Possible steps to offset CCSD deficit outlined
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
January 18, 2012 11:55 AM | 13259 views | 61 61 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — With the Cobb County School District looking at a $62.4 million deficit for FY2013, it might lay off 350 employees, adding more furlough days and increasing class sizes.

During Wednesday’s work session, the district was applauded by financial advisors on their “clean” Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, while on the other hand, board members learned about the reduction in staff and increased class sizes they could be facing in the 2012-2013 school year and voted down yet another proposal to make adjustments to next year’s school calendar.

Chief Financial Officer Mike Addison announced Wednesday morning that the district had received a “clean” report by Mauldin and Jenkins of Atlanta for the CAFR pointing out that the fund balance increased by $20.1 million to $99.8 million for FY2011; and that expenditures between FY2009 and FY2011 decreased by $106 million from $932 million to $826 million.

Addison’s good news was short lived though when it came time to update the school board on the deficit that the district will face in FY13.

Shifting gears from the past to the future, as Addison said, he reported to the board that while the deficit he reported in October of nearly $73 million has decreased, the district is now looking at a possible $62.4 million deficit.

“Keep in mind this outlook is certain to change as we receive more accurate projections and information in the coming months,” he said.

The nearly $10 million reduction is due to the enrollment projections and Full Time Equivalent counts finally to be submitted to the state.

During his report, Addison indicated what action may need to be taken by the school board when it approves the budget in July to help ease the deficit if it does not continue to decrease.

He suggested the district increase class size by two, saving $18.6 million; increase the number of furlough days from two to five, saving $14.54 million; reduce the number of school days from 180 to 175, saving transportation $1 million; delay a salary step increase by half a year, saving $5.1 million; eliminate school within a school at the same location, saving $387,000; eliminate 50 media paraprofessionals positions, saving $1.2 million; reduce funding for Project 2400 by half next year and eliminating it in 2014, saving $62,500; and taking about $21.5 million from the $99.8 million fund balance for a total savings of $62.4 million.

“It is important to note that our proposal does include the reduction of the a number of positions, including 350.5 teaching positions. Again, I would like to remind you that it is still extremely early in the budget process. We will continue to examine all the districts revenues and expenditures and keep you informed of changes as they occur,” he concluded.

Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa referred to Addison’s suggestions as a “hybrid approach.”

“The fund balance is often used for a rainy day and if it’s not raining now, then I don’t know when it’s going to start raining,” he said. “This is an unusual approach but we are recommending that we use money from our fund balance. It will still give us a healthy fund balance but this hybrid approach with dealing with all these reductions is a step that we have to take in order to manage the district and keep our instructional program moving forward.”

Hinojosa pointed out that although Addison said they are looking at a reduction in staff, he doesn’t anticipate any teachers losing their jobs.

“We are confident that we can accomplish this budget without layoffs and without a reduction in force and with attrition and we’ll be tight but our history shows we can handle this through some of the data that we’ve looked at when situations have changed,” he said.

Board members Lynnda Eagle, who represents northeast Cobb, and Alison Bartlett, who represents middle Cobb, both said they would like to see a formal report from the district staff that lays out the vacancies and whether the current openings in the district are due to non-performance or retirement.

“I greatly appreciate that we are moving early and seeing where the impact is,” Bartlett said. “For me, this is a lot to inhale at this moment.”

Members of the teaching associations also had something to say about the possible layoffs.

“The district should do whatever it can to minimize the impact on teachers, and therefore students, and if they want to send a message … they should make the impact of that sacrifice at the top. Shared sacrifice starts at the top,” said John Adams, co-executive director with Educators First.

His co-executive director Tana Page said, “We were at the Legislature (Tuesday) and it is my understanding that they are not in favor of additional RIFs (Reduction In Force). I realize the local (district) makes the decision, I understand that, however, we’re getting a bit of a conflicting view.”

Connie Jackson with the Cobb County Association of Educators said while her group is excited there may not actually be any layoffs because of vacancies, the five furlough days are significant for many employees.

“That’s a fourth of a month’s pay, not to mention losing five instructional days with students. While I was expecting negative budget news, due to initial projections, my hopes is that they can find cuts somewhere else. I realize furloughs are a reality for this coming year but I’d like to see them considerably less than five,” she said.

The district’s proposal to eliminate Project 2400 by 2014, may affect the Cobb Chamber of Commerce as well. The local Chamber manages the program that helps tutor students on their SAT and ACT tests.

According to CEO David Connell, Fred Bentley Jr. works with the program and started it when he was chair of the Chamber.

As far as funding the program, Connell said the chamber’s budget comes from individual companies who want to contribute. If Georgia Power decided to contribute $500 or $100, that is part of the resources that ends up being used for programs like Project 2400.

He could not say if the chamber would be able to make up for lost funds for the program if the district cut the program.

In other business, the board briefly talked about northeast Cobb’s David Banks’ third proposal of the school year to try and get the balanced calendar back before the 2012-13 school year.

The board voted 2-5, with Banks and northwest Cobb’s Lynnda Eagle in favor of the item, to not place the calendar back on the agenda for a vote at the Jan. 26 board meeting.

“I wish this was not a topic but it’s still important to a lot of people,” Eagle said. “I don’t see anything wrong with it coming back up.”

North Cobb’s Kathleen Angelucci, who voted against the calendar being placed back on the agenda and for the balanced calendar last February, said the board has already voted on the calendar for next school year and frustratingly said she didn’t think the topic should keep coming back up.

In other news, board chair Scott Sweeney announced that Larry Savage, who was leading the district’s F&T committee, is stepping down as chair. He is reportedly planning on running for Cobb County Board of Commissioner’s chair position.

The budget report can be found online at www.cobbk12.org.
Comments
(61)
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HomeschoolingMommy
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January 29, 2012
I have just a few thoughts/questions here. What do all the administrators make? Is there a need for all the admin positions? Go to the Cobb County Schools website and just look at all the positions. Have any parents noticed the buddy system in action?

I know of a teacher with just three years experience who has a brown nose and now an assistant principal position. There are admin putting family members in high paying admin positions too.

What about all those older teachers? Do you guys realize the number of seasoned teachers that were let go in the budget crunch? Why? Experience commands higher pay. There is no mentoring of these young new teachers (that can be paid less based on less experience) just mind control. They can’t think on their own and state one independent thought.

Taxes? Before saying senior should also pay up think about just how many others are paying without a single child in the local school system. Research the population of all the local private and church schools. Yes, they pay school tax and tuition! Add to that the number of home school kids. Yes, they pay school tax and then buy their own curriculum. Neither of these two groups get a tax break in any way for the money they give to the public school yet spend to give their child(ren) a better education. Leave the seniors alone, they paid their share over the years and deserve the break. Be thankful you are getting from the other groups!

Each school in the CCSD gets about $8,000 per student in funding. Take those private & home school population numbers and think what situation the schools would be in if each of those students were enrolled in CCSD. Funding is supposed to be there for them if they become enrolled; where is it if not? Administrative wasteful pay?

Tough Skin
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January 21, 2012
I am so tired of reading and hearing people negatively towards teachers. Like everyone else we have been hit hard. Our pay has decreased, health insurance increased, bills are steadily climbing (including the property taxes that we too pay).

I know as humans we play the blame game but lets stop blaming and find a solution. We ALL our have a rough time financially.
CC Citizen
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January 21, 2012
I would like to see a show of good faith on the Superintendent's part. Reduce salaries and/or positions at the adinistrative level. Everyone else in the district has taken reductions - I want to see it here now.
occuplygloverstreet
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January 20, 2012
"It's deja vu all over again." ~Yogi Berra
Pam J
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January 19, 2012
What is the average salary for a teacher in Cobb County? I admit that I don't know. Now, I know that our children's education should be very important to everybody, but everybody also needs to remember what our economy is like right now. I have been unemployed for two years now, so it's really hard for me to have any sympathy for anybody who has a good job. And those of you who are saying the tax rate needs to be raised, thanks. Just make it harder for those of us who have been kicked to the curb.
Kennesaw Voter
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January 19, 2012
I do not use the term ABUSE loosely.

I use the term ABUSE very acurately. CCSD wasteful spending is abusive toward property owners....and teachers who are paid well and have very generous bennies....just want to abuse the taxpayer more and more....plus they want to go after seniors too....they can't ever seem to get enough money from the hard working taxpayers.
Re: Kennesaw Voter
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January 19, 2012
When do you find time to maintain a taxpaying job with all of the posting you do?
Get A Clue
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January 19, 2012
@ Kennesaw Voter- You do realize that teachers are also "hardworking taxpayers"? Last time I checked they were also receiving paycuts and reduced benefits. For the last 3 years Cobb County teachers have made less annually and sustained the same increased costs for everything like every other American. They too are having to do more with less. CCSD needs some fresh eyes on the budget. I guarantee there is a better way to cut than taking away from the teachers, students, & seniors. Same crap, different fiscal year, different super
Lurker11
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January 19, 2012
@Kennesaw Voter

(1) There is no teacher's union in Georgia.

(2) I paid $3200 in property taxes last year and I DON'T have children. Where's my exemption?

(3) "Wasteful" spending is in the eye of the beholder.

(4) If you can do a better job, by all means get your teaching certificate and join the party.

(5) Do you volunteer at your local school?

IM A TEACHER
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January 20, 2012
WOW! I guess i missed the memo! I do have benefits, that I pay dearly for and yes, the costs of them has increased EVERY YEAR with me taking a pay CUT every year, PLUS, I pay taxes, and I pay for my own children, plus many of other people's school supplies out of my very own pocket! And I'm being ABUSIVE? WOW!
Kennesaw Voter
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January 19, 2012
I am amazed at how many people (probably teachers at the direction of teachers union) get on here and post that taxpayers have to pay more and seniors should also pay until they are in the grave....REDICULOUS! To CobbTchr = People are already paying to educate their children and guess what...they are also paying your salary and benefits....you are a tipical "ME ME" person who thinks the taxes property owners pay are never enough and folks should take out a second mortgage on their homes so they can keep paying higher and higher taxes....All of us Taxpayers see you greedy teachers and county employees very clearly.
There is no teacher
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January 19, 2012
union in GA... and it is spelled ridiculous and typical. Educate yourself before you embarrass yourself further.
occuplygloverstreet
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January 19, 2012
bwhahahaha!! but serioulsy, you are scary! Teachers are "greedy" like Mother Teresa was "greedy". Yeah, teachers want folks to have to mortgage their homes so they can have private jets - what are you like the Mean version of "Betty White" or what.

They're teachers not professional basketball players, teachers can't be greedy, they can't afford it!
CobbTchr
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January 20, 2012
Clearly, you're a product of poor teaching. You can't SPELL!! We will have more people like you if we keep cutting teacher salaries and only attract those who want a job with summers off!
The Team
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January 20, 2012
You gutted the word ridiculous. It's like you didn't even try. Then you gutted the word typical. However, you spelled mortgage correctly, SURPRISE! I really don't know what you're trying to convey through your post. Maybe you could draw a picture instead of murdering the written word with your incomplete, incoherent thoughts. Spell check isn't just for rich people.
CobbTchr
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January 19, 2012
We can't continue to balance the budget on the backs of teachers. When is the community also going to share in this burden? If you want your kid educated, then you need to pay for it. Property values are at an all time low, which means you're paying less taxes than ever before. Why not raise the rate to have Cobb residents pay what they did in 2007 or 2008? Eventually, the only people going into teaching will be those without any other options. Do you really want them teaching your children? Furlough days, pay cuts, larger class sizes---who in their right mind would willingly choose this profession?
Prootwadl
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January 19, 2012
I don't have kids, and yet I gladly pay my property taxes to the county because I know the funds are used to educate the next generation.



Some of us are paying more than our fair share. My taxes, someone else's kids. While I sympathize with teachers, however, I think it's important to point out that it's the country and not its citizens who determine property tax rates.



There's a reason I didn't go into teaching 20 years ago. Not sure why the current situation is susprising?
Kennesaw Resident
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January 22, 2012
CobbTchr, I do not have a child in the system, but pay my property taxes. I do not want my taxes increased to support a bloated system. It is time to make appropriate cuts in light of the current economic situation, not further burden taxpayers who are facing furloughs, pay cuts, higher property taxes and higher gas prices. We might also consider having our seniors pay school taxes as they benefit from having good school systems as well as the rest of us.
Kennesaw Voter
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January 19, 2012
QBE is abusive toward Cobb and other metro counties....get your state representatives to get rid of it and Cobb will get to keep millions we pay in property taxes to spend right here on our own schools...QBE legalizes robbing Cobb County School District to benefit rural counties...STOP IT!!
Kennesaw Voter
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January 19, 2012
Leave the seniors alone...why do school folks want to abuse seniors? why do school folks want to abuse taxpayers? Better management of available funds will fix the problem.
Is it time?
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January 19, 2012
I think that it's interesting that the notion of increasing taxes hasn't even appeared on these message boards until this budget shortfall. There seems to be a growing belief that the same olf solution (asking teachers to take pay cuts and work harder) after 4-5 years is too much to ask of a dedicated group of educators.

