Cobb: As system raises class size, it risks going from “teaching to crowd management”

The Cobb school year could grow shorter and the classes larger as the system grapples with a budget shortfall. (AJC File Photo)

The Cobb school year could grow shorter and the classes larger as the system grapples with a budget shortfall. (AJC File Photo)

I am surprised at the school cutbacks that Cobb parents seem willing to accept in view of their commitment to education, a commitment that has been rewarded with historic high performance. I keep waiting for a revolt among parents over slashes to the education budget at both the state and local level, but it may be that they are resigned to the grim new realities of school funding.

That reality could be even bleaker this year, based on an AJC news story about proposed reductions in both staffing and the school year. I was talking to a teacher yesterday about class size in middle school, and she said the quality loss kicks in when you go higher than 20 students in the class.

I think the days of 20 students in core classes are long gone.  We may soon be nostalgic for classes of 25.

After I posted this, I received this pertinent note from a Cobb middle school teacher, which I want to share: With the teacher’s permission:

Reduce the school year– I can live with that.

More furlough days — I don’t like it, but I will accept it.

No salary increase– well, if they are furloughing us and reducing the number of days in the school year, this doesn’t surprise me.

Lay off teachers and increase class sizes AGAIN– that is problematic.  Most classrooms are filled to capacity right now.

Physically, there isn’t room for more children without creating a dangerous situation. If you want to give me an extra class to maintain my class sizes, fine.  Do away with the middle school concept, take away one of my planning periods, quit with all the extra meetings, and protect my planning period.  By this, I mean NO meetings during my planning period.  Allow ONE meeting per week only, before school, and keep it at 30 minutes.

And then, keep class sizes where they are now or smaller (for middle school). I will happily give up the extra plan for smaller classes, but only if they leave my planning period alone.

It’s always the teachers– are they going to reduce central office salaries, including our superintendent?

Now, from the AJC:

The school system is facing another deficit next year and Hinojosa told the school board Wednesday that it appears he’ll need to cut 250 teacher positions and 26 paraprofessionals while shortening the school calendar by five days.

“This is a very challenging budget,” he said. Hinojosa blamed ongoing “austerity” cuts from the state for a glaring gap between projected spending and revenue.

Last fall, school system finance chief Mike Addison estimated Cobb’s gap for next school year at over $72 million, an approximation based on incomplete information. The new projection of a $62.4 million deficit is based on more solid numbers, such as next year’s expected enrollment. But key facts, notably the value of the local property tax base, are still unavailable. The new estimates are based on an expected 2 percent drop in the taxable value of real estate, but Addison called that “purely a guess on our part.”

Hinojosa said he could accomplish the reduction in teachers without layoffs, since more than 500 voluntarily leave the system each year. But the cuts would pinch the classroom, increasing the student-teacher ratio by two at every grade level. And the proposal to institute five furlough days would reduce the school calendar to 175 days.

The proposed budget of $880.9 million is up about $29 million from the current $851.8 million budget.

Even with the $18.6 million saved in reduced teaching positions and the $14.5 million from furloughs, the school system would face a deficit of tens of millions of dollars. Hinojosa is also recommending a $5 million reduction in teacher raises and the use of $21.5 million in savings.

The money from the school system’s fund balance is for “rainy days,” Hinojosa noted. “And if it’s not raining now financially, I don’t know when it’s going to start raining,” he said.

Board members are supposed to approve the budget in July.

“We’re going to have to have a lot more discussion,” said board member Lynnda Eagle. “A lot of this burden is going on the backs of teachers.”

Alison Bartlett, another board member, said she was concerned about the continued use of sales tax revenue to fund operations. Hinojosa’s proposal assumes the transfer into operating accounts of $22.2 million in unspent proceeds originally intended for construction. Cobb has made similar transfers over the past two years.

Without the use of that money, the gap would actually be over $84 million. Bartlett also said the increase in class size would be regrettable.

Parent Sarah Lyons said too many of the proposed cuts were being shouldered by teachers. She has a kindergartner and high school junior attending Cobb schools in the Smyrna area and she was chiefly concerned about the increase in the student-teacher ratio. “At some point,” she said, “it’s going to go from teaching to crowd management.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

144 comments Add your comment

Cosby

January 19th, 2012
9:49 am

Wonder if anyone will ask School systems to break out spending and to that point, how much cost is added by Government mandates that have nothing to do with teaching. Another question, how much do they pay the coaches and pump into the football and basketball programs. I bet you can find tons on money between the two -

AJinCobb

January 19th, 2012
9:56 am

I’m just grateful that my last child is a senior in high school.

