Gwinnett schools: Furlough days, larger classes and 585 unfilled jobs

Gwinnett schools approved a budget today that calls for two unpaid furlough days for most employees, two extra students per classroom and nearly 600 fewer people on the payroll. Most of the job cuts will come from leaving open jobs unfilled.

According to the AJC:

Spending for day-to-day operations of the state’s largest school district will be $1.2 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1, down $60.6 million from this year.

“It’s a very tough budget,” said Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. “It’s one we have lots of concerns with, but it will allow us to continue to do what we need to do.”

The largest share of the savings — $43 million — will come from leaving vacant 585 jobs, where employees — mostly teachers — have retired, resigned or transferred, and adding an average of two students per classroom.

The system will save another $10 million by furloughing employees for a fourth straight year. The two unpaid furlough days will apply to all employees, with the exception of bus drivers and school nutrition workers.

School districts are winding down work on budgets that call for drastic cuts next year, including the elimination of at least 2,000 jobs in metro Atlanta. For them, a combination of factors is at play: under-funding from the state, falling property taxes and the end of federal stimulus money that had helped bridge the gap.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

59 comments Add your comment

NBCT

May 17th, 2012
11:26 pm

It is tough times for all. APS cutting jobs, DeKalb let go of all there graduation coached and even the state department has suffered. DOE employees under Kathy Cox got a Furlough day every month for almost two years.

CMST

May 18th, 2012
12:09 am

Tonight during Cobb County’s Board meeting (in which the proposed budget did NOT get passed), one of the board members mentioned the possibility of suing the state to cease the austerity cuts and fully fund education. She also mentioned the new CTAE requirements that have the potential to be an unfunded mandate if the trend of the state underfunding education continues. I don’t know if it’s possible, but surely, at some point, parents and community members have to realize the cuts are too deep. Education is being seriously damaged.

Library Lady

May 18th, 2012
12:15 am

The article states that Gwinnett is continuing the hiring freeze yet projects hiring 50 new teachers. How does that work?

Rob

May 18th, 2012
6:23 am

2 more students per class. Looks like classes are going to have about 34 kids in them now. Hooray…..

yes i am worried

May 18th, 2012
6:24 am

CMST

You are on the money about funding. And yes, there is waste. The legislator can address this by funding things in a specific manner.

In DeKalb, as class sizes were allowed to increase, Dr. Lewis grew the Central Office. Now Atkinson is allegedly slicing the Central Office, but increasing class sizes and she wants to increase taxes.

Hey Maureen, have you caught the detail that DeKalb schools are out of money? Literally will end this fiscal year with a defiicit and even with a 3 student increase and 2 mil tax increase, the projection is to end next year with zero dollars in reserves.

catlady

May 18th, 2012
6:57 am

Only 2 furlough days? This is our third year to have TEN, and a total of 34 over the last 4 years! In addition to other cutbacks of course, like insurance and benefits, and increased class sizes.

teacher&mom

May 18th, 2012
7:13 am

We signed a blank contract again this year. Even with record numbers of retirements and teachers leaving the profession, very few replacements will be hired. Class numbers will increase again and classroom materials will once again be paid for by the teachers.

I anticipate a minimum of 5 furlough days. Crossing my fingers it won’t be 10 days.

Yet…

When you read the cost of implementing the Common Core standards and the development of new tests and computer to support the testing….you feel like crying.

When you read about massive tax cuts for corporations in this state….

or you hear about the wonderful “perks” our elected officials receive for their “unselfish service” to our state…

Along with a political party who is bought and paid for by ALEC, and refuses to acknowledge the wishes of the constituents…

You are practically begging every school system in the state to sign on to the lawsuit.

WAR

May 18th, 2012
8:21 am

this is what happens when you don’t have a…wait a minute…can i really say it… UNION! but this is a right to work state so keep the complaints coming because that all you can do when you dont have a…hold on…wait for it…UNION!

