Tea Party concerned about Fayette school system

Meeting Tues. will examine finances, seek solutions

With school closings and near-certain personnel cuts facing the Fayette County School System next year due to a steep decline in local and state revenue, the Fayette County Issues Tea Party will examine potential financial solutions at a meeting Tuesday night at the amenities center in the Whitewater Creek subdivision.

Local Tea Party leader Bob Ross said he is hopeful the school system will be able to tweak its budget and still maintain its high quality level while also “providing some stability to concerned administrators, teachers, support staff, bus drivers and all employees.”

“There’s just so much uncertainty that it doesn’t advance our goal at all,” Ross said.

The goal of the meeting is to provide an overview of information such as enrollment, revenues, expenses and the like while also accepting audience input on ways to achieve educational excellence within a balanced budget, Ross said.

“We would like to get a big crowd there, get some good ideas,” Ross said, adding that a subsequent goal is to reorient everyone toward the positives offered by the school system and its accomplishments.

Ross said the meeting is not designed to “assign blame” for past events and decisions, nor is it a forum advocating for the election of either candidate in the Post 2 school board race.

“We’d like to document where we are and tell people: we are not falling off a cliff right now,” Ross said.

There is cause for concern about the school system’s budget, as the spending plan adopted earlier this year calls for expending the system’s entire $15 million in reserve funds to counteract a shortfall in state revenue of nearly the same amount due to “austerity cuts” ordered by the state to counteract lower state tax revenues due to the economic recession.

Another factor in play is the proposed continuation of the educational sales tax, commonly referred to as ESPLOST. Without the sales tax, the school system will lose an additional revenue stream of about $19 million a year that has been used the past four years to purchase buses and textbooks, improve technology and renovate existing schools, and also provide some property tax relief for local residents and businesses.

Although the current ESPLOST doesn’t expire until April 2014,if it is not renewed for the following five years the school system will face a significant revenue loss that coupled with the state decrease equates to a total hit of about $34 million.

Meanwhile, due to the loss of state revenue and declining student enrollment over the past several years, the school board is looking at potentially closing several schools including Hood Avenue, Fayette Intermediate, Tyrone and Brooks elementary schools and also Fayette Middle School.

Closing schools won’t be the full answer though, as each shuttered school saves roughly $800,000 a year in administrative and utility costs. Because the proposal is to combine Hood Avenue and FIS into one school and move the students to the underused Rivers Elementary school campus, even if the other three schools were closed, the savings would be about $3.2 million.

With some 90 percent of the general fund expenses on personnel, it’s almost certain that additional budget cuts will affect classrooms. At a recent meeting, school board member Terri Smith noted that the county may lose its first-grade paraprofessionals and also see class sizes increase system-wide.

The school board is also investigating the potential outsourcing of bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitorial personnel and also may cut back on the total number of instructional days, the latter of which would result in pay cuts for teachers.
Tea Party officials are concerned about maintaining the quality of the school system, citing several Atlanta-area school districts that have had steep quality declines and corresponding drops in property value and classroom education quality including Clayton, DeKalb, Cobb and Atlanta public school systems.

An announcement on the meeting noted that school closings will impact every homeowner in Fayette County, with the unspoken notion that such closings will have a ripple effect on households even if they don’t have any children in the school system.

mamadutt
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outsource?

Who do they plan to outsource to for bus drivers, cafeteria and maintenance to? Maybe the illegals who we drive? Funny! Maybe the school board can learn to drive the big yellow? Now this is what I call safety? NOT! consolidate routes and stop catering to parents picking kids up less than a mile from school in golf carts from bus stops maybe but outsource? I don't think so! I know I wouldn't let my child ride with strangers. Our bus drivers take alot of training and are usually parents and tax payers in community who care about the kids. Yea, lets punish them. Our school board does need to take a look at routes though. Funny how they always look to those making the lowest amount of money in order to "save".

G35 Dude
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Outsourcing - My experience

The company that I worked for before I retired tried outsourcing several times. I can't remember it ever being a clear success. You see when you outsource you add another layer of control to the process. For example if the company you outsource to has other customers they may choose to take resources away from you to provide service to that other customer. And you suffer. Cost almost always goes up over time. A private company may bid low to get the job but over time they will want to make a profit where the county was doing this job at cost. The only advantage to outsourcing would be to rehire these people without providing benefits. That would be an immediate cost savings but I assure you that within a few years you will lose that savings to the profit of a private company. And your best people will leave. In the end you almost always wind up paying more and getting less.

Husband and Fat...
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Buses

I agree, we can cut back on the bus routes. I don't see why our kids can't walk or ride a bike if you live within a mile as long as they are not crossing a 4 lane highway. It will even give them exercise.

Your correct on bus drivers. Most are local residents and very good to the kids and well trained drivers. However, we do need to at least examine the cost savings to subcontract this service. These vendors usually hire the local talent anyway.

