School board nixes proposal to give employees bonus
by Hannah Morgan
November 21, 2013 12:47 AM | 4227 views | 14 14 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Board of Education members shot down a proposal to give all school district employees a 1 percent bonus this year at a recent board meeting.

Board member David Banks proposed the idea after hearing complaints from teachers and administrators about the five furlough days the district implemented this year as a money-saving measure.

“We’re eliminating teachers and putting more burdens on them,” he said.

Fellow board members said a pay bonus wouldn’t necessarily help to alleviate future problems for district staff, especially with the estimated $79 million budget shortfall in this year’s budget of nearly $1 billion.

How it would work

Cobb County School District employs 13,526 people and is the second largest employer in the county, according to the district’s website. Only Home Depot employs more with roughly 20,000.

Banks proposed granting employees a “holiday” bonus, starting as soon as possible, and at the latest by Dec. 25.

He said he would take the roughly $7 million required for the 1 percent bonus from the district’s reserve fund, which Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn said had about $75 million in it.

Brad Johnson, the district’s chief financial officer, said each furlough day saves the district about $3 million, and the five furlough days this school year saved about $15 million.

District employees took a 2 percent pay cut five years ago, Johnson said, and have not been given a raise since then.

“It’s not very good times,” said board member Brad Wheeler, of the district’s financial situation. He would rather see the money spent toward reducing furlough days and next year’s proposed budget shortfall down from $80 million, he said.

“We want to keep the schools open as many days that we can and keep the teachers going,” he added.

Board members cite budget limitations

Other board members agreed, and were wary of dispensing such a large chunk of money when the financial future of the district was in flux.

“Seven million is a lot of money and can be used to lower class sizes, although the teachers deserve it and need it,” said Scamihorn.

Board member Kathleen Angelucci agreed, and felt teachers would benefit more from saving the $7 million for next year’s budget.

“It is a noble proposal, but I think teachers would rather have lower class sizes at this point than the bonus,” said Angelucci.

What teachers want

Teachers would prefer the board to focus on reducing furlough days instead of dispensing a one-time bonus, said Connie Jackson, the president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, a teacher advocacy group.

“While we appreciate the thought and sentiment, when we are facing a $79 million deficit next year, we would rather see more work done on that that would decrease furlough days,” she said.

Teachers feel their take-home salaries have dwindled each year for the past five years, Jackson said, because of furlough days and the 2 percent pay cut, but at the end of the day, they would rather have more teaching days than a one-time bonus.

“It seems like our salary and our workload are inversely proportional,” Jackson said.

Still, Banks stood his ground.

He had intended to give the district’s single working parents the chance to make it through the holidays, and to make up for this year’s furloughed days, he said.

“When you take furlough days from them, you are taking food off the table,” Banks said. “Five days with no pay is five days without food.”

Not one board member seconded Bank’s request to include a vote on the pay bonus on the next board meeting on Dec. 11, and the proposal was dismissed.

Banks said he was disappointed, but did not plan on bringing up the idea of a pay bonus back up again.

“If they don’t want to do something for the employees, then they have no interest in the employees,” he said.

Comments
(14)
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No Doubt
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November 22, 2013
No doubt we are witnessing the rapid decline of what was Georgia's

best public school system 15 years ago. There is a war on public

education because of an "elitism" that wants to put the "old guard"

back in control by leaving ethnic minorities and the middle class

in its wake. None of our public school boards have the intelligence,

will or imagination to do anything about the situation. We can still

admire the teachers' efforts, but with no leadership the spiral continues downward. It is sad that we can get all excited about

an expensive ball park but are unwilling to pay for a first class

education for our children.
anonymous
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November 22, 2013
CCSD is awesome. It just needs to do the following:

