a little) slack to the BOE and Bearden for that major drain on the reserves the year priot simply because of the incredibly poor and untimely information received from Finance. Unfortunately, they don't have that excuse any longer and really should have been unanimous in seeing this coming before now and also dealt with Brock way before now too.

I know you come from an accounting/CPA background and I have plenty of corporate-land experience. Can you imagine being so horribly WRONG on financial projections last year and still being employed this year? It's not like she was off by a few grand here or there and the funding situation with the State was already known as well as is on-going recession-like conditions and declining student population. How can you be that incompetent and still hold a job? AARGH.

The passing of Sam Tolbert really hurt the BOE because he was the deciding vote between Todd/Key and Smith/Smola factions, but, most importantly, knew what was coming if steps weren't taken to address it immediately and was the voice of reason and without any political baggage. RIP, Sam Tolbert.

We'll hear a lot in the upcoming weeks about how the State of GA has gutted funding and blah blah blah, but that applies to ALL GA public schools, not just Fayette. The State is not taking a disproportionate away from FC and leaving other systems alone. Every BOE has to deal with it and FC's hasn't yet.

americanpatriots
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Nuk and I agree on this issue

I agree with Nuk about the composition of the school closing committee and the finance task force. Simply stated, what on earth was Jeff Bearden, School Superintendent, thinking when he made those committee appointments?

Bearden’s appointment of Laura Brock, Comptroller, to be on the finance task force is so absurd that it defies logic. Laura has to be the leading most incompetent CFO in memory. The only sensible recommendation the task force could ever come up with is to seek her replacement without further delay.

The self-serving appointments Bearden made will accomplish very little, if anything at all. Neither Brock nor Sweat has come up with anything worthwhile in the last three or four years, so what does Bearden expect them to come up with now? They will be so concerned with protecting their own miserable jobs and watching Bearden’s backside that no time will be left for anything else.

The school closing hearing scheduled for August 30, 2012 should bring out the pent-up frustration the community has for the abject failure of Bearden’s leadership.

Nothing will galvanize parents more against Bearden than to learn that he hasn’t even conducted cost analyses to justify his recommended closings.

A friend of mine asked him in a meeting about two weeks ago if he had anything to support his recommendations and was amazed to hear Bearden reply that they had not done a cost analysis.

Give me a break! The parents will rightfully crucify Bearden at the hearing when they learn this.

Jim Richter

Larry Sussberg
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.

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Larry Sussberg
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Larry Sussberg
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Fayette BOE

It appears that things are moving the right direction,maybe late but in the right direction. We have a new superintendent, newly elected board members who are aware of the probem and a new chairperson.

We need Fayette real estate to recover with economic development and a great school system. Elected county/city officials need to focus on economic development and the elected BOE to focus on the education system. They do not need to be bashing each other with political party silliness.

Fayette county schools are wonderful and I am indebted to them for what they did for my daughter.All of us who have kids or who have had kids through these schools feel the same way.

Let's focus on the task at hand, and stop wasting time on nonsense like recent horror stories in the paper pointing at our new BOE chairperson being a Democrat and Jewish belonging to some agnostic group...that was a pathetic and frightening few months which wasted a lot of time and alienated a community.

We have good leaders in place at BOE now.

Focus and accountability until the job is done!

americanpatriots
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BoE finacial report and forecast

Read the July 2013 BoE financial report

If this report is accurate, which I would bet my last dollar that it is not based on the previous four years of the CFO’s ridiculous financial reports and forecasts, we are on tract to spend almost all of our “rainy-day” $15 million fund balance by the end of June 2013.

We will undoubtedly be forced to resort to short-term borrowings to meet payroll expenses unless something is done immediately to stop the bleeding.

I wrote several articles published in the Citizen over the last three years pointing out how inaccurate the financial forecasting was month to month and year to year but no action was taken by the past or present superintendents who failed to acknowledge we had a serious problem or take any steps to avoid what we are now facing – school closings and a financial disaster in the making.

Obviously, the first thing you have to do to solve a problem is to admit you have one! The problem has been so obvious that even a child would have recognized it yet nothing was done.

Both Ben Nelms of the Citizen and I wrote several articles beginning over three years ago that clearly showed we had to close and consolidate several schools but, again, no action was taken.

If the past and present superintendents and board members, Smith and Smola had admitted a train wreck was headed our way, we would have had at least two years to address and fix the problem.

But, since many of the problems were the direct result of decisions that Smith and Smola had a major hand in making, it was not in their political interests to do anything.

