BoE should restore teachers’ benefits

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Recently I sent a letter to Fayette County Schools Superintendent Barrow and the Fayette County Board of Education. In the letter I asked to have the local supplement for health and dental benefits as well as the pay for two teacher furlough days restored to Fayette County Board of Education employees.

Restoring the supplements for health and dental as well as restoring the furlough days would total $4.4 million out of a budget surplus of more than $18 million.

That’s correct, the Fayette County School System has a budget surplus of more than $18 million.

Dr. Barrow and the Board of Education responded that they need to be cautious with future spending by waiting until November or December to see if tax collection projections are accurate.

While I appreciate that caution, I am also worried that promises to employees will be forgotten by