Will school budget cuts hurt students?

UPDATE: Cobb school employees criticized and complained to school board members about the cuts. Fulton schools plan furloughs.

Cobb County school board members are scheduled to discuss layoffs, pay cuts, increased class sizes and other cuts during tonight’s meeting.

Cobb isn’t the first school district to slash positions and costs because of budget shortfalls and they won’t be the last. Clayton, DeKalb and Fayette announced cuts earlier this school year.

Hundreds of part-time teaching and paraprofessional positions have been eliminated across the metro Atlanta area. If we look at the Georgia as a whole – thousands of positions are gone.

These cuts aren’t the only cost-saving strategy schools are using. When the new school year begins, there will be more students in most classes. The State Board of Education approved increasing class sizes to help school districts save an estimated $200 million statewide.

How worried are you about all these cuts?

School leaders say they’re trying to minimize the impact on students, but what do you think will happen to the quality of education kids receive?

ALSO: A co-worker is looking for students who have listened to audiobooks downloaded from iTunes to do their required summer reading or plan to do so this summer. If you can help or know someone who would be good for the story, please contact Ken Sugiura at ksugiura@ajc.com.

26 comments Add your comment

catlady

June 3rd, 2009
8:41 am

If they cut from teachers’ ranks, it will hurt. If they cut from administration/central office/trips and consultants, it will HELP.

IMHO, IDEA, RF, and NCLB have driven many nails in the coffins of our kids. Add to that the idea that exposing kids to skills is teaching, that teachers cannot be trusted to make professional decisions, that everyone has to feel good, that needs based small groups will catch up a kid who is two years behind and you have a FAIL.

Turd Ferguson

June 3rd, 2009
8:57 am

Stop building new schools like they are the latest, greatest form of the Taj Mahal. Strait lines and right angles make for a more effeicient form of construction.

Terminate these old ladies who show up to do nothing more than gossip everday. Combine some schools…ie redistrict.

School is a place for learning, not a social gathering point for the slippery eels and weasels.

[...] Get Schooled | ajc.com – [...]

Ernest

June 3rd, 2009
10:17 am

We are entering a new era with respect to public education. Many services that citizens may have taken for granted or perhaps unaware that school systems provide may be in jeopardy of being cut. Class sizes will probably increase and we may see greater ‘diversity of abilities’ within each classroom.

I am concerned about the long term impact these cuts will have on education in Georgia along with our ability to attract businesses. It is good that NCR is moving to Duluth from Dayton, OH. That move withstanding, we need a strong K-12 system to market to international businesses.

We must continue leveraging technology in a manner that will improve productivity while allowing use to reduce costs. There also needs to be open and honest discussions about the possible service cuts and impact it will have on education.

Cere

June 3rd, 2009
10:18 am

I’m not worried at all about DeKalb’s cuts. We have a loooooong way to go to even get back to the level of spending just 2 years ago ($70 million to be exact!) – in spite of decreasing enrollment. This is from the DeKalbSchooWatch blog –

Here are the enrollment numbers for the past several years –

2005-2006 102,330 (see note) +2,280 2.279%
2006-2007 101,817 (513) -0.501%
2007-2008 100,526 (1,291) -1.268%
2008-2009 99,778 (748) -0.744%
2009-2010 – hasn’t been published, however it was stated at 97,000 in news reports in August.

Note: Enrollments for 2005-2006 include 1,622 students relocated due to Katrina.
Without Katrina: Enrollment: 100,708 / Change: 658 / 0.657%

HOWEVER — here are budget numbers

From Dr. Lewis’ 11/03/08 State of the System powerpoint presentation – here are his statements about the budget — (I copied and pasted this from his PPT)

Current Reality

Cere

June 3rd, 2009
10:19 am

(oops – data got cut off)

Current Reality

Cere

June 3rd, 2009
10:20 am

Current Reality
General operations budget FY2007 ($820M)
General operations budget FY2009 ($890M)
91% of Budget for Salaries & Benefits

SO – under Dr. Lewis’ leadership – we have continual declines in enrollment (even after factoring in Katrina AND Clayton) and an enormous increase in the operations budget – and still we have a system that overall cannot make Adequate Yearly Progress.

Cere

June 3rd, 2009
10:33 am

The increases from 2007 to 2009 include increases of +$7.7 million for General Admin, +$11 million for school admin, +$11 million for transportation, +$15 million for debt service and +$14 million for “transfers to other funds”… there were also increases in teacher staffing and per pupil spending but the Admin budget has obviously blossomed with Lewis at the helm.

Ernest

June 3rd, 2009
11:46 am

You raise excellent points Cere however you must also factor increasing costs of goods, supplies, and services in that equation. For example, gas prices increased over 50% during that time. That had a ripple effect on goods and supplies. Many school systems had to dip into reserves to make up for shortfalls that occurred. Add in an salary increase of 3% for everyone and it becomes a little easier to see how the overall budget increases year over year.