WAR

May 18th, 2012
8:22 am

dekalb stinks.

teacher&mom

May 18th, 2012
8:28 am

Spend some time reading through this web site.

http://empoweredga.org/index.html

Old timer

May 18th, 2012
8:29 am

The fact is, schools were spending and spending. This was mostly done ….at administrative levels. No the cuts are in the classroom. We hear of very few admin cuts. Schools and local government have been on the friends and family plans for years…everywhere, not just metro Atlanta. The fact is I cannot afford anymore taxes. I am retired. Somehow schools have to begin reducing area superintendents and other county office personnel. When we see these types of cuts we know people are serious about not spending our money. The well is running dry.

Reality

May 18th, 2012
8:30 am

Here is a bit of REALITY….

As the “conservative” voters continue to cut taxes, this can only mean reduction in services. Services include police protection, fire protection, road maintenance/repair, etc., and yes, even EDUCATION.

I rather enjoy watching the Gwinnetts of the State of Georgia go down in flames. They have pointed fingers at Clayton Co and DeKalb Co for far too long. How they have a chance to see their children suffer, too!

V for Vendetta

May 18th, 2012
8:31 am

WAR,

We don’t need a union. Unions use strong arm bully tactics that do more harm than good. Just look at Detroit for your example of what unions can do. They gutted the American auto industry with their ridiculous demands and then cried foul when they were laid off as the Big Three were going under. Yeah, unions… Please.

What we need is more exposure of the corruption and a more educated voting population. Since we’re not going to get the second because most people in this state are mouth breathing moronic conservatives or bed-wetting commie liberals, we’ll have to shoot for the first. If the budgets are public record, why doesn’t the AJC apply the same investigative journalism to the overspending that they did to the rampant cheating? I’d be willing to bet a system as large as Gwinnett has some enormous areas in which they could cut back. Look into technology, Maureen, in all the metro counties. I’d be suprised if you didn’t turn up massive amounts of wasted funds.

HS Public Teacher

May 18th, 2012
9:18 am

V for Vendetta,

Your view on teacher unions is very skewed. From what you wrote, you seem to have adopted the ‘bad’ view pushed by the republicans.

Teacher unions (and I specify TEACHER unions) do a lot of good. Teacher unions work with administration and parents to ensure good instruction. Teacher unions can work on behalf of the parents when administration tries to bully them. Teacher unions offer classes to teachers to help improve instruction. Teacher unions insist on sitting at the table of the decision makers to ensure that money is not wasted (purchasing the adoption of a new textbook when it is not needed, for example). Teacher unions really will work with “poor” teachers to improve their skills. Teacher unions will quickly point out when your tax dollars are misused (hiring of the girlfriend of the super, for example).

This is only a partial list of some of the “good” things TEACHER unions do. Please understand that teacher unions do not currently exist in Georgia because of our State laws. All we have in Georgia are teacher professional organizations that have ZERO power or authority to do anything at all – and so the educrates chose to ignore them entirely.

Just close schools

May 18th, 2012
9:36 am

Since no one wants to support schools with the money necessary to educate students I say close public schools and make parents pay for either private schools, private tutors, or online classes. I’m sick and tired of seeing students suffer at the hands of public officials that seem to think that schools can operate for free. The smaller school systems, like mine, are no longer offering music, art, chorus, computer classes, foreign language, or regular band classes in middle schools. Students are crammed into small classes where there isn’t even room for the teacher to move among the students. The teachers must use their own computers at home to print out required reports and enter grades because the computers in the classroom are 8 years old and freeze up or don’t work. There isn’t any money to replace them. We haven’t had new texbooks in six years. Stop applauding for school systems that are loosing money. Student education is going to suffer as a result. Personally, I’ve spent almost $750 out of my pocket this year to supply students with paper, pencils, parties, books, and other necessary materials needed to run a classroom. All I see is selfish parents who can’t/won’t even supply basic needs for their children. I see parents who would rather buy beer and smokes than buy gas to get their children to school or make sure they have paper and pencil. So just close public schools and quit applauding the cuts to school systems.

