Shorter school year eyed to save money

The idea of shortening the school calendar in the Fayette County School System for the 2012-2013 school year as a way to save precious dollars to help balance next year’s budget will have to wait until November for a possible decision by the Board of Education.

The examples of a mock calendar presented Oct. 17 may lead to the choice of one that shortens the school year by only five days, saves the greatest amount of money and provides a more balanced cut in pay for all employees across the school system.

Superintendent Jeff Bearden during the brief discussion Monday night noted that no one on the school system’s calendar committee wanted to decrease the number of school days per year, adding that such a move was one of the approaches being examined to help offset an estimated $10 million budget shortfall in coming school year.

Option 3, the one said by Bearden to be the most fair for employees and the one that generates the greatest savings would result in a somewhat longer school year than the other two options and would total 175 days compared to the current 180-day school year.

Bearden said under Option 3 the school calendar would stay as it currently exists. The difference is that the school system would be shut down for five days to be determined. Consequently, all employees would have their work year reduced by five days.

The cost savings in Option 3 totals $3.33 million. Of that amount, $3.245 million would come by way of salary reductions with another $50,000 in utility savings and $39,000 in fuel savings.

Option 1 would total 168 student days, with the school year beginning Sept. 4 and running through May 24.

The school year for teachers would total 175 days, beginning Aug. 27 and ending May 29.

In terms of money saved, Option 1 would represent a total savings of $2.72 million. Of that amount, $2.42 million would be saved in salaries, $200,000 in utility costs and $93,700 in fuel costs.

In terms of cost savings, the school system’s hourly paid staff, such as bus drivers and food service staff working 180 days, would take the biggest hit due to the 12-day reduction. Parapros, too, would see a 12-day reduction.

Teachers, who are considered 190-day employees, would work longer hours and be paid for 186 days. Most other school system employees would see an equivalent reduction of three work days, except for principals and county administrators, who would lose five days.

Bearden noted several concerns with the Option 1 schedule.

The first semester would not end until after Christmas break, with administrators concerned that teachers would be forced to review for mid-terms, thus losing academic time.

Another concern was that hourly paid employees, who are also generally the lowest paid, would lose the greatest number of days.

A third concern deals with students graduating after the first semester that previously would have ended in December. If the schedule is altered to end in January, those students entering college beginning in January would be adversely impacted.

Option 2 would also carry a 168-day schedule for students, with classes beginning Aug. 20 and ending May 24. The school year for teachers would total 176 days beginning on Aug. 13.

Cost savings for Option 2 would total $3.174 million. That figure includes $2.98 million in salary reductions, $100,000 in utilities and $93,700 in fuel savings.

As with Option 1, 180-day employees under Option 2 would be reduced to 168 days while teachers would work the equivalent of 186 days. Most other employees would see four fewer work days during the year while principals and county administrators would lose five days.

None of the board members during the brief discussion appeared pleased with the idea of cutting the number of days in the school calendar. To that end, board member Janet Smola asked that, if implemented and found unnecessary to offset expected revenue losses, the new calendar be abandoned and the old calendar re-instituted. Bearden said such a move could be accomplished.

The idea of changing the school calendar to enable saving on expenditures is but one of the items on the table for discussion.

Other items to be considered and discussed in November include reductions in the General Fund budget, combining middle and high school bus routes, reduction of staff through attrition and through reductions in force and a look at the portion of employees’ health and dental insurance paid by the school system.

fluffybear
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Adjusting calendar mid-year?
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board member Janet Smola asked that, if implemented and found unnecessary to offset expected revenue losses, the new calendar be abandoned and the old calendar re-instituted. Bearden said such a move could be accomplished.

And how exactly does she plan to go back to the old calendar? Take away Christmas Break or maybe have the kids attend school for 12 Saturdays?