I don't mind the Tea Party or any party make recommendations on possible savings. I think we are all in for a rude awakening. I question the Tea Party motives and arrogance getting involved this late in the game when they had a chance in earlier elections.

Quallacherokee
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Fayette Co Busses

Simple, User Pay system, $0.50 each way

mamadutt
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outsource?

Who do they plan to outsource to for bus drivers, cafeteria and maintenance to? Maybe the illegals who we drive? Funny! Maybe the school board can learn to drive the big yellow? Now this is what I call safety? NOT! consolidate routes and stop catering to parents picking kids up less than a mile from school in golf carts from bus stops maybe but outsource? I don't think so! I know I wouldn't let my child ride with strangers. Our bus drivers take alot of training and are usually parents and tax payers in community who care about the kids. Yea, lets punish them. Our school board does need to take a look at routes though. Funny how they always look to those making the lowest amount of money in order to "save".

Larry Sussberg
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Tea Party & Fayette Schools

It's great to see the TEA PARTY become involved in this issue. I hope the other political parties get involved too.

After review of the financials, they may realize:

1-The need to renew the Fayette ESPLOST based upon the State of GA cuts to education and reduction of revenue from Fayette taxes.

2-That the Fayette Schools have had a "revenue" problem as a result of #1 above. Note that Fayette schools have seen $75 million cut over 5 years by the State of GA alone.

The more people who hear the issues, the better. Parents/stakeholders need to be there and hopefully, the bloggers will attend!

People need to put aside their personal & political issues with the school system (difference between the board and the system) and listen to facts.

Thanks
Larry

NUK_1
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Larry: All school systems have the same cuts

The difference with FC is that there was zero planning when the state started cutting funding AND there was a BOE without a clue that wanted to buy land,build schools that won't be filled, and now we have a 15-20mil deficit fiasco that will require draconian means to make up.

You have a comptroller that works for the BOE that has done a horrendous job for YEARS. You have/had a BOE of spending crazies like Smith, Smola and Lee Wright. They picked Bearden who has been a complete failure. Fortunately, there may be some sanity arriving after November when Marchman takes office, Smola has thankfully retired, and Smith has no chance in hell.Wright has been gone for a while but his votes "back then" live on.

The ESPLOST is only a similar issue because the BOE has shown how reckless it has been with tax dollars and has no vision whatsoever to the point that a lot of residents do not trust them whatsoever, and for very good reason. You think the recent Bearden fiasco is giving people a warm fuzzy feeling about extending a tax?

Larry Sussberg
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NUK

173 out of 179 Ga school systems have Esplosts now due to falling real estate values and the GA emergency funding formula cutting payments to school systems.

90% of Fayette school system's operating budget covers salary and benefits.
All capital payments are covered by ESplost. New buses, bus maintenance, building maintenance, technology, school books.

The State has cut $75 million in funding from Fayette schools over 5 years.
That why so many counties now have Esplosts and will continue to have Esplosts.

Anyway.... You have new board members! And there is no reason not to support the ESplost renewal.
If it is defeated, we will face ANOTHER financial cliff with further cuts in 2015 and that is why every FCOBE member, new and old, Todd and Key and the candidates support the ESplost. Every one, Tea Party supported and loved.... Everyone.

If ESplost is not renewed and schools have to strip down further in 2015...we will be no better than the worse school system in GA.

If we have 2500 teachers, a $20 million shortfall = 300 teachers and para pros
In 2015 when the ESplost is gone which covers all of the items listed above, there will be another $10 to $20 million shortfall because those funds need to be budgeted in. So how many more teachers have to go? How big do classroom sizes have to be?

Thank goodness my child has graduated.... But that's not reason no to support the ESplost.

Vote what you believe, whatever that is!

Thanks
Larry

Quallacherokee
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"For the Children" FC BOE get a clue

Times are good, spend spend spend,, message to Children, SPEND, Write Bad Checks (it can be covered) ...

Times get bad,,Spend Spend spend,,, Message to Children,, Write BAD CHECKS...
(ooops maybe the next folks can cover the bad checks)

THIS IS THE ONLY CHOICE IN FAYETTE COUNTY (AND THE USA) either WE suffer a little NOW or we tell our Grandkids,,,,, F YOU
There is NO other choice
The can has been kicked BEYOND recognition, TOMORROW IS HERE

btw, you idiots can continue to fund a loosing idea,,,,I'm OUT, and trust me ,
there are HUNDREDS of way for me and my neighbors in Fayette Co to "bow out"
as in Churches are NOT charged Property Tax,,, and it takes NOTHING to be "deemed" a church ...By LAW,,, think WE will not do this?? lol keep pushing

NUK_1
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Larry: TP and BOE

http://fayettecountyissuesteaparty.org/Education.html

I think you'll find that they don't believe it's a revenue problem as much as a spending and budgeting issue. You can also find Jim Richter(americanpatriots) posts here and letter to the editor about what he thinks of the BOE.

