Cobb and Paulding teachers ask: How much more can we take? Are deeper salary cuts next?

I had several e-mails today from Cobb teachers with development in the system’s ongoing budget woes. Teachers believe they are shouldering a disproportionate share of the budget burden. I also want to note that I am hearing from Paulding County teachers who say that between salary cuts and furloughs they are seeing a 20 percent decrease in their pay. One teacher said it came out to $10 an hour after all the cuts were considered. That county also let go of new teachers under the three-year mark.

The response from some posters here is that teachers should be glad they still have jobs and health benefits so so many Georgians do not. And I agree that teachers as a whole are in much better shape than folks in construction or real estate-related fields, many of whom are out of work and are unlikely to find anything soon.

But is there a point when the cuts and the working conditions — larger classrooms, less time to plan, furlough days — undermine the ability to teach effectively? And shouldn’t that worry all of us?

UPDATE: I just received this e-mail from Cobb County Schools that any mention of  a $10,000 cut in pay — which teachers have been saying in e-mails   — is incorrect. Here is the e-mail from Cobb spokesman Jay Dillon.

Unfortunately, this blog is based on teachers who misunderstood the memo that went out yesterday. Teachers are paid based on the state salary schedule. In addition to what the state pays, we also pay them additional salary out of locally collected funds. That’s called the local salary supplement. If a school district reduces the local salary supplement for teachers, it is required by law to hold public hearings and notify the teachers. Since we are implementing five furlough days next year for all employees, technically that constitutes a reduction in teacher salaries (including the local supplement) so to follow the law we have to hold the hearings and provide notice, which is what we did yesterday. It appears that some teachers have taken that information and jumped to the conclusion that we are planning an additional $10,000 pay cut. We are not. The only pay cut is the five furlough days, which they’ve known about for some time, and it affects all employees. I wish you had checked with me before posting this as it is causing much confusion.

Your current blog post contains an email from someone purporting to be a Cobb teacher that states:

“Cobb’s newest proposal is to cut teacher salaries by as much as $10,000.”

This statement is untrue. Worse, it is not sourced in any way, has no supporting information, and is presented as fact. Please remove this statement from your web site immediately as it is causing a great deal of misunderstanding among Cobb’s 8,500 teachers.

Thank you,
Jay Dillon

Here are the e-mails that are troubling Cobb schools.

This morning, all CCSD employees were greeted by a memo in their mailboxes stating that there will be two public hearings on proposed salary adjustments for the 2010-11 school year.  This will result in a decrease in the local salary supplement.  Rumor has it we are looking at a $10,000 decrease per employee.  The hearings are May 27 and June 2, 6:30 – 7 p.m. in CCSD board room on Glover Street.  We need to get as many teachers and parents as possible to attend in unison against these drastic cuts.  Could you please add a post about this today?

Writing on the same issue, another Cobb teacher wrote:

I am a Cobb teacher and have been proud to work for this county, but now, I am ashamed and heartbroken by their continued disrespect of their teachers.  While I understand times are tough, why is it that the teachers are being asked to bear the brunt of the pain?  Cobb’s newest proposal is to cut teacher salaries by as much as $10,000.  As a Cobb teacher with a mortgage and a car payment, losing this much would end up costing me my home and my car.  At that point, I would be paying Cobb County for the “honor” of working for them.  This type of move would bankrupt me.  Even losing $2,000 – $3,000 would end up meaning that I’d have to add at least a second job to my already first and second jobs.  How is this going to create a highly effective teacher for our students?

In the end, it seems that the only people losing is the students and the teachers but not the board or the other office personnel.  Did you know that Fred Sanderson’s four administrative assistants actually make more than I do and I’ve got many years of teaching experience and a master’s degree.  I feel like, at this point, I may have no other option except to leave teaching for a position that will actually pay me enough to live.  I would hate to do that as I love teaching and being with my students each and every day, but I’m not sure there is any other choice.

A Paulding County teacher said:

I can’t afford to teach any longer. They have priced me out of the profession.

