New cost-cutting plan for Gwinnett County: No more personal fridges for teachers!

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and we were so proud that our class collected enough money to buy our teacher a mini-fridge for her classroom next year.

I bought the fridge last Thursday with the plan to give our teacher the present Friday afternoon. I stopped by the school Friday morning around 9 a.m. to ask our head custodian for help lifting the fridge that afternoon. She said I don’t think you want to give it to her. She won’t be allowed to use it next year.

Jaw drops! Mouth agape! What!! But this is our class present! What do you mean she can’t use it next year.

The county sent out a memo earlier that week announcing to help save money it will not allow teachers to have personal refrigerators in their rooms next year.

How much money could that possibly save you might ask?

Well actually quite a bit according to Jorge Quintana, director of media relations for Gwinnett County.

The county estimates it can save $698,000 a year by eliminating the personal fridges and removing personal desk/floor lamps. (I would fight the desk lamps – sometimes you need extra reading light!)

From Quintana:

“Energy audits conducted by utility providers identified the removal of personal desk/floor lamps and compact refrigerators as no-cost initiatives that would have immediate and significant savings. By asking local schools for their participation in removing these items, the district could see a savings of an estimated $698,000 a year. To help accommodate the needs of employees and students, the school system is suggesting full-sized refrigerators to be located on the school campus, in centralized locations such as teacher workrooms.

In addition, the district also is asking employees to turn off lights and computers and unplug all nonessential electronic equipment at the end of each day.

These energy initiatives will help to raise awareness, reduce consumption, save money, and protect the environment.”

As much as I hate for teachers to lose the convenience of the mini-fridges, it seems to be a cut that will affect students the least. If it helps prevent the county from needing extra furlough days or increasing classroom sizes, it’s probably a smart cut to make.

Now I know some of the teachers use it in their curriculum. Our kindergarten class had a cooking center every week and our third-grade class has used the class fridge for storing food for their solar cooking tests.

I guess they will just have to walk further to the central fridges. (I’ve only seen one of the two fridges our school has now and they are always packed! They will definitely need more fridges.)

A friend of mine questions couldn’t the teachers or the class offer to pay the difference so they could keep their fridges? Is that accounting nightmare worth the result of a cold Diet Coke mid-day? Will the class lose teaching time going to the big centrally located fridges?

So what do you think: Should teachers be forced to give up their personal fridges and desk lamps? (Again I would fight that desk lamp! Those don’t run all night like the fridges.) Is that loss of convenience worth a $698,000 savings?

Does your teacher have a fridge in class? What does she use it for? Would she be mad to lose it?

Is this a smart solution or a bad one? What would your solution be?

138 comments Add your comment

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 12th, 2010
10:23 am

Will — read better — I’m presenting both sides and if I’m siding I’m saying it’s reasonable to give up the fridges on many levels.

Wounded Warrior

May 12th, 2010
10:29 am

My middle schooler’s teacher would eat Reeces during the CRCT, and did not allow them to have a snack.

RJ

May 12th, 2010
10:37 am

I would hate to lose my fridge. First of all, no matter what schedule I’ve seen posted at schools, everyone doesn’t keep it cleaned or clean it when they’re supposed to, so it becomes filty. And yes, people steal food and drinks! I have a mini-fridge and microwave in my class and I love it. I keep it clean and my colleagues in my area are welcome to use it. I do know of schools within our system that don’t allow teachers to have microwaves or fridges in classrooms though.

RJ

May 12th, 2010
10:40 am

@wounded warrior, what?! I know that’s off topic, but that’s unprofessional. Also, what school doesn’t provide or allow snacks during the week of CRCT? I’ve never worked at a school that didn’t either provide small snacks or allow students to bring them.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

May 12th, 2010
10:46 am

@Bob and all the others who say and imply “it’s not a whole lot of money in the grand scheme of things”. My mentor had a great line that I still use to this day when discussing budgets and someone comes up with a gem like “it’s only a hundred grand”….his, and subsequently my response, is “well if it’s only a hundred grand, write me a check for it.” Suddenly it’s a lot of money. For those of you who think $700K is not a significant hunk of change, take a collection from everyone on to give the school district that amount so the teachers can keep their fridges. I’m betting $700K seems like an awful lot when you’re spending your own money.

Getting rid of the fridges is a sound financial move in times that call for sound financial moves.