I wouldn’t mind paying enough taxes to provide other people’s children with the quality of education my family has enjoyed. However, it seems that at the state level, taxpayers (or the politicians that represent them) don’t agree with this thinking. Perhaps this is true at the county level as well.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

January 19th, 2012
9:56 am

With regard to crowd mgmt. For those students who consistently disrupt class then send them to the office for suspension and expulsion should the behavior continue.

Toss the bad apples in the prisons where they belong.

Maureen Downey

January 19th, 2012
10:00 am

@AJ, I just added to the blog this comment from a Cobb teacher, which I think reflects how far schools and staffs have already been pushed in the county:
From a teacher in the system:

Reduce the school year– I can live with that.

More furlough days — I don’t like it, but I will accept it.

No salary increase– well, if they are furloughing us and reducing the number of days in the school year, this doesn’t surprise me.

Lay off teachers and increase class sizes AGAIN– that is problematic. Most classrooms are filled to capacity right now.

Physically, there isn’t room for more children without creating a dangerous situation. If you want to give me an extra class to maintain my class sizes, fine. Do away with the middle school concept, take away one of my planning periods, quit with all the extra meetings, and protect my planning period. By this, I mean NO meetings during my planning period. Allow ONE meeting per week only, before school, and keep it at 30 minutes.

And then, keep class sizes where they are now or smaller (for middle school). I will happily give up the extra plan for smaller classes, but only if they leave my planning period alone.

It’s always the teachers– are they going to reduce central office salaries, including our superintendent?

Ernest

January 19th, 2012
10:01 am

How many teaching positions have been reduced in Cobb over the past few years? I thought I read in another blog earlier that they cut just under 600 last year.

Van Jones

January 19th, 2012
10:03 am

The Cobb County school budget is nearly 1 BILLION dollars and they can’t figure out how to make that work???

Maureen Downey

January 19th, 2012
10:13 am

@Van Jones, You have to consider Cobb’s enrollment, which is 106,000 students. The “nearly 1 billion” sounds like a lot, but it is around $9,000 per pupil. Consider that the top private schools charge $20,000 per pupil, and do not take on the hard-to-educate students that attend public schools. (Some students with complex learning issues can cost $25,000 a year to educate. A neighbor is considering a school that specializes in kids with learning disabilities and it costs $32,000 a year.)
Maureen

world we live in in cobb

January 19th, 2012
10:14 am

The parents in Cobb aren’t up in arms because it does no good. The powers that be don’t listen and don’t care – when half of your school board has their own agendas to promote; students, educational quality and teachers are at the bottom of the list. The board has turned deaf ears to their constituents time and time again. This will be just one more example. Perhaps we’ll have better luck with better candidates in this up coming election and in 2 years. But heaven and tutors help the students till then…

Halftrack

January 19th, 2012
10:18 am

As our schools in GA. still have a “high” dropout rate and low SAT scores; it is apparent that the School System is not functioning efficiently. When students find out that teachers are there to educate them and not entertain them, and that life is about responsibility and failure, instead of social promotion and giving awards for just showing up, then the system will begin to correct itself. We are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or not getting into a law suit and not worrying about what it takes to produce a viable student that can do something when they graduate.

Obozonomics

January 19th, 2012
10:38 am

They DON”T need to cut teachers they NEED to cut administrators and the administrators salaries… Fire one admin and save 3 teachers jobs….what ever happened to common sense?

Dr Yes

January 19th, 2012
10:38 am

@ Dr. No – Prisons cost money too. This is why I hate living in the South, the first cuts are always to thw weakest members of society who can’t stand up for themselves. This would never happen in New York State.

MiltonMan

January 19th, 2012
10:44 am

The parent in Smyrna whose chief concerned is the high student-teacher ratio should be more concerned that her oldest child is attending such a crappy school like Osborne or Campbell

MiltonMan

January 19th, 2012
10:46 am

Dr. Yes “This would never happen in New York State.”

Then why are so many people moving out of this “wonderful” state???

Pluto

January 19th, 2012
10:47 am

As long as school systems continue to be a jobs program for the district and nepotism is prevalent, the priority will remain foggy. Since the new year, one of my on-level chemistry classes has grown into an unmanageable number; primarily because the honors’ chem class is shedding its flunkies. So my class has become the repository for non-producing students or victims of bad teaching or both. I will not conduct labs for this class due to safety concerns that I have. This is going to be standard operating procedure from now on unless the “dead wood” is cut from systems.

mom of 3 and alum of cobb schools

January 19th, 2012
10:48 am

I second the earlier repsonse. THe School board asked for its constiuents opinion last year and then thunbed its nose at us. I’ve written and written, but my representative continues to ignore me. So, revolting does no good!!! I think many have just given up. So, private schools, here they come. Cobb will soon lose its status if it keeps this up!