Dr. John Trotter

May 18th, 2012
9:54 am

Teacher unions do exist in Georgia…and Alabama…and South Carolina…and Mississippi…and North Carolina. What does not exist is collective bargaining. This is what is against the law in Georgia. Read the grievance law (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.), and in the preamble, you will see that the legislators hastened to state that this new law (1992) did not in any way constitute “collective bargaining.” Collective bargaining contracts and teacher strikes may not be permissible by law, but this does not in fact mean that there are no teacher unions in Georgia. I am not talking about mere semantics either.

If one’s view that the only thing that a teacher’s union can do for teachers is to negotiate a collective bargaining contract (which in many, many cases the administration violates; what then happens?) or call for a teacher strike (for better conditions in this collective bargaining contract which will again be violated by the administration on many occasions), then I suppose in your mind that there is no teacher’s union in Georgia. But, unions do much more than call for teacher strikes and negotiate collective bargaining contracts.

I know that at MACE we (1) file grievances for teachers and represent them in the grievance hearings; (2) defend teachers in termination, non-renewal, demotion, and reprimand hearings; (3) write letters on behalf of teachers (I just sent a 14 page letter to Atlanta Superintendent Erroll Davis this week); (4) write rebuttals for teachers when they receive skewed and biased evaluations; (5) assist teachers in getting rid of incorrigible and defiant students from their classrooms, according to the Georgia Code Section, as well as guide them through the Student Tribunal process; (6) counsel teachers each night for hours on end; (6) keep teachers informed about the going-on in public education in Georgia with informative newsletters and our website (www.theteachersadvocate.com) and through our evaluation of school administrators in the various school systems in Georgia; (7) intervene on behalf of teachers, especially at the Central Office level; (8) speak at school board meetings; and (9) visit our teachers at their schools, and when we feel necessary, (10) we picket for their teachers (a) to relieve the pressure on the teachers by tightening up the administrators, (b) to inform the superintendent and the public of the issues at the school, and (c) to make the teachers’ day. Yes, the picket is still the thing that the teachers love! Ha!

I don’t know what you’re calling “a teacher’s union.” All I know is that MACE is united in advocating for the protection and empowerment of classroom educators, and MACE has been doing this night and day for the last 17 years. We have been proven to be right on the issues and superintendents over and over. I am amazed at how prescient MACE is as a teacher’s union. Ha! Oh yes, you might note that in the ten things that I mentioned above, I never mentioned “spelling bees” and “tote bags.” When angry and abusive administrators become afraid of “spelling bees” and “tote bags,” then maybe MACE will engage in these silly things. Until then, we just keep kicking proverbial a@s on behalf of classroom educators.

http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

Ron F.

May 18th, 2012
9:56 am

Could be worse. I already heard of one rural county that got approval for a 165 day school year and TWENTY furlough days for employees.

BT

May 18th, 2012
10:13 am

@Ron F.- Amen, I dont know how those rural south ga. school systems will open their doors in the fall. They will barely be able to make the payroll.With no population to speak of and the leading industry is peanuts and cotton which is seasonal work at best, no revenue is generated!!

Lynn43

May 18th, 2012
10:26 am

And the Governor is bragging about what a wonderful legislative session the last one was-less government and cut intrusion into private lives, etc. Seems the aim of the entire session was the destruction of public schools and the demise of women’s rights. What can we do about these white bigoted, biased, and rich people advocates in leadership. First thing-defeat Chip Rogers.

Teacher, Too

May 18th, 2012
10:47 am

Why can’t the legislature provide waivers for how each county uses their funding? For example, the $300,000 that Cobb County is using to send all these people to the important conference in Orlando next month… that money could be used to fund teachers. Cut all spending on “inservice” unless it pertains to the roll out of the Common Core Standards. Put those curriculum people at the county office back in the classrooms until funding is fully restored (which we all know will never happen).

It seems like there can be cuts made to other areas rather than personnel. Make principals and AP’s teach one class a day. No trips for any reason– until funding is restored.