JoeV

May 12th, 2010
10:46 am

LeeH1

May 12th, 2010
8:46 am

YOU ARE AN IDIOT. Are you telling me that my wife, who has a masters degree and a specialist degree, isn’t a professional? What a skewed, high horse you are riding on.

former GCPS teacher

May 12th, 2010
10:46 am

Using a faculty workroom fridge in a Gwinnett high school would make sense if there weren’t so many teachers in trailers and if lunch were more than 25 minutes. Using less energy is a great idea, but I hope the powers that be will give a thought to quality of work life in this time of more students and fewer resources. And I don’t just mean the occasional ice cream party. Being fanatical about keeping meetings short would really help.

And if they’re thinking so green all of a sudden, I remember sitting through presentations looking at handouts with whole zip codes full of white space wondering, “Did the administrator who created this packet give even a little thought to getting as much as possible on one page? Maybe changing margins, shrinking font size just a touch?”

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 12th, 2010
10:46 am

RJ — our classes ate the snacks (or brain food as our school likes to call it) before the testing started. I guess they were worried that if they didn’t get a good breakfast this would help. They are not allowed to snack during the test from what I was told.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 12th, 2010
10:48 am

GCPS – we do have tons of trailers at our school and it is much harder on those teachers. they’re like their own little island out there.

Out of this for good

May 12th, 2010
10:54 am

No one seems to get the legal issue here. Teachers aren’t supposed to leave their students unattended and to have a mini fridge in the room allows water etc. without leaving the classroom.
And we all know the story on one group fridge located a looong distance from your room. And particularly for those in trailers.

Wounded Warrior

May 12th, 2010
10:55 am

A Henry county middle school teacher…and they can’t have anything during the test, and ate lunch an hour late. The are great teachers in this school, but this one is grossly incompetent.

motherjanegoose

May 12th, 2010
10:56 am

RJ…professional has gone the way of common sense and manners.

I sometimes see teachers walking with their class and carrying a cup of hot coffee with no lid. WE were never allowed to do that, for safety reasons, that was over 10 years ago.

@ Catholic School…surely you jest…this is not the song I am hearing. Everyone is pinching pennies and offering plates are not what they used to be. Some private schools have nose diving enrollment.

It is bad everywhere and I am not seeing any results from those who promised to fix it.

jw

May 12th, 2010
10:56 am

this is fun – little fridges cost the district 698,000 per year – a little fridge uses about 300 kwh per year – at 10 cents a kwh – that’s about 30 bucks per year – that would mean there is 23, 267 little fridges in the district – that is hilarious -

Please – I know budgets are tight, but you really think people are buying that one Gwinnett County Board of Education? Please – just another smoke screen to draw attention away from the dirty tactics used to reduce force! And y’all are going to buy it!

Wounded Warrior

May 12th, 2010
10:56 am

Ther are…what do the teachers that are diabetic do?

vee

May 12th, 2010
10:59 am

the “centrally located” fridge is not a good option here. food is stolen. if it’s not stolen, it’s left in there for ages. no body wants to be in charge of cleaning it. if you get a 30 min break for lunch it may take five min or more to get to & from the central location, etc. my mini fridge just adds a little convenience to a very busy schedule. charge me a utility fee. i’m ok w/that.

Wounded Warrior

May 12th, 2010
11:05 am

Don’t the custodians clean the school?

Fridge Killer

May 12th, 2010
11:06 am

Yes, they do use a lot of power. Think of how many jobs the system can save.

Fridge Killer

May 12th, 2010
11:07 am

Bring a dang gum cooler you spoiled brats.

abc

May 12th, 2010
11:12 am

When I was a child and in public school, there were no mini-fridges or microwaves in any classrooms, and everyone got along just fine. In the corporate world for the past 20 years, I have yet to see such things in offices, cube farms, or conference rooms — only in designated kitchen areas. They get cleaned by employees, or by the janitorial staff. It’s not a problem.

I was married to a teacher. Everything that she brought home that was food was promptly thrown out — why risk health over fudge or whatever it was that was prepared who knows where, and under what conditions of sanitation, or lack thereof? Most of the stuff she brought home, literally by the boxload, was thrown out. She kept the Christmas ornaments, which in the space of only a few years replaced all the family ornaments that actually meant something to all of us. Keep the presents. Teachers don’t need them, nor do they really want them. Their families absolutely don’t want them, they’re a big bother.