Dr Yes

January 19th, 2012
10:51 am

@ Milton Man – b/c the taxes are high and one of the reasons taxes are high b/c the schools are good. You get what you pay for.

Struthers

January 19th, 2012
10:53 am

Seems like teachers ought to be able to simply cull out the kids that disrupt classes and just get them out the door. They obviously aren’t there to learn anyway, and having them in the school is like leaving a rotten apple in the barrel. So you don’t teach one kid. You will then be able to teach the remaining 25 or so. In my day, having 30 in a classroom wasn’t all that remarkable, but then, people didn’t act out and get away with it. In college classes of 150 in an auditorium aren’t unusual. About time kids who don’t want to learn are sent to trade schools.

Free Ride..

January 19th, 2012
11:01 am

Senior tax breaks
AJC
As county lead­ers strug­gle to close larger bud­get gaps with less avail­able money, com­plaints are increas­ing that tax exemp­tions once con­sid­ered good local pol­icy should now be reconsidered.
In Cobb County, where the school sys­tem faces a $126.7 mil­lion deficit, there have been rum­blings of re-evaluating the county’s lenient school tax exemp­tion, which pro­vides a full exemp­tion for all home­own­ers age 62 and above and costs the county more than $50 mil­lion a year.
With such a high deficit, some in the county have begun to won­der whether this exemp­tion, orig­i­nally intended as a prop­erty tax break for older res­i­dents with declin­ing incomes, has become unsus­tain­able in a post-recession time of sag­ging tax revenues.
Cobb res­i­dent Leslie Ann Dunn blames the senior exemp­tion for a large part of the school system’s short­fall, which was the largest bud­get gap faced by school dis­tricts in the metro area.
Fulton County schools’ $117 mil­lion gap was the next high­est. Fulton’s school exemp­tion includes a min­i­mum age limit of 65 and an annual income restric­tion of $30,000.
“I’m just look­ing for equity and fair­ness and this exemp­tion is not fair,” said Dunn, who has lived in Cobb for nine years and has two chil­dren in county schools. “The spirit of the law is to pro­vide a retire­ment ben­e­fit for those on lim­ited income with­out kids in the school system.”
But times have changed, said Dunn, as more peo­ple are work­ing beyond age 62, liv­ing in high-valued homes and hav­ing kids later.
“All I say is [Cobb] needs par­ity with other coun­ties,” she said.
In addi­tion to the statewide home­stead exemp­tion, coun­ties offer their own prop­erty tax exemp­tions, includ­ing county school tax breaks. But the school exemp­tions in seven other metro Atlanta coun­ties include higher age lim­its and/or income restrictions.
In Cobb, 39,171 home­own­ers receive the school senior exemp­tion (exclud­ing 5,973 Marietta home­own­ers who pay city school taxes instead of county school taxes), accord­ing to infor­ma­tion obtained from the county tax commissioner.
The senior exemp­tion accounts for about two-thirds (65.7 per­cent) of a homeowner’s total prop­erty tax bill and equates to a full 100 per­cent exemp­tion for the school tax por­tion. On a house val­ued at $150,000, a home­owner receiv­ing the senior school tax exemp­tion saves $945 on the tax bill.
The county school senior exemp­tion amounts to $55.5 mil­lion in taxes not col­lected from Cobb home­own­ers receiv­ing the senior exemption.
In Cobb, the state’s sec­ond largest school dis­trict, more than 700 posi­tions, includ­ing 579 teach­ers, were cut to fill $57.9 mil­lion of its bud­get gap.
Some Cobb res­i­dents eli­gi­ble to receive the senior exemp­tion say they could do with­out it, at least right now.
“I think 62 is too young,” said Beverly McMurray, 67, a self-employed com­puter programmer.
In her opin­ion, 70 would be a more rea­son­able age to set the exemp­tion. Some fel­low mem­bers of the county’s Democratic Party believe they should be able to vol­un­tar­ily pay the schools por­tion of their prop­erty tax bill, she said.
“I think there are ways to [re-structure the exemp­tion] to keep more money com­ing in,” McMurray said.
Changes to — or elim­i­na­tion of — the local tax exemp­tions would require a ref­er­en­dum by county voters.
“This is a great ben­e­fit to seniors and the senior pop­u­la­tion is increas­ing,” said Woody Thompson, Cobb county com­mis­sion vice-chairman. Before any changes are made, county lead­ers would have to take a “hard look” at the options, he said.
Cobb’s senior exemp­tion was imple­mented in 1973 and ini­tially included a $6,000 income limit. County vot­ers by ref­er­en­dum removed the income limit in 1979.
Since then the senior pop­u­la­tion has increased and demo­graph­ics for the age group have dras­ti­cally changed.
