Thursday, March 18, 2010

Follow Cherokee County's Lead

A message from Cherokee County PTAs:

Dear Parents:

Over the past few months you’ve probably heard or read that the Cherokee County School District is considering make some classroom-impacting cuts because of State budget shortfalls and cuts handed down to them from our State Legislature. While we understand that the economy might have played a small part in this shortfall, the fact remains that in the State of Georgia the law states that the State Government must fully fund public education, but it consistently hasn’t for well over 7 years. Did you know that since 2005 the Cherokee County School District has held a rolling IOU, which now totals over $43M, that the State has not paid? Even when the economy was strong the State failed to uphold its legal obligation to fully fund our schools. But we have not held our representatives accountable and now we only have 20 days to save our schools!

We must act NOW! If we do not let the Legislature know that we value education over everything else and that we want our public schools fully funded we can and will see the possibility of the following:

  • increased class size again
  • art and music classes discontinued
  • loss of bus services
  • charging for the ability to play in school sports programs
  • loss of technology
  • a freeze on refreshing text books
  • ½ day Kindergarten

The list goes on and on. This will affect the quality of your child’s education. Please don’t think it won’t or can’t happen.

We are asking you to join us by participating in an eraser campaign –

“Don’t erase the Future of Public Education

It’s simple and here’s what to do!

Gather as many erasers as you can (they can be used).
Divide them equally into envelopes for each of the following list of representatives, and put a copy of the [letter below] in each envelope.

Address the envelopes as follows (Cherokee Reps below - customize for your own rep):

Sen. Chip Rogers P.O. Box 813 Woodstock, GA 30118

Rep. Charlice Byrd 1417 Old Forge Lane, Woodstock, GA 30189

Rep. Sean Jerguson 1107 Toonigh Road, Holly Springs, GA 30115

NOTE to Dunwoody folks - send a letter to Fran Millar - Vice Chair of the Education Committee -
417 State Capitol, Georgia 30334 Phone: (404) 656-5064

Atlanta/Fulton folks - Write Kathy Ashe - also on the committee
409 Coverdell Office Building, Georgia 30334 Phone: (404) 656-0116

To look up your own state legislator, follow this link.

IMMEDIATELY stamp and mail the envelopes before March 26.

Together we can help save the future of our exceptional education system. Never under estimate that a few, determined people can make a difference.

Thank you.

As your constituent, we don’t want you to forget the over (100,000) publicly educated students in (DeKalb) County and that with each budget cut you are erasing their future and their right to access free QUALITY public education.
As parents of these 100,000 children, we will not forget your voting records at the polls when the time comes. We are facing shortfalls not from the economy but from our State Legislature and Governor not upholding the law to fully fund public education. It’s time to fully fund education so that our children receive the quality education that they not only deserve but need to succeed in a dynamic, ever-changing world. Don’t erase the future of public education for all of Georgia’s students! Don’t give in to the pressure of special interest groups. We are your constituents. As parents of (DeKalb) County we won’t be silent anymore!
Stop the rhetoric. Stop the excuses.


Anonymous said...

Class size reduction must be a part of funding education at the state level. Otherwise, Ms. Tyson and the BOE will take any additional funds and use them to retain or add admin and support.

Reduce class size and the "fat" will be trimmed.

Consider this - every year Dr. Lewis was in power DCSS received more state funds every year. What did he do with it? Added thousands of admin and support jobs so that the percentage of employees teaching drastically decline.

This past year DCSS received millions in Stimulus Funds and gets more and more every year from Title 1. And what do they do with it? They buy America's Choice $8,000,000, springboard $1,5000,000 a year, Instructional Coaches $8,000,000 a year, and the list goes on and on.

Not one person got hired to actually teach kids (don't let them say they are under federal regulations - Title 1 funds used to provide a math "teacher" to work with struggling math students in every elementary school in the 80's and early 90's. The emphasis was an teachers working with children).

Class size reduction legislation is Ms. Tyson and the BOE's worst nightmare. They would have to cut admin and support drastically.

Levitas is my rep and I'm writing him and Governor Perdue and all the representatives listed in this post to ask for increased funding for education coupled with class size reduction.

SongCue said...

This is GENIUS in its simplicity! Let's send those erasers, folks!!! NOW!

Anonymous said...

Is 1/2 day Kindergarten something that is currently being considered, or are we talking down the road (however short that road may be)?

Anonymous said...

The list on the blog post is specific to Cherokee County cuts. If you want to use this format -- you need to list the cuts specific to DCSS.

Have a great day.


Cerebration said...

True, Lynn, thanks. Our specific cuts are different from the bulleted list - although some are the same. Mainly, we don't want larger class sizes and reductions in teachers. We want the CLASSROOM funded - not the administration. Going back to the 65% rule - the minimum that must be spent on the classroom - would be good. Taking it one step further and listing exactly what can comprise that number would also be helpful.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 6;51 pm

Do you know what happened to this bill to spend 65% of school funds in Georgia "in the classroom"?