Dr. Bob Todd, Marion Key, and the late Dr. Sam Tolbert, recognized the problem. But Smith and Smola started a smear campaign against Dr. Todd during his re-election bid in 2010 for saying we needed to close and consolidate some schools.

Well folks, events have unfolded that show that Nelms, Todd, Key, Tolbert and I were right on the money!

Why did we let this happen?

Click on the following link to read the July report.

https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=4067&AID=3...

Jim Richter

NUK_1
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AmericanPatriots is exactly right

I may not agree with Jim on some things, but he's been dead-on for quite a while about the BOE and warning that these days were coming, and promptly ignored.

The task force composition scares me. First, it is made up of people already involved in the system who should have already been making the kind of recommendations Bearden seeks before now. Second, it's headed by Sam Sweat. Please! The last time this bonehead headed a task force he very blatantly violated the Open Meetings Act of GA and it took all kinds of heat(including from Cal/The Citizen) to get this guy to realize how ignorant he is about a pretty simple law. That's who is heading the task force? In fairness to Sweat, the BOE attorney was equally clueless on something that a dime store attorney should already know, but really.

Next, why is Laura Brock/Finance on any task force about the BOE? She's been feeding information that is ridiculously wrong and usually very late or sometimes not even distributed. The #1 problem with the BOE right now(now that Smith/Smola will be mercifully gone soon) rests right on her shoulders because of her ineptitude over the recent years. The BOE Finance Dept is just awful.

Why not a task force of some or most people that are outside the sphere of the BOE? I am talking about a couple of small business owners, maybe a CEO of a medium to large corp in FC, some PTA members, just some random parent or two that is dropping their kid off at school, etc. The real stakeholders in this fiasco, not people who first are going to be thinking "how can I protect my job?" or people who have already proven over and over THEY CAN'T DO THEIR JOB.

americanpatriots, if you go after the BOE has hard as you did Huddleston/Hearn, I'll back you all the way on this one. I've been saying very similar for several years here and it's a damn shame that it has taken using up 14mil in reserves for people in FC to realize what a wretched mess the BOE is. If I'm not mistaken, Smith and Smola didn't even have opposition in their last election before 2012 except for a very late write-in candidate that wasn't too serious. That's how in the dark things have been, unfortunately. Of course, this was also the same time period that Hearn, Horgan, Frady, Maxwell all got elected too........so, maybe people do wise up once things get bad enough.

suggarfoot
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me too guys

I have felt like a broke record about the BOE for a couple of years now. I wish people would have paid attention before now, I hate what is going to happen.

I also agree on the makeup of the task force, people who are likely part of the problem are calling the shots. Because of that, more time and money will be wasted till they are pushed out of the way. This will be a dear and painful lesson to the parents to pay attention to who is running the show and their motives for doing so.

johenry
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$40,000 for another study??

Someone told me the board of education approved over $40,000 for a study to set up a new academy. Is this true?

Does anyone else think this is totally stupid to do when they have to cut the schools to shreds to make ends meet?

Larry Sussberg
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Johenry - Tech Academy

No, its not stupid at all.

First, its an investment to put together the required paperwork and reports to submit to the State of GA to get the multi-million grant to fund the academy.

Second, it allows, through a non-profit structure, for public and private involvement to offer a centralized tech track program in the high schools which Fayette has all but abandoned with the exception of automative in only 1 HS.
We are talking new tech, where the jobs are, involving Fayette companies who assist in the training that is required to hire these students when graduate.

Third, it is a possible savings for the BOE. The new academy could lease an empty building, with all training done under 1 roof and, for those students on a college track, BOE could consolidate AP classes in 1 location and offering a wider range of AP classes.

The State of GA is pushing this program in a big way. I believe there are 8 academies now with many more on the way.

It's needed in Fayette County, it helps current local industry, it attracts new industry and it gives our children more opportunities.

Feel free to e-mail me at sussbergventures@aol.com and I'll get you the links to the State that reviews this. Council woman Leanard is working very hard on this project and it appears to be highly supported by those who take the time to read the documents.

Veritas
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Mr.Sussberg ... Only partially correct

Actually you are only partially correct. Funding for the career academy will rely primarily on the local BoE. There is a one time grant allotment from the state for a Maximum of 3 million dollars. If you doubt this please feel free to call LT. Gov. Casey Cagle for clarification. It would be cheaper and more logical and economical to re-establish  these programs in the schools as both the equipment and facilities are already there . This would also allow equal opportunity for all students to participate in these programs.

I suggest that you contact the Coweta County Board to determine the annual operating budget for the center and the revenue sources for annual funding.