About 8.5 per­cent of Cobb’s pop­u­la­tion is made up of peo­ple age 65 and older, accord­ing to 2008 cen­sus fig­ures. Seniors com­prised 11.8 per­cent of Fayette County’s pop­u­la­tion, the most among metro Atlanta coun­ties, com­pared with 6.4 per­cent in Gwinnett County, which had the least num­ber of seniors.
By 2030, one in five res­i­dents in the metro area will be over the age of 60, accord­ing to the Aging Services Division of the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The num­ber of seniors with bachelor’s degrees increased 14 per­cent from 1965 to 2007, accord­ing to 2008 Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics report. Income lev­els among the age group rose between 1974 and 2006 while the pro­por­tion with incomes below the poverty line dropped from 15 to 9 percent.
But the bur­den of pay­ing for hous­ing increased 8 per­cent for seniors from 1985 to 2005, accord­ing to the same report.
“I don’t know where peo­ple think that money from seniors will come from,” said Verona Martin, 75, who has lived in Cobb County since 1994. “It becomes dis­re­spect­ful. If you reach this stage in your life, I guess you expect to be treated more respect­fully and be appre­ci­ated for your worth.”
Martin, a retired com­puter ana­lyst, moved to Georgia years ago from New York. At the height of her prop­erty tax expenses in New York, Martin paid about $4,300 annu­ally. After relo­cat­ing to Clayton County, Martin’s annual tax bill was $1,600. Now in Cobb, her prop­erty tax fees are about $600 each year.
“I know peo­ple will see that and say, ‘What are you com­plain­ing about?’ But the ratio of taxes to income is where the impact is,” says Martin, who lives on a fixed income from a work pen­sion and Social Security benefits.
Gary Trott, 60, lives on Martin’s street. Still required to pay the school tax, he is look­ing for­ward to 62.
“Although the taxes are rea­son­able in Cobb, any break we can get is greatly appre­ci­ated,” he said. “I would hope they keep it going, but would under­stand if they couldn’t.”
County school board mem­ber Alison Bartlett would be will­ing to dis­cuss a pos­si­ble re-evaluation of the exemp­tion after the board passes the school bud­get June 9.
“At the same time, I want to be care­ful that we don’t shoot our­selves in the foot,” she said.
And any push to wholly elim­i­nate the exemp­tion in Cobb is dead on arrival, said school board mem­ber David Banks, who has instead lob­bied for a county-levied 1-cent sales tax ben­e­fit­ing the school system’s gen­eral fund.
“The vot­ing pop­u­la­tion that the exemp­tion applies to out­num­bers those it doesn’t. The num­bers are not in your favor for that and law­mak­ers know it,” Banks said. “Let’s not focus on some­thing we can’t change. Let’s look at some­thing we can.”
There is an appetite for re-evaluating tax exemp­tions through­out the metro area and not just those per­tain­ing to seniors. But par­ti­san­ship pre­vents it from hap­pen­ing, said Barbara Payne, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Fulton/DeKalb Taxpayers Foundation.
As for chang­ing senior school exemp­tions, “I per­son­ally don’t feel that we should be bur­den­ing [seniors] at this point in their lives for addi­tional taxes on schools,” said Payne.
More than half the mem­bers of Payne’s orga­ni­za­tion are seniors and one of their main com­plaints is still hav­ing to pay school taxes, she said.
If only senior exemp­tions are being eval­u­ated, law­mak­ers must take into account the finan­cial hard­ships seniors face, said Rep. Mike Glanton, Clayton County’s state del­e­ga­tion chair­man. “Overall there is a dis­cus­sion that needs to be held on the local and state level. In feast times exemp­tions are good, but in famine time every­thing is open to consideration.”
Although there has been no offi­cial push by local law­mak­ers to change the tax rules, newly passed state laws requir­ing eval­u­a­tion of the tax sys­tem will likely impact deci­sions on local tax breaks, said Rep. Larry O’Neal (R-Warner Robins), chair­man of the House Ways and Means Committee.
During the just-concluded leg­isla­tive ses­sions, law­mak­ers passed a bill requir­ing an annual report from the state auditor’s office list­ing all state tax breaks and their cost to the state. A sep­a­rate new bill calls for the for­ma­tion of a spe­cial coun­cil to study tax reform.
“This reces­sion we’re going through has obvi­ously brought atten­tion to this issue. There is no fluff left. We’re forced to re-evaluate the entirety of the tax code,” O’Neal said. “What hap­pens at the local level, if you exempt a cer­tain pop­u­la­tion from the bur­den of tax, you add more of a bur­den to the remain­ing pop­u­la­tion, unless you’re will­ing to reduce your taxes in total.”