Kennesaw Voter--I think you use the term "abuse" much too loosely. With an increasingly disproportionate senior population the county should look into property tax exemptions. As someone mentioned below, the current arrangement is unsustainable with the aging baby boomer generation.
Pay Now or Pay Later
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January 19, 2012
The AJC posted an article yesterday about how top heavy and bloated the Dekalb School District is based on a report conducted by an outside consulting firm.A blurb in the article stated "The audit says DeKalb has 15.5 central office positions per 1,000 students and should have more like 12, according to the consultants. Comparable school districts had numbers ranging from 18.5 central office positions per 1,000 students in Fulton County to 5.8 in Cobb and 6.1 in Gwinnett, the report said." Cobb has the lowest ratio, so can we please stop talking about our bloated central office and admin positions!If you say no then will you be in favor of supporting our supt if he wanted to pay a firm to do a similar audit for CCSD???? i thought not. Money is not going to automagically come from nowhere.We need to be having a serious discussion about raising taxes.We can pay now or pay later.
ivotedtim
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January 19, 2012
I too heard the news on central office ratios, just this morning on WSB radio. While our ratios are apparently not excessive the recent pay raise needs to be looked at.

I think the huge majority of stake holders thinks the recent central office pay raise is a slap in the face of the teachers and the tax payers also. While there are heated issues with passion for and against various calendars, it appears to me to be unanimous that almost everyone (who is not employed at central office) was appalled that the central office got raises at all.

The teachers have been giving until it hurts, not just a lack of raises, but cuts. Could we please look to taking the central office raises and putting them back toward teacher compensation? It would be a step in the right direction!
Pay Now or Pay Later
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January 19, 2012
Many are quick to point out that the district should cut central office pay and/or staff.For those who feel this way it seems to be more an issue of principle vs a reality where doing so would make a material dent in the deficit.If it's an issue of principle-- fine; however let's not lose all sense of reality and assume that will shore up the budget, allow step increases to be reinstated, and furlough days implemented. That's an implausible scenario.Furthermore what abt the folks in Central (vast majority) who do not fit the stereotypical overpaid fatcats who do nothing. There are worker bees on Glover as well.All of that said it seems almost nonsensical to me to talk about addressing the budget issues without increasing taxes. The teachers and staff in my kids' school all work very hard and deserve their raises and manageable class sizes. Personally speaking, I say let's raise taxes and shore up the budget so we can get about the business of providing a quality education to our children.I'm sick of talking about no funds.And yes we need to support new programs that the Supt proposed liked TFA. Why did we hire this man if we are not supportive of his initiatives. If it was going to be business as usual and we continue to say we cant change because of budget issues, what's the point? Our taxes, and costs in CCSD are one of if not the lowest in the metro area, so I am fine raising whatever taxes are needed if they will be appropriately spent to improve education for our kids.We can pay now, or pay later!
EastCobbMom
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January 19, 2012
With 16,000 Americans turning 65 years old every day for the next decade and then some, really it's time to look at a "sacred cow." Our seniors benefit from our educational system just as much as everyone else - it's time to reinstate the property tax there (even if it is just a "little bit" or the exemption should start when you his 75 years). And, yes, we have family members who'd be affected by such a move, but it's time to get real.
Kennesaw Resident
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January 19, 2012
EastCobbMom, you are exactly right! Seniors receive a disproportionate share of benefits, and now it is at the expense of our future. It is time for them to pay their fair share!
Kennesaw Voter
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January 19, 2012
You should get real....here is an idea....how about you write a nice big check and send it to the school system since you think they are not wasting money ....and since you want to rob seniors....why don't you give up 5 percent more of your income to a government (take your pick) since you want to steal from seniors just so you know how it feels....BTW, i am not a senior but taxing them is not the answer and it is wrong.
Kennesaw Resident
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January 19, 2012
Kennesaw Voter, I don't think anyone should pay more taxes, myself included. I do think that special interests should not special treatment and that includes seniors - which I am very close to being!
geting older too
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March 15, 2012
I'm a teacher and I don't think my elderly parents should be taxed to compensate for school funding. We certainly don't show our seniors that we value them in our society by taxing them on their reduced/limited/fixed incomes. Last time I checked, most seniors I know don't have lucrative retirement funds. We need to find other ways to reduce school budgets like having teacher-led schools, reducing the number of admimistrators needed! That's another story!
Fundamental
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January 19, 2012
Just one fundamental question: does anyone expect student achievement to improve with these cuts? I mean, the new super and the rest of the district can't truly expect students to perform at a higher level when the classrooms are beyond capacity and the school year is shorter. I would love to see someone in a leadership position acknowledge this. But that would take courage, something this district lacks.
yawn1
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January 20, 2012
Performance has indeed improved the last serveral years with drastic school spending cuts, increased classroom sizes, etc. etc.