Larry Sussberg
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Veritas

Thank you.
If you are on Tuesday's tour, you can ask the CEO of Coweta Academy. A few points to consider when you ask:

If Coweta BOE is funding a portion, what is the actual net effect of consolidating under 1 roof compared to reinstating a complete program in each HS? For Fayette that's 5 locations. Not all Fayette HSs offer the same programs per school.

Is each high school and/or our school system continually involved with local industry to deliver what companies need? Can they solicit funds, equipment and tech support from companies to ensure proper training? What about involvement with Southern Crescent Tech?

When was the last time our Tech program was updated?

Veritas
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Local Business

My concern is they couldn't even get the local businesses to front the 41,000 for the study.. So unfortunately the cash strapped BOE had to pick up the tab. Oh that's right the BOE will use the money from another position they cut from the local schools for this study.

AtHomeGym
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Sussberg & Tech Academy

This is a smart idea--all kids do not need to go to college. There is work out there for technical skills and they get good pay & maybe benefits. Go for it!

NUK_1
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AHG: Tech Academy

I couldn't agree more with you and I happen to have more than one degree myself. It's not near as necessary as claimed/preached/overhyped in the USA amongst schools and unfortunately employers, and has proven to be as ill-sighted as the ridiculous notion that everyone "should own their own home so we'll make sure that happens regardless of reality."

Here's a good article on the same subject:
http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/27/smallbusiness/youth_manufacturing_jobs/i...

AtHomeGym
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Nuk & Tech Academy

I believe there needs to be a distinct cqapability to teach tech skills but not sure it requires a separate facility. I know when I moved here in 86, FCHS was teaching "SHOP"--in fact, I bought a storage shed from them for materials cost ($450) and they delivered it and set it upon the block foundation I had fixed. Degrees: Well I have a BA from U of MD, European Division but it came late in life. Ihad already completed a successful military career and was 4 yrs into my civilian career. The Degree was just a personal goal--did absolutely nothing for me career-wise.

NUK_1
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AHG: Agreed

One thing FC has already is excess building capacity in abundance and I don't think a new or separate facility is necessary at all when the student population is declining and the newest school is not really being utilized.

Talk about time to reallocate resources properly.....yeesh.

AtHomeGym
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Nuk & reallocation of resources

Want to maxout Rivers? Use a couple wings for tech tng

I Heart Fayette
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Disgusted One, I love the way

Disgusted One, I love the way you think.

I Heart Fayette
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Disgusted One, I love the way

Disgusted One, I love the way you think.

rmoc
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Paraprofessionals must be a typo 1.2 million????

"Elimination of all 1st grade paraprofessionals — cost savings is $1.2 million." ...what if we eliminate them all..we did not have them when I was in school. $1.2 for just FIRST Grade!!!!

citizenal
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Nice Warning

It is a nice warning letter to help us prepare for the coming difficulties. Oh, we knew about this for some time. Well, why didn't you begin the difficult process of trimming expenses this year? Wouldn't it make it easier to see the effects of cuts and make better decisions next year when you have to balance the budget. Oh, and you would have had some reserves to help you if you made a miscalculation (boy do you need that).

This is not leadership. Expecting the taxpayers to pick up the tab as your easy way out.

You have become the best marketing department that local private schools have. And they do produce a better product for less $$$. Perhaps we should just implement choice, real choice for parents, and let the best school win.

Now there is an idea for some real hope and change!

americanpatriots
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Reply to PTC Observer re. Brown

You are naïve to think that Brown or McCarty will have any say in the selection of a new County Manager.

Frady, Hearn and Horgan will have their chosen replacement for Krakeel in place in a 3-2 vote just before they are permanently silenced in January 2013.

I suspect this will be ONLY ONE of their final insults to the Fayette County citizens before they are gone at last.

Hopefully, Hearn will be voted out today making it a full-sweep and ending the reign the good ole’ boys - Frady, Smith, Hearn and Horgan, that have done so much harm to the operational and financial well being of Fayette County.

Jim Richter

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One more idea - Dr. Bearden

Use Google Maps to layout the most effective bus routing system with centralized pick-ups for children based on where the students live. Parents would take children to these pick ups or let them walk. I suspect we could cut the number of buses on the road by one third, save fuel, equipment repairs, personnel costs and provide better safety for the children. Centralized pick up would need to be manned by parent volunteers and be organized appropriately for safe pick-up and delivery. Pick up points could be parks, parking lots (with permission from owners), specific safe areas on a road, ball fields or other county properties.

fc1989
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Never will work

Didn't you see what happened in Atlanta when they made kids walk to schools that were close. Rerouting has been tried every five to ten years and parents will fill the BOE meetings to complain. Sounds good in theory but is not practical and in some cases unsafe. The difficult part is not the designing efficient routes. The problem is the BOE backing up staff when it is implemented....which won't happen.

mudcat
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That is exactly the kind of creative thinking we need.

