Massive cuts included in $819.4M '11 budget
by Kathryn Dobies
kdobies@mdjonline.com
May 13, 2010 12:00 AM | 4338 views | 38 38 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Numerous Allatoona High School students, teachers, parents and supporters turned out for Wednesday’s Cobb School Board meeting to express their disappointment over teacher cutbacks, particularly the loss of the majority of their sports coaching staff. <br>Photo by Kim Isaza
Numerous Allatoona High School students, teachers, parents and supporters turned out for Wednesday’s Cobb School Board meeting to express their disappointment over teacher cutbacks, particularly the loss of the majority of their sports coaching staff.
Photo by Kim Isaza
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MARIETTA - The Cobb County School Board approved its preliminary budget of $819.4 million for fiscal year 2011 on Wednesday afternoon. The budget, which has a balanced amount of expenditures and revenues, unfortunately included massive job eliminations and other significant cutbacks.

Following a more than 30 minute discussion, the board voted 6-1, with member Alison Bartlett dissenting, to approve a tentative budget proposed by Superintendent Fred Sanderson.

The budget includes five furlough days for all district staff; a reduction of five school days to the calendar; increasing class sizes to the maximum student-to-teacher ratios; cutting more than 1,000 teachers; and eliminating 100 buses and corresponding routes.

The district is facing a $126.7 million deficit as a result of a reduction in both state and local revenue, chief of finance Mike Addison said. The proposed budget includes a property tax increase of 1.1 mills, to the maximum allowable rate of 20 mills. But Sanderson has also put forth a proposal for the board to immediately vote to reduce the millage rate back to 18.9 mills, which would subsequently free up $23 million in excess funds in SPLOST II to be transferred to the general fund.

The phantom tax hike would not actually raise property taxes, but would reportedly be a legal way for the district to gain more money in its general fund for the FY 11 budget, which begins July 1.

Following the meeting, Bartlett said she opposed the superintendent's budget because it was set at the maximum millage rate.

"My understanding in February was that we were going to get a budget that was balanced on the current millage rate. I didn't agree to an increase in property taxes," Bartlett said.

Sanderson said the board's approval for the budget was necessary to advertise plans to the public. The district will display its budget on its official website and each individual school website. A one-page summary of the budget will also be advertised in the Journal, and a booklet will be available in the county's public libraries.

Also during the board's budget discussion, Bartlett asked the superintendent and the associate superintendent of leadership and learning, Dr. Steven Constantino, if there was a cap on class sizes. Constantino said that while it was hard to pinpoint that maximum number at this point, he has looked at preliminary numbers from several high schools and that early projections of 40 students per teacher are too large.

For the sake of clarification, Dr. John Crooks, the board's budget liaison, pointed out that the budget included the new 175-school day calendar that Sanderson presented to the board at its last budget meeting on May 4. In what would be a major change in how Cobb students have attended school, Sanderson's 2010-2011 calendar would push the school year start date back to Aug. 5, instead of Aug. 2, and move the last day from May 27, 2011, to May 25, 2011.

While the board was in its meeting on Wednesday afternoon, more than 100 students from Osborne High School walked out in protest of teacher cuts at the school.

According to district spokesman Jay Dillon, the protest began at 1:45 p.m. and lasted about an hour.

"We're just pleased that students were respectful and they were allowed to make their point, and they dispersed after about 45 minutes to an hour," Dillon said.

Bartlett, whose Post 7 includes Osborne, said that she heard one student set off a firecracker and was detained by police for his actions. Despite this, she said she thought the students did a good job of showing their dissatisfaction.

"I am proud that our students are understanding the impact of these budget times to their education," she said.
Comments
(38)
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CobbOak
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June 07, 2010
Please help Oakwood High School continue to serve Cobb County Students!

