BoE approves massive redistricting for school attendance

Becky Talley addresses the school board Monday night. Photo/John Munford.

4-to-1 final vote mirrors vote earlier this month that closed 4 schools

The vote to redistrict Fayette County public schools came March 18 on a 4-1 vote by the Fayette County Board of Education.

The redistricting followed what had been a long-fought battle by some parents to keep Brooks Elementary School and Tyrone Elementary School open. Fewer in number in recent months were the advocates for keeping Fayetteville Intermediate School and Fayette Middle School open. The vote to close all four schools came on March 4.

Board member Mary Kay Bacallao again was the lone opponent of the decision, saying prior to the vote that she could not support the redistricting plan due to some unresolved issues that could become problems in the future.

Commenting on Bacallao’s remarks, interim Superintendent Dan Colwell said there would have been issues “no matter what map we put out.”

And though only four schools will close, the redistricting that accompanies those closures, to varying degrees, will affect most of the county’s elementary and middle schools.

Adjustments to the new attendance zone maps have been made periodically during the past few months. Some of those adjustments, said to be minor in nature, were made as recently as Monday.

Some parents have expressed concerns that the maps have sometimes changed without input from members of the redistricting committee that began meeting in the fall.

The accompanying chart shows the current enrollment figures by school, the projected enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year based on the maps posted on the school system’s website Monday under the school board agenda and each school’s enrollment capacity.

It should be noted that the projections are just that since a number of variables such as the number of children entering kindergarten and students moving in or out of the county will not be known with certainty until school begins in August.

Asked by board member Barry Marchman how long the new school boundaries would last, Facilities Director Mike Satterfield said he expected the new lines to be good for six to seven years unless the county experienced large, unexpected growth.

Only five parents spoke about redistricting prior to the vote.

The number of speakers was far less than the many that spoke during the previous public hearings that centered on school closures.

The four schools slated for closure at the end of June currently serve approximately 1,700 students. Based on the redistricting, nearly all of the more than 300 students attending Tyrone Elementary will attend Crabapple Lane Elementary School while approximately 25 will attend Burch Elementary School.

Of the 250 attending Brooks Elementary, approximately 195 will attend Peeples Elementary School while approximately 43 will attend Inman Elementary School.

Of those attending Fayetteville Intermediate School, approximately 500 will attend Hood Avenue after the two schools combine, while approximately 100 will attend North Fayette Elementary School and approximately 150 will attend Spring Hill Elementary School.

Those attending Fayette Middle School will move to Bennett’s Mill Middle School, though that transition will mean that approximately 200 students currently attending Bennett’s Mill will be split between Booth, Flat Rock and Whitewater middle schools.

The closures and the resulting redistricting are part of a larger effort by the school board to trim approximately $15 million in expenses in the 2013-2014 budget that begins in July.

By far the largest of the historic cuts facing the school board are yet to come. Those cuts will come in the form of school system employees, perhaps as many as 250 or more, who will lose their jobs at the end of the school year. The school board will hold a called meeting on March 25 to discuss personnel allotments for next year.

Concernedtchr
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Priorities

No offense to the arts, I like them and I don't want to see them cut any more than they have to cut them, but every school is giving up parapros and losing teachers. This results in bigger class sizes all over. We are all sacrificing, and I don't think that the arts should be exempt from this. Cutting the assistant band directors won't stop the band program from functioning and still being great, and it is equivalent to the other cuts we are experiencing in general education. I hate that anyone is getting cut in these times, but it's happening in ALL areas--not just in the arts.

RRR
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Fayette County Fine Arts Under Attack!

The future of Fayette County's Fine Art school programs rests on the students and their parents voicing their opinion. These cuts will decimate both band and orchestra programs as well as eliminate the 5th grade band/orchestra programs. These programs are one of the most successful aspects that Fayette County has to offer and will be heavily impaired if these funding cuts are passed. Sign our petition and save our Fine Arts!

http://www.change.org/petitions/fayette-county-board-of-education-recons...