Does that explain everything? Of course not. Labor costs (salaries and benefits) make up the largest part of the budget, upwards of 90% for some districts. The only way to significantly impact the budget is to reduce costs in this area. It may require a one time investment of technology and training to allow you to significantly reduce labor costs down the road.

Turd Ferguson

June 3rd, 2009
12:10 pm

If these schools would begin expulsion of kids that do not deserve an education THEN we could begin laying off teachers.

thomas

June 3rd, 2009
7:01 pm

I can tell you for a fact that these budget cuts WILL hurt students. These school systems are “balancing” their budgets on the backs of students and teachers. For example, Cobb sent down a directive that allowed principals and schools to eliminate teachers’ and parapros’ ability to make copies for their classes. How can teachers conduct effective classes without the ability to provide assigments and homework outside of a textbook? At our school, EVERY SINGLE thing to be copied has to be approved by the assistant principal. She has even told teachers that she does NOT want to make copies of assignments for students to have homework.

Then Cobb eliminated HUNDREDS of teacher positions. Publicly they told the lie that no teachers were laid off. But they eliminated hundreds of teacher jobs through the reduction of positions at schools (increasing class sizes). Hundreds of instructional support positions were eliminated. Teachers are also not receiving any supply money to purchase instructional materials for the upcoming school year. It’s disgusting. These school systems have PLENTY of money. No principal or central office administrator is going to do without. There will still be plenty of money for them to do with as they please.

Lee

June 3rd, 2009
7:33 pm

School systems will get my attention when they start laying off football coaches. Until then, its just a dog and pony show for the gullible taxpayer.

Ernest

June 3rd, 2009
8:37 pm

Lee, in fairness the booster clubs probably won’t let that happen. This is especially true for some of the football powers around the state. Same thing applies to some of the marching bands in the state.

Cere

June 3rd, 2009
9:28 pm

Ernest – really – a $70 million increase in 2 years?!!

ScienceTeacher671

June 3rd, 2009
10:12 pm

Increasing class sizes certainly won’t help.

Lee

June 4th, 2009
5:29 am

Ernest, right you are. I’ve often said that the most powerful person associated with a local school system is the president of the athletic booster club. Why? Because he is about the only person who can pack a school board meeting with about 100 irate parents.

When you can do that, you can pretty much get what you want.

Ernest

June 4th, 2009
7:19 am

Cere, please understand I am not trying to justify the increase. Just remember 70 million over 2 years of a budget over 800 million represents about 4% per year. When you factor in salary increases along with the increased cost of goods and supplies (not to mention fuel costs during that period), one can at least have a clearer idea.

Also in reverse, one could ask what would be a reasonable increase year over year, especially if you want to give salary increases to your employees?

Turd Ferguson

June 4th, 2009
7:38 am

Remember the Pet Rock from the 1970’s? Well even back then most of those Pet Rocks had more intelligence than teachers of the same era. And sad as it is those same Pet Rocks have VOLUMES of more intelligence and common sense than these idiots teaching today.

Todays teachers want nothing more than to further the socialistic values of one Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin. The mantra…diversity and “we are a team”. Well I for one can fend for myself and dont want nor need your assistance.

Society overall has taken a downward spiral, due to the “leveling of the playing field” ie dumbing down in general and you teachers are responsible for 90% of it. SHAME ON EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU!!

catlady

June 4th, 2009
2:05 pm

Turd, I guess you are a victim. I count at least 6 errors in your recent submission.

jim d

June 4th, 2009
5:18 pm

Let me just say that a better product has been delivered in the past for less $$. I do realize of course that in todays environment of federal intervention in education mo money always seeme to be the claimed cure for all of our needs.

Perhaps eradification of federal edicts such as NCLB and IDEA would free the funds we need to make real improvement—OH WAIT!! Eliminating NCLB and IDEA WOULD be an improvement!!

ShooShee

June 4th, 2009
8:06 pm

The increases in DeKalb school spending from 2007 to 2009 include increases of +$7.7 million for General Admin, +$11 million for school admin, +$11 million for transportation, +$15 million for debt service and +$14 million for “transfers to other funds”… there were also increases in teacher staffing and per pupil spending but the Admin budget has obviously blossomed with Lewis at the helm.

Ernest

June 5th, 2009
12:24 pm

Did anyone see where Fulton County schools budget will increase $67 million dollars, which is 8%, over last years budget? This includes a lot of cost cutting. Maybe $70 million over 2 years is not as bad????

jim d

June 5th, 2009
2:07 pm

Oh my Ernest–check out Gwinnetts 2 billion dollar budget for education mext year.

Ernest

June 5th, 2009
3:51 pm

JimD, you have GOT to be kidding me!!!! 2 BILLION dollars????? I’ve got to go to their website to see that….

jim d

June 6th, 2009
6:59 am

jim d

June 11th, 2009
3:13 pm

How nice!

Napoalvin still has people reading my blog comments and is a bit embarassed over a 2 billion dollar anual budget. but the data is still available on the system site–just might take one longer to do the math