And restore special ed classes, with classes of 15. Eliminate the “small groups” of 5-6 students. If the general ed and gifted students have to suffer larger classes, so should the special ed students. Sorry– cuts have to be made for ALL students, not just some students.

Teacher Reader

May 18th, 2012
11:05 am

Teacher, Too: Great recommendations for all districts!!!!

FCS Teacher

May 18th, 2012
11:50 am

How did Fulton County do such a good job with their budget?

Ron F.

May 18th, 2012
1:00 pm

BT- I think that’s the point. The rural systems will be bankrupt in the next few years unless they’ve managed reserve funds really well. My system has enough to get through the next five years if revenues don’t drop again, but after that who knows? I think it would serve the legislature’s interests to have systems bankrupt and begging.

Angela

May 18th, 2012
1:39 pm

In DCSS I think we would all rather have two furlough days verses 6.25% as cuts that our contracts state. However, the proposed is to have us use the same 2011-2012 schedule for this coming school year. That schedule includes furlough days about 10-12 days. Either way we will be down any where from 1000-7000 with a cut in pay. Yet, teachers are still expected to come to work and perform.

HS Public Teacher

May 18th, 2012
3:24 pm

@Dr. John Trotter,

In your effort to promote your own oraganization, MACE, you are splitting hairs and confusing.

Bottom line is that there are NOT any real teacher unions in Georgia.

The teacher organizations in Georgia, to include yours, CANNOT do what real unions can do. Because of this, the educrates can easily ignore anything these “organizations” say and/or do.

The ONLY thing that these organizations can do is:
1. Plead with educrates to do the right thing.
2. Lobby legislatures to pass reasonable education laws.
3. Collect money/dues from teachers.
4. Attempt to shed light on issues through PR.
5. Offer trivial legal support to teachers that are mistreated.
6. Oh yeah – the major thing that they advertise – provide insurance. LOL!

Your particular oragnization has had a few laughable “pickets” on certain schools. By pickets, I mean 3 or 4 of your employees/friends holding signs in front of the school building – these hardly bring any attention much less results. MACE has held these on average about once per year – congrats. And, MACE has done these primarily to promote their own oraganization.

Nothing in Georgia will change until the State laws are changed to allow real teacher unions with all of the rights of any union. That is simply the truth.

HS Public Teacher

May 18th, 2012
3:28 pm

Angela -

I don’t understand why any certified teacher remains with DCSS. There are jobs in neighboring school systems.

Did you know that in addition to what you said about DCSS pay and furlough days, they do not pay into the Teacher Retirement system? Of course, they also do not take out social security.

This means that a teacher will work their whole life in DCSS and have NOTHING for retirement!!!

Why would anyone do that?

Good Mother

May 18th, 2012
5:37 pm

…but where will the money come from?
The economy is in the toilet. People don’t have jobs.
Without jobs, they can’t pay taxes, which pays for education.
We can all agree that education needs more but from whom?
I already pay butt-loads in taxes and i get: crime, pitiful schools, and dirty city water.
Jacking up my taxes won’t do any more good.
Stop spending money on ridiculous Promethean boards – if i could, I’d throw all of them in the trash — use a white board and a marker.
Our small elementary school has TWO secretaries. TWO?
Why not just hire ONE full time ? By ful time, I mean one who works from 8 to 5.
Cut the central office, sure, but everyone in education needs to realize that ALL OF US are suffering. It’s the economy. Without jobs, there will be no more tax money. Without the tax money, there won’t be more money for education. PERIOD.

What's really going on?

May 18th, 2012
6:10 pm

I realize that money for schools comes from different pots; federal, state, county. I realize that some GA counties are receiving money from Race to the Top that will supposedly supply raises for teachers tied to test scores. Why can’t this money go to school systems to supplement the tax base? Why can’t this money be used to DECREASE class sizes? Teachers have been getting pay cuts for the last 4 years. I’m sure that they would prefer smaller classes than a pay increase. It is a travesty that my grandchildren will not receive the same education as my children. With 32 children in a class, a teacher can only manage behavior when they have 4-6 different learning levels for the children not counting bad behavior. Parents have no accountability and teachers get blamed for every negative aspect when Johnnie can’t read. Children are not held accountable when they don’t do their part. Since all the metro area are in financial distress and there will be less teachers for more children. What does the future look like? BLEAK!