Anonymous said...

We are suppose to be getting our contracts tomorrow. What budget, E,F,G,H, or I was decided on? Teachers take a cut except for "Budget E".

Anonymous said...

We are suppose to get out contracts tomorrow. Did we get a cut?

Anonymous said...

Contracts will be issued to teachers Friday, March 19th, 2010.

-Apparently, the amount teachers are contracting for will reflect a 6.25% pay cut.

-The B.O.E. has not yet voted on a cost-cutting plan to adopt. I believe the B.O.E. said they will do that in May.

-So, two months AFTER you sign your contract & obligate yourself, then they will tell you how much you are actually going to make.


Anonymous said...

As far as I know the contracts are not going out tomorrow. It is my understanding that the state extended the deadline for systems to give contracts out until mid-May and at the budget meeting today, it sounded like the system may be taking advantage of that delay.

I could easily have misunderstood though.

Anonymous said...

The state legislature did extend the deadline until May 15th, but the DeKalb B.O.E. decided to issue the teacher contracts now. They made that decision two weeks ago. The contracts have been delivered to the schools.

Anonymous said...

In lieu of cuts in teacher pay, REAL educators and leaders would advocate cutting BAD TEACHERS. Watch what happens when the GOOD teachers exercise their "bailout" option of the DCSS. Go ahead, replace them with inexperienced teachers with less pay, but remember this--not just any person will do! Just as many good students DROP OUT of their studies due to LACK OF MONEY, so will GOOD TEACHERS. Something is seriously wrong here... Why cut technology? Invest in technology to replace bad teachers, and you will see a return on that investment.

Anonymous said...

The DeKalb County educational system can easily improve student learning and performance along with balancing the budget by implementing two measures:

1- Cut the number of teachers in the county, do not give any step increase in their pay, raise the cost of their benefits, cut their so-called teacher workdays (I mean really, just have them do those tasks at home), give them more students to teach, and stop paying into a board-sponsored retirement account.

2- Hire more experts (or really just hire someone . . . anyone) to monitor the teachers that are left.

Oh wait . . . this was the 2008 plan, what was I thinking?

Dee Minus said...

Are Central Office employees, and school administrators and support staff also taking a 6.25% pay cut? If not, this is shameful.

Since teacher appreciation clearly does not come from the top down, at least we as parents, can show our support. If you think your child's teachers are doing a good job, please let them know how much you appreciate the effort (and now literal sacrifice) they make to help and teach our kids.

Please, BOE & DCSS leasdership, do what is right by the children... do what is right by your constituents.. and do what is right by your conscience... cut the fat, not the muscle, behind educating our future generation!

Anonymous said...

If Ms. Tyson and the BOE could figure out a way to cut students, they would be doing that too. Those pesky classroom teachers and students certainly get in the way of the admin and support doing their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Why cut the salaries of our most necessary employees - namely admin and support?

Teachers on the other hand just teach kids and aren't on a career path. Who needs 'em?

Anonymous said...

Last night, the Fulton County School Board voted on their budget. While it is just the initial vote to get it on the table, it is important to note that one of the cuts made was the band and orchestra program at the elementary school.

Regardless of whether you think this is a luxury or not, realize that as of yesterday, the Fulton County parents had gathered over 5,000 signatures on a petition to save the programs. AND THE BOARD AND THE SUPERINTENDENT DIDN'T BACK DOWN!

Leaders lead, they make the tough decisions.

Anonymous said...

Leaders protect their own jobs all in the name of saving education.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked (and received) an answer from any board member about why central office cuts aren't deeper?

Anonymous said...

So, you find removing the band and orchestra programs from elementary school something to be proud of?

I don't.

Anonymous said...

I said whether you agreed with the decision to cut or not, you had to be impressed that unlike the DCSS board or administration, this board could stand up to extreme pressure.

Anonymous said...

Standing up to extreme pressure under the wrong circumstances does not impress me.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:06 - Quit kicking around the weeds and look at the forest. The Fulton BOE is cutting 500 teaching positions. Courage to make tough decisions on elementary band?

Music education is not an "extra." The fine arts are not an "extra." I'm not a musician, but my time in the DCSS elementary music program was an integral part of my education - thirty years ago. Music educators are part of the classroom. Those are classroom cuts.

What is happening in Georgia right now just furthers its reputation as having a poorly educated population. We'll be proud to say "we're number 50!"

Anonymous said...

Many, many studies have shown that the study of music boosts the mathematical abilities in those children.

Anonymous said...

Teacher Contracts Issued today...

I will get one..will let people know what they entail later on.

Anonymous said...

Similar studies show foreign language has the same impact on math... but we don't have that in many elementary schools in DeKalb.

Fulton has always generously funded all its schools -- not just a few special programs. Every elementary school will still have music (choral, minor instrumental) and art. Can we even begin to say that about DCSS?

