School daze: Cobb wants to cut 734 jobs. DeKalb and Fulton parents seek recalls of boards.

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.

According to the AJC story on Cobb:

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.

125 comments Add your comment

Chalkboard Flu

April 21st, 2010
10:13 pm

Teachers, had enough yet? And these are the people who expect us to trust them to fund “merit pay”?

Chalkboard flu, now.


April 21st, 2010
10:25 pm

Lets be honest Georgia is not exactly known for education. These cuts will take years to recover from. And so called fiscally minded education leaders will try to keep large class sizes for every if they can. Who will actually advocate for the children of Georgia? Nobody cares folks. This will keep our children second class citizens in this country for a long time.


April 21st, 2010
10:28 pm

See what happens when a veterinarian makes education decisions?


April 21st, 2010
10:35 pm

We are engaging in unilateral, nationwide educational disarmament, the results of which will be abundantly clear in 30 years, when we are no longer able to compete with industrialized nations who take seriously the task of educating their country’s children. Our leaders at all levels of government are selling out our future.


April 21st, 2010
10:39 pm

Sonny prescribes heartworm pills to Buster. Buster’s owners don’t give them to Buster, so Buster comes down with and dies from heartworm disease. Cut Sonny’s pay. Maybe someone needs to forward that analogy to him and he’ll understand. Sorry for being petty here, but this is not only my livelihood, but it is my passion.

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April 21st, 2010
10:48 pm

The pathetic thing about Cobb’s cuts is that because they are unilaterally eliminating part-time teachers, they are literally eliminating some of the best teachers in the school system. But yet, artificial turf is on order for all Cobb high schools.
It’s a sad day for the children of Cobb County.


April 21st, 2010
10:48 pm

Thank goodness we finished CRCT testing yesterday.

Cobb Taxpayer

April 21st, 2010
10:51 pm

what about the getting to school ? Bus drivers and other personnel are under threat by privatization of bus system. simple solution :do what Lee Iacoca did , take a pay cut at the top.

Cobb Taxpayer

April 21st, 2010
10:56 pm

also Parents go to meeting at Cobb County Government Board of Education 514 Glover st Marietta Ga 770 426 3300 Time 6:35pm They only want drivers and other personnel but if parents come and show how wrong it is ,maybe something will be different.Come earlier to the meeting to make your voice heard


April 21st, 2010
11:26 pm

By the way, these 734 are just the certified cuts. More cuts are still to come…bus drivers, clerical, custodial, etc.

Not said yet

April 21st, 2010
11:28 pm

Not said yet is that Cobb is going to RIF based on performance evals – in order: limited contract, part time, POOR EVALS (!), and THEN seniority with the system…

Should be interesting.

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April 22nd, 2010
12:19 am

Why is there such a huge deficiency all of a sudden in these systems? There really needs to be some auditing done to find out why these huge budget shortfalls exist in these metro systems.Something about these huge deficits is suspicious.


April 22nd, 2010
12:56 am

If the money isn’t in the budget, what do you expect the school board to do? Its the same with the average citizen trying to balance a check book. When funds are low then you have to cut back. I’m not happy with what is going on, but I understand it. Getting angry isn’t the key. Helping your child at home more than you ever did before to make up for the decrease in school related learning is the only way to ensure your child succeeds. time to be parent/teachers in your home and not just depend on the school system to educate our children.

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April 22nd, 2010
1:16 am

Color me ignorant here, but Cobb just sued to ensure that they could use SPLOST funds to put in artificial turf all over the place. Meanwhile, they’re about to cut over 700 jobs?

Ms. Downey, do you have an answer on this one? I’m guessing there are limits on the way these SPLOST funds can be used. They probably had to specifically lay out how they would be used when they voted in the SPLOST? Might a little SPLOST leeway be in order?

Cobb Teacher

April 22nd, 2010
1:28 am

I bet Cobb is so glad they paid back that 50 million dollar bond which had a really low interest rate. Plus it is a Darn good thing they kept the school nurses. It must really be a pain to call 911 like they used to do.


