BoE, let’s face the facts rather than closing schools

I have heard it said at board meetings and I have read it in the papers: There are two major issues facing our school system:

1. How to reduce our budget by $15 million and,

2. What to do with all of the excess capacity, especially in elementary schools. The quote I have heard is “... we cannot ask the taxpayers to subsidize these empty classrooms”.

While I do agree that these two points sum up our current situation, I cannot agree with the remark on subsidizing.

Now, like everyone, I hate taxes. I want them lowered. The tax burden that our Board of Education is asking the citizens to pay is hurting our local economy.

The fact is that our Board of Education has a spending problem. They have over-spent in buying land, over-spent in building schools, and over-spent in hiring. It is probably safe to say they have over-spent everywhere.

When times were good, the BoE grew. When times got hard, they refused to right-size their staff.

Here are some disturbing facts – we employ 400 more employees than Coweta County, even though they have 2,500 more students and two more schools.

I understand that we are better than they are academically and that excellence has a price. What I do not understand is how Forsyth County, which is beating us academically, spends $2,000 less per student than we do.

Even by looking back at ourselves 10 years ago, 70 percent of our total employees were teachers and para-pros. Today that group makes up only 60 percent of our total employees.

In 2012, our county received $20 million more in local taxes and $6 million more in total revenue than Coweta County. Yet, Coweta County educated more children, operated more school buildings, had the same issue with state funding, but is not considering closing any schools. Ironically, they spent $15 million less than us.

Our Board of Education system is broken, and not just financially. It appears, from the outside looking in, to be full of hierarchy and bureaucracy.

Decisions are being made in corporate offices instead of school buildings. There are hundreds of “educators” that never, meaningfully, interact with children.

Maybe most troubling is the fact that the BoE thinks a big reason for our academic success is because of this extra spending and not just the hard work of our students, teachers, and parents.

Over the years, the Board of Education has known about this spending issue. Instead of making the hard decisions, they opted for group job preservation tactics like “across the board pay cuts,” furlough days, shorter school years, reduced benefits — anything but right-sizing their staff.

As expected, these short-term solutions have not worked to fix our spending issues. So, in 2009 the Board of Education decided to max out our tax rate.

It should serve as no surprise that since this tax rate hike, our enrollment numbers have dropped 10 percent while Coweta’s enrollment has increased 2 percent.

This hike is a primary reason for our declining enrollment and declining local economy. The BoE and its high tax rates have made Fayette County undesirable compared to surrounding counties.

So, I ask, are the taxpayers subsidizing empty classrooms or unnecessary spending?

Their latest short-term solution is to close schools and redistrict the entire county. This, they say, will fix our problems.

Well, consolidating empty classrooms into empty, desolate buildings does not lower taxes. It lowers property values!

It does not fix declining enrollment numbers. It simply causes more as the parents of children affected decide to leave the public school system in favor of home or private schools.

Demolishing the few small communities we have left in our county will not fix any of our issues. It will only exacerbate them.

Unnecessary spending is causing our $15 million deficit. Unnecessary spending is causing our excess capacity. Unnecessary spending is causing our massive tax rates.

Board members, I urge you to please vote NO for school closures. It’s time we stop subsidizing the real cause of all our problems.

Kevin Aycock

Fayetteville, Ga.

RT Tugger
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You speak the truth, Mr. Aycock

Thank you for bringing these figures to parents and taxpayers. The comparison of our employment numbers, tax revenues, and expenditures with those of Coweta and Forsyth is telling, to say the least. What’s highly disturbing is the increase in the percentage of non-teaching staff on the Fayette payroll. Moreover, according to the GA Dept. of Education, Fayette County employs 162 more certified personnel than it earns through the Quality Basic Education (QBE) process. Of the 53 school systems in GA that employ more certified personnel than they earn through QBE, Fayette County employs the fourth-highest number of extra personnel (behind Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County, and Muscogee County). Moreover, the system with the lowest number of certified personnel in relation to QBE earnings is award-winning Gwinnett County, which employs 1,434 fewer personnel than it earns. It is beyond time to address the wasteful overstaffing issue of the Fayette County school system and to STOP, as you so aptly call them, the “group job preservation tactics” of pay cuts, furlough days, shorter school years, etc. We cannot continue to keep everyone on the payroll.