irisheyes

January 19th, 2012
11:06 am

LOL, everyone acts like a teacher can just decide to tell a disruptive student to leave. Not exactly. We’re not supposed to call an administrator for assistance unless a student is in danger of hurting himself or others. Wandering around the room? NOPE. Talking incessently so that I can’t teach? NOPE. Bothering other students as they are trying to read or write? NOPE. I can send him to another class for time-out, but what if they refuse to go? We’ve been told to e-mail. Great, I send the e-mail, and then wait an hour for someone to actually read it and come. That’s an hour I just lost. And percentages tell you that the more kids you put in a classroom, the more disruptive students you are going to have. It’s a no win situation for a teacher.

Struthers

January 19th, 2012
11:07 am

Seems to me too that a good hard look at the staffing, administration and management salaries in schools should be scrutinized. I believe it likely that these expenses have gone up in multiples over the last 20 years. Maybe it is time to pare down, winnow out, and make do with a smaller group of people running the schools so more people can actually teach the children. I mean, teaching the children is the point, isn’t it?

Pluto

January 19th, 2012
11:10 am

@ Free Ride … so are we post-recession or still in recession? Leave the seniors alone; they have been carrying the water long enough. As far as this being an argument of “fair and unfair”, I thought fair was the place you get funnel cakes in the fall? Those who are using the system should pay for the system. No fluff left; yeah right!

carlosgvv

January 19th, 2012
11:26 am

Many, if not most of my classes in high school, a long time ago, had at least 30 students. Well over half of my graduating class, a public high school, went to college. Of course we didn’t have knives, guns, drugs or teachers being attacked. And, if the principal paddled you, and he would, most parents would give you another spanking when you got home. And no, you were not too big to spank. But now, integration and civil rights rule and all’s well in the world.

subject2change

January 19th, 2012
11:40 am

Carlosgvv, I’d love to hear what integration and civil rights have to do with your post.

Digger

January 19th, 2012
11:40 am

30 kids of certain demographics are no trouble whatsoever. Highly evolved, smart, and quite cerebral as opposed to physical. Not that prevalent in Georgia.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

January 19th, 2012
11:44 am

“This would never happen in New York State.”

Oh no doubt. All of New England especially NY is a Utopia, a paradise where money grows on trees and the govt provides for all. Kinda like those out of work union teachers who cost the State 100 million dollars annually.

Oh I hear ya…you may want to return to your beloved wonderland.

Jerry Eads

January 19th, 2012
11:51 am

Interesting that a neighboring system was just told it had 300 ’spare’ administrative types. At, say, $75k apiece plus, say, 30% overhead, that’s just shy of $30 million. Also interesting that the research for decades has shown over and over and over again that when districts cut budgets, the administrative staffing is generally left alone and the hits go to the teaching staff, which of course means larger classes and a direct impact on the quality of kids’ education. Sure be nice if Georgia started a different trend from that shown by the research.

Observer

January 19th, 2012
11:51 am

@ carlosgvv. If you went to high school before integration and the civil rights movement, then you must be in your 60s or 70s, at least. That explains a lot of your posts.

carlosgvv

January 19th, 2012
12:02 pm

subject2change – If you can’t understand that post, you’re clearly in over your head here

Observer – You obviously don’t think much of older people. That certainly explains some of your posts.

maharaji

January 19th, 2012
12:10 pm

Wow, carlosgvv is really old.

TO Dr No ....from Good Mom

January 19th, 2012
12:14 pm

Dr. No, you suggest the way to reduce the budget and burden on taxpayers is to throw students into jails. You realize, don’t you, that prisons cost money too and we taxpayers foot that bill? The cost of a prison is greater than the cost of the school.

I know you like being known as a tough-as-nails kinda guy but many times your suggestions aren’t really helpful.

