Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fulton school superintendent to recommend $28 million in additional cuts.

By Gracie Bonds Staples
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Fulton County parents will get another chance to voice concerns about proposed school budget cuts on Thursday when the board will hold a public hearing.

In addition to increasing the millage rate, school superintendent Cindy Loe said last week she will recommend an additional $28 million in cuts to shore up the district’s $120 million deficit. The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Dunwoody Springs Charter Elementary School at 8100 Roberts Drive in Sandy Springs.

Although no vote is expected, the board tentatively has plans to adopt the proposed budget on May 11 with final adoption set for June 8.

Loe said the millage increase should bring in an additional $28 million in revenue. Parents and school employees have called for a tax increase for weeks now in hopes that it would save in other areas, namely the district’s popular elementary school band and orchestra program and cuts to school social workers and counselors.

Loe originally proposed cutting social workers and counselors by 50 percent but later asked for and received a 25-percent reduction instead because the school district was given $6 million more from the governor's office than was projected.

Despite continued objections from parents, the board is moving forward on Loe's recommendation to convert the elementary school band and orchestra program into a fee-based, after-school program and has asked local contractors to submit proposals to run it. Contractors have until Thursday to submit proposals.

In an effort to save the program, parents recently hired a consultant to help them lobby for its preservation. John Benham, a nationally known music consultant who has fought to save school arts programs in 47 states, including Georgia, said his goal is not to attack the board but rather to work collaboratively.

"We're here not to save teacher positions but to save curriculum," Benham said at a meeting with parents last Saturday. "This is after all Fulton County, where students come first."

He said the district's financial crisis "represents the best opportunity to restructure the program and at the same time make it financially more viable."

The board over the past two months has voted to accept Loe’s recommendation to cut 1,000 positions, including 500 teachers, many of whom might keep their jobs through attrition.

The system is proposing a 2011 budget that is about $120 million less than the 2010 budget: from $857 million to $737 million.

Although school districts across metro Atlanta are facing huge budget deficits, Fulton is the most advanced in the budget process and the first to approve cost-cutting items such as increasing class size, eliminating the summer CRCT retake program and reduce the school calendar from 180 to 177 days.

In addition to the tax increase, Loe is expected to recommend cutting, among other things, central office operating costs by 10 percent, requiring all employees to take three furlough days and stopping door-to-door transportation for its magnet students.


Travis Allen said...

How about not picking up elementary and middle school kids that live in my neighborhood? That would save some money on fuel.

We live across Cogburn Road from Cogburn Woods and Hopewell Middle...what a waste...these kids need the excercise and should walk.

Isn't there some rule for how far kids have to live from a school before they are included in a bus route?

Anonymous said...

Travis, the meeting starts @6:30pm today, 8100 Roberts Drive in Sandy Springs. Be there for answers.

Anonymous said...

How about selling that $14,000,000 piece of property on Freemanville to make up the difference?? They don't have the money to build the middle school anyway, ZERO. So why hang on to it, when they can sell it and take that money to keep band and orchestra going, or keep some teachers on, or not cut in other areas!!! Come on People get some freakin' common sense. I dont' care if they only get half of what they paid for it, sell it to save our kids programs and quality of teaching!

- Over taxed Concerned Parent!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that is a terrific idea.

Sell at the bottom of the market, then have to get land at a premium in a few years (or decades) after the recovery.

Anonymous said...

So you are okay with them reportedly spending $115,000 + per acre (way above what the market was per acre in 2006) in Milton? The market was bringing $80,000-$90,000 per acre on the high end, and they bought all that land from Wernick at higher then the premium price, and then it was discovered only half of the land could even be even used. You think it is going to come back to that price in 4-5 years?, it will NEVER go back to that price in the next 10-15 years! So because they(BOE) screwed up and spent way too much money on land they cant even use, nor have the money to build a school on, they should just sit on it for 15-20 years until they can possibly get their money back, which they won't because once the buyer to be finds out only half the property is buildable they will never purchase it for more then half of what the BOE paid for it in the first place. So in my mind, dump it now, get 7-9 million for it and save our kids programs and some teachers jobs. They can buy land anytime anywhere they want later on when the actually have the money to build a school. I am sure they will be able to buy land out here cheaper then what they paid for this property 5 years from now, easy. And it's not like you can't find 30 plus acres out here in Milton, plus they have the power of eminent domain, so they can put a school anywhere if they can't find ample land later on. What is important is our kids NOW, not the BOE trying to get their money back out of that land, which they never never will! If our "children come first" which is their motto, then sell the kitchen sink to keep programs and teachers in our schools. I am sure there is alot more wasteful spending, and they should be audited, to find out where including office supplies, and huge big screen televisions for Alpharetta HS.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Your comment shows pure jealously and envy, but that goes hand in hand with you knowing everything about nothing and being an expert at it.

Anonymous said...

So you'd rather attack someone then talk about trying to save some programs and teachers? Stick to the topic Sue Envy.

Some people just can't get past the green hue in front of their own pupils.

Anonymous said...

Liberals denegrate and attack when they have lost their point.

It is just like them and the media screaming racism when people don't agree with the massive increase in the size of our government and the spending by our current Administration and democratic Congress. The BOE falls in line with this, over spending, and no one holding them accountible for overspending our money on wasteful pet projects and giving contracts as special favors to office depot.

Anonymous said...
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Tim Enloe said...

Please keep on topic folks.


Tim Enloe
770 653 0552