No matter what level of education is attained or required, so-called ‘profession’ is unrelated. For teachers that are any good at it, teaching is a calling; it’s no more of a profession than I.T., retail, or office administration — all of which could be characterized as professions. But, comparison to legal or medical fields, etc., is unwarranted. Teaching isn’t like that.

whatever

May 12th, 2010
11:16 am

I could agree with it if it meant saving teacher jobs/furlough days, but the county will just waste that and even more money on additional programs probably implementing their own CRCT test for the lower grades now that the state eliminated them!! If they really wanted to save on electricity, what about shifting the calendar…starting later and ending later. The temps in June are lower than August!! Also, are they doing this in all county buildings or just teachers? Sounds like it is a move that doesn’t affect them, but lets them say that they are cutting the budget, saving money while going green.

motherjanegoose

May 12th, 2010
11:26 am

Years ago, I was teaching Kinder and a First Grade teacher was a friend. Her sister came in from out of town and stayed at their house. She arrived ( at school) while we were on the playground and said,
“I came to take you to lunch.”

REALLY…most teachers get 30 minutes or so, if that, and at that school we ate with our class….no leaving the school premises. The sister could not imagine having to spend your lunch with your class.

As I said, I never had a fridge but my husband, in the corporate world, had one for quite a while…he
also had a microwave. I do not know if he still does as I rarely visit him at work….complete opposite ends of Atlanta.

FYI…I have never heard of the janitor cleaning out the fridge. If you are a teacher and your janitor does this…please let us know. I am interested.

YEARS ago, when I worked at Wal Mart, we took turns cleaning the fridge out and it was not fun prying the science projects out from the back.

@abc, I am not fond of eating food that is not in a sealed box myself, for your very reasons.
I did keep most of the other things and my family still enjoys some of the things I have.

CC

May 12th, 2010
11:26 am

I have worked in two schools in the metro Atlanta area and we have never been allowed to have our own refrigerators (or microwaves) in our rooms or offices. I would love to have my own fridge because I absolutely hate putting my lunch (which I bring daily) in a large fridge with everyone else’s things. People leave things in there so long that they spoil and the smell is horrible! I definitely think that teachers in trailers should be allowed to have their own fridges since they are often a good distance from the building and can not leave their classes unattended.

motherjanegoose

May 12th, 2010
11:29 am

@ abc, when I was a child we did not have microwaves, cell phones, DVD’s, ice cube makers, garage door openers, remote controls, computers/ laptops. Everyone got along just fine. Not sure about this logic. LOL

Joe

May 12th, 2010
11:31 am

Who buys a refrigerator for their teacher? I think we can give those up. For goodness sake, take something that doesn’t need it. A PBJ sandwich is better than a furlough day.

abc

May 12th, 2010
11:32 am

Maybe you think they do, MJG, but I doubt they actually do. What, for instance, would they enjoy? I would constantly hear about the “sacrifices a teacher’s family has to make”, but the kids and I would dismiss all that — it was/is her job, as far as we were concerned, and nothing much more than that to do with us. Anytime it was brought into the house, we considered it to be intrusive. I insisted on having an unlisted phone numbers and absolutely no calls to the house from students and parents.

As far as refrigerators and microwaves in offices in Corporate Atlanta, what a joke. To have something like that would be to invite ridicule. What is it, can’t leave the office for lunch? Work smarter, achieve a balance. I’ve been in Fortune 500’s for a long time, and I’ve never seen anyone bring such things to work.

Writer Offer

May 12th, 2010
11:37 am

Food left in refrigerators during summer vacation can be classified as a “science project” and written off.

Michelle

May 12th, 2010
11:41 am

As a teacher, I had to give up my fridge last year. We have one refrigerator and one microwave for the 90 adults working in this building. We have 25 minutes(on a good day) to go to the restroom, cook our food and eat. Times are tough and it is very inconvenient but I am thankful to have a job. Why do we always cut education and education related things first? I doubt our state govt officials have these conditions.

Unimpressed

May 12th, 2010
11:42 am

Why don’t they just take our toilet paper away from us too? After all, people lived for thousands of years without it. How much would that save?

