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Budget crunch will shorten Fayette's next school year, cut staff pay

A budget crisis for the Fayette County Board of Education means a later start and a shorter school year for students and smaller paychecks for nearly all system employees for next year. The board on Dec. 12 approved the school calendar for FY 2012-2013 on a 4-1 vote. The new calendar comes with 177 school days and a savings of $3.3 million through decreased employee work days and reduced costs for fuel and utilities. The school year will begin on Aug. 13 and end on May 24.

Longtime board member Marion Key called the approach “piecemeal,” and registered her displeasure with the budgeting process with a vote against the calendar.

The impetus to re-work the calendar was driven by tight finances, given that the school system has been looking for ways to trim $10 million off the FY 2012-2013 budget that begins in July.

Students will arrive for their first day of school on Aug. 13 while teachers will begin pre-planning on Aug. 6. The last day of school will come on May 24.

The new calendar shows Thanksgiving break running from Nov. 19-23, Christmas/semester break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 4, winter break from Feb. 18-22 and spring break from April 1-5.

The calendar includes 177 student days compared to the customary 180-day schedule. That decrease also includes a salary hit since 180-day employees such as bus drivers and food service staff will work the equivalent 177 days.

Beyond the decrease of three student days, the calendar also has teachers losing five days by working 185 days instead of the usual 190 days while 210-day and 240-day employees will lose five days during the school year.

Superintendent Jeff Bearden in recommending the new calendar said the starting date for students will be pushed back one week to maximize the savings on utility costs.

In financial terms, the new calendar will generate a total savings of $3,314,818. That breaks down into a savings of $3,216,418 in salaries, $23,400 in decreased fuel costs and a $75,000 decrease in utilities.

Bearden said the 10-member calendar committee was in unanimous support of the new schedule and had solicited input from a number of stakeholders before making the recommendation.

But when it came to the vote on the calendar, the school board was not unanimous, with board member Marion Key voting in opposition. Key after the meeting said her “no” vote was not centered on the calendar itself.

“I have no problem with the calendar per se. I’m tired of getting the (FY2012-2013) budget piecemeal,” Key said, referring to the insistence of some on the board that Bearden lay out all his recommendations for cutting approximately $10 million from current expenses to give the school board the ability to pass a balanced budget for next school year.

The new calendar is the first of the expense reductions to be recommended, even though three of the five board members months ago had asked that Bearden provide his recommendation for the entire $10 million prior to the Christmas break. “I want the (recommended) cuts all at one time,” Key said.



flwrgrl's picture

And still a full week each for Winter Break and Spring Break and no break in the fall...some things never change.

It will be difficult to keep the kids focused up until Dec 23rd! This year they finish the 15th, next year the 23rd - interesting....

Is it the budget crunch or Father Time who made the 2012-2013 school year 177 days? The BOE makes it sounds like they put a lot of effort into this new calendar when this was really the only choice they had as it still allows school to start on a Monday, finish on a Friday, and maintain the same number of vacation days as years past.

Gene61's picture

Still question, Why not srart the school year after Labor day like we did in the 80's? Wouldn't you save more fuel cost and school operating budgets? We have the winter break or Spring break to make up any weather days. Starting the Christmas break is going to delay those travling out of town for the holidays..

You to futher cut cost, STOP those who aren't living in the county from bringing their kids to our schools ! Just visit the bus stops and look at the out of county tags and those who use realtives address' to attend our schools !

Given the land that is now sitting idel what was bought during the boom is costing us the taxpayer. Sell it off, I don't see Fayette experience the growth we planned for long term..

The Christmas break starting so late is again a result of the actual calendar and not the BOE as Christmas Eve is on a Monday. Children more than likely will be dismissed on the 20th while faculties last day will be the 21st. Dismissing a week earlier (13th) would require school to start a week earlier in order to accomodate the end of the 1st semester and beginning of the 2nd not to mention the number of whiners who would scream about having their kids home so early and the need for child care.
I have no objection to starting school after Labor Day but in order to do that we would have to compromise on a few other changes. If you wanted to keep the same number of school days then school would have to extend into June (I figure June 14). We could cut the number of school days in order to roughly 160 in order to accomodate the later start but there we are sacrificing 3 weeks of education. We could pull the winter break and then you are only having to sacrifice 2 weeks of schooling. Of course, shortening the school year in any form is going to raise hell from some as it would involve additional child care.

Problem is there is no solution to please everyone.

yellowjax1212's picture

I know this article is about the calendar for next year but is there any indication that there will be cuts at the BOE offices?

ADDED - Never mind I see an article further down that deals with possible admin cuts.

NUK_1's picture

Starting school on Aug. 13th hardly "maximizes savings on energy and utility costs." Keeping the same lame "winter break of a week" accomplishes nothing either.

What I see with this calendar is every attempt possible to maintain the status quo the way it is now and ignoring the 10mil deficit that will have to be made up for in so-called "attrition," which isn't possible.

I also have to agree with Key that submitting pieces of a budget here and there is not the way to go about dealing with an overall 10mil projected deficit. What you don't cut from one area has to be cut from another, so all the pieces need to be considered as a whole and priorities set. Thinking that saving about 3mil on this goofy calendar means they also think that 7mil can be saved from "other areas." Yeah, like WHAT? don't say staff attrition because that won't even make a small dent in that 7mil.

Gene61's picture

Question, why not start the school year aftwer Labor day? Wouldn't that action along with the other cut backs save even more money? any weather days could be subject to being made up during the Feb break or spring Break..

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