$16 million in likely Fayette school system cuts still to be addressed

The bottom line for the Fayette County Board of EDucation that the 2013-2014 budget is still slated to contain cuts in multiple areas and the applicants looking to be hired for the school system’s top job will have until Jan. 31 to submit their applications.

The school board met Monday night to hear about the upcoming budget and the search for a new superintendent.

Assistant Superintendent Sam Sweat in reporting on the work of the cost-cutting committee said the final report will be made at the school board’s Dec. 17 meeting.

Sweat said a current evaluation of expected revenues showed the school system will likely receive approximately $81 million in state funds and $81 million in local funds for the 2013-2014 school year that begins in July. That total is approximately the same revenue amount expected for the current school year.

The issue facing the school system is that current expenditures total approximately $177 million, thereby necessitating a reduction in expenditures totaling approximately $15-16 million, Sweat said.

Cost-cutting measures are in place for the current school year but will not come close to the volume of cost reductions needed to balance the 2013-2014 budget in June.

Essentially mirroring the 14-point potential cut list supplied by Superintendent Jeff Bearden during the summer, Sweat said the cost-cutting committee is reviewing the potential for a number of cuts across the school system. A sampling of those included:

- Closing 2-3 schools

- Outsourcing custodial services

- Decreasing central office staff

- Decreasing the number of school bus drivers and routes

- Decreasing the number of locally-funded positions that includes parapros and teachers

- Decreasing the number of locally-funded assistant principals, counselors and parking lot attendants

“This is very difficult. In Fayette these are the items that make Fayette special,” Sweat said. “It will be difficult, but we have to do it strategically and balance the budget. It won’t be a popular report. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.”

Sweat said the goal is to keep the same number of school days and not take anything from teachers.

Bearden in commenting on the work of the cost-cutting committee said, “People say we have an expenditure problem. We have a revenue problem.”

Also at the meeting, the school board in a brief discussion about the replacement for Bearden agreed to extend the application deadline from mid-December to Jan. 31. During the discussion the board tentatively agreed that the hire date for the new superintendent would be July 1.

Bearden during the meeting also noted that the work of the redistricting committee is still on hold pending the outcome of the possible sale of Rivers Elementary School. The committee has requested that a representative from the school board meet with committee representatives prior to the committee resuming its work.

Bearden also stressed that the maps being worked on are not final and that the finalized maps will include a number of changes.

americanpatriots
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More to the story

The information we receive from the school superintendent and other central office personnel should be carefully evaluated and frequently challenged.

One of the public speakers at the meeting this Monday night spoke about the comparison of FCBOE with the Gwinnette School District.

I prepared a spreadsheet comparing Gwinnette, Coweta, Forsyth, and Fayette County that I sent to the Board of Education members and to certain members of the school district.

The Gwinnette County school district is the largest school district in Georgia and ranks 21 in Georgia vs. 4th for FCBOE out of 164 school districts.

Compared to FCBOE, Gwinnette has:

more than 8 times the number of students

spends almost 2/3 less (as a percentage of total costs) on General Administration (superintendents and assistant superintendents)

spends 5% less on teacher salaries and benefits (as a percentage of total costs)

spends $1,147 less per student

has a student to teacher ratio of 17.2:1 vs. 13.7:1

spends 45% less on pupil services (as a percentage of total costs)

other costs are presented in the worksheet I prepared

At a meeting in October 2011, the board of education reviewed a study prepared by UGA that shows we have lost almost 2,000 students since 2007. Unfortunately, the UGA study shows that we will continue losing students EVERY YEAR until 2021. Click on the following link to view the UGA study:

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

At a board meeting this week, the superintendent stated that we have lost $22 million in the last five years in revenue from the state and from declining property taxes.

That statement is true; however, the superintendent didn't bother to point out that we should have reduced our expenses by almost $9 million during the same period solely because of declining student enrollment.

The superintendent emphasized that we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem. Well, that is not the entire story.

The superintendent failed to mention that we received over $20 million in federal funds in FY2010 and another $4.3 million in a one-time federal stimulus in FY2011.

Costs have been reduced by almost $23 million since 2007, but for the superintendent to make the statement that we have a revenue problem and not a spending problem is completely one-sided and possibly intentionally misleading.

The approved budget and financial forecast for FCBOE can be found on the website (fcboe.org), and the Gwinnette, Coweta and Forsyth budgets can be found on their respective websites.

BobbyBiplane
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Mr. Bearden ...

you said “People say we have an expenditure problem. We have a revenue problem.” Basic logic here. If your revenue problem causes you to not cover costs you have, by definition, an expenditure problem. Let's stop the mis-directing retoric. FCBOE must cut costs and cut them now.

Bob

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