Last Chance, unless you decide to sue because of their violation of due process:

6/9 CCSD Board Meeting

Public Comments - 7:30 AM sign in to speak

Board Meeting, comments - 8:30 AM

514 Glover St. Marietta, Georgia 30080

(Legal Adoption of the FY2011 Budget at Regular Board Meeting)
mom of a 5th grader
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May 15, 2010
Alison Bartlett is the only one on that Board who has any sense. Fire all of the rest and throw in Fred Sanderson for good measure. The area superintendents don't do anything, at least ours doesn't. The administrative assistance are not needed at the elementary level. Ours talks like a first grader to the parents. There is so much fluff you need to cut first. The teachers should not be the first to go---they should be the last!!
please, cobb county
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May 14, 2010
Removing teachers is a way to upset the public - and it has - however, be careful not to allow taxes to go up or a new splost - CCSD is playing on your emotions -

Go to the CCSD website and pull down departments - all of the people that aren't clerical or secretarial are making salaries beginning around $100,000/year - these people are not being RIF - and they have staffs of people that make teacher salaries (for instance, literacy coaches) - but they wouldn't have "leadership" jobs if they got rid of those people -

If CCSD hurt the child and the front line classroom teachers, parents will want to do something - just don't let them fool you - the cuts that need to be made to keep lower class sizes and teachers aren't having - it is just politics
Did you Really?
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May 14, 2010
CobbMom did you really just nitpick the spelling error of an obviously distraught person who just lost their job? Shame on you. It is not a matter of competence as you say but a matter of common courtesy. If you don't have anything nice to say........
Curious One
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May 14, 2010
Obviously Teacher 007 has not noticed that the taxpayers of Cobb - who pay every penny of the 17% salary supplement for Teachers - are paying taxes on a property values that are terribly inflated. Raise taxes is the solution that Techer 007 offers ? Come on Teacher 007, make some suggestions that will keep you terminated fellow teachers in the classroom - It is apparent that teacher007 has lots of seniority and thusly lots of job security with zero accountabiity or performance. This is very "evident " !
Teasley neighbor
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May 14, 2010
Who cares about teachers or class sizes? Over here at Teasley the CCSB will use $500K of SPLOST to build a bus turnaround. In fact the plans are so bad the County has had to budget another $250K to make the plan workable. The school does not even know if it will even have buses to turn around next year. This is another waste of money the school board does not have.

VOTE THEM OUT BEFORE WE ALL GO BROKE!

former CCSD teacher
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May 14, 2010
I enjoyed the employee email that I received, stating how fair the cuts in the CCSD have been. As a PT employee, I spared someone else's job and then got let go myself. No consideration of my years in the district, performance... nothing. That's fair. I fear for the education of Cobb's kids and pity those left behind in the classroom to deal with this mess. What a nightmare.
Bait and Switch
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May 14, 2010
This is not about getting rid of good teachers it is about raising taxes. Do you think anyone would get upset at cuts at the Administration level? Cobb County has always supported the education of our children. Sanderson and the board are fully aware after everyone is upset they will come back and say OK we can keep the teachers if we raise the millage rate. Make them find the cuts other places than direct student contact.
just wondering
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May 14, 2010
Why would a school cut a teacher who just made teacher of the year this year? The teacher was good enough to be teacher of the year, but let go anyway? Makes one go hummmmm?
Cobb teacher/parent
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May 13, 2010
I also was a victim of the RIF Tuesday due to a lack of seniority in Cobb. I have 15 years of teaching and coaching experience, but only two years in Cobb County. I came here when things seemed to be going well, and now I have no job to support my wife and two kids.

I worry about my children, who are students in Cobb, and the large class sizes they will face next year. The School Board is allowed to take out a "TAN" (tax anticipation note) and pay it off with excess SPLOST II funds. Please contact the members of the Board and urge them to take this action, which would allow approximately 50 million dollars to be put back into the general fund to hire back teachers and reduce class sizes for next year. GET INVOLVED, PLEASE!
Frustrated tax payer
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May 13, 2010
GET RID OF THE AREA SUPERINTENDANTS
CobbMom
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May 13, 2010
No need to do a spell check. I learned to spell in elementary school. I am merely pointing out that a teacher who doesn't know how to spell the word "losing" should not be retained. It is not a matter of decorum; it is a matter of competence.
Teacher007
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May 13, 2010
The suggestion that Cobb teachers take 17% pay cuts is outrageous. That will push our compensation cuts to about 25% over the 2 years. We have families to support, too, This economic crisis was not caused by teachers and the price should not be borne solely by teachers and school staff. This is a COMMUNITY problem and we should ALL share in the solution by paying higher taxes to keep the schools going. YOu should not balance budgets on the backs of the staff. We are doing our part and now the community must do its part. And I am a Cobb taxpayer, too!
to Indian Joe
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May 13, 2010
Seriously? Seriously? Perks? Small class sizes? Have you even BEEN in a school lately? We don't deal with running in the halls and chewing gum any more, you know. Class sizes average 32 now, not the comfortable 28 that was common even when my kids were in school a decade ago. Now they are saying to expect 35, 37, 38, but not 40 in a class. Thank God .. not 40! (Hope you can detect the sarcasm.)

