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Richmond County schools forced to make cuts

Sunday, Aug 11, 2013 5:18 PM
Last updated Monday, Aug 12, 2013 2:33 AM
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School returns today in Rich­mond County to a new year marked with forced adjustments and doing more with less.

Facing rising expenses and continued state funding cuts topping more than $150 million over the past 10 years, reductions were made at the school level to make up the losses.

Fifty-six non-teacher layoffs were made while 79 positions were eliminated through attrition, according to the human resources department. All laid off employees given 35-day notices will work until Sept. 4, but the central office is still trying to find leftover money in the budget to save some of those jobs before their final day.

All schools will be held to stricter standards for energy consumption to meet a goal of saving $500,000 across the district this year.

Benton Starks, the senior director of facilities and maintenance, said his department will be reviewing utility bills with principals every month to discuss usage. A team will drive to schools at night to find out which lights are being left on.

“We have a whole dedicated team to get down in the weeds, in the numbers,” Starks said. “We’re telling schools to take what you need but don’t use what you don’t need. It’s the waste we’re trying to improve on. Lights left on are not helping anybody but stockholders at Southern Co.”

Most schools built or renovated in the past decade have sensors that switch lights and air conditioners off when a room is empty. The others are being asked to make adjustments:

• Propping the foyer door open so children can file out during dismissal can cost $10 an hour in energy.

• If someone forgets to switch the lights off at Lucy C. Laney High School’s football stadium after practice, that’s $250 an hour down the drain.

• If there’s a PTA event in the cafeteria after school, that doesn’t mean the lights to the entire building have to remain on.

Custodians will be hit hardest by the budget cuts, with 30 people set to be laid off. Sixteen paraprofessionals,
six media assistants and four secretaries were also given notice that their final day will be Sept. 4.

In May, Superintendent Frank Roberson directed all principals to suggest how to slash 7 percent of expenditures at their schools. Some principals promised to save an unrealistic amount on energy bills, while others thought they could do without some custodians.

Sue Reynolds Elementary will lose one part-time custodian, leaving it with three. Prin­­cipal Cheri Ogden said the cuts were difficult on everyone, but an unavoidable process.

“We’re going to have to ask the people who didn’t get cut to do more, unfortunately,” Ogden said.

“He knows we value him,” she said of the laid-off custodian, “and if we had a choice we wouldn’t do it, but it’s seniority.”

Over the summer, the maintenance department and human resources worked with principals to narrow down
which cuts were possible.

Overall, the schools eliminated about 55 teaching positions, but all affected teachers will be sent to fill vacancies in other schools, resulting in no teacher layoffs, according to human resources coordinator Laura Bussiere.

The school board saved about $800,000 by adding a ninth furlough day to the budget approved in June. Bussiere said her department is still determining whether it can use some of that money to save some of the lost custodial, paraprofessional, media and clerical jobs.

“Our goal is to keep as many people as we can,” she said.

Starks said schools such as Hephzibah High, which eliminated four custodians, will not necessarily be left short-handed. Those lost positions could be replaced by shuffling more senior employees around the county.

Jenkins White Elementary Char­ter School Assistant Prin­cipal Cheryl Fry said losing two kindergarten paraprofessionals will be an adjustment this year. The parapros assist teachers by leading small-group work or helping students who are falling behind the rest of the class.

Her school is left with one parapro in pre-K and four for special education, which is required by law. Fry said her parapros will keep jobs by being transferred to another school.

“Everybody is going to have to work a lot harder,” she said. “We’re going to try to work smarter.”

A. Brian Merry Elemen­ta­ry School cut its only two kindergarten paraprofessionals, but they were able to keep their jobs by filling two vacant special education parapro positions.

“They were already vested in the school, they loved the kids, so to them it was like another assignment,” Prin­ci­pal Elizabeth Schad said. “Like I told my staff today, it’s just like a home budget. We have to do more with less, but we’re not going to sacrifice service for the kids.”

THE CUTS

The 2013-14 budget called for the elimination of 135 positions. Most of those could be made through attrition, but layoffs include:

• 30 custodians

• 16 paraprofessionals

• 6 media assistants

• 4 secretaries

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tanbaby
1306
Points
tanbaby 08/12/13 - 03:13 am
0
0
notice, of course, that none
Unpublished

notice, of course, that none of the "high brass" have had any cuts....go figure....

Young Fred
21145
Points
Young Fred 08/12/13 - 05:40 am
3
0
Times are tough. “Sue

Times are tough.

“Sue Reynolds Elementary will lose one part-time custodian, leaving it with three.” Just three?!! GASP!

“We’re going to have to ask the people who didn’t get cut to do more, unfortunately” Welcome to the real world!

Schools will cut and tweak, scrimp and save; and they’ll do it with an attitude! How dare We! How dare us! They will show us! They will cut and chop and wag their fingers, and shake their heads saying amongst themselves how WE the people have chosen this.

Eventually they will cut important items, while leaving the agenda whole.

After all reading and arithmatic is not near as important as teaching proper social mores!?

But hey – who needs a bunch of citizens who constantly have questions anyway?

fatboyhog
2104
Points
fatboyhog 08/12/13 - 05:40 am
4
0
Lost jobs

But everyone gets a "free" breakfast. Makes sense.

nocnoc
49256
Points
nocnoc 08/12/13 - 06:06 am
3
0
Puzzled why all of a sudden and after Tax Increase to boot?