Husband and Fat...
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Field Trip

Maybe our BOE and school leaders need to schedule a field trip to the other top schools that work with less to see how they do it. A nice phone call to these people and scheduling a visit is a great way to start. Nothing to lose. Bring some pastries to the hosts and learn. Pretty sure they will all be willing to share their secrets.

Missy
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Aztec girl is right

I agree with Aztec girl except for the Middle School sports and band/orchestra/chorus. Parents pay all of the bills for the after school sports, charge admission for the games and make money off the concessions. I do not think getting rid of these will save a lot of money. SO many buses are empty so we should consolidate until we can try and change the state law to allow us to charge for buses. The Welcome Center is redundant. After new students enroll there, they have to then go to the school and fill out the exact same paperwork. The enrollment needs to be handled by each school to cut down on fraud because we currently have 1156 kids on our schools on affidavits. Many of these kids do not even live in the county and it costs over $8,000 per student to educate them. Lets sell the BOE building and move them into the Welcome Center and sell all the land they own and are waiting to build on. Consolidate Hood and FIS and close 1 school...Fayette Middle. I think under the current plan, most of the FMS kids will stay together and go to Bennett's Mill. All of this would have the least impact on the kids. There were other great ideas at the BOE meetings...lots of other options than closing schools.

The Mole
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Face the FACTS

The answer to unnecessary spending is not right sizing the staff OR closing schools. It is both. Closing schools is only one part of reducing that $15 million gap.

Aztecgirl
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Face the facts

Bravo, Mr. Aycock! If only the Fcboe would implement the hundreds of ideas and suggestions from the taxpayers who have so eloquently spoken at the previous meetings and hearings, about how to get out of this debilitating debt.

angeldawn80
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really....have you been listening?

If we were to implement the suggestions from the speakers of previous meetings, at the beginning of next school year, we would have no special programs (chorus, band, orchestra, drama, etc.). We would have less teachers and have to consolidate classes (raise class size) to compensate. We would have our children who live within 1.5-2 miles of school being forced to walk or be dropped off (I guess work schedules will have to adjust). We would have no centralized coordination between schools (close the welcome center). We would be paying higher taxes (I doubt even those speakers really want that). Or we could just choose different schools to close instead of those (that's fair). We would fire the school board and have control of Fayette County turned over to the state (you just think this is bad....if state was to come in...). We would have less administration at each school plus cut the teachers who do the jobs nobody else wants (such as ISS). The teachers would have 30 days less planning time (what happened to quality?)

Basically, if we were implement even a portion of these ideas, not only would we be in a bad financial position, we would have a much lower quality school district. But yeah....let's do that....seriously???

Aztecgirl
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Seriously??

Yes, I am serious! We have way too many employees in our overrated school system, and too much waste in public schools! Awe, too bad that our precious little kids Might have to find a different mode of transportation to get to school, if we were to get rid of buses, but we both know the board doesn't have the guts to do that...I am all about getting rid of middle school sports and band and etc..there are enough other outside sports, rec teams kids can take part in. And if we have to get rid of extra cirriculars at other levels, than we need to do it. Yes, that would be a shame, as my kid loves chorus and going to different sports activities, but that's a sacrifice she would have to make. As for class size, oh well, I went to a public school with 35 kids to a class and no paraprofessional and I did just fine...(and no buses!)
YOU can't be serious about the welcome center? Centralized coordination between schools? Gimme a break! I think it would be a great idea to have less administration at each school and as for ISS, we shouldn't even have it...if parents would discipline their kids at home and take responsibility for their poor parenting, than we wouldn't need that expense.

G35 Dude
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Aztecgirl-Lets go all the way!!!

You tell em girl. Lets do away with bus service all together. Lets stop all school sports. In fact lets go all the way. We'll just close all schools and let each parent home school or pay for private school. Think that'll work? Look hard choices will have to be made here. But lets use a little common sense.

Aztecgirl
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Hard choices

I am definitely NOT for closing ANY schools. That's why I think that if we have to do away with some extracurricular, (hard choices), then that should be done, as well as the other things I posted about BEFORE we close schools. I wish we could charge extra for bus service. Where I live, maybe 5-10 kids are ever on my kids bus.