Old Folk

January 19th, 2012
12:15 pm

Ahh, I remember the good ole days in Cobb County when we started to school after Labor Day, had a couple of days off at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks for Christmas, a couple of days for Easter, and maybe a few other holidays here and there and still got out of school before the end of May. Our teachers actually ‘taught’ us, and we had great respect for all adults. That’s what is missing now in schools – no one RESPECTS anyone! Looking back at our grade school photos, our class size was 40+. Our teacher had no ‘aid’ or ‘parapro’ to help her. In addition to”Readin’, Writin’, and Arithmetic”, she taught us the Pledge of Allegiance and explained what it meant, and she read to us from the Bible each morning. We had prayer every morning and before lunch. In high school, we had daily Bible readings and Chapel every Friday in the Gym/Auditorium. Teachers kept discipline in the classroom and if they couldn’t, we were sent to the principals office, where he immediately and without written parental consent, took care of the problem! We all knew the consequences of our actions, our parents knew (and supported) the actions. Plus, when we got home, our parents were going to discipline us again! For the really hardheaded kids who refused to be motivated by the principal, there was Reform School. What happened to those? For those who skipped school, we had active Truant Officers who did their jobs! Do we still have Truant Officers? Most of us turned out just fine, as doctors, nurses, engineers, rocket scientists, teachers, artists, and the list goes on and on – without any hangups, and with respect for our fellow man. Large classrooms are not the problem – lack of RESPECT is the problem!

Paulo977

January 19th, 2012
12:18 pm

Parent Sarah Lyons said too many of the proposed cuts were being shouldered by teachers. She has a kindergartner and high school junior attending Cobb schools in the Smyrna area and she was chiefly concerned about the increase in the student-teacher ratio. “At some point,” she said, “it’s going to go from teaching to crowd management
______________________________
She is darn right!
Folks , what has really happened to this nation’s leading position in EDUCATION?
We ‘taught ‘ the world’s education systems that were devoted to drill,discipline and didactic execises that EDUCATION ought to involve the whole child through an experience based curriculum .
The current emphasis on testing etc etc etc does not anymore allow for this .

Taylor

January 19th, 2012
12:20 pm

The teachers’ hostility toward the central office is misdirected. A few at the very top got raises. The rest of the central office has had the same pay cuts and furlough days as the teachers. With one of the leanest central offices in metro Atlanta, most people in the Cobb central office work very hard to provide the support services the schools need in order to function and provide instruction. There is always some deadwood, unfortunately, and there are some inefficiencies that could be improved, but attacking the central office workers is not the answer to the budget woes.

To Cosby....from Good Mom

January 19th, 2012
12:21 pm

Very well said, Cosby. “Another question, how much do they pay the coaches and pump into the football and basketball programs. I bet you can find tons on money between the two -…”

When do we ever hear about cutting the high-cost of religion out of our schools. By religion, I mean, of course, the worshipping of football. I get absolutely depressed every time I drive by Lakeside High School. That huuuuuge, ginormous “auditorium” that costs millions but out back the real truth lies. Out there are rows and rows of aluminium trailers where the second-class school activity goes on…the scholarly activities. It is fitting that these long thin aluminum trailers look a whole lot like coffins. They’re a dangerous place to be here in tornado country and it is fitting that scholarly activities are relegated to the cheap seats while the basketball team gets a gorgeous brick and mortar “auditorium” to play in.

Schools have put a plague on our children by stealing their parents tax dollars to give to corrupt administrators and by spending what’s left on houses of worship for sports.

ABC

January 19th, 2012
12:21 pm

For once I agree with the teachers on this, why is it ALWAYS them that get the short end of the stick when there’s belt tightening to be made? Why can’t we look at what’s surely a grossly bloated central office? Why can’t we reduce the salaries of what are surely grossly overpaid administrators that haven’t seen the inside of the classroom since the Eisenhower administration?

To "Free Ride"....from Good Mom

January 19th, 2012
12:32 pm

Free Ride, how old are you? In your twenties? You advocate taking a 62 year old or older citizen’s school tax break away?

People 62 or older who are working longer do it so they can survive. Just go to Wal-Mart and ask one of those “rich” gray-haired seniors the reason they are working.

You have to understand that older hope-to-goodness they are really retired folks maintain a living. They live on social security and their house is paid for and they barely squeak by paying the already huge tax bill. My parents fall into that category. They own their home and that’s it. They worked well into their seventies until they were physically unable to work anymore. They scrimp so they can afford medicine. It’s $400 a month for just ONE of their prescriptions.

Free Ride, you are really barking up the wrong tree here. Either you were born with a complete set of silver cutlery in your mouth and up your wazoo or you are under the delusion that when you are old you will be extraordinarily wealthy and need absolutely no medical care.

Grow up already.

Van Jones

January 19th, 2012
12:36 pm

$9k per student with only 20 students in a class is $180,000 per classroom. Estimate $80k for the teacher and you still have $100k, per class, left over for the building, admin, etc.
If you figure in another 2 – 5 students per class then that $100k number jumps with no appreciable increase in expenses.
Add to this all the fundraising that goes on throughout the year and something doesn’t smell right.