Ron F.

May 18th, 2012
6:54 pm

HS Public: Didn’t I read that DCSS was taking out SS taxes but hadn’t paid them to the federal gov’t.? I thought systems paid into TRS and SS was optional, at least it was when I left Clayton county. Any way you look at it, DCSS is a mess and unfortunately only adds fuel to the funeral pyre for public education in this once great state in which to be a teacher. I’m just waiting to see how the voucher expansion in Louisiana works out. Something tells me we’re not far behind them.

Ron F.

May 18th, 2012
6:55 pm

HS Public: @ your 3:24- very, very good post!!! I can’t wait to read the response!

history teacher

May 18th, 2012
6:58 pm

I teach in a rural county in Middle Georgia with very little industry. Our unemployment runs about 13%. However, we have an excellent board of education and they have managed our budget without taking it out on the teachers. My system has never had a furlough day and our supplements have not be slashed. We have had a hiring freeze and my classes has a few more students but I can deal with that. 2 years ago the state broke their contract with me on my pay for my national teacher certification so I am very thankful not to have to deal with furlough days too. The most powerful tool teachers have is their vote. If your BOE is not teacher friendly, then recruit retired teachers to run for BOE spots and then go vote for them. I can tell you from experience that retired teachers make excellent BOE members.

Angela

May 18th, 2012
10:07 pm

@HS Public Teacher,

Yes, I am aware that the county stopped paying into our retirement about 4-5 years ago. This happened under Lewis. However, each employee still pays into retirement. I will not leave at this point because I have only three more years to retirement. It would not be in my best interest. Remember, if I go to another county I would be the last one in and the first one out. Too, much to lose at this point.

Dekalbite@HS Public Teacher

May 18th, 2012
11:07 pm

“Did you know that in addition to what you said about DCSS pay and furlough days, they do not pay into the Teacher Retirement system? Of course, they also do not take out social security.”

DCSS pays into TRS. This is a requirement from the state of Georgia. They do not pay into Social Security and haven’t since they opted out in 1978. When DCSS opted out, they substituted contributions to Social Security with contributions to a Tax Sheltered Annuity. Dr. Lewis and then Ms. Tyson eliminated the TSA contributions to balance the budget. There’s a lawsuit winding its way through the courts right now about that.

Public HS Teacher

May 18th, 2012
11:25 pm

@Dekalbite – You contridict yourself. First, you state that DCSS pays into TRS. Then, you say that Dr. Lewis eliminated TSA contributions to balance the budget.

The second statement is true. DCSS does not pay into TRS. They have not for about 4 or 5 years.

DCSS also does not pay into social security. They do not take out social security from the teacher paycheck.

Sure, a teacher can take their own money from their own paycheck and set up a retirement account of some sort (ie: Tax Sheltered Annuity). But, DCSS does not pay one red cent into it.

I know this to all be true because I left DCSS when this first happened. I also know this to be currently true because I still know a few teachers there.

Yep, there has been a law suit “winding its way through the courts.” But it has been winding for all of those 4 or 5 years. Realize that the laws in Georgia certainly do not favor workers rights and even less teacher rights (thanks to Georgia republicans). Don’t hold your breathe on that law suit.

Another view

May 19th, 2012
7:36 am

Without the ability to collectively bargain and the ability to strike there will be no improvement in the education system in GA. Expect more privatization and lower standards (both in teacher quality and student performance) in exchange for a top heavy administration and an underfunded system.

Dr. John Trotter

May 19th, 2012
9:20 am

@HS Public Teacher: I just saw your post of yesterday at 3:24. You are quite a bit off the mark, friend. I responded to your post but the Filter still has it tied up…probably due to length. I enjoy our hearty exchange. Thanks!