Why the last second panic, surely the bean counters had to of seen this coming down the road months ago?

Also With the FED's paying ALL Lunches now isn't that saving RCBOE a big pile of $$$$?

southern2
7837
Points
southern2 08/12/13 - 06:23 am
3
0
Based on the tax increase

Based on the tax increase announced last week by the RCBOE it is obvious these cuts are not even close to having a realistic budget. Come on, let's sharpen those pencils.

Also, why are the intersections clogged each Saturday with herds of school kids begging drivers for money. I see them repeatedly at Augusta West and Wrightsboro. At least their signs say it is for school.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 08/12/13 - 07:43 am
0
0
well i guess they had to
Unpublished

well i guess they had to layoff teachers and employees because "dey aint not got nuff muh-nay to be pay dem and make sho all de prah-jeck" kids git dey free lunch and school supplies cause we alls kno dat da mammy caint not be afford to pay fo dey kieds lunch and buy da latest outfit from CITI TRENDS to wear at de club nex week"

seenitB4
97787
Points
seenitB4 08/12/13 - 07:52 am
2
0
cut here & cut there

Just imagine the money saved if the little darlings would behave.

crkgrdn
2287
Points
crkgrdn 08/12/13 - 08:23 am
3
0
Cut adminstrative staff

When I went to ARC in the 60s, we had a principal and AN assistant principal and one guidance counselor (homeroom teachers kept academic records).
Open up the telephone book and find Richmond county Schools. See all of the administrative offices. That is where school money is going, not to the classroom.

And I am a retired teacher.

Sweet son
11674
Points
Sweet son 08/12/13 - 08:20 am
2
0
Say it ain't so!

"School returns today in Rich­mond County to a new year marked with forced adjustments and doing more with less."

Gosh that is exactly what is happening in our house hold: doing more with less. Or simply stated, spending less on things you can do without.

I always hate it when the budget is balanced on those at the bottom of the ladder. I can imagine some of the custodians and parapros have their whole careers invested in the school system and the Teachers Retirement System. I hope they will not spend their TRS contributions and wait to have it for some retirement income when they reach 60.

I'm Back Again
307
Points
I'm Back Again 08/12/13 - 08:49 am
0
0
Lay off everybody that works
Unpublished

Lay off everybody that works there, but make those wonderful pupils get their free breakfast and lunch they're entitled and accustomed to. Ridiculous. Why is it that the taxes keep going up, but what the citizens get keeps going down. Answer=WASTE!

Young Fred
21145
Points
Young Fred 08/12/13 - 09:08 am
1
0
"...and wait to have it for

"...and wait to have it for some retirement income when they reach 60."

Sweet - I've been shooting for 65, 60 sounds real good, maybe I should consider a career change.

db16
95
Points
db16 08/12/13 - 09:13 am
2
1
Hysterical

The 2013-14 budget called for the elimination of 135 positions. Most of those could be made through attrition, but layoffs include:

• 30 custodians

• 16 paraprofessionals

• 6 media assistants

• 4 secretaries

"The school board saved about $800,000 by adding a ninth furlough day"

"A team will drive to schools at night to find out which lights are being left on."

DOES ANYONE ELSE SEE THE ISSUE AND CORRELATION HERE? A TEAM will drive to schools (NOT FOR FREE I AM SURE) while the System Guts the BLOODLINE with Teachers/Faculty/Staff and all of those who are in direct contact with the kids! This is why the RCBOE is the laughing stock of the CSRA!
Also...you are going to see a HUGE LAWSUIT this year...and then the RCBOE will be BROKE!
TEACHERS in the system have been told they are to conduct classes without lights on (They are using 'NATURAL LIGHT') and with NO A/C running!!! Energy Savings at its finest...will be EXCELLENT STUDENT LEARNING and RESULTS! Parents will have a field day with this one...
Pull up your chairs and watch this Train Wreck!!!

db16
95
Points
db16 08/12/13 - 09:18 am
2
0
This Just In!!

RCBOE is accepting all donations of 55 GALLON DRUMS for Burning. They want to use these to HEAT THEIR SCHOOLS this winter to help with the BUDGET! Marshmallows, Hershey Bars and Graham Crackers are also welcomed.

woodymeister
389
Points
woodymeister 08/12/13 - 09:52 am
3
0
55 Gallons Drums?

If you're gonna have a 55 gallon drum for burning to generate heat, do all of the students need be given a cold 40 oz? You rarely see one without the other!

class1
300
Points
class1 08/12/13 - 02:54 pm
1
0
Coaches

When is the county going to realize that you can save lots of money by putting the math/language art coaches back in the classrooms. Oh, I forgot they get paid by a different budget. What a waste of money!

deadtired
7
Points
deadtired 08/12/13 - 03:59 pm
1
0
the large cuts

Did we see any cuts from the RCBOE main office , did any of the dead-weight there lose there jobs , have they cut back on keeping that building ice cold ? I thank not . Lets cut from the TOP not from the people doing the real work ,,, Lets cut that a/c back at the main office also , we can save allot there **** SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO MANY CHIEF AND TO FEW INDIAN **** COME ON RCBOE TELL ME I AM WRONG !

Darby
29335
Points
Darby 08/12/13 - 11:53 pm
1
0
"Just imagine the money saved if the little

darlings would behave."

.
Imagine just how much we could save if we went back to teaching and not indoctrinating?

We could turn out a top quality graduate for dimes on the dollars we throw away now.

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