If you care about music in elementary schools you better let your board member know. The cuts they are leaning towards making has the potential to remove music from dozens of elementary schools. Unfortunately, as with everything in DCSS, the board and the administration aren't really talking about it. They are just cutting "small school points" and moving on.

Anonymous said...

That's too funny - but we don't use a foreign language as a measurement of AYP, now do we?

SongCue said...

Anon. 7:35 I couldn't have said it ANY better myself! I AM a former music teacher and, although I don't teach I still sing and I know others who still play instruments, sing, and take part in community organizations.
Students who study the arts are found to be better overall students. I taught my students how to listen to music and be good audience members. We went to the symphony every year and they knew when to applaud, when not to, and how to comport themselves.
I also taught my kids the National Anthem every year, its history, the protocol to follow anytime we sing it, etc. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, the arts are essential.
(I wish I'd had more instruction in the visual arts....that's the area lacking in my education and I confess I'm not well-versed in this subject.)

Open + Transparent said...

I know there is incredible bloat for the Central Office, MIS, and school police, but please, please tell me this isn't true about DCS Humanr Resoruces!!!

"4,500,000 a year for 60 Human Resources personnel (who are they hiring?) 10 of these 60 individuals make over $100,000 a year."

Disgusting. Contact your BOE members and tell them a property tax increase is unacceptable. They have to cut the fat from administration and non-teaching related departments.

Does Ramona's beloved MIS realy have 290 employees? Whaaaaat?

Anonymous said...

Again, for those of you who care about music and/or art instruction in the elementary school... then please write your board members. The cuts they are leaning towards implementing will prevent some schools from having these next year.

Dekalbparent said...

No, I have never heard back from any Board member, nor have I heard back from Ms. Tyson's office, when I asked about reductions in Central Office. I have not even gotten an answer when I asked the question face to face.

Anonymous said...

@ Open and Transparent 8:29 am

HR has:
61 employees
Salary cost $3,591,165
Benefits cost (25%) $897,791
Total Salary and Benefit cost: $4,488,956

MIS has:
290 employees
Salary cost: $15,225,010
Benefits cost (25%)
Total Salary and Benefit cost: $19,031,262

Ms. Tyson is proposing cutting 18 Certified Technical Support Specialists (CTSS). These CTSSs are all personnel INSIDE the schoolhouse.

MIS INSIDE the schoolhouse personnel (CTSS):
111 employees (CTSS)
Average salary and benefits for employees inside the schoolhouse (CTSS): $51,336 annually

MIS OUTSIDE of the schoolhouse personnel:
181 employees
Average salary and benefits for MIS personnel OUTSIDE the schoolhouse: $73,683 annually

So the 18 MIS personnel Ms. Tyson and the BOE will be cutting are INSIDE the schoolhouse and have the lowest annual salary. Not one of the 181 higher paid personnel OUTSIDE the schoolhouse will be touched. Look at and compare the salaries for personnel all over DCSS inside the schoolhouse and outside the schoolhouse. You will this pattern is pervasive.

Ms. Tyson and the BOE have shown such blatant disregard for the personnel who work with students INSIDE the schoolhouse that they need to be voted out in November.

(source: state Travel and Salary audit 2009; DCSS website - Human Resources webpage staff directory)

Open + Transparent said...

Great post Anon 10:38 AM. Yep, Ramona has no problem cutting CTSS'ers, who really make the effort to assist teachers, and keeping the massive non-school house MIS staff. The philosophy is to support the Central Office and its departments. The philosophy should be support the classroom, keep the Central Office lean and mean.

It's not going to change in DeKalb without new BOE leadership and a complete sweep out of the Lewis/Tyson administration. Millions for human resources, school police, MIS, etc., and crumbs for the school house.

Give me a school with good teachers, a school nurse, a counselor, art & music, a SRO or two at the middle schools and high schools. We'll gladly pay property taxes for that. No million millions being spent our bureaucrat salaries, pensions and benefits. No more millions for America's Choice and the pitiful eSIS. No more spending tnes of millions on lawyer fees, especially for self-inflicted problems.

Focus on the student, teacher and school house. Everything else is a distant second. Lean and mean, people!

Anonymous said...

Great post O&T -- I'm thinking that is where vouchers may be the best thing that we could push for -- with a system that enables the principals to use the money in the schoolhouse (cp systems where the money goes to the admin) -- the parents "pay" the principal with preference for residential kids... the principals then use the money to build the schoolhouse within the schoolhouse. Money is then spent on kids. Parents then get to choose their local school, another school if there's space, a charter school with space or a private school. There would still be misuse (corruption?) and it would not be perfect but what we've got now really isn't working. At least it would put the money into the hands of folks in the schoolhouse and force parents to be involved in the decsions. The default would be the same... local dollars to local schools. There would be some need for some fractionof the money to administer the system as a whole but they wouldn't have access to all the money (e.g. schools get $7k per child and the system gets $3k per child and another $3k if the kid participates at a title 1 school)... just sharing some thoughts and ides that could be outside the box... maybe --- -- I should start using "BeenThereDoneThat"....