205 comments Add your comment

EnoughAlready

May 18th, 2010
8:09 am

Cobb teachers ask: How much more can we take? Answer Below.
Enough Already Ask: How much more can we take of Get Schooled focus on Cobb County?

Better yet, call up the GOP representatives in GA and other states to suggest they accept the $23 Billion proposed by the Obama Administration.

Cobb Teacher (that is, until I can find another job)

May 18th, 2010
8:17 am

Here’s the reality: I freely give my time and money to clubs and activities at my school, because I know how it benefits my students.
I love my students. I love my job. I didn’t become a teacher because of the money. However, I HAVE TO LIVE! Because of the cuts we are already enduring, I will have to give up all activities outside the realm of my 7:45 to 3:45 salaried work day so that I can go to my second job. No more clubs, no more running programs, no more extracurriculars. I’m heartbroken, because I know how deeply my absense will affect my students – but what choice do I have????

Cobbmom

May 18th, 2010
8:18 am

I’m another teacher that Cobb has priced out of a home. When my husband’s job moved us to Georgia I had a payraise but much worse health benefits than I received in my previous position. When the company he worked for went bankrupt we decided to try and stay in the area as we had grown to love it. We have since lost our home but have tried to stay here. With the five furlough days and now another paycut on top of it we will not be able to pay the rent. I also hold a master’s degree, as well as my husband, but we can no longer afford to live or work in Cobb County. I received a contract that is now a worthless piece of paper. I hope Fred Sanderson enjoys his $250,000 salary, along with his $25,000 bonus and his full retirement pay (no other employee of Cobb County can draw retirement and work full time for the county) while my children, who once were students in the Cobb system, don’t have a roof over their head or food in their stomach.

Seriously

May 18th, 2010
8:22 am

The same thing is happening in Paulding.. 10 furlough days (already voted on), proposed supplement cut (about 5,000 for me), insurance/dental increase, oh, and MORE WORK..

JacketFan

May 18th, 2010
8:23 am

A friend of mine in a South Georgia school district got her contract a week ago. There was no salary listed or indication of how many days the school year would be on the contract. I guess that’s their way of preventing a lawsuit.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Cobb teachers ask: How much more can we take? Are deeper salary cuts next? http://bit.ly/a7LKBf [...]

GOB

May 18th, 2010
8:39 am

I’m in Cobb and haven’t seen the memo. If that kind of paycut goes through, I won’t be back, contract or not.

need2ndjobtopaybills

May 18th, 2010
8:40 am

While people may say they are tired of hearing Cobb teachers complain, or any teacher for that matter, and that we should be grateful for having a job, my question to all of you is this – if you were facing these huge paycuts, 5 – 10 furlough days, increase in insurance, would you stick with the job you had or would you find something better? No one in the private sector would put up with this kind of treatment, so why is it okay for us to have to put up with it? Is it not ok for us to want to pay our bills? Keep a roof over our heads? Have a car to drive? How about food on the table and gas in our cars? How about the ability to go to a movie if we want to? Why are we expected to sacrifice time and again and when we say enough is enough, we got our heads bitten off? I don’t understand the mentality here that it is okay to treat the people who educate our future like they are the bottom of the dung pile while we pay movie stars and sports stars millions of dollars to entertain. I’m sure if any of them were asked to do any of what teachers are facing, they would go on strike and we would give in to their demands. Unfortunately, we as Georgia teachers, are not able to do this so we use whatever forums we have to speak out – this being one of them – and instead of people supporting our struggles we are put down and told to keep whining! What is wrong with this picture people!? We just want to do the jobs we signed up to do, but the governments at ALL levels are making this impossible so instead of you putting us down, why don’t you help us to make it better!?

need2ndjobtopaybills

May 18th, 2010
8:41 am

excuse me, instead of keep whining, I meant quit whining. My passion overruled my fingers. My apologies.

clueless

May 18th, 2010
8:42 am

Why do we want to pretend that it’s all in the metro area?