April 22nd, 2010
1:31 am

They cannot use SPLOST funds for salaries.
Cobb County schools and all other gov’t agencies need to cut big and cut now. They should have cut more last year instead of pretending the need to cut would go away. They should have spent more time this year targeting the cuts for cost effectiveness instead of hoping they could create a hue and cry for higher taxes.
How much are you personally willing to pay to keep the services you want? Not how much you do you want someone else to pay; how much will you offer to pay?


April 22nd, 2010
2:02 am

School systems all around the country are hurting. Crying isn’t going to fix anything. Voting people out of office just because they have to make tough decisions isn’t the answer. Time to wake up and realize the free ride is over and its time to drop some of the fat in the system and get to working harder and smarter. People will be let go, programs will be cut, salaries will be reduced. Get use to it.


April 22nd, 2010
4:51 am

Good for DeKalb – let’s recall the entire Board.


April 22nd, 2010
6:04 am

if u have not read in other blogs we still have state officials introducing measures about Obama’s birth cert. and crazy ppl gettin microchip implants forced on them by the government instead of worrying about education and transportaion.

Values Education

April 22nd, 2010
6:11 am

Not only should there be a cut at the top, annual employees who already get four weeks of unpaid vacation a year, should no longer be able to earn an additional four weeks of paid vacation. Please tell me where in corporate America do you earn over 100k, and get 8 weeks of vacation a year?They will cut sick days and dental benefits, but won’t touch principal and central office benefits, and the first response is to lay off 734 teachers? A travesty! And…. check out the fine print on the splost dollars, they are borrowing funds – collections are down.

Econ Major

April 22nd, 2010
6:13 am

734 employees cut from the largest employer in Cobb County should sure help our economy recover next year. Thanks Sonny – I’m sure those tax collections will rebound any day.


April 22nd, 2010
6:22 am

Not said yet – Cobb County employees received an e-mail yesterday explaining the Reduction in Force Plan. It has been changed from only looking at seniority to first looking at poor evaluations – overall, and in any particular category. Seniority will be the last thing looked at, and only looked at if enough jobs haven’t been terminated because of poor evaluations.


April 22nd, 2010
6:33 am

Oh, sorry, Not Said Yet, I thought you were asking what the RIF was based on…too early for me to make sense of things!


April 22nd, 2010
6:53 am

Not too long ago I read about a PE teacher with a phd in Cobb making over $90,000 per year. The largest item on the budget is salaries and when you create a system that pays a PE teacher $90k, it is an unsustainable system. The chickens have finally come home to roost.

I’ve had to fork over almost $100,000 in private school tuition because our schools were such a mess. Not feeling much sympathy right now.

Mid-South Philosopher

April 22nd, 2010
7:17 am

Good morning, Ms. Downey,

We can vituperate “Silly” Sonny and the “Gold Dome Dunces” all we want, but that doesn’t change the fact that teachers, parents, and other taxpayers are going to have to deal with the legislative “guano” this session of the General Assembly has set in motion. It is all a part of a greater design to ultimately arrive at public funding of private education and the relegating to the public schools that growing number of poor and working poor (with occasional token scholarships and “hands-up” initiatives to keep the discrimination lawyers at bay).

The “reforminsts” have such a hold on public education that I doubt there is really much that can be done about it. Their quasi-elitist development doctrine meshes quite well with the overall movement of the national government toward a European-style, socialist, democracy.

Happy Brave New World!


April 22nd, 2010
7:27 am

The entire system of paying teachers for having higher level degrees has been around for at least 50 years. People have been using this to increase their pay checks, and/or grade levels, for years. People wouldn’t pay for the higher level degrees if the school wouldn’t require them for the higher paying jobs or grade levels. Its time to change the entire playing field, but you can only do it for those just starting to get into education. To try to make everyone play this way will end up with teacher law suits, teacher walk outs, teacher strikes and maybe in the end a draw down with the entire profession of teachers. Not a good outlook of the future.