Dr. John Trotter

May 19th, 2012
9:22 am

Maureen: Please release my latest post, OK? Thanks!

Truth in Moderation

May 19th, 2012
9:38 am

Go watch “It’s a Bug’s Life” (Pixar) if you want to know who is ultimately responsible. Hint: the grasshoppers.

If you still can’t figure it out, look at this graph:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/expd/6918834286/in/set-72157629753268758/

Buy gold and silver.
Home school.

Dr. John Trotter

May 19th, 2012
10:09 am

Allow me to break up my lastest post into pieces since Mr. Filter will not release it:

@ HS Teacher: You are the one who is “laughable” because you misstate the facts in your attempt to put down teacher unions because you were apparently jilted very badly by at least one of them. First of all, you blithely floated by what you called “trivial,” viz., the defense of teachers in hearings. You did observe the “passover” about grievance hearings, conveniently not mentioning them at all. You boldly made a false statement about the MACE pickets, saying that they are held about “once per year.” You are little off based here too, my friend. How about 15 to 25 per year?

I remember not long ago we had 26 and 24 pickets two years in a row. About not getting much attention? Ha! Ask the teachers and administrators! Besides causing a swirl in the community, sometimes they end up in the print and electronic media, and we hardly ever call the media. They just show up mainly because parents and/or teachers call. Usually, the MACE pickets are manned by five to seven picketers (in some rare cases four to eight). It’s easy to check this out because nearly every picket is already on the website – nearly 300 pickets in 17 years. That’s a little over one per year, right? Ha!

http://www.teachersadvocate.com

Dr. John Trotter

May 19th, 2012
10:10 am

MACE constantly receives unsolicited testimonials from teachers who are very satisfied with MACE’s services. Here is one which came in the other day from Douglas County. Another one came in from Gilmer County this week.

Kathryn Johnson [She gave permission to use her name]:

“To my dearest MACE: After 30 years in the classroom, I am retiring from teaching and beginning a new life. I have taught over 6000 children in the Douglas County School System, many of whom have been the children of the children I taught. Knowing three generations within some families has created very powerful relationships and feelings of trust that few other jobs allow. Several former students are now close friends who will last a lifetime. Parting will truly be difficult…. briefly.
“I have been a MACE member since very near the beginning. If Dr. Trotter was going to leave GAE to develop a better organization, I was going to follow. Over the many years since, I have been involved in only one grievance (as a witness) and was astounded at the brilliance of Dr. Trotter and his team to reduce opponents to whimpering, stuttering, dumbfounded fools. ZAP! ZING! WHAMMO! It would come hard, fast, and with unquestionable clarity. I have never had to bring one of the MACE team into a meeting with an administrator or parent because the mere mention of that as my next step has solved problems. I have played that card only three times over the years (seeking advice from MACE beforehand) because someone in authority wanted a grade changed to make an outrageously annoying parent go away. Each time the ‘veiled threat’ from a weak principal instantly vaporized.

“MACE has a reputation for not just having a teacher’s back, but their front and flanks as well. It’s like having a kind of Justice League for the classroom educator – or as one colleague phrased it, “Psycho lawyers from hell.” Either way, thank you for being there. I am ‘officially’ requesting a cancellation of my membership, including the automatic monthly draft of dues from my bank account. I will continue to read your website news and encourage good teachers to join your ranks. Best of luck, my superheroes! Men in Black have nothing on you guys! Truly, Kathryn P. Johnston”

Dr. John Trotter

May 19th, 2012
10:17 am

MACE constantly receives unsolicited testimonials from teachers who are very satisfied with MACE’s services. Here is one which came in the other day from Douglas County. Another one came in from Gilmer County this week.

Redacted Name [She gave MACE permission to use her name, and you can see it at the MACE website]:

“To my dearest MACE: After 30 years in the classroom, I am retiring from teaching and beginning a new life. I have taught over 6000 children in the Douglas County School System, many of whom have been the children of the children I taught. Knowing three generations within some families has created very powerful relationships and feelings of trust that few other jobs allow. Several former students are now close friends who will last a lifetime. Parting will truly be difficult…. briefly.