Dondol
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Smoke and Mirrors

I have just seen a copy of the New School Calendar for next year, it starts
on Aug. 6th and ends the Friday before Memorial day. Starting the 2nd week of Oct they have a week off every 4-5 weeks through to the end of the year. The Calendars mentioned about are just smoke and mirrors, new Superintendent, same ol
crap.

G35 Dude
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Does a childs health matter?

Starting school early in August is a crime in my opinion. The kids that have to ride the school bus have to board a vehicle that will exceed the outside temperature by 10-20 degrees. So if it is 95 outside it'll be 105-115 on the bus. And the longer that the bus sits in the bus loop waiting to go that temperature will increase. Does the school board think that this is safe and healthy for the kids? They need to either start school after Labor Day as it used to be OR A/C the buses as many of our surrounding counties have started doing. BTW, I am aware that the special needs buses do have A/C. I'm addressing the long buses.

fluffybear
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Typically, the temperature

Typically, the temperature between the second week in August and the second week in September is only 2 or 3 degrees so I really do not see that being that big of issue.
Might I also mind you that there are plenty of school districts where kids ride the bus and it is considerably hotter then here. When i was young, I grew up in Southern Arizona and there were several times when it was 110+ and I was on a bus. Back then, the only A/C we had was a window that was open & I don't remember every hearing about some kid passing out because the bus was to hot.

I support starting school after Labor Day but let's do it for a good reason.

G35 Dude
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Fluffy - I have no clue about Arizona

I don't know anything about Arizona as I never lived there. But based on Weather.com the average temp here in early August is 89. Early September is 82. These aren't the days I worry about it's the 90's and better. There are more of those in August.

fluffybear
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Actually It's 89 and 84

Actually It's 89 and 84 according to Weather.COM and if you look at AccuWeather.COM, it's 89 and 87.
Yes, I would agree that there are more days at 90+ in August then September but I would be more concerned if the kids were forced to walk several miles in that 90+ temperature then having to ride a bus.

Might I venture a guess and say that you have never rode on a bus before? or are from a northern climate where you tend to run around in shorts & a t-shirt when it is 28 outside?

G35 Dude
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Hey Fluffy-Southern born

I have ridden a bus before. As a child and a parent of a child. And I have a couple of friends that are bus drivers. That is where I hear the things I'm hearing about conditions. I have been told by a driver that last year a child did get sick because of the heat on a bus. Seems that if something happens on a hot day and those buses don't move soon after there are loaded they tend to heat up. After all they are metal boxes sitting in direct sunlight while they are still in the bus loop. On this day for whatever reason the buses were not released to go for about 10 or minutes. A child got sick but nothing serious. So I guess that's OK? Also as for part 2 of your question I'm southern born and southern bred. I've lived within a 50 mile radius of Fayette county my entire life. I have traveled and experienced other places in the US but haven't found anything that can match the south. Not for me anyway.

So have you ridden a bus? Do you know any drivers you can talk to? What is forming your opinion?

fluffybear
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As I said in an earlier

As I said in an earlier comment , I rode a bus for several years while living in Southern Arizona. All my schooling was spent in Southern Arizona and the Inland Empire (Riverside/San Bernardino Counties of Southern California). These are areas where 90+ temperatures are common at 8am in the morning and the temperature can easily be 110+ when class is dismissed.
FYI, when I was going to school, we started school after Labor Day but did not get out until the end of the 2nd week in June. A teacher friend of mine out in Palm Springes tells me that they are pretty much on the same schedule we are here.
Yes, I do know a couple of bus drivers who work here in Fayette County and have spoken with them about things such as this. The ones I have spoken with will all say that those boxes do get hot but once they get moving, they cool down pretty quickly.
Get me a good stretch of 100+ days and I will back you up on this one but otherwise I just can not. As I said, I do support moving the school year back to after Labor Day but this (at least to me) is not the right reason for it.

G35 Dude
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Oh well
Quote:

Yes, I do know a couple of bus drivers who work here in Fayette County and have spoken with them about things such as this. The ones I have spoken with will all say that those boxes do get hot but once they get moving, they cool down pretty quickly.