Unimpressed

May 12th, 2010
11:43 am

AND, I bet J Alvin ALWAYS has access to a fridge in case there is a random day that he is not out eating lunch on the taxpayers’ dime.

Michelle

May 12th, 2010
11:52 am

Well, if it is truly cost saving, I think it’s a great idea. I like the idea of each “grade” or “hall” having their own large refridgerator versus the smaller in class ones. Then, you know who is using it (5-10 people versus a whole building). You still end up with someone having to take responsibility for cleaning, etc. though (more than likely).

I’m sure there are LOTS of things that can be done to save money. Do the schools recycle papers? I know they use tons of it! That might be a good first step as well.

Do the hallway lights need to be on during the hours that kids are actually in classes? Why not make them motion sensitive as someone else suggested? I work in a very large warehouse and when folks aren’t actually in the aisles, the lights turn off! This alone could be a HUGE savings for the schools! We also recycle all used paper (shredding when necessary first), cardboard, cans, plastic, and wood!

I agree with the other poster, too, who said is this being done county wide or just at the schools? It should be utilized throughout the county!

I’m sure there are MANY things that could be done from a county perspective to save money, it’s just a matter of finding a few folks to champion the project!

motherjanegoose

May 12th, 2010
11:53 am

@ abc…when I received the gifts, we used quite a few gift cards to eat a places we could not afford. We went to the movies too. You sound a little annoyed at your wife’s profession, to me. I took phone calls from parents and it was not a problem, nor did it happen often.

Guess the big boys make enough to eat out every day or expense things but some of the rest of us, brown bag it. My husband has been with his company for over 20 years and actually inherited a fridge from someone who retired. As I said, I do not know if he still has that one.

I am not in the league of eating lunch out every day, although I am meeting Michelle today and met Kathy on Monday ( both on the blog). I cannot absorb even $12-$15 per day for eating out everyday into my budget…maybe everyone else here can and that is super…just not me!

Becky

May 12th, 2010
11:53 am

@abc..What about having a refrigerator and microwave in an office is cause for ridicule? I work in an office and we (and have had for years) our own fridge, microwave, coffee maker, toaster oven and air condtioner..As well as a radio..Each dept. in my building (at one time) had their own coffee maker and fridge..When we moved to a new building, that all went by the way side except for the office that I work in..It just makes life so much easier for all of us..

As for the refrigerators in the class room, if it’s really saving that much money that will be put to better use, then yes take them out of the class..If they are just going to blow this money on something else that is useless, let them keep them…

JoeV

May 12th, 2010
12:16 pm

abc…

Sounds like sour grapes from a failed marriage to me.

Michelle

May 12th, 2010
12:23 pm

abc…you do sound a little bitter…for my son’s Kindergarten teacher, I made her a quilt with a picture of each of the kids in her class! Her surprise and loving reaction were genuine! I think it is something she will cherish.

Now, I do agree that sometimes there are only so many #1 teacher things that a person can handle!

HB

May 12th, 2010
12:44 pm

I honestly had never heard of workplaces where individuals have their own mini-fridges in offices. That seems so wasteful to me! Most places I’ve worked have provided fridges (sometimes large, sometimes mini) and microwaves, but only for groups — one per dept or one per floor. And that includes a fancy schmancy law firm in downtown Atlanta. I never saw mini-fridges in the partners’ offices. There was a large fridge on each of 9 floors in a skyscraper shared by 25-30 people. Our floor, the 10th, only had 12 staffers, so we had a mini-fridge with a microwave attached. Surely several teachers could share one mini-fridge if the school is so large that it’s a long walk to the teachers’ lounge fridge.

Meme

May 12th, 2010
12:47 pm

Wow! We don’t have the problem of teacher taking other teacher’s food out of the grade level fridges. Also, we are required by the administration to make sure that the fridge is clean or it is unplugged. Yes, the custodians clean the school but they are not responsible for cleaning out the fridge.