To "Struthers"....from Good Mom

January 19th, 2012
12:38 pm

Kids who don’t want to learn? Are you a teacher? Been one long? You sound bitter and burned out. You need to go.

Kids want to learn. Kids want to succeed. Kids want and need attention and praise and when it appears that they do not, it is because some adult or adults in their lives screwed them up ( and some teachers fall into that category).

So I am terribly sorry if some students are inconvenient for you to be in the classroom but you don’t have a right to throw away a human being. We adults need to solve a financial problem. The solution to the problem is not blaming the victim. The kids are the innocent victimes in this debacle and if you can’t grasp that concept then you need to go live in a cave somewhere with Dr. No.

Good day,
Good Mother
Bod

Once Again

January 19th, 2012
12:43 pm

They are just babysitters now, crowd control is the next logical step.

HOMESCHOOL !

Once Again

January 19th, 2012
12:51 pm

Free Ride.. – Parents pay roughly $1000–$3000 per household for school taxes per year. Their first child costs $8000 per year to educate in govnerment schools. That’s a $5000 – $7000 FREE RIDE for the first child and an $8000 FREE RIDE for every child after that.

How many free rides have you taken??

Its all theft. That is what government is based on. Parents, teachers, administrators, school vendors, etc. ALL BENEFIT, but the claim that “Society benefits” is a crock. Society at large would be far better off with a competitive system of free market schools that could be supported by individual donations, contributions to scholarship funds, etc. than it is allowing the abject failure of the government school system to continue.

The government system is about indoctrination, plain and simple. The primary driving force behind modern government schooling was the need to undermine the culture and religion of immigrant Catholics from Europe and to indoctrinate american children into the history and culture of america (the version the government bureaucrats agreed upon).

I applaud the decision by any government to exempt anyone from immoral taxation. It would be nicer to see only parents pay for these schools, rather than taxing everyone simply because they own property.

To "Once Again"....from Good Mom

January 19th, 2012
12:54 pm

How can we all homeschool, once again? How can that be humanly possible for everyone to home school? I work full time and so does dad. We live small and humbly because we have to (we’re supporting our aged parents and the drug companies they depend on). How are we and other parents all supposed to home school?

You must be a spouse who has the luxury of staying at home with her? kids while your husband earns enough for all of you. Did you get the 411 that unemployment is at 9.9% and the jobs that are left many times have no benefits such as medical insurance?

Last night I went through my children’s toys and clothes so that I could sell that at the next round of consignment sales in order for them to have “new” (used) shoes.

You need to get your head out of your butt and realize not everyone is living the dream you have. I would absolutely love to be a stay at home mom. I would love to bake cookies and home-cooked meals and be there for my kids and so would many other parents.

Be thankful for what you have and stop preaching at us like we’re a bunch of foolsl.

Paulo977

January 19th, 2012
12:55 pm

So I am terribly sorry if some students are inconvenient for you to be in the classroom but you don’t have a right to throw away a human being
________________
Absolutely!

No Artificial Flavors

January 19th, 2012
12:56 pm

Much to the point of other some other bloggers, If citizens of Georgia have not realized by now that you get what you pay for, i.e. Substandard education and pervasive cyclical societal failures thereof, then they never will. Thus, public education in Georgia is doomed for a long time. This will only add to the already widening wealth gap in this state.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

January 19th, 2012
12:57 pm

“know you like being known as a tough-as-nails kinda guy but many times your suggestions aren’t really helpful.”

The bad apples should be expelled. That way the productive apples can move on and become educated. And yes, I understand prisons cost money also. Some of our society enjoys 3 hots and a cot and to that end they should be supplied with same.

And all these pie in the sky politically correct suggestions about pie in the sky wont work. There is nothing new under the sun. The student wants to learn, will learn or will not. And that my friend is the bottomline.

Long Time Cobb Resident & Cobb Graduate

January 19th, 2012
12:59 pm

@ Struthers, I agree. As a Cobb County Graduate within the past 25 years, a college graduate, a homeowner, and the parent of a 2nd grader with a rising Kindergartener starting in the fall, I am seriously concerned about the continuing reduction of teacher jobs and increasing class size. I understand that the cost of education (admin, teachers, building costs) has all increased. But what about some good old-fashioned logic?
1) August is probably the hottest month of the year, so why not start classes later & get out later? This should decrease cooling costs overall right? NOTE: this would also help the sports & band teams who practice outside in the heat. Start the school year after Labor Day, end it at the beginning of June? My friends and I all survived having to STUDY over the Christmas / Winter holiday & take finals after it. We also survived coming BACK to school after Memorial Day.
2) Re-evaluate to Balanced Calendar: Cost Effective: if the Fall & Winter Breaks lower the teacher absentee rate, it lowers the Substitute Teacher cost. More Willing to Learn Kids: If the Fall & Winter Breaks permit kids to have a Mental Break, then the potential for the “disruptive” behavior goes down & learning goes up.
3) Evaluate the salaries of Central Office; were any salary cuts made there? Are they in-line with other areas with similar cost-of-living and population?
4) Reduce Lunchroom Menu Offerings: could it be more cost effective to offer fewer entree options? Could it be more cost efffective to go back to Silverware (not plastic sporks) and Hard Plastic Trays? Could it be more cost effective to get rid of the vending machines for kids in high schools?

