I can’t help but be depressed at the continual AJC news stories about larger classes, fewer teachers and shorter calendars.
This story is about Cobb, a school system that has been an academic pace setter and a major factor in the county’s appeal to middle-class families. When these top systems start slashing, I worry even more about the future of education in Georgia.
After failing to reach agreement last week, the Cobb County school board held a special meeting Monday for another go at next year’s budget, and approved one with $841.9 million in spending.
The 2012-13 budget, which kicks in July 1, cuts 350 teaching positions. That should increase average class sizes at all grade levels by two students per teacher.
The new budget pulls back from other cuts that were contained in the tentative budget approved in April.
Instead of five furlough days, for instance, teachers and all other employees will get three. That will mean a reduction in the school calendar, from 180 days to 177. Also, the hours for elementary school media paraprofessionals will not be cut as originally proposed. The budget was approved in a 4-3 vote, with board members Alison Bartlett, Tim Stultz and Kathleen Angelucci opposed.
The board also approved a new school calendar, with the furlough days on Dec. 21, Feb. 15 and May 30, 2013.
Other elements of the budget: a mid-year step increase for eligible employees, the use of $23 million in sales tax excess funds to lower the property tax millage rate and the use of $28.2 million in reserve funds to help close the deficit.