Becky

May 12th, 2010
12:55 pm

@Michelle..With some help from my Mom, I made my 4th grade art teacher a wreath..I saw this teacher right before I finished my Junior year, she hugged me and told me that to that day, she still hung that wreath on her door every year..Yes, she may have just told me that, but boy did it make me feel good to hear that..This is why, I try to give gifts to the teachers that they might keep for years to come..

jw

May 12th, 2010
12:58 pm

I meant “are” instead of “is” in my post – way back up there!!!!! LOL! I understand the need to cut back, and yes, our district did the refrigerator thing about 5 years ago – but quoting 698,000 dollars of savings is not true – no way – that’s a lot of refrigerators in the schools – the formula in the excel sheet is all wrong – 20,000+ refrigerators and lamps in 213 schools – come on – bet there is a reason to use that smoke screen to hide another line item they don’t want to cut – simple as that –

We all have “good ‘ol day stories” – and they still dust off quite well when we need to use them – but realistically, had the technology and all the devices been around “way back when we walked to school in the snow barefoot in May” they would have been at the local schoolhouse – and we would have had one! Can’t compare then and now – it isn’t a fair fight – sorry.

Guess those folks that had the first electric refrigerators caught all kinds of grief from those that used good old fashioned blocks of ice for the icebox that was on site – and how much money was being wasted having “one of them new fangled thangs here” – just not a fair fight!

RJ

May 12th, 2010
1:02 pm

Theresa, you’re right in that they can’t eat during the test, but there are break after each session. Some schools allow students to snack during the break, others after the entire test for that day. But I’ve never heard that they weren’t allowed to have a snack. It’s the one time of year that they are.

Jaded

May 12th, 2010
1:03 pm

We don’t have a problem with teachers taking each other’s food, but, there are those who will send students into the faculty lounge to get their lunch. I have personally witnessed students going through other teachers’ meals! the thought of some nasty teenager touching my food is more than I can handle!

As other posters have already mentioned, we only get 27 minutes from bell to bell to go to the restroom, retrieve our lunches, and actually eat it. Another problem that I’ve encountered is that some teachers are not very considerate, and will bring those damned Lean Cuisine things that take about 10 minutes to heat up!

Oh well, at least I have a job, right?

Actually, jw...

May 12th, 2010
1:30 pm

…20,000 does sound like a LOT or small fridges; at the same time, based on the $698K figure, that equates to about $35 per fridge, or $2.90 per day (for 12 months). So, with 213 schools, and maybe 40-50 classrooms, that would really be about about 10,000 fridges, IF every room had a fridge – that would double the current projected costs to about $70 per fridge or $6 per month.

Correct, Jaded...

May 12th, 2010
1:33 pm

…you do have a job, and from what I can see about a lot teachers, most could stand to miss lunch every day…so the moaning aobut the 23 -27 minutes to eat and p is not a good argument…

Becky

May 12th, 2010
1:55 pm

@Corret, Jaded..I’m not sure at what school you are seeing a lot of teachers that could stand to miss lunch every day, but at the school where my two little ones go, most of the teachers could stand to eat 2-3 lunches per day..So, post us a picture of your lovely body on here, then let’s talk lunch..

Becky

May 12th, 2010
1:56 pm

Oops..”Correct”

MomsRule

May 12th, 2010
2:02 pm

I have been making and sending lunch to school for 2 kids every school day for many years now. The kids do not have access to refrigeration. At least teachers have access to a community fridge. If you don’t like using it, there are many ways to prepare your lunches so that they do not require refrigeration.

If the schools can save money by getting rid of this luxury, and yes it is a luxury, then it should be cut and everyone should suck it up and be grateful they have a job. I appreciate the teachers but good grief all the “poor me” and griping gets old.

I’d like to see all the schools ban all teachers from having cell phones in the classroom as well. They are JUST as disruptive to learning as the students having cell phones.

Jaded

May 12th, 2010
2:04 pm

@MomsRule – I’m curious; how exactly would you propose that the “no cell phones for teachers” be enforced?

Roswell Jeff

May 12th, 2010
2:06 pm

Enforce it like any other infraction that a teacher might make.

Roswell Jeff

May 12th, 2010
2:08 pm

Our school is a “dead zone” as soon as you walk in the front door. You can’t find a cell phone signal anywhere in the building.

Jaded

May 12th, 2010
2:09 pm

@Roswell Jeff – I guess I should have been more specific. Do you intend to pat down the teachers in the mornings and confiscate the cell phones? That would be a rule that would never work!

Jeff

May 12th, 2010
2:10 pm

Motherjane, there’s a phrase I learned the hard way: Guess what happens when you’re the only player at the poker table NOT cheating?

Well, today, for the most part, you’re the one trying to be logical in a room full of less-than-logical people.