As I stated the problem I referred to was while the bus was sitting not moving. But I'm sure you have an answer for that also so I will not try to convince you any further. I just don't believe it would be possible to do so anyway. But I am curious you said:

Quote:

I support starting school after Labor Day but let's do it for a good reason.

What do you consider a good reason?

fluffybear
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Interesting? I thought

Interesting? I thought school always began on the second Monday in August. August 6th is the first Monday. By my calculations, August 6 to May 24 using the traditional time-off's put us over the 180 days by nearly 2 weeks.

Also, What holiday is in October that the kids will be off for in 2012? The 2011-2012 school year had an extra day in it and the BOE needed to remove 1 day and chose a semi-logical place to do it.

Dondol
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Fluffy - Days Off

The first week off occurs the week of Oct 8th - 12th, then 5 weeks later is Thanksgiving. After that its a week off every 5 weeks to the end of the year.
Trust me the teachers are baffled, they read the article and then get this comes out the next day. Holidays on this schedule are Oct 8-12, Nov 19-23,
Dec 21-Jan 8, Jan 21, Feb 18-22, April 1-5.

fluffybear
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A week in October, that's a

A week in October, that's a first. Can't say I mind it though.

BHH
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It seems obvious that all they have to do is

shorten the school calender by 15 to 20 days and be done with it.

Problem solved.

NUK_1
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Bearden not impressing me at all

10million buck deficit coming up......so, don't shutter any schools. Hmmm.

Finessing the numbers and days to try and maintain the same school calendar as present and using Option 3 instead of reverting back to the traditional Sept-May calendar which saves more money on utilities and fuel costs. Ugh.

The school calendar plans proposed under Bearden's options have at most 3.33 million in cost reductions. Since taxes are already at the state-mandated maximum, where is the other 6mil in savings going to come from that will result in a balanced budget?

The BOE doesn't like the idea of there being less than 180 days? TOUGH! The BOE under the tremendous mismanagement of Smith-Smola(still there too) is why the school system is broke and facing a humongous deficit that will only be overcome by brutal cost cutting and major headcount reductions.

G35 Dude
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The old bait and switch
Quote:

Finessing the numbers and days to try and maintain the same school calendar as present and using Option 3 instead of reverting back to the traditional Sept-May calendar which saves more money on utilities and fuel costs. Ugh.

I hear you. Do you ever feel like they pulled the old bait and switch on us? I mean they give us, the people, options to vote on in a survey. You know so that we'll feel involved. Like we really have a say. We make our choice known. Now we're told that option won't work? Why was it ever listed as an option then? I'm afraid Mr Bearden is only concerned about his job and therefore doesn't want to offend anyone. So I have to agree Nuk. He's not impressing me either.

madprof
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here we go again

So the best way to save money is to keep the kids in school (and, coincidentally, the employees on the government payroll) for the longest possible time? And would those 5 "off" days just happen to coincide with mid-winter vacations for teachers and staff?

It is not just hard to believe--it is IMPOSSIBLE to believe--that there could be so many unsolvable problems with giving kids here the same summer break as (the generally higher-performing) kids in the rest of the US still get and, indeed, have been getting since time immemorial.

mltbmlcb
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American Flag at Rising Starr Middle School

I am beginning to wonder if my eyes have deceived me but for the past three years I am having a problem seeing the American flag that is front of Rising Starr Middle school. I mean it must be there, I have complained, asked, and other wise pleaded with any and everyone I could think of at the Middle School. They said it belongs to the High school. Ms. Toney, the high school principal said not her problem, that is part of the middle school. I call the Middle School, not their problem either, the rope is broken, parts have been ordered but one would think that a three year back order is a bit long. If there is that much of a back order that is a good thing. That means many, many, many flags are going up. Some how that is just not feeling likethe real answer to me.

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