G35 Dude
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Aztecgirl-Do you want us to sink?

If you think of this like a sinking boat you have to realize that you have to do 2 things to save that boat. One is to plug the holes. The second is to bail out the water. To advocate keeping more schools open than is necessary is to advocate not plugging all holes. That approach will only bring us back to where we are sooner rather than later.

As for your comments about charging parents for their kids to ride the school bus, Georgia does not allow that at this time. But maybe we could sell advertisement's on the sides of the buses like on the big city Metro buses? We could see advertisements for law firms like Ditcher, Quick, and Run!

heatjam
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Aztecgirl
Aztecgirl wrote:

Yes, I am serious! We have way too many employees in our overrated school system, and too much waste in public schools! Awe, too bad that our precious little kids Might have to find a different mode of transportation to get to school, if we were to get rid of buses, but we both know the board doesn't have the guts to do that...I am all about getting rid of middle school sports and band and etc..there are enough other outside sports, rec teams kids can take part in. And if we have to get rid of extra cirriculars at other levels, than we need to do it. Yes, that would be a shame, as my kid loves chorus and going to different sports activities, but that's a sacrifice she would have to make. As for class size, oh well, I went to a public school with 35 kids to a class and no paraprofessional and I did just fine...(and no buses!)
YOU can't be serious about the welcome center? Centralized coordination between schools? Gimme a break! I think it would be a great idea to have less administration at each school and as for ISS, we shouldn't even have it...if parents would discipline their kids at home and take responsibility for their poor parenting, than we wouldn't need that expense.

Where is there recreational band/orchestra for students with maybe 1 year of playing their instrument? Yes, they can take private lessons but that is not the same as playing in a band/orchestra...sorry. Also, I believe that the law says that they have to offer bus service to the students.

Aztecgirl
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Bus service

Why can't parents pay for bus service? There are counties all over the country that charge parents to pay for bus service, anywhere from 125$ to 700$ a year..

heatjam
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Aztecgirl

It is illegal in GA to charge for bus service for public schools

heatjam
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Aztecgirl
Aztecgirl wrote:

Yes, I am serious! We have way too many employees in our overrated school system, and too much waste in public schools! Awe, too bad that our precious little kids Might have to find a different mode of transportation to get to school, if we were to get rid of buses, but we both know the board doesn't have the guts to do that...I am all about getting rid of middle school sports and band and etc..there are enough other outside sports, rec teams kids can take part in. And if we have to get rid of extra cirriculars at other levels, than we need to do it. Yes, that would be a shame, as my kid loves chorus and going to different sports activities, but that's a sacrifice she would have to make. As for class size, oh well, I went to a public school with 35 kids to a class and no paraprofessional and I did just fine...(and no buses!)
YOU can't be serious about the welcome center? Centralized coordination between schools? Gimme a break! I think it would be a great idea to have less administration at each school and as for ISS, we shouldn't even have it...if parents would discipline their kids at home and take responsibility for their poor parenting, than we wouldn't need that expense.

Where is there recreational band/orchestra for students with maybe 1 year of playing their instrument? Yes, they can take private lessons but that is not the same as playing in a band/orchestra...sorry.

Aztecgirl
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Seriously??

Yes, I am serious! We have way too many employees in our overrated school system, and too much waste in public schools! Awe, too bad that our precious little kids Might have to find a different mode of transportation to get to school, if we were to get rid of buses, but we both know the board doesn't have the guts to do that...I am all about getting rid of middle school sports and band and etc..there are enough other outside sports, rec teams kids can take part in. And if we have to get rid of extra cirriculars at other levels, than we need to do it. Yes, that would be a shame, as my kid loves chorus and going to different sports activities, but that's a sacrifice she would have to make. As for class size, oh well, I went to a public school with 35 kids to a class and no paraprofessional and I did just fine...(and no buses!)
YOU can't be serious about the welcome center? Centralized coordination between schools? Gimme a break! I think it would be a great idea to have less administration at each school and as for ISS, we shouldn't even have it...if parents would discipline their kids at home and take responsibility for their poor parenting, than we wouldn't need that expense.