1. restore morale

2. eliminate furloughs

3. give back the 2.5% taken from teachers

4. reinstate full steps at the correct time

5. lower classroom number of students

6. hire more administrators in at-risk schools to address students' inappropriate actions
Be Careful
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November 21, 2013
There is a concerted effort at the state level of government to starve public education our of business until private charter companies take over while legislating favorably toward private schools. Public schools are going to serve the majority of our states' children. We would be prudent to take care of them. Be careful - keep your eye on this.
CCSD falling
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November 21, 2013
First, it was our superintendent that wasted 30 million last year at Christmas time with a one time "bonus". We didn't ask for and it should have been rolled over to this school year to prevent furlough days. Due to it being deemed a bonus, we were taxed at 35% and it did not make a dent in our check. Mr.Banks is trying to improve morale which is in the trash can. The district is falling fast and will continue to fall. Our classrooms are overloaded, now we have to have behavior issues in the classroom because they have cut special education teachers, and our salary continues to plummet with the increase in benefit premiums. This board has come up with nothing other than, cutting teachers, furlough days and increasing class sizes. It will be no different next school year. Our shortfall is due to the public wanting their home taxes reduced. We need to increase the mill to the maximum and go to the state and request a change to the senior tax to 50%.
anonymous
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November 22, 2013
With teacher morale low, what do you think of Hinojosa's "snow days" that lets all the salaried central office staff leave an hour early with pay before every holiday, but not hourly central support staff, they have to work to get paid.
anonymous
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November 21, 2013
If your mortgage is due and you have no money in your checking account, do you pull from your savings account to throw a party?

Banks only mission here is to make himself look good. He knows that it is fiscally imprudent to spend $7 million in savings when staring a $79 million shortfall in the face.

Sadly, he doesn't care about the collateral damage his selfish proposals create. Beyond the proposed bonus, look no further than community defying proposal to merge Powers Ferry and East Valley elementary schools.

Yes, his bonus plan "sounds" good, fighting the good fight so to speak, yet paying for the plan is a different matter altogether.

Spending $7 million now, would likely mean even fewer teachers in classrooms next year.

Got to give Banks credit though... the MDJ published this story regardless of the bonus merits.
Just Wait
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November 21, 2013
Let's see, $79 million in hole already and you want to give teachers a bonus? You must have failed math class.
rjsnh
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November 21, 2013
Compensation for public school educators had improved over the years but has disgracefully been ignored in the most recent past. It is doubtful our best and brightest will remain in teaching positions and even less doubtful many young folks will be in academic pursuit of such careers in the future. Those in charge of our public education system cannot and should not expect teachers who have been asked to do more by increasing class sized for less. They are not volunteers, they are professionals and this is wrong. What are leaders are doing to our public education system, at one time the finest in the world, is a tragedy.
Cobb Teacher
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November 21, 2013
rjsnh, you are correct. In addition to my teaching degrees I hold degrees in other areas, I won't be returning to my current teaching position for the 2014-15 school year. I can also name off half a dozen teachers who are retiring the day they hit 30 years (within the next 1-2 years) because of this board and their complete disregard for teachers and students. Over the past five years this school board has managed to turn a top performing school system into a quickly failing system. Party planners and people who don't have children in this system should not be on the school board.
JJMule
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November 21, 2013
Thank you Mr. Banks.
EastCobbVoter
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November 21, 2013
It sounds like Banks is grandstanding again.

I have a better idea, why don't we eliminate his job and give the savings to the teachers. No doubt the rest of the school board would function much more harmoniously, as an added "bonus."
Common Sense
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November 21, 2013
I can think of several ways to cut the budget. Top heavy administrative salaries and all the money that goes to supporting illegals in the school system for starters. The school system makes a very loud value statement in regards to what they think of their most important asset when they do this. Five years of no pay increase...but all bill companies didn't take the pay decrease into consideration when they decided to raise their side of the expenses. Teachers get zero respect! And of course, there will be those who think teaching is easy with all the time off...I don't see how teachers stay in the profession or even want to pursue this kind of frustration.
Once again….
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November 21, 2013
Once again, Mrs. Angelluci does not have any idea what she is talking about. Mrs. Angelluci, please don't put words in our mouths and tell us what you THINK we want. Connie Jackson does not even know, because her group has not asked teachers. Mr. Banks has once again shown that he may be the only one who cares about teachers. Thank you Mr. Banks. It look like there is one person who truly cares about teachers. This will certainly be the talk around informal staff meetings today. I can predict with fairly accurate certainty that the words, "I will vote for their opponent" come up a few times. What is sad is that the Board members think that smaller class sizes and fewer furloughs are going to happen. Board members you had a chance to at least fix a few things for the teachers you have hurt in the past who have chosen to stay and teach. All but one basically said, "We don't care about the teachers we have hurt." Thank you Mr. Banks.
@ Once again....
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November 21, 2013
I'd stop patting Banks on the shoulder and direct your efforts to Governor Deal and the state representative and senators who craft the state's education budget. Even if the board raised the millage rate to the state cap, there's likely a $60 million gap to balance the budget.

What are your solutions?

The state needs to fully fund the Quality Basic Education formula.
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