Cobb school board majority did its job on budget, heartburn or not
by Don McKee
May 01, 2013 12:22 AM | 1613 views | 8 8 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
The Cobb school board majority bit the bullet yesterday and approved a tentative budget balanced by using reserve funds and cutting spending.

Chairman Randy Scamihorn was joined by board members Kathleen Angelucci, David Banks and Brad Wheeler in okaying the new budget.

The plan calls for drawing $22.2 million from reserves, cutting 182 teaching positions through attrition, reducing the school year from 180 days to 175 days, five furlough days for all district employees, delaying pay increases to mid-year and trimming central office spending by $1.8 million.

This is at the least a reasonable start to a tough job. It is not set in concrete.

The board will have time to consider, and reconsider, at its May 8 meeting — and citizens will have an opportunity to give their feedback at a May 16 public hearing.

It’s hard to see how or why the board should make deeper cuts now, as urged by the other three board members. That’s true even though the outlook is for another deficit problem of about $80 million when budget time rolls around again.

David Morgan called the majority’s budget “a Band-Aid” and talked about the potential deficit facing the board next school year.

“There’s a new normal in place,” he said.

Maybe so, but it seems to me that going ahead with the cuts proposed in the majority budget is the best course now.

Then, if the board has to make more cuts next year, that is the time to work through the options.

The economy might even improve enough to have some effect on the revenues.

There’s concern about cutting back on the planned online teaching program. But in my view, Ms. Angelucci hit the target on that issue.

She said “the concept is just a hope” and there are no “real numbers to prove that it will do what they say it will do.”

She said she could not vote to increase spending on that program with a clear conscience when facing such a huge budget deficit. Amen.

Angelucci also hit the nail on the head on the question of increasing class sizes, a major concern of parents that have emailed her.

It’s a legitimate concern, but as noted here previously, adding one or two students to a class should not be a huge problem.

Of greater concern, as Angelucci said, are the five furlough days, which will be instructional days.

“I’m having real heartburn with that,” she said. And it’s understandable, but in the end she decided she could live with the furloughs and her heartburn.

No doubt, the board majority feels some heartburn. But the heartburn goes with the job.

You have to wonder in times like these why anyone would want to go through the election process to gain a school board seat and then have to wade through the swirling currents of controversy over many, if not most, of the decisions the board makes.

This board majority gets an A for its budget plan.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Jebidiah Springfield
May 03, 2013

"Then, if the board has to make more cuts next year, that is the time to work through the options"

Really? Wait until next year to dive into cuts? What they need to do is start right now to make plans for cost savings and potential cuts so they can be thoroughly reviewed and investigated so when the time comes they are not shooting from the hip. You should always have contingency plans, especially in these times. Regardless of the overused "all of our payroll is people" argument, there are always ways to automate or streamline processes and let attrition remove the costs when you do not need these jobs. The Districy should not be seen as an employment agency for friends and family. They need to stop living in the past and look at every operation and process to see what can be done to change them to squeeze every dollar out of it and have that in the wings for next year. If anyone in that District can stand up and say it is as efficient as it can possibly be, I have an oceanfront to to sell them in Smyrna.
May 04, 2013
You are probably right. have they looked at an outsource of benefit management, risk management or payroll? Mailing services? I think the Board of regents and many large businesses uses all those things and they are bigger that cobb schools, but that may mean someone gets laid off so heavan forbid we look at that.
May 03, 2013
As a result of the budget cuts, my class size will house 34-37 students. Now I need the community's help... if you have any suggestions of how to run debates, seminars, caucuses, writing tutorials, document analysis tutorials efficiently/effectively with that many students, please feel free to post your suggestions! I'm at a loss. I fear for the safety of students in biology and chemistry labs. 34-37 students performing a lab with one supervisor to answer questions as well as to implement safety standards does not appear feasible to me. But what do I know... I'm just a teacher...
Ship's Captain
May 02, 2013
The QBE formula is to the Cobb School District as the iceberg was to the Titanic.

Because of the equalization portion of QBE and for the Cobb District alone, $135 million left the taxpayers of Cobb County and was delivered to other counties throughout the state.

Coupled with $72 million in austerity cuts, that's more than a $200 million hit to our local area.
QBE Watcher
May 01, 2013
Until CCSD Board deals with the QBE monies owed by the state, it will continue to have a looming deficit. Say what you will, but State Legislation has no say so in Common Core, etc. until they pay CCSD the money that is owed. It is that simple.

answer is obvious
May 01, 2013
For some board members, Don, it's all about parlaying their position in one of the nation's largest school districts into a career in education consulting, charter school administration or to get on the speaking circuit. For others, it's an act of service. For others, it's so they can have something to do in their retirement that makes them feel important. Those of us who watch, understand how to match up the players with their motives.
Budget Watcher !
May 01, 2013
Don: Hate to break it to you, but your wrong on the majority cutting spending. Look it up. It's easy to find beginning with the current school year budget based on $849 million in expenditures.

The brilliant 4 (Scamihorn, Wheeler, Angelucci and Banks) have just approved a tentative budget calling for $894 million in expenditures which is a $45 million SPENDING INCREASE over the current year budget.

They've chosen to SPEND MORE and USE RESERVES, not to mention ignore the tax assessors forecast of a decline in revenues.

The only thing that has been accomplished is a reshuffling of the $86.4 million deficit.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides