A year ago, none of us would have believed that Cobb County schools would cut 734 jobs.
But we are becoming desensitized to dire school new because there is so much of it. Every day we read about local systems closing schools, cutting programs and trimming staff. And they are not making careful trims, but wholesale prunings. Georgia’s schools are financially strapped and desperate.
Consider what is on AJC. com right now: At a DeKalb board meeting Wednesday, parents threatened discrimination lawsuits, sit-ins and recalls of elected officials if the school board moves forward with closing schools that it says are crucial.
In Fulton, the school board plans to raise the millage rate and get rid of beloved programs, including band and orchestra in the elementary grades. Now, school superintendent Cindy Loe said she will recommend an additional $28 million in cuts to shore up the district’s $120 million deficit.
The cuts in Fulton have so upset parents that there is a campaign under way to recall six of seven school board members.
The 734 job cuts would save $58.6 million, according to a school board agenda item. That includes cutting about 579 teachers and 56 para-professionals, the school district’s chief financial officer said. The district must notify teachers by May 15 if they will have a job next year.
Cobb, which must slash its 2011 budget like other school districts across the metro area, has to cut $137 million and has identified about $92.6 million so far. The painful measures the school board is expected to approve Thursday night are only the first round of the reductions that will have to be made.
School board members will discuss budget cuts at a special meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday. They are expected to approve the cuts at their regular meeting with public comment at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The district will need to notify teachers about their contracts before officials have all the information about which teachers will retire or leave the district, Cobb schools spokesman Jay Dillon said.
District officials hope to achieve the cuts through attrition, he said. He would not estimate what percentage would be achieved that way.
Cobb does not plan to close schools or cut art or music programs, school board Chairwoman Lynnda Crowder-Eagle said.