Teachers do not go into education for the "perks." Only administrators have that luxury (apparently $8 million worth in Cobb). "Perks" have never included 8 hour days plus 3-4 extra hours grading essays at home. "Perks" have never included dealing with parents who think their children turned in work, when we know and can prove they did not. "Perks" have never included not knowing if you have a job even though you are evaluated at the highest level of performance. Look up "perks." Teachers do not get them. To us, a bathroom break between classes is the biggest "perk" we will ever see. A functioning copying machine is an unbelievable "perk," and one rarely found these days in Cobb County. We have learned to rely on Kinko's instead, using our own money. That's our warped idea of a "perk."

So why do we teach? Because we love to see young people learn. But with class sizes exploding, next year we will be little more than paper pushers and babysitters, jobs we definitely did not sign on for, but people like you are forcing us to accept because of your ignorance of the situation. Think before you agitate.
anonymous
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May 13, 2010
I had 30 kids in my classes growing up and did fine in life. If the teachers actually taught all day and then did paper work and graded paper after or before school there would be plenty of teaching time.

Walk by many classrooms - the kids are doing stuff or sitting at desks or have DEAR (drop everything and read) time what are the teachers doing then - sitting at their desks doing paperwork and searching the web.

It isn't that they cannot teach 30 kids, they can. But the paperwork has to ease up!

AggravatedTeacher
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May 13, 2010
To Mr. Karma

The county claimed they used the money from the reserve instead of furlough days. However, we were STILL docked three days pay. The board decided that back in January, right before we were finally going to get our yearly step in pay and/or the raise if any. Timing was interesting. They decided to use the two days we had off for weather issues and President's Day, days we normally get paid for. The money for those three days has been deducted from the last few checks and in our next check as well, as far as I know. So right when we were supposed to get our raises, they took it all right back with the furlough days.
Mr. Karma
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May 13, 2010
As I said before. The flooded the board meetings and complained last year when the first mentioned a 3 day furlough. So the Board took 10 mil out of the reserve to pay those furloughs... How many jobs do you think that 10 mil could have saved...?
RIF'D Teacher
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May 13, 2010
To CobbMom,

Thank you so much for the spelling lesson and correction. I guess you have never made any sort of mistakes in your lifetime. With everything else going on right now in our community I would think that you would have something a little more meaningful to comment about, rather than just cut someone up and find it necessary to point out a stupid spelling mistake. You lack class and seem to be quite rude. Go ahead now and do another spell check!
East Cobb Mommy
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May 13, 2010
@Clarence Hipp

The difference between experience and seniority.

Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event.

Seniority is the concept of a person or group of people being in charge or in command of another person or group.

So a great teacher gains experience each year they teach. An old everyday lazy teacher just gains seniority by standing in front of the class.

My child's second grade teacher had 10 years experience. My child's thrid grade teacher had 10 years seniority. Guess which one he learned more from and remembers fondly today?
CCSD Teacher
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May 13, 2010
To Indian Joe and Cobber - If we had a choice between keeping our jobs and colleagues vs. losing some of our pay, most of us would chose the latter. I am one of the RIFed teachers and the thing that I will miss most is the family community and the students that we have worked so hard to develop in our school. I want to stay here and teach and would gladly take a 10-15% cut in order to do so. But we were not given that choice. I hope that the Board finds a better way to solve this crisis and that I am able to come back to MY HOME SCHOOL when all of the staffing issues are settled.
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