Makes perfect sense and the old way of running bus routes is way outdated - hence the empty buses.

Those centralized pick up points could also serve as a carpooling location for students carpooling or cartpooling to school or even a place for regular commuters to meet before going to work.

Of course it would be better to have started this process a couple of years ago and to have preserved some of the reserve money, but that Smith/Smola stuff really set us back.

I think Bearden is really on the right track. He's getting the committee and even the parents invested in the process so they might be able to accept the solutions - which won't be pretty.

Steve Brown
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Closing only three schools and starting a new tech program?

You are not going to get to where you need to be.

They do not need the "yes-people" on the committees and task forces. That is what got them in deeper to where we are now.

Think bigger and broader.

PTC Observer
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Mr. Brown - Thanks

For your excellent positive input here, I am sure they can take this information and do a great deal of good with it.

The suggestion to "think bigger and broader", displays your "larger and deeper thinking".

You should stick with coming up with an agenda for the county and some positive things you hope to accomplish during the next twelve months. Get specific, I for one would love to hear your ideas.

What are you going to actually try to accomplish past this run off election Mr. Brown? If you spent the amount of time you spend on this site thinking about this, you would be nearly finished with it and then you could get some input from the folks here. Or are you going to just surprise us?

Here's some questions to get you started toward a more positive mindset.

Who do you propose for County Manager? What will be your priorities? How will you organize to bring the commission together? How do you see the commission working with local city governments? What's the most important and essential thing you see that needs to be done to make our community better? How does Fayette County "fit" into the "metro-region" planning agenda? How will you tackle declining revenues and increasing expenses? How will you control borrowing costs? What is the answer to increased crime in our county?

Let's try to get focused Mr. Brown on positive governance not constant negative posts on this site. Let's see if you're up to it.

Robert W. Morgan
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I think he is coming around. Good letter Mr. Bearden

well done - except for the referendum to raise taxes. The reason we are paying less in taxes is that we used to is that our homes have been devalued by 30%. I don't see many yes votes on that idea.

Anyway, you are spot on and it looks as if your are focused on the $20million from day one. I see 14 extra assistant principals - what's that 1 extra asst. principal per school? And 152 extra teachers and counselors? I think i can spot a place to start. And closing 3 more schools looks likely. You can double or even triple the savings from a school closing if you immediately sell the building.

Good luck. It won't be easy. Probably going to have to do it all again for the following year - hopefully less than another $20million.

AtHomeGym
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Note to Supt. Bearden

Forget the millage increase---ain't gonna happen! And you must GET RID of some Central Office Staff--yep, that's right, I didn't say 'furlough', I said GET RID OF. Also, eliminate Asst. Principals--if the current Principal can't manage it alone, THEN GET ONE WHO CAN!

Dondol
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PS to the Note to Supt. Bearden

And when you GET RID of some central Office Staff we better not see anyone fired with less seniority that your Girlfriend. Lets see she has less than 3 years so she should be right at the top of the list!

disgustedone
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The superintendent's wife

The superintendent's wife doesn't even work in the central office. Your avatar is an obvious match. Uncanny. If you aren't sure what avatar means, look it up in the dictionary. You should also be able to find the difference between the words "that" and "than". The words are arranged in alphabetical order.

Dondol
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Hey Newbie disgusted1

I guess your lack of avatar means that you are indeed empty and clueless. If you are not sure what A$$ means look it up, because you just made one of yourself.

wildcat
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@disgusted

The super's girlfriend landed a sweet job halfway through the year when there were no jobs to be had. Don't you remember? And then the pair took off for a get away when others canceled their plans and worked. I am refering to the snow days in case you are confused. He should lead by example. Dondol has a valid point.

AtHomeGym
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wildkitty & hiring

Didn't that lady get hired for a vacant High School Teacher position? That's what I seem to remember--but I will admit that all that internal political stuff is past me. Was there anything illegal that happened? If not, what's the big deal?

wildcat
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@ Gym

Someone told me that she (I write "she" because I do not know her last name)works at Spring Hill and that a long-term sub was utilized so that she could take over 2nd semester, which I believe is when he started. That was the year that there were teachers put in a "sub pool" because there was no where for them to go. Was it illegal? No. Was it a nice thing to do when there were teachers in a sub pool waiting for permanent positions? No.

I never verified this information. The person that told me could have made up the entire thing. Although, I suspect that if it were false, one or more bloggers would have set me straight.

It is/was a big deal to some. To those that went without a classroom.

