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Layoffs, More Furloughs OK'd in Budget Cut Plan

The Bartow County Board of Education approved the plan Monday night that also will reduce the number of instructional days.

The on Monday night approved a that would increase the number of furlough days for all employees, reduce some high school course offerings and result in the termination of 25 to 30 employees.

"It disheartens me greatly that we're looking at people and saying, 'You don't have a position with us any longer,'" Superintendent John Harper said.

The revenues attained from the reductions total $3.15 million. Among the top money savers are cutting $672,052 in expenses by mandating that all workers except 236-day employees take seven furlough days; the elimination of for $342,872.92; cutting $297,152.84 by eliminating media center clerks; and saving $299,873 by furloughing 236-day employees for five days.

"The feedback we get is, 'I'd rather have a job. Reduce our days,'" Harper said.

While some coaching positions will be eliminated, which is estimated to save the school system $48,000, . Middle school office staff also will see affects. Employees will be shifted to vacant positions, saving $62,268.32.

Two other areas projected to see big savings are the driver’s ed program and the alternative program. The school system is required to offer driver’s ed classes, but Harper said those courses will no longer be offered during the school day. Instead, they will be taught on weekends, holidays and in the summer. That change is expected to save $198,301.74. The program also will be fee-based.

"It's a behind the scenes program," Harper said.

The alternative is shifting from the Ombudsman program to the newly-opened , which is . A few teachers and a parapro will be involved, and that move should save $129,000.

Other recommendations include eliminating all non-competitive field trips, decreasing the instructional calendar from 180 days to 175 days and lengthening some school days, eliminating high school courses with low enrollment and increase the millage rate from 17.90 mills to 19.40 mills, which Harper said will equate to $60 a year for a $100,000 home.

Board member Anna Sullivan said the recommendations have the school system's best interests at heart.

"I do believe that we truly don't have many other options with what we're looking at," the of the board said. "The board has not just taken these pieces and accepted them for what it is. There has been a lot of discussion back and forth trying to figure out what's the best choice.

"We need your understanding as we make these cuts. And, this may not be the end. We may be looking at a harder year in the future, too. We look for your support as a community when we look for sacrifices. You have our pledge that we will continue to try to make the best decisions that we can."

Despite the cuts the board approved, Harper said the school system likely will have to take $5 million from its reserve for the next fiscal year. This year, the school system took $9 million out of the fund balance.

More than $5 million in reserves will be used to balance next year's budget. The school system won't be left with much of a fund balance after next year, the superintendent said.

"I don't know what we'll do the following year because we won't have enough money to dip into the fund balance," Harper said. "We've all agonized over this information, and it's caused me terrific angst."

Board Chairman Davis Nelson said he doesn't see anything changing for next year.

"I don't believe we're at the end of this road," Nelson said. "I don't see legislators stepping up to the plate saying, 'We're going to help K-12 school systems.'”

Larry March 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Has anyone determined if the 7 furlough days are included in the shortened year (175 days) or are we losing 5 plus 7 days of pay?
Tim March 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Is John Harper taking a pay cut?
Brett Gregory March 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM
you mean to tell me it takes 198,301.74 a year to teach kids how to drive are you kidding me all these vacant parking lots.. this is why poor teacher are loosing their jobs due to senseless spending. This is from the school board meeting... who else finds this ludacris
Brett Gregory March 13, 2012 at 01:01 PM
So let me understand closing stars pre k. ok. now eliminating jobs...ok.. now when those pre-k kids leave stars who will be teaching them if we let all of the teachers go.Eliminating media Center Clerks are you kidding me.. you mean the librarian the person that is supposed to help influence our children to read and enjoy books whom i know a Couple Of Great Librarians at the Schools that connect with the kids.. Now so they are goin to eliminate middle,high schooljobs huh and have the other underpaid stresed out teaches even the ones with low pasing rates pile more on their plates.. So when are these teachers going to a chance to plan out their weks to better further the education of our kids.. And our kids are dropping out of school cause they are bored and are failing.. why because we have the teachers over worked and over paid and most if not all of them wind up taking their work home with them. So how doe s that seems fair to their families and kids the kids want to play and dad want to talk but cant because she is having to do her paid job for free just for her Kids Among the top money savers are cutting $672,052 in expenses by mandating that all workers except 236-day employees take seven furlough days; the elimination of S.T.A.R.S. Pre-K for $342,872.92; cutting $297,152.84 by eliminating media center clerks; and saving $299,873 by furloughing 236-day employees for five days. "The feedback we get is, 'I'd rather have a job. Reduce our days,'" Harper said.
Nicole March 13, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I really think some people should be grateful to have a job. So what if you lose pay for 12 days a year. You still have a job, correct? There are hundreds of thousands of people who would gladly give up 12 days per year just to have a job.
Brande Poulnot (Editor) March 13, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Larry, I think I remember that the furloughs this year (or in the past) did not affect instructional time. I want to say they were furloughed on teacher work days, etc. But I don't know about going forward. We'll try to find out!
Nicole March 13, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Oh and "media center CLERKS" are not media specialist. Media specialist are what the general population considers to be librarians. Clerks are more along the lines of assistants, they do not have the same training or education levels (in general) as a media specialist aka librarian.
Brande Poulnot (Editor) March 13, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Larry, here's Cady's answer: No. They are still getting paid those 5 days from the shortened school year because they are lengthening all the days. The seven furlough days are separate. All admin are taking a 10-day cut.
Larry March 13, 2012 at 09:48 PM
You do realize 12 days is 1/2 a month's pay, don't you? Can you live with that much of a cut in salary?
Larry March 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM
So the 5 days will save on "infrastructure" and not salaries. That helps some. I seem to remember the last furlough days that were not on teacher work days (that impacted the non-teaching staff) did impact our pay though - can't say too much without giving away my identity...
Tim March 14, 2012 at 02:26 AM
I’ll be positive at first but it's short. No doubt some cuts are needed and some of these are right on the mark. Positive ends there. I’m concerned. This is a superintendent and school board that is the best description of "good ole boys club". Harper, where is your pay cut? Why on earth are you still running buses in August and paying high energy bills in August? What really irks me is the school board saying "don't blame us." This school board lacks innovation, inspiration, and integrity. I would love to see an all out campaign from the school board to celebrate teachers and work to create inspirational environments for them and the students. Every article is about cut and there underwhelming apologies. In essence they have a "bunker mentality" and just have to take what the state gives them. Sad, it does not have to be that way. I will admit that I don't know each of them personally but I do know this, from Harper on down they have no idea how to create a positive image and focus on what is good. Sad. I urge everyone to vote when you can and remove them. It's time for Harper to move on as well. He's not good for this county. It happens and it does not mean he is a bad person, just not good for this role right now.
String Bean March 14, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Every time Davis Nelson is involved with this school system there is nothing but conflict and confusion. I'll second a comment I saw on another post that said "the system would be a lot better off if we had that $3.6 million that was misappropriated when Nelson was superintendent several years ago."

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