Larry Sussberg
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NUK & Tea Party

I have seen and read all of it.

Maybe this is the beginning for them to see the facts.

Robert W. Morgan
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I say Harold, pass the Gray Poupon and let's noodle this out

Oh Goody, Harold Bost and the other swells from Whitewater Creek are going to examine the public school system that his maid and landscaper send their kids to and see if we can keep up appearances for appearance sake. Sound stupid? Well read this from our very own Bob Ross:

"The goal of the meeting is to provide an overview of information such as enrollment, revenues, expenses and the like while also accepting audience input on ways to achieve educational excellence within a balanced budget", Ross said.

Yes, he said "balanced budget" about a year after we wiped out 100% of our reserves instead of closing schools and cutting teachers, administrators and other expenses. News flash Tea Party - the train left the station a couple of years ago and you didn't notice. You are way late to this party, but sure if one of your country clubbers is examining this problem for the first time and comes up with a perfect solution, please share with Mr. Bearden who has been working on this since he got here. He can implement your plan and leave a hero.

Not sure why the Tea Party thinks it is the school board, but here is some more from Mr. Ross:
"“We’d like to document where we are and tell people: we are not falling off a cliff right now,” Ross said."
Great, now they think they are the local newspaper and the Chamber of Commerce. Hate to break it to you, but we actually are falling off a cliff and have been for at least 2 years. One can only hope that removing Smith and Smola distractions will get the school board actually functioning. And of course the new superintendent will have to be a no nonsense guy who won't sugarcoat the hard news of shrinking the school system's payroll and real estate footprint. It is inevitable and there is nothing the Tea Party or anyone else can do about it.

If the local Tea Party really wants to be like the real Tea Party, you could come out with a "smaller is better" and "limited government" and "less taxation" statements. Not helpful or germane, but at least you'd be doing something without interfering. Or maybe you could streamline the process by simply telling all these parents that are whining about changing or closing their kid's school to just suck it up, put on their big boy pants and realize the changes are going to be huge and will touch almost everybody. Act like a fiscal Conservative not a leech-on-society Liberal. Catchy, isn't it?

Seriously, having the focus on keeping the smaller and older schools open is a mindless distraction. The bad decisions have all been made in the past and can't be changed. No need to make new bad decisions or delay the proper (albeit, painful) decisions. They are going to close. Just admit it and move on.

Husband and Fat...
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I agree

I have to agree. The Tea Party didn't say much (if anything) the last two years while we used up our savings instead of making cuts. Instead, they spent that time concentrating on the FCBOC and getting a two time bankrupcy filer elected.

Let's see what the Tea Party has to say. My guess is that they will confirm that we need to close schools, downsize upper management and school personnel, and make additional cuts to offset the loss of funding from the state.

Having the Tea Party confirm the needed cuts could make the BOE decisions easier to swallow.

BobbyBiplane
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Tweak???

"Local Tea Party leader Bob Ross said he is hopeful the school system will be able to tweak its budget and still maintain its high quality level while also “providing some stability to concerned administrators, teachers, support staff, bus drivers and all employees.'"

This has to be a joke. To "tweak"("to make usually small adjustments in or to ; especially : fine-tune;" Miriam Webster Dictionary, 2012)will not fix will fix the budget unless he is, instead, using "tweak" (To be on some type of speed and be any/all of the following: --Highly aggitated, wide eyed, and angry/overly irritable --To be as paranoid in a mouselike manner; rapid breathing, weird twitchy and/or panic-ey movements/responses ... in any way, as long as its super conspicuously performed behavior that is commonly associated with crackheads/random speed-heads --To be using or experiencing some feeling or difference caused by the use of Methamphetamines," Urban Dictionary, 2012) and desires to be on the spend, spend, spend addiction of the current Board.

Bob

peachy
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Tea Party Interfering with School System . . . why?

The Tea Party should stay within their boundaries and stay out of Fayette County education policies, boards, etc. I've never heard of such a thing in a free country. We all have beliefs, backgrounds, etc., so don't push yours on the education system. You just make yourselves look stupid and intolerant. (And look, I can spell and use grammar and punctuation!)

Quallacherokee
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Say What? Peachy

Looky here, my punctuation and grammar may be off, (English is not my native language)
Anyway, I'm having a hard time following your perfect grammar punctuation.....

Are you saying, the Tea Party needs to stay out of the BOE business or the other group? ,,in a "Free Country"
And if you admit to us all having beliefs ..why can't I or others push "our" beliefs??? "In a Free Country" ???

(and look turns out punctuation and grammar aint as important as coherency