“I have been a MACE member since very near the beginning. If Dr. Trotter was going to leave GAE to develop a better organization, I was going to follow. Over the many years since, I have been involved in only one grievance (as a witness) and was astounded at the brilliance of Dr. Trotter and his team to reduce opponents to whimpering, stuttering, dumbfounded fools. ZAP! ZING! WHAMMO! It would come hard, fast, and with unquestionable clarity. I have never had to bring one of the MACE team into a meeting with an administrator or parent because the mere mention of that as my next step has solved problems. I have played that card only three times over the years (seeking advice from MACE beforehand) because someone in authority wanted a grade changed to make an outrageously annoying parent go away. Each time the ‘veiled threat’ from a weak principal instantly vaporized.

“MACE has a reputation for not just having a teacher’s back, but their front and flanks as well. It’s like having a kind of Justice League for the classroom educator – or as one colleague phrased it, “Psycho lawyers from h-ll [redacted].” Either way, thank you for being there. I am ‘officially’ requesting a cancellation of my membership, including the automatic monthly draft of dues from my bank account. I will continue to read your website news and encourage good teachers to join your ranks. Best of luck, my superheroes! Men in Black have nothing on you guys! Truly, [Redacted Name]”

http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

EduKtr

May 19th, 2012
10:23 am

The main teachers’ union in Georgia, GAE, functions primarily as a cash-cow for the Democrat Party plus a slew of liberal causes (through its union parent, the National Education Association).

The naive can do a Google search on “NEA” and “donations” to get an inkling.

Dr. John Trotter

May 19th, 2012
10:36 am

Maureen: I give up! Ha! Sometimes the filter is just plain ole cantankerous! I have tried to post the rest of what I wrote in response to HS Public Teacher’s skewed and biased rants against teacher unions, but the Mr. Filter will not allow for a level playing field. Ha!

By the way, HS Public Teacher, just how do you propose that teachers in Georgia get collective bargaining rights and the rights to engage in strikes? I am curious as to how you think that it will come about. I am fairly well informed as to how it came about in Florida and other states. Do you think that the General Assembly will simply grant this? Ha! Don’t hold your breath! I agree that if a teacher’s union doesn’t have a way to bring down the hammer and to at least embarrass those who are in power, then not much can be done. I have been keenly aware of this for the nearly 25 years that I have represented teachers in Georgia. That is why I was determined from the outset that when administrators hear the word “MACE,” they listen and they get nervous. Don’t kid yourself, they do indeed listen and get nervous. I still get a kick out of the anecdotal stories about the quick reversals that administrators made when they found out that the teacher is a member of MACE, not GAE or PAGE. This still humors me. Ha!

By the way, a prominent blogger on the Get Schooled blog was the victim of a principal’s unwarranted wrath because he agreed with the PTA leaders that something had to be done about the lack of student discipline in the school. The principal suddenly gave him 17 Needs Improvements (Nis) on his next evaluation. But, when MACE paid a visit to the school, and the principal realized that she would be battling MACE in this matter, she reversed her position, explaining that the evaluation has been a mere mistake. All of the Needs Improvements (Nis) were taken off the teacher’s evaluation. This member loves telling this story, and I think that he has told it here on this blog. At MACE, we just try to protect and empower classroom educators…one member at a time.

anonymous321

May 19th, 2012
11:32 am

The Dekalb County School system does pay into The Teacher Retirement System of Georgia. Two or three years ago the school system decided to not pay into a board tax sheltered annuity called a 403B. This was to take the place of Social Security. All school systems have to pay in the state’s puplic retiremennt system TRS). The employee aslo pays into the program. Together is encompasses about 18% or so percent of a teacher’s salary.

By law a school system does not have to pay into Social Security but some have elected to do so.An example is Decatur Ciy and Rockdale, Henry and maybe Walton County.