April 22nd, 2010
7:32 am

For those interested in more information regarding the use of SPLOST dollars, go to the following link:

This is the 2003 version of the Georgia Constitution. Specifically go to Article VIII, Section VI, Paragraph IV (page 60 of the pdf). Actually all of section VI is worth reading to understand taxation for schools.


April 22nd, 2010
8:07 am

School folks and government officials have made a terrible mess of managing resources. Schools are used at the most less than 1/2 of the time (180/365) and they keep building schools. Support folks are part time people with full time benefits and pay. Some work as little as 4.5 hours a day and have retirement and health insurance for life after 10 years service. This is unbelieveable in the private world.

Teacher in Cobb

April 22nd, 2010
8:08 am

Here is a very easy solution: Put a small tax on cigarettes and alcohol. Allow alcohol to be sold on Sundays. This would generate a bucket load of money and would save our jobs.

Hey Sonny – when was the last time you stepped into a classroom? Do you know that nearly half of our classtime is devoted to adjusting students behaviors – something that should be done at home? Packing students into the classroom and eliminating teaching jobs is the biggest fiasco you could imagine. Do you really think this will help Georgia get off of the bottom of the list of education? C’mon dude … get with the program.


April 22nd, 2010
8:12 am

For year (even in the good times) GA teachers have seen cuts and have been told to “do more with less”. Nobody does more with less. There will be less with less. As long as GA parents refuse to pay more, there will be less in the classroom. Less is the new reality.


April 22nd, 2010
8:19 am

Cobb is basing their cuts on having an AVERAGE of 40 students per teacher???? Are you kidding?

Reality check: this means that in a co-taught class (a class with a regular ed teacher like science and also a special ed teacher) there could be an average of 80 students!?!?!?!

Doesn’t this scare teachers? Doesn’t this scare parents? What in the world are these so-called “managers” thinking. The “managers” are the administrators.


April 22nd, 2010
8:22 am

Everyone needs to face it….

With these crazy cuts all of public education will be nothing more than baby sitting. No real instruction will happen at all. It just isn’t possible.

No money for making copies. No money for teachers. No money for markers (chalk). No money to replace textbooks. No money for anything.


April 22nd, 2010
8:25 am

Fulton and Cobb (and others) really do need to kick out these Board of Education members. It is their MAIN duty to maintain proper funding.

Parents do this for thier own children. Don’t live paycheck to paycheck. Have to have funds set aside for emergencies and for rainy days.

Same with “managers” or “administrators. These Board of Education members have not only been living paycheck to paycheck with our tax money, they have already put eduction on a diet when times were good. Education in GA has already been cut to the bone.

Now this? Get rid of these idiots!


April 22nd, 2010
8:26 am

Education is simply not a priority in Georgia.

Call this dire situation a ‘time-out’ for having voted lock-step republican over the past decade. You and your stupidity gleefully invited the fox into the hen house. You deserve to be eaten. Too bad it’s your children who’ll have to pay the price.


April 22nd, 2010
8:31 am



Teacher in Cobb

April 22nd, 2010
8:39 am

I’m not sure whose administration I am more anxious to end … Sonny’s or Obama’s.

Teaching is worse in FL

April 22nd, 2010
8:39 am

I hate to complain, complain, complain, but I feel powerless, other than to contact my legislative delegation. People are already tired of us “whining teachers.” Meh!

Everyone has made good points, but we are short on solutions (other than frremarket ed’s homeschooling or privatization…)

I’m starting to connect dots. Military leaders complain about school lunches…cutting budgets…..
As former military, I know we only need a high school education to carry a gun. The private school/homeschool students can be the officers.

jack stilton

April 22nd, 2010
8:40 am

State employees need a union. I understand the money isn’t there but the state doesn’t take care of it’s people during good times either.

John Q

April 22nd, 2010
9:10 am

Cobb has 15,200 employees. 8300 teachers. Looks like the teachers/students are taking the big hit again! I’m guessing there are 7000 other employees that are breathing a sigh of relief today.