So what does this say? Possibly, that putting in place more of a performance based culture in teaching is leading to better results - perform or you are gone.

Any other reason that scores are going up as classroom size has gone up (which we have always been told by teachers would lead to disastrous outcomes)?
Lion of Judah
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January 19, 2012
We educators are headed down a dead end in our careers...I only wish I had taken the American/Capitalist approach to my future and majored in a more lucrative/respected/appreciated degree. Lord help these hildren in the days to come!
Cut summer
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January 18, 2012
How about we close the whole system down for the last week in June and first two weeks of July? School has been out for three weeks at that point and doesn't start for another three weeks. That would mean no salaries, no administrators, no electric bills. The people whom this should effect least are the students and teachers.
evan gammage
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January 18, 2012
Cut, cut, cut Central Office, every Assistant, Area Principals, media professionals and anywhere except classroom teachers.
jack siegel
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January 18, 2012
here's a novel idea, reduce the number of administrators at Central Office and do we really need 4 or more Asst. Principals? cut the Super intendant's pay to something more reasonable or at least base it on his performance.
westcobbparent
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January 18, 2012
I guess to do what Hinojosa is recommending, we need to fire experienced teachers to hire unexperienced teachers. Plus we will pay an extra $4,000 per teacher for extra training. Will that be better than years of classroom training for the experienced teachers?

Quote from MDJ, "Hinojosa is recommending the district pay Teach For America $4,000 per teacher for each year during which a teacher is employed by the district."

“They will get the same salary as everybody else, (the $4,000) is for the extra training they get,” Hinojosa said. “That money doesn’t go to them, it goes to Teach For America for the two-month boot camp they will attend in June and July.”

How sad for the teachers that have given a large portion of their lives to teaching.

SMART CUTS
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January 18, 2012
What happened to cutting the sick day payouts for employees? That costs millions per year? Sweeney made that campaign promise and then backed out. HOw about cutting area superintendents? That would save a another million. We are cutting school days for students but teachers have 3 days of post planning. Go to one day of post planning and give the students those days. I am so glad my son is graduating next year because this is ridiculous. I blame the state for the QBE formula taking millions from our county to redistribute, and Cobb County for not rescending a portion of exempting seniors property taxes. We have the lowest county taxes and people will be sorry when for complaining about paying their fair share for our schools. People will move elsewhere to take their kids to better school systems.
Kennesaw Voter
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January 19, 2012
You are being foolish. Cobb has the best school system in metro Atlanta....where are parents going to move and get into a better system? STOP with the rediculous comments. Seniors should not have to keep paying for schools their kids have not been in for over 30 years....Don't abuse the seniors because Cobb has wasteful spending at all levels -- SCHOOLS --- COUNTY GOVERNMENT -- CITY Government....PLEASE stop abusing property owners with abusive taxes.
To Kennesaw Voter
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January 19, 2012
RIDICULOUS is the correct spelling. Cobb COunty is the only county to have a total expemtion for seniors. If you studied economics, you would realize that we can not sustain this path. We are in a economic crisis that will not end any time soon. Adjustments need to be made for EVERYONE!
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