Legally, they do not have to pay into a board tax sheleted annuity. What happened in Dekalb is when Crawford Lewis decided to stop the board tax sheleted annuity he did not get approval from the board and so he deified board policy. The next year the board voted to change the policy and stop TSAI. Now the board owes the employees one year of their board tax sheltered annuity and there is a lawsitui pending on thie issue.

My sister teaches out-of-state and they only have a state retirement system pension. People keep thinking the board TSAI is mandatory but it is not.

If a Dekalb employee looks on their paycheck they will see where there is a decuction for the TRS.

Public HS Teacher

May 19th, 2012
3:07 pm

@anonymous321 – What a teacher sees deducted from their paycheck is one thing. However, if a DeKalb County SS teacher checks with the TRS official, they will see the truth.

This is the final detail. If the TRS system does not get any money from DCSS, then the teacher has no retirement from TRS.

DCSS has made ZERO payments into social security and ZERO payments into TRS for a few years now. Check it for yourself….

Teacher Reader

May 19th, 2012
5:32 pm

The main teachers unions in our country are the NEA and AFL-CIO and both give large sums of money to the Democratic Party. They do little for the field of education and concentrate on getting teachers large sums of money, fabulous benefits, and other perks, that most municipalities simply can no longer afford to fund.

I’ve taught with a Union and here in Georgia, the problem isn’t union or no union. The problem is that those running the systems (School Boards and Superintendents) need to be focused on providing a quality education, something that is truly lacking in too many of the districts across this country.

Prof

May 19th, 2012
7:18 pm

@ Public HS Teacher, May 19th, 3:07 pm.

I may be naive since I’m not a DCSS educator, but I don’t understand what you state in your post. How can DCSS unilaterally decide this? And would this really affect the retirement of the individual?

The TRS “Member’s Guide” states: “All employees who are employed half -time or more in covered positions of the state’s public school systems…are required to be members of TRS as a condition of employment. …Members AND THEIR EMPLOYERS will be required to make the appropriate contributions to the respective retirement system. …The EMPLOYER contribution helps fund TRS for current and future retirement benefits and is not part of any individual member’s account” (page 4). (Emphasis mine.)

So DCSS may be damaging the TRS fund generally by withholding its TRS payments, but it shouldn’t damage the individual DCSS teacher who retires. Angela above should not see her retirement benefits affected three years from now.

(It’s after hours on a week-end evening, or I’d call to check as you suggest. This strikes me as a real injustice to DCSS educators.)

Public HS Teacher

May 19th, 2012
8:45 pm

Prof…

I am not a DCSS representative. All I know is what I know.

I left that school sysytem 4 or 5 years ago. One of the main reasons that I left was that then Super. Lewis said that it had to be done to save money, and DCSS would no longer contribute to the TRS.

And, since then, my teacher friends still at DCSS state that DCSS still does not contribute.

Is it illegal? I have no idea. And, but it would not surprise me knowing Lewis and DCSS.

Can a newly retired DCSS teacher withdraw from TRS? I would guess yes – but only on those years that they contributed. I do not think that TRS would pay out to a retired employee on years that they did not contribute.

I just could not remain working their KNOWING that if I stayed and retired, I would have no social security and no TRS.

My guess is that many/most teachers in DCSS have no idea this is happening. Especially the new(er) teachers won’t know.

Prof

May 19th, 2012
9:49 pm

@ Public HS Teacher.

Oh, I fully believe what you say about DCSS not making its TRS contributions. But I should think that this sentence–”The EMPLOYER contribution helps fund TRS for current and future retirement benefits and is not part of any individual member’s account” (page 4)– means that the qualified individual who has faithfully contributed still will get TRS benefits, even if the employer has not. Especially since the TRS rules state that the employer as well as employee must contribute…and I know that the state legislature creates the TRS rules (for I asked TRS).

I hope that you checked this important point with TRS before you left!

Prof

May 19th, 2012
9:53 pm

P. S. I received my TRS Member’s Guide from my University HR in 2011, so I believe it’s up-to-date.