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Cherokee School Board Approves Budget

The $518.74 million budget does not include increased student-paid fees for extracurricular activities.

The on Wednesday night approved the school system’s $518.74 budget for 2012-2013 after Superintendent Frank Petruzielo told four parents who spoke that the budget does not include an increase in costs for parents of students who participate in band or sports.

by board member Kim Cochran as a way to free up more money to be used in classrooms. That’s something that Michelle Dodge, whose four children have played sports in the Cherokee County School System, said would be detrimental. Many students wouldn’t be able to play if their parents had to pay more than they currently do, she said.

“There’s no way you could make pay to play equitable,” Dodge said. “The middle class is hurting as well.”

Marguerite White told board members they should have been ashamed of themselves for trying to balance the school system’s budget on the backs of the students. White said that at , lacrosse players already pay $1,200 in fees and football players pay the bulk of the sport’s costs, including some of the coach’s salaries.

“The county pays very little for football,” White said. “For other sports, (the district) doesn’t pay much, if it does at all.”

Christina Brown said her son is the captain of his school’s cross country team and also is a member of the track team. As a single parent with three children, she said her son will no longer be able to participate if student fees are increased.

“I’m sure I’m one of the many households in who struggle to make ends meet,” she said.

Petruzielo said that the upcoming year is the worst the school system has seen and that an ad-hoc committee will be tasked in the coming year to look at various options related to fees for extracurricular activities paid by parents.

“We’ve got to make the tough decisions no matter how hard they are,” he said.

In the last few years, the school system’s budget has been cut by $120 million.

“We’re down to bones,” he said.

The tax digest value, which is where the school system gets approximately half of its funding, is at the same level it was in 2006, and the district has 5,000 more students. If the financial situation doesn’t get better, some costs will have to be transferred to parents in the future, Petruzielo said.

“Going forward, that and just about everything else are going to have to be looked at carefully,” he said.

The budget increases staff furlough days from four to eight, increases the instructional day by 15 minutes; maximizes class size and reduces teacher allotments system-wide, affecting 93 teachers; decreases substitute teacher compensation by $10; decreases long-term substitute teacher compensation by $11; reduces high school athletic transportation supplements; and eliminates middle school athletic transportation supplements.

The budget does, however, include 3 percent longevity step increases for employees beginning January 2013. And it doesn’t call for an increase in property taxes.

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Terry Tucker July 26, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Stop making the cuts at the school level.
Maly July 26, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Don't build the new admin building! I think that will help with the budget! Have Dr P give back his 600.00 a month Car allowance! That would help! We are in lean times, why do the teachers and students have to give?
R.L. Federalist July 26, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Steely Dan - your references to Dr. P's weight are cheap shots and it doesn't serve your credibility well. Of course, the fact that you're still backing Dukes and Marlow after the disasterous financial report of CCA's $1.5 million shortfall doesn't do much for your credibility either. Has anyone heard from Danny "Mr. Fiscal Responsibility" Dukes today? Seems the Cherokee Tribune has been looking for him to ask him how his promise that the shortfall would disappear just didn't quite come to fruition. He's MIA...I hope he's OK. He's probably just on a LONG conference call with Forsyth County...trying to figure out out they do things so he can do them better. You need to back a different horse, sir. Yours is looking pretty sick today.
hope July 26, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Rock on Steely Dan.
R.L. Federalist July 26, 2012 at 10:56 PM
1. In one sentence, you bemoan the fact that teachers have had to take pay cuts and in another you criticize the school districts for giving raises. So which is it? 2. In what bizarro world is it "fiscal mismanagement" when the district is having to do more in 2012 with $120 million less in revenue than they had just a few years ago? 3. "Dukes may not be the best candidate" MAY be the understatement of the year. A CPA who professes fiscal conservative principles and, yet, between tax liens, failed banks and now the CCA shortfall, has managed to screw up everything he's touched. "I'm an EXCELLENT doctor. Sure, I've killed every patient I've ever treated but I'm STILL and excellent doctor". 4. A $1.5 million shortfall MIGHT be laughable...if it didn't represent almost 20% of the total budget. If you'd just say "I didn't vote for Read because I think she's a big poopy-head", your opinion might be due a small amount of respect.
Rodney Thrash July 26, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Steely Dan's posts have been removed. They would have remained if they had not made fun of an individual's weight. Personal attacks are a violation of the Patch Terms of Use. Please remain civil in this space. Thanks for your participation in our online community water cooler!
Jim Beam July 27, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Regardless of the man's weight, he has presided over nothing but budgetary failure. How can this man stand in front of the Cherokee County taxpayer....the majority of which do NOT make his taxpayer-funded $300K with monthly vehicle allowance...and threaten more "transferred" costs? Most of us taxpayers live in the real world of the private sector, where we can't appoint ourselves across-the-board 3% raises and then cry about a HALF BILLION $$$ being "bare bones". Most of us live in a reality where we cannot blindly increase the property taxes and millage rates to cover for our complete ignorance of fiscal conservatism. Yet...none of that is enough for Dr. P. Oh no, not even close. Dr P states that "If the financial situation doesn’t get better, some costs will have to be transferred to parents in the future." Excuse me? Every parent reading this is already covering their kids' school supplies (along with teachers) and various extracurricular costs all the while being hit up with almost endless school fundraising. Yet Dr.P makes clear here: It is NOT ENOUGH. We are TAPPED OUT, Mr. Superintendent. You need to do a better job of managing OUR money, starting with immediate cuts to ADMIN. Fund the Schools, Teachers, and Kids first. Fund yourself LAST, Dr. P. You answer to the taxpayer, not the other way around. Oh, and for half a Billion $$, how about raising the HS graduation rate and SAT scores, which have remained stagnant the past few years?
Frank Jones July 27, 2012 at 12:40 AM
@steely or kient...where is the outrage towards the Gold Dome for allocating CCA disproportionately last year? Or for them allowing 50+ million be sent to private schools for private school scholarships without any oversight? Or for the Gold Dome cutting funding for schools? Where's your outrage? Dr. P has overseen a rapid growth in Cherokee County and has brought it from being a backwoods community. He oversees thousands of employees and 38000 customers. In the real world, he'd make a heck of a lot more! But hey, if you can do better and have the credentials, maybe the BOE will hire you and save 250k.
Phil McCall July 27, 2012 at 07:21 AM
Frank - A lot of us are outraged at a $518 million school budget, owe over $600 million - yet our graduation rate per Ga. Dept. of Ed. is <2% over State average. As far as the State cutting out funding, 58% of the entire $19 billion State budget goes to K-12, plus several more per cent on top of that goes to the University System. The numbers you and others throw around do NOT agree with the School Districts published numbers such as "50+ million". The number you cite is shown in the link as a total reduction over two years "State and Local shortfall" after "factoring in $3.2 million received in Federal Stimulus Funds". See http://www.cherokee.k12.ga.us/Pages/Welcome.aspx Financial State of the District. Stimulus is gone. The local property values fell 7.46% in 2011 resulting in less local money for the school. For over 3 years the State's tax digest fell, with the State depleting reserves to bridge the loss in tax revenues by funding education. We are just in the last half of 2011 and 2012 beginning to see the State's tax digest increase with the State beginning to rebuild the depleted reserves - so essential to maintain the AAA bond rating so schools can be built. CCSD is a good school district in a lot of ways, especially when compared to other Georgia schools. IF we are so underfunded as you and others say - ask the school board to increase property taxes in this election year. The School Board has the power to put up or shut up.
Jim Beam July 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Not coincidentally, the BOC just raised the Property Taxes on us. AGAIN. http://cherokeetribune.com/view/full_story/19594419/article-BOC-raises-property-tax-to-9-99-mills?instance=home_top_bullets Next year, Dr. P will cry & moan that there's still not enough $$ and taxes will be raised AGAIN. Too bad SAT scores & the HS grad rate won't move a bit. But hey - Dr P's salary and percs won't be cut so it's a success for the BOE.
Frank Jones July 27, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Phil...Agreed, the budget is large at $500 million, but isn't too large for the number of students. The overall state funding for K-12 may be 58%, but why not 60% or more. What better use of taxpayer money than education? The 50+ million number I was citing is the annual limit that the Gold Dome has established for Student Scholarship Organizations which provide scholarships to private school student (see http://www.georgiasso.us/). For 2012, the state is allowing $51.5 million of state tax money be sent to private schools. The state QBE funding shortfall for Cherokee County is different and is roughly $26 million per year. If the county and school system decided to raise property taxes temporarily to offset the decline in home values, then fine. Likewise, the State should be forthcoming with fully funding QBE.
Terry Tucker July 27, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Dr. P did some great things turning around Cherokee County Schools. Now he is part of the problem, The BOE is overpaid when compared to other systems, The previous Director of Communications (4 DUI) is the perfect example of the good old boy system If a teacher (not a football coach or legacy hire) was busted for 1 DUI they would be gone.
Jim Beam July 27, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Frank, what is your opinion on Dr. P's threat to (paraphrase) 'transfer more costs to parents'? We all just got our property taxes raised yesterday, as I'm sure you noticed. Yet apparently this won't be enough. By the way, I'd like to salute Rodney Thrash of the Patch for having the bravery to actually print that quote as well as pointing out that CCSD employees are GETTING A 3% RAISE in 2013. The similar 'CCSD Approves Budget' article on the Tribune is laughably slanted toward the CCSD and away from us taxpayers. The Tribune laments the alleged lack of money but fails to point out both these 3% Step raises as well as Dr. P's threat to make parents pony up even more cash to cover his fiscal irresponsibility. Thanks, Rodney!
Phil McCall July 27, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Frank - A $518 million annual budget and a +$600 million existing debt is huge for 38,000 students. The State is not some ambiguous bank - but all of our tax dollars pooled together then sent back out to the 189 districts. If you think taxes should be higher there are two immediate solutions you personally can implement this hour; 1 - write a personal donation check to the CCSD 2- demand the school board raise your property taxes and petition the legislators to exceed the State limit the BOE can levy. As far as 60% for K-12 what existing service would you have the State cut? If you were in the BOC tax hike hearing Tuesday night you would have heard the County present the unfunded mandates the State places on jail, indigent defense, etc. that you and I have to pay because the State does not have the money. Let's figure out solutions rather than raise taxes. There are alternate solutions.
Frank Jones July 27, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Phil...For starters, the budgeted expenditures for CCSD is $422,906,878 not $518 million. Second, the $600 million in debt is for capX for school construction required by the population increase. Third, if you compare Cherokee's budget to Cobb's on an Apples to Apples basis (not including CapX and Debt Service), Cherokee spends $8,271 per student while Cobb spends $9,304. The state has the potential to provide additional revenues to the schools, but they have opted to spend money in other places. For instance, it implemented SSOs to siphon money from taxes, it offers the film industry tax credits that far exceed what the industry can use (the industry sells their excess tax credits for pennies on the dollar), the state wants to establish privately-owned investment funds whereby insurance companies would send tax money to the investment funds instead of the state. There are many other places of State waste. Lastly, the Gold Dome is shirking its responsibility on taxes and funding. Instead of using their authority to raise revenue for road construction, they've proposed T-Splost. Instead of funding schools, they've implemented tax cuts and tax credits for special interest groups. Instead of implementing fair income tax policies, they want to implement consumption based taxes which tax the poor while cutting taxes for the wealthy. I agree, let's figure out the solution. It starts in the Gold Dome.
Phil McCall July 27, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Frank - The Board approved a $518 million dollar budget Wednesday of this week http://canton-ga.patch.com/articles/cherokee-school-board-approves-budget. Readers are aware of WHY we have a $600 million dollar school debt just like the readers understand why the national debt is over $16 trillion and climbing. To be very clear - I don't live in Cobb County and do not care about Cobb schools. I would note that Atlanta City Schools spend far more per pupil and their achievements are counter to the argument of better schools require more money - so therefore I discount what Cobb spends. I am familiar with the 2012 Tax Reform Act HB 386; the items you cite and indeed had issues with the bill, including the House leadership that jammed the 127 page bill through in 22 hours. I see your comment regarding favoring progressive taxation and remind you that you too can write a check today to the CCSD if you feel the urge to pay more because you feel under taxed for schools. While you are at it demand your school board member call a special session to raise property taxes next week. Those are solutions you can implement this hour and not have to wait until January when the legislature re-habits the Gold Dome. You are welcome to your views supporting more taxation through a higher progressive tax - we will not agree and we need not engage further debating progressive vs. consumptive taxation.
Jim Beam July 27, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Dodging the question? I'm starting to wonder if Frank "Jones" isn't Frank Petruzielo himself. I'll ask again: Frank, what is your opinion on Dr. P's threat to (paraphrase) 'transfer more costs to parents'? We all just got our property taxes raised yesterday, as I'm sure you noticed. Yet apparently this won't be enough. Your silence speaks volumes.
Jim Beam July 28, 2012 at 03:57 AM
I don't care about CCA. They aren't costing $516M. Heck, CCA parents are paying property tax but none is being used to educate their kids. Their money certainly didn't "follow the child", the typical line of nonsense the liberals like to throw around. Their money stayed in the CCSD, not a dime of which was used by that charter school you so thoroughly hate. Geist isn't the superintendent. It's kinda scary though. Dr. P. reveals that his Big Idea to help out the budget is MORE PARENTAL COST and you bizarrely try to deflect attention from him, as if you enjoy having more of your $$$ taken from you for the exact same results as before.
Jim Beam July 29, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Brandon Beach, Kyla Cromer, Janet Read, and Patsy Jordan are all TSPLOST supporters. They have no new ideas - it's just spend, spend, spend...tax, tax, tax. Beach, Cromer, Read, and Jordan are FOR MORE TAXES. Rogers, Marlow, Dukes, and Cochran are for less spending and no more tax increases. It's that simple.
Frank Jones July 29, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Steely, again you're wrong. Those four are for public school money going to fund charter and private school tuition. Rogers is for the new HOST tax which will cut business property taxes while increasing sales taxes on individuals. Are four all for special interest groups that will contribute to their campaigns.
Jim Beam July 29, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Frank, you're wrong as usual. Not a single CCSD $ goes to Charter schools and none ever will as long as the local board doesn't approve of it. Beach loves TSPLOST. Read loves TSPLOST. Cromer loves TSPLOST. Jordan loves TSPLOST. All 4 love more taxes and more furlough days. Teachers will be fired en-masse next year once Dr. P's latest budget doesn't mean his increased spending again. Vote for Rogers, Dukes, Marlow, and Jordan to eliminate Teacher Furloughs. Vote Rogers, Dukes, Marlow & Jordan to preserve Teacher jobs.
Jim Beam July 29, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Frank...for the 3rd time....what's your opinion on Dr. P's threat to "transfer more costs to parents" next year? What's your opinion on Dr. P, Read, and Cromer's plans of Infinite Tax Increases? A vote for Read, Cromer, & Jordan == Teachers getting Fired. Repeating the same thing & expecting different results == insanity!! SAVE OUR SCHOOLS. SAVE TEACHERS' JOBS. Vote Dukes, Marlow, & Cochran.
Mitchell Black February 12, 2013 at 01:44 AM
No, it does not start or end in the Gold Dome. It starts and ends with our school board, and their overpayed crybaby. Lets try hiring people for our school system who actually care about the children. Starting with the Superintendent and going down to the teachers. The truth is that our school system is awful. Our teachers and principles are lazy, and really couldn't care less about anything but covering their own behinds, our children do just enough to get by, and are woefully underprepared for college; But ultimately, it is us, the parents who are at fault because we put up with it, instead of running the bums out of town.

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