I also heard, through the grapevine, that the super has said that teachers will go before administrators. Have I verified it? No.

disgustedone
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Homer, I've been called much

Homer, I've been called much worse things by much better people than you. I do get some satisfaction from the fact that I got to you though.
Wildcat, you seem to have all the inside info. Please don't hold back. Maybe you could share some of their vacation photos with the rest of us. Maybe you could provide us with a breakdown of what percentage of our tax dollars paid for their pina coladas. At some point I expect you will also find a way to blame the snowstorm on Bearden as well. Maybe you could conduct a witch hunt and demand that his wife provide a copy of her teaching certificate [EDITED & BANNED for violation of terms of service]
If you worked, that was your decision. I went on my vacation as planned, because the truth is that all employees were told that if they had planned vacations previously, they should go. No one was required to work that week. If you did, you really shouldn't have. Someone as bitter, petty, and uptight as you really needs a getaway once in awhile.

Dondol
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Oh my, my, disgustedone

or is it Mrs. Beardon? Looks like you are the one that's got, Bazinga!

disgustedone
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LOL Sherlock Holms- You

LOL Sherlock Holms- You really seem to struggle with your reading comprehension and deductive reasoning. Every employee in Fayette county and all of the students were given the option of attending that week. MANY teachers and students were out that week and those that remained pooled their resources. If you work in the county or have children who attend, you also had the option of taking your vacation. If you were not aware of this, it is your own fault for being uninformed. If you were aware and chose to attend, that was your own choice. Therefor, you shouldn't still be griping about it several years later and trying to cause trouble. It is a small group of bitter people on these blogs who constantly complain about the way things are, spread misinformation, and post theories and hearsay. Many of the issues are irrelevant and petty. Complaining and posting solutions on a blog of a free newspaper that is consistently biased and read by a select group of people is pointless. If you don't like the problems, contribute to the solution. The comments and theories that you and others post about when people vacation, where their spouses work, whether they had schools built for their own financial gain, and whether or not they are atheist is not a contribution to the community nor a solution to the problems at hand. It's grownup cyberbullying supported by a small group of small minded people.

wildcat
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@ disgust

Wow...I guess I hit a nerve. I find that very interesting and slightly amusing!

Davids mom
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The Task Force

There are no easy decisions to be made. I feel that this Task Force is knowledgeable - and the bottom line for their decisions will be what is best for students in FC. I am concerned about outsourcing the custodial staff. In the schools that I have been priviledged to visit, the custodial staff is definitely part of the 'team' of adults who care about the kids on site. I would hate to see that change. I'm sure this Task Force will take the input of teachers and parents seriously. This will not be an easy task.

The Mole
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Task Force?

Are you kidding? Bearden's task force consists of administrators: no janitors, no lunchroom workers, no bus drivers, no teachers, no parapros, no clerks, no secretaries, and no parents.

Davids mom
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Mole

Excellent point ! All involved members of the team that supports our students should be involved (have representation) on this or some other venue. Thanks for the info. I am not familiar with the names/positions of all the persons reported in the article. Anyway to clarify this? How is the Supt. getting all input on these difficult decisions? Will attrition have an impact on personnel retention? Remember however, the final decision rests on the Supt. and the BOE.

The Mole
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Involved team?

Yes DM you would think that all of the support team of our students would have representation on this task force. Sadly, that is not the case.
The task force consists of : assistant superintendent, comptroller, Director of Exceptional Children, current Director of HR, county coordinator, 1 high school principal, 1 middle school principal, 3 elementary principals. No janitors, no bus drivers, no secretaries, no clerks, no parapros, no teachers, and no parents.

Even though Dr. Bearden asked for employee input, employees are scared to offer any suggestions in an email that will contain their name. So what do you think this committee will recommend doing?

Yes the superintendent makes the recommendation based either on input from the task force and employees and/or his own decisions, then the board will vote to accept his recommendation or not.

Davids mom
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The Mole

You appear well informed. Thanks. Most districts have an organization for their non-credentialed employees. Do you know if the Task Force will be assigned to meet with/communicate with this organization or representatives from the non-credentialed staff? I can’t imagine that this Task Force will not meet with representatives from parents and teachers. Do you know anything about this? I thought I saw a contribution in The Citizen where a parent had been invited and is participating on a committee regarding the decisions that have to be made about 2013 programs/budget. Is there someplace on a website where interested community can see the plans for input other than the Supt. writing a letter to The Citizen? I think this Supt. has enough experience and expertise to know that unless he has the cooperation of almost all of the team that serves children, his plan will not be successful. But as you agreed - the buck stops with him and the BOE.

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