Reality

May 18th, 2010
8:48 am

This is the continuing march to destroy public education by the REPUBLICANS.

Choke off teachers – lay offs, furloughs, increased class sizes, more “other” work than teaching, etc. Make this such a horrible profession in GA that no one would consider it. Connect teacher pay to student performance. Kill off the teacher retirement system (the best rated system in the Country).

Make student learning look bad – increase class size, make standards so fuzzy that no one knows what they mean, stardardize test a single measure, etc.

The REPUBLICANS are successful in killing public education in GA. Why? So that they can implement their ‘voucher’ system.

If you don’t like this, then VOTE OUT REPUBLICANS!

Freedom Education

May 18th, 2010
8:50 am

Can you imagine working for merit pay under these conditions?

Maureen Downey

May 18th, 2010
8:51 am

@clueless, I appreciate information about what is happening outside of the metro area. That is the focus area of the newspaper, but the online readership extends well into all parts of the state so I think it is important to get information up here on those areas.
Maureen

An advocate for public education change & choice

May 18th, 2010
8:52 am

While many legislators will be campaigning throughout the summer standing with great pride on pledges of “No New Taxes” and promises of “No new spending”, I think its high time that the voters drill these candidates on their commitment to maintain a quality public education system.

The simple fact of the matter is if you want it, it has to be paid for. This will mean higher taxes and deficit spending. That is if the quality of the public education system is truly a high priority value within the community. If it is not, then all this talk is just lipservice and we need to give it a rest already.

Time to put up or shut up !!!

Maureen Downey

May 18th, 2010
8:57 am

Reality, In the Legislature, I think there is a sharp difference in school funding views between legislators who send their kids to the local public schools — whether in metro Atlanta or rural Georgia — and those who have had their children in public schools. And I think it comes down to the simple fact that private school lawmakers hear a lot from the headmasters and teachers at their schools and the other parents they see at class night or at school soccer games. And they give more weight to that point of view because they hear more of it in their own circles.
I was often surprised at how much time was spent talking about private schools and funding in the General Assembly when 90 percent of Georgia kids attend public schools. If there is any trend now, it is back to public schools because parents cannot afford private school tuition.

Real Estate and Construction workers made undeserved profits

May 18th, 2010
8:58 am

Mortgage brokers, investment banks, real estate agents and construction workers made undeserved profits that the American taxpayers are paying a high price for, and will be for a long time. The rest of us, teachers included, did not cause the situation. But lets give billions and billions to schister bankers and overpaid union auto workers.

EnoughAlready

May 18th, 2010
8:58 am

need2ndjobtopaybills

May 18th, 2010
8:40 am

Actually we(private sector) are dealing with less hours, pay cuts, increase in responsibilities and no pay raise. We are also stuck in these positions because the job market is slim to none. I also know lots of unemployeed “private sector” parents who would love to be in your shoes where the money is still coming into the home.

FYI… my aunt and uncle are unemployed because they worked for the same company and their jobs were shipped to India this year. They are both having to be retrained for new positions and they are just over the age of 55. My aunt has a chemistry background and there aren’t very many positions in Georgia that she can obtain; especially since the education field is being hit heavily.

The problem is...

May 18th, 2010
9:06 am

Teachers never made any money to begin with. Now they want blood from a stone. I’d much rather take a pay cut off of $100,000 private job than a $43,000 public gig.

???

May 18th, 2010
9:07 am

We need vote the CCSD board members out, and let them take the golden boy Fred Sanderson with them. The reality is we must raise taxes in order to fund public education. If things continue as they are, teachers are going to be leaving CCSD in drones.

Anon.

May 18th, 2010
9:08 am

I appreciate how Cobb gave these out after contracts were given out, and many of us signed them with glee – since, you know, we were happy that we had a job.

Never mind. When they send out the corrected for days worked contracts, I might refuse to sign that one. I’m happy and thankful that I’m employed, but I’d like to get paid something. With a $10,000 pay cut, the younger teachers in the county will be making around $25,000 a year, which is about how much a parapro makes. Glad to see that’s how the county views them.