People... Start flooding the paper with comments for the ARTS! You know those NEW businesses that are coming to Fayette County? Many of them have families with school aged kids. I am SURE many of them want their children to be involved in the FINE ARTS. I am sure the cuts being made will hurt the FINE ARTS programs here in Fayette County.

Are / Were you or your children involved in Band, Chorus, Orchestra, Drama, Visual Arts in the Fayette County School System? Speak up!!!!!

Concernedtchr
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Tenure

Yes, you are correct. After signing four consecutive contracts a teacher has tenure and it is much harder to let them go. Before a teacher has tenure, they have no due process rights. Therefore, administration will be looking to let go of all non-tenure teachers first. It's a shame that teaching has this outdated tenure system in place, but that is the way it is in most of the country. We'll be losing many highly qualified teachers this way, and I too hope that the Board realizes that the longer they wait, the harder it will be for those teachers to find jobs.

Concernedtchr
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Mary Kay Bacallao

I was amazed at the board meeting tonight (March 25th) to hear Mary Kay Bacallao speak about the early retirement incentive. There are a few points that Mary Kay needs to consider. If someone wishes to retire, but is on the fence, why not help them with their decision? Many teachers who have put in dedicated service, are now ready to move on to their retirement. With a world that has increasingly high technology demands, as well as many changing standards in education, many of the teachers who are close to retirement are ready to retire. We should let them make this choice. Why would you not want to help them make the decision to retire--providing them with what they want, and providing opportunities for the teachers who would have been RIF'ed to stay employed.

Mary Kay's only alternative to the early retirement incentive is to have the administration choose who they fire. This isn't a solution because administration doesn't have complete control over who gets fired. They have to let non-tenured teachers go first. Many of which are excellent teachers in our school systems. So when she says that administration gets all of the say in who is fired, this simply isn't true.

I hope that the Board quickly comes to their final decisions so those affected can move to different jobs. It's sad that many will have to wait until the May date, when most, if not all, of the good school districts have already done their hiring by that time. Waiting until that late date really adds insult to those who are already going to be injured by this mess.

Husband and Fat...
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Concerned Teacher- educate me on something

I thought that teachers in FC work on yearly contracts. If this is accurate, would it not be up to the personnel director to issue contracts each year based on the needs for the following year?

I also read somewhere that after 3 years a teacher is considered tenured and it is very difficult to fire them.

Please educate me on this.

Now, I am not sure that the loss of jobs in this situation is similar to being fired. In my mind, most cases, are just a result of downsizing to meet budget constraints due to poor planning by previous boards and should not reflect negatively on anyone.

It would be best to research how the BoE can possibly persuade a few of the more senior teachers to take retirement. Are there any retirement packages that could help persuade them to retire? This could save some costs, but could also have negative results.

As a parent and a taxpayer, I prefer to have the most qualified teacher keep their jobs regardless of seniority. My children have had both young and seasoned teachers. All have worked hard and my wife and I appreciate their dedication. If they were to lose their jobs, I would hope they would know sooner rather than later to allow them the opportunity to seek employment elsewhere.

Based on what I read, FC is not alone in regard to the budget crunch. Cobb County already sees a shortfall of $50 million. Undortuneatly, there will be a lot of teachers looking for work this summer.

G35 Dude
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Where?

Where can we see a copy of the final map for redistricting?

Newsboy
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Good news for FCHS!

Fayette County High adds 124 kids, and it appears at least 71 of them are coming from Whitewater! And maybe some from McIntosh?! Anybody know for sure? Glad to see the BOE shoring up FCHS, which lost far too many students when WHS opened 10 years ago. This levels the field for all five high schools.

angeldawn80
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A Warm Welcome

Samantha missed the deadline to have her last column posted. She asked me to post the first part because it is important to her that people get recognition when they do something amazing for somebody else.