Bottom line: our kids -our future- depend on education. The schools keep getting bigger in Cobb, and now the Class Sizes too? I believe our Teachers have given, & given, & given – their hearts, their money, their dedication. Yes, it’s their job; but could YOU do it? Let’s find a way without impacting our kids anymore. Our Kids are the ones who ultimately pay for these cuts, and NOT monetarily. We HAVE to get it together, for them.

Class Size from Good Mom

January 19th, 2012
1:01 pm

I remember well my literature teacher from my senior year. I can vividly see her steely gaze coming across the top of her glasses, which sat on the end of her pointy nose.

Our school was again increasing class size. They were shifting us around and I got transferred into HER class. She already had a reputation as a sour old lady (but barely in her 50s) and I dreaded walking into her room but I did. The classroom was packed and as I walked in my first day she yelled at me that she couldn’t possibly teach 40 kids. (As if it was my fault). I took a seat on the radiator. There was not enough books and certainly not enough desks. That’s why I had to sit on the radiator. That’s not the part that hurts though. It was the outburst by the teacher who humiliated me in front of everyone. She acted as if it was my fault that her class was overcrowded. Heck, I was not old enough to even vote yet. It sure wasn’t my doing.

I’m not quite the age of that old bag but more than twenty years later, I still vividly remember the hurt she put on me and how mean she was.

So, teachers, as valid as your point is that an overcrowded classroom is not manageable and as much as you feel ( and rightly so) that you shouldn’t have to teach so many…please remember the students are innocent and don’t deserve the stress.

Observer

January 19th, 2012
1:01 pm

@ carlosgvv. I went to high school in those days too, and remember them well. They were pretty good for the white straight males who weren’t disabled in any way, and Hispanic straight males too since there were so few that they didn’t really bother anyone. For all the others, those times ranged from depressing to intimidating to downright threatening.

If you’re in the former group, you’re going to have golden memories of those calm days when everyone knew their place. If you’re in the latter group, you’re not. That was what I meant.

another comment

January 19th, 2012
1:04 pm

@Milton Man now that the last Principal at Campbell did not have his Contract renewed and is down in Fulton at Westlake, Campbell is back on track.

My child has been both at Campbell and Riverwood. Both IB schools for their respective counties. We have found that the teachers are much better at Campbell in the IB, AP, and Honor’s class at Campbell. They don’t even over Anatomy at Riverwood. How does a child decide if they want to go in the medical field if one of Fulton’s “Highest Rated Schools” is doesn’t offer this class and many others.

At Campbell due to the Diversity you get much small class sizes when you child takes AP or Honors classes 20 or less students. But at Riverwood if you have 20 they cancel the section and stick you in another and you are stuck sitting on the floor in an AP class with over 35 students. Then you have teachers that will only come in before class. At Riverwood the attitude is the parents can just hire a tutor. Since, they have the absolute worst Physics teacher from India, nearly every kid has a tutor, with the “Rich” kids parents paying tutors 3+ days a week to do their kids homework and projects. Is that fair, I think not.

Plus Riverwood was full of kids that had been kicked out of Private schools for drugs and various other infractions. With the rich white parents, sounds like Milton Man, naive that their kids are popping Zany’s, Logs, Ambien, and girls drinking vodka out of flasks in the cafe at lunch. Then some of then are doing harder drugs at the house parties, they through at your houses.

Dr Yes

January 19th, 2012
1:10 pm

@ Dr. No – New York State is not considered New England, I see you received your education in Georgia.

CCM

January 19th, 2012
1:10 pm

“The parents in Cobb aren’t up in arms because it does no good. The powers that be don’t listen and don’t care – when half of your school board has their own agendas to promote; students, educational quality and teachers are at the bottom of the list. The board has turned deaf ears to their constituents time and time again. This will be just one more example. Perhaps we’ll have better luck with better candidates in this up coming election and in 2 years. But heaven and tutors help the students till then”

And this cobb mom said “PREACH IT!”