April 22nd, 2010
9:17 am

We are all focusing soley at the local level. Really, what does it say about the federal government’s commitment to education when the funds set aside at that level are “competitive” while local school systems across the country are literally imploding. This is not to say that our local districts didn’t blow their wad, while imposing austerity cuts during good times. But really, what has the current administration done to ensure education in this country doesn’t fall into a sinkhole. We are STILL functioning under NCLB, and now are basing release of additional monies on a testing strategy that no one feels is legitimate. I see no change, except perhaps a steeper downward trend.

Eye Rolling Parent

April 22nd, 2010
9:22 am

It chaps my hide when there are teacher lay offs, program cuts,fundraising for school equipment,increased class size, then the principal shows in in a brand new 50k sports car. It’s hard for a tax paying parent to have trust in the school after that. What do teachers think when they are very much impacted by these cuts(probably intense stress) and the administrators show up in a ride that cost’s more than their gross salary?


April 22nd, 2010
9:39 am

School board members should have seen this funding crunch coming, considering the real estate bubble popped a few years ago. Teachers are expected to anticipate issues in the classroom and plan for potential problems. If an educator does not do this, s/he receives poor evaluations and runs the risk of getting sued and/or losing certification.

It’s time to hold school board members to the same standards that teachers have to meet.


April 22nd, 2010
9:41 am

@eye-rolling parent–
I don’t teach in Cobb, so my administrators don’t have flashy cars, but some of the fools “working” in our plush board offices definitely do have some nice wheels.

And yes, while I work two jobs just to make ends meet and pay the minimum on my student loans, it does chap my @$$ to see someone who rolls in at 8:15, ignores a bunch of emails, leaves at 4 pm, doesn’t take any work home, and makes twice my salary.

DeKalb Educated

April 22nd, 2010
9:44 am

If the DeKALB BOE is recalled – Yea! They have poorly managed a situation. The money that Pat Pope sits home and collects is enough to fund several teachers. They need to cut out the Jobs program they have been using for family and friends and put the money towards the students in the classroom. Get rid of the BOE in DeKalb.

Teaching Used To Be A Noble Profession

April 22nd, 2010
9:49 am

First of all, I’m a Conservative Independent. The Republicans are murdering public education because homeschooling and private schools are their answers. If you are a private school teacher, there is no such thing as teachers’ rights. The salary of a private school teacher is a joke. Why should politicians cut their own salaries, when money can always be cut from education? Who needs a strong educational system anyhow? Besides, it doesn’t affect them or their familes.

The Democrats are too terrified to raise taxes to fund our educational system, lest there be more reasons to vote them out of office in November.

We need a third political party and not the crazy, rabid Teabagger Party.

Backward Priorities

April 22nd, 2010
9:50 am

Budget decisions reflect a community’s relative priorities; the two following paragraphs reported in the Marietta Daily Journal speak to at least one GA community’s priorities:

“Lembeck is also proposing the elimination of 42 jobs, increased class sizes, three furlough days and dipping into the rainy day fund as a way to balance the system’s fiscal year 2011 budget. The school board is scheduled to adopt the proposed budget for the district on June 15. Based on anticipated reductions from the state and in local property taxes, Lembeck is estimating a $7 million revenue reduction, or 8.9 percent, of the current FY10 $78.9 million budget.

In other business, the board unanimously approved a $41,345 expenditure for a digital editing system for its sports programs. Marietta High School head football coach Scott Burton said in the past, a coach would record the games on VCR, taking notes by hand to record the various plays in preparation for the next game. The digital editing system, called Digital Sports Video, allows coaches to break down games for analysis, take notes on the video, and make cutups and highlights of individual student athletes to be used for recruitment and enhanced performance, he said.”


April 22nd, 2010
9:53 am

If a PE, Science,or 1st grade teacher has earned a Ph.D and receives $90K a year… what’s the problem? he/deserve it. May Lee should get a Ph.D. HOW DID we get from a $99 million shortfall in December to a $137 million shortfall in April? BOARD or AJC please explain and report.