“FMS + BMMS = SUCCESS…Welcome Fayette Middle”

Last week, on Thursday, the FMS Cubs Volleyball team won a game against the Bennett’s Mill Broncos Volleyball team. The game was played at Bennett’s Mill Middle School. After the game, the Lady Cubs were presented with posters for the school(the above quote is from one of the posters) and goodie bags were given to the coaches. FMS coach, Phyllis Huttsel told me, “They gave us boxes of skittles for all the girls on the team and the cafeteria had made these huge cookies. Oh…and there were balloons. It was amazing. The girls from our school actually said that they were excited for the schools to come together.”

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Bennett’s Mill Volleyball team and their coaches (and don’t forget the wonderful ladies in the cafeteria) for this amazing gesture. As I sat at the board meetings over the last couple of months and listened to everything that the adults in the community were saying, I was dreading the move. After last week, it is clear to me that, at least the kids and the teachers (the Bronco’s family) care about us and will welcome us with open arms.

Husband and Fat...
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Great Story

Thanks for sharing.

Missy
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4 schools?

Isn't it really 5 with Rivers Elementary being sold? Where are those 40 kids going? And how come no body is pressing for info on whether or not it is already sold or not? All we hear are rumors. Don't the taxpayers have a right to know this? Why are these rediscticting/closing decisions being made without the Rivers open or closed status being considered? Cart before the horse...but that is typical of our BOE.

americanpatriots
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Mary Kay Bacallao

MK has once again demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the problem the school board is facing. She still has not come up with a single intelligent solution thus far!

Husband and Fat...
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We're lucky

The board could have reasonable closed or mothballed additional elementary schools due to their under capacity. Only Huddleston will be full next year.

I congratulate the redistricting committee for their hard work. They did a fine job. You can never satisfy everyone.

That being said, Ms. Bacallao must surely be living in fairy tale land. Some irate mother who doesnt understand the budget problems going on probably called her up complaining about something so Ms. Bacallao wants to solve every boo boo in the world before agreeing with anything. Did she have a solution? No. Mr. Colwell and the rest of the board must be frustrated with her games.

NUK_1
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H&F: Agreed

Tough decisions to make on redistricting and not much time to make them. Kudos to the committee and all involved.

I don't know what Bacallao's agenda is and I'm not sure she does either at this point. Regardless, the new Board(at least 4 of them) and Interim Supt. Colwell are making the tough decisions and moving forward as best as possible under the circumstances.

wildcat
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under capacity???

So MHS and WMS are UNDER capacity? Really? Teachers are in trailers and teachers are in storage closets and teachers are floating, but they are under capacity? Why not get rid of the trailers and the rooms that aren't supposed to be class rooms and then address capacity? My guess is those two schools would be way over as would SMHS. Come on. This is a bunch of crap and you all know it. Maybe parents of trailer class kids need to revolt? There are possibly two "good seats" in a trailer class but, hey, the abundance of mold makes up for it, right?

zincc
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Wildcat, I'm guessing you

Wildcat, I'm guessing you have a student at either MHS or WMS based on your comment. I believe you may be right about the over capacity experiences of both schools. However, MOST of the parents of the students at these schools do not want their child to attend FCHS so they fight rezoning. As a result, you have overages. Up here at the top of the county, we will be shifted from FCHS to SCHS. Frankly, I'm looking forward to the change. Even though most think SCHS doesn't have the "right stuff" whatever that is now, they actually do a much better job of maintaining control and educating their students than FCHS. I'm very hopeful for my student, now!

PTC Observer
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Eyeballing these data

says we still have too much capacity. What's the trend in student population? I think it's down.

g8trgrl
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Next BOE meeting

This will be the night a lot of FCBOE employees will find out whether they have jobs next year. Sad times. A lot of great parapros will be gone. Got to cut them all to drop the benefits is what I am told. Then hire back a few with no benefits.

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