Question

May 18th, 2010
9:09 am

EnoughAlready, so if so many are in the same boat, then why do teachers get bashed when they complain but others are free to vent their frustration?

William Casey

May 18th, 2010
9:10 am

The result of these draconian cuts is inevitable: (1) the quality of instruction will decline because teachers will be forced to take second jobs; (2) fewer quality people (especially in math and the sciences) will choose to enter teaching because the implicit promise of job/wage/benefits security in return for a lower base salary will be gone; (3) many of the activities/services parents have come to expect from schools in addition to classroom instruction will disappear.

Maybe I’ve missed it, but two rather large “big ticket” cost items of schooling seem to be immune from the cost-cutting process: (1) textbooks, and (2) Special Education. In this “on-line age,” textbooks are an anachronism and a corporate “racket.” The average public school parent would be stunned at the cost of a single high school textbook.. $50.00+. I’m was a firm supporter of Special Ed when I was a regular ed teacher and an administrator. However, it is an incredibly expensive program on a per-student served basis. I hope that my many dedicated Sp. Ed. friends will forgive me for pointing this out.

My dad always told me: “Bill, put your money where your mouth is.” So, I have. I’m comfortably retired now (at least until they start raiding the teacher retirement fund) and have the luxury of being able to volunteer. So, I have. I’ll be working next year as an assistant basketball coach for free. I miss the game! I would also entertain the notion of teaching an AP history course for a nominal amount (I can’t afford to pay for the things necessary to teach an excellent course out-of-pocket.) There are thousands of retired teachers in their sixties who would love to help out. But, the school system must: (1) reach out to us (I’m coaching because only because of friendship with an energetic young coach), and (2) treat us with a respect we seldom received from the system while active teachers. I’m sure that currently active teachers aren’t feeling respected these days.

Just some thoughts.

protecting

May 18th, 2010
9:11 am

@ need2ndjobtopaybills — you asked ” if you were facing these huge paycuts, 5 – 10 furlough days, increase in insurance, would you stick with the job you had or would you find something better? No one in the private sector would put up with this kind of treatment”

In the private sector you aren’t asked to put up with it. In fact sometimes your told your job just went to a labor force outside the US because it cost less. PERIOD. There wasn’t even a chance to say you would work for less.

shamrock

May 18th, 2010
9:11 am

I hear a certain coach from North Cobb called out sick when he really wasn’t.

need2ndjobtopaybills

May 18th, 2010
9:11 am

@enough already – while I understand your pain and that of your relatives, there will be no money coming into my house if I have to declare bankruptcy, so please tell me – how will that help with our struggling economy? It won’t. So unless you have a miracle solution to help the teachers, both private and public, quit going on the attack and instead, help to be part of the solution that we all want to have so that you, your aunt & uncle, and I and the hundreds of other teachers out there can get back to doing what we do best – TEACHING!!

shamrock

May 18th, 2010
9:12 am

A certain Coach Little Rocks.

SDM

May 18th, 2010
9:13 am

Most teachers have no choice but to take it … FOR NOW. I don’t think many have a viable options to get a job at another district or find a job in a private sector. Schools will have to do A LOT to keep them when economy does recover, though.

frustratedteacher23

May 18th, 2010
9:16 am

While people may say they are tired of hearing Cobb teachers complain, or any teacher for that matter, and that we should be grateful for having a job, what is the reality on your children when all of these cuts have eliminated fantastic young teachers and chase away those experienced teachers who can’t live on the salary? Besides a teacher’s family suffering from a lose of income, your children will not receive an appropriate education and suffer also. There classrooms will increase in size, the teacher’s burden will increase and more behavior problems can occur. Is this where you want your child? Some will say that I will put my student in a private school, but many of you can’t afford that. I consider myself to be an adequate teacher (possibly even talented and effective) but I know I will not be able to do the same job next year with more students under my responsibility and less money. I will have less time to creatively make lessons due to the increase in the number of papers to grade. Some of my collegues will stop working outside the times of 7:45 and 3:45 which will affect your child’s education. Stop focusing on the fact that teachers are complaining-pay attention to what this will do to our community, state, and country in terms of producing educated youth. Students will receive less education in the classroom next year and possibly further in the future. No matter how talented the teacher, the effect will be less.

Cobb Teacher (that is, until I can find another job)

May 18th, 2010
9:17 am

shamrock – your comments are irrelevant. what’s your point?!?

William Casey

May 18th, 2010
9:20 am

Please forgive previous editing incompetence!

protecting

May 18th, 2010
9:24 am

@need2nd job — are you campainging for help keeping the jobs of the parents of your students? I personally could probably teach my child if you were not there–so while I appreciate you, we can work around it.I cannot fabricate jobs to replace those being offshored. We need those too to get the economy going.

john konop

May 18th, 2010
9:28 am

Maureen Downey,

It is a legitimate issue that the GADOE expanded by 25% since 2006 and administrators not only did not take any cuts but got bonuses! Why not ask them why they think it is proper, ethical and best for students that teachers and office workers took all the cuts while the management which does do the work in the classroom made more money? Why have you said nothing about this?

john konop

May 18th, 2010
9:30 am

sorry

…while the management which does NOT do the work in the classroom made more money?

???

May 18th, 2010
9:33 am

Next year, the CCSD plans to buy new ART textbooks (for millions) even though many art teachers say they do not have the time to use them, nor are they necessary. Also, they are rebuilding Clarksdale Ele. (for millions) which house only 324 students. Yet teachers are being cut, furloughed, and given pay cuts to death. After the time of the 99 million dollar surplus, I heard that Sanderson said financial mistakes were made in 2008. He was the superintendent at the time.

Yes, mistakes have been made, but nothing that cannot be remedied. Let’s stop the insanity and vote the CCSD board members out.

What memo???

May 18th, 2010
9:40 am

I keep hearing about this memo – I have yet to receive it. I wish I would so I would know what people are talking about.

???

May 18th, 2010
9:50 am

@What memo???
It seems that your adminstration may have chosen not to put out the memo.

need2ndjobtopaybills

May 18th, 2010
9:57 am

@what memo??? – here is what the memo said:
The Cobb County School District announces two public hearings on proposed salary adjustments for the 2010-11 school year which will result in a decrease to the local salary supplement.

Thursday, May 27; 6:30 – 7:00 PM @ CCSD Board Room; 514 Glover Street, Marietta, GA
&
Wednesday, June 2; 6:00 – 6:30 PM @ CCSD Board Room; 514 Glover Street, Marietta, GA

The School System will solicit public input (but we won’t listen to it) on proposed salaries prior to the Cobb County School District adopting the FY2011 Cobb County School District Budget.

All Cobb County School District employees are invited to attend and/or provide feedback. The final salary schedules and FY2011 budget are expected to be adopted at the June 9, 2010 Board Work Session in the Cobb County School District Board Room.

I’ll be there, but feel that no matter what we say, they’ll do what they want to do because that’s what they are good at!

Tony

May 18th, 2010
10:03 am

Mr. Konop – once again your remarks are way off base. Personally, I am taking a proportionately larger cut than teachers and other employees. My colleagues in other counties have been affected the same as I – that is with larger cuts than others. Please back up your claims with citations for accurate information.

The cuts to schools this year are unprecedented in size and scope and the children of Georgia will suffer the consequences. There is no doubt this will have a long term impact on our economy within the state. Teachers will be expected to produce more results with less resources and our lawmakers will be polishing their “no tax increase” haloes all through campaign season.

And yes Maureen, our lawmakers have lop-sided opinions based on their very narrow points of view on the world of education.

Reality

May 18th, 2010
10:04 am

@ M. Downey

Be that as it may, it doesn’t change the platform of the Republicans in GA with respect to education.

Remember, republicans want to get rid of any and all “public” things which will in turn reduce taxes. This includes everything from “public” transportation to “public” education to “public” medicare/medicaid to “public” welfare.

GA republicans have made no bones about pushing through their voucher system for education. The vouchers would certainly be huge for private schools that you mention. And, to push this through, they need to totally discredit the current public education system in GA in the eyes of the voters.

What better way to ruin education than to cut off the knees with respect to funding?

SPED Teacher

May 18th, 2010
10:13 am

@William Casey- Spec. Ed is immune to a lot of the cuts b/c it is a federally mandated program. You CANT cut it even if you wanted to. It is largely federally funded.

Coach

May 18th, 2010
10:24 am

How much can teachers take.?..People not in th know treat us not like professionals but hired hands. We educate the future but Dems and the Repubs just care about keeping their jobs…self-c
entered individuals who think education is an expense to deal with, but not the future of our existence.Shame on us for allowing the pols to destroy education. I am backing Kira Willis for State School Superintendent.She will fight for the components of a successful delivery method for education; accountability,budget, and the children(ABC’s of Education). Time to throw these non-educators who are making education policy which doesn’t work out.

john konop

May 18th, 2010
10:25 am

Tony ,

First:

…..State Department of Education has increased employees working in its headquarters from 411 to 513, nearly 25%, since 2006! On January 20, 2010, Superintendent Kathy Cox made a presentation to the Joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee describing the cuts in her budget from the state and the increased use of federal funds to expand personnel at GADOE. In this presentation, you can see that 42% of the staff at GADOE in 2006 was funded by federal funds. This year that number has grown to 56%. This money could have been used for teachers in the classroom instead of feeding more bureaucrats into Kathy Cox’s non-essential massive budget……

Second:

Please show us any FACTS that show a roll back and or lay-off of the management side of the schools?

Finally:

How can the key leader of a school district ask teachers, students, parents, office workers….to sacrifice while not taking a pay-cut from a large 6 figure salary and taking a bonus?

Teaching Used To Be A Noble Profession

May 18th, 2010
10:28 am

We need teachers to attend CCSD board meeting on May 27 and June 2 at 6:30 – 7 p.m. Let your voices be heard. There is strength in numbers.

Tony

May 18th, 2010
10:28 am

William Casey – many systems have cut textbook funding for schools. And, some systems have cut Spec. Ed. funding as well. Only a portion of Spec. Ed. funding comes from federal coffers. While the federal mandates account for nearly 75% of the services we are required to provide, only at 25-30% of the funding for these services comes from the feds. The rest of it comes from the state and local funding. Spec. Ed. does take a huge chunk of the budget and the services are REQUIRED whether we can afford them or not.

john konop

May 18th, 2010
10:40 am

Tony,

Kathy Cox requires special education kids to take math 123 for 3 years. How much time and money is wasted on this over training the students for skills they could use for a job?

Andrew Thomas

May 18th, 2010
10:41 am

If you are a teacher, you did not get into teaching for the money. It is more important to keep proper teacher ratios in the classroom, otherwise you undermine the education system. We have proposed a pay cut across the board that makes more sense than anything CCSD has proposed. http://dearccsd.com/2010/05/alternative-solution-1-to-teacher-cuts/. I would love anyone else to submit a proposal that would save all teacher jobs, yet keep within the budget constraints.

need2ndjobtopaybills

May 18th, 2010
10:53 am

@Andrew, while I understand that I did not get in to teaching for the money, I also would like to pay my bills. Is that so wrong?

the prof

May 18th, 2010
10:58 am

So, Tony and William Casey, I’d love to hear your genius ideas on how to serve special education students then….

???

May 18th, 2010
11:05 am

@Andrew Thomas,
Seriously?!!!

WAKE UP

May 18th, 2010
11:12 am

Maybe now the parents will take more responsibility for their precious lttle angels. They just might have to help out with Susie’s study habits, help out bringing in more paper, pay for a sport, music, field trip. Oh, heavens, everything ISN’T for free anymore. What will we do??? Everyone will have to step up to the plate more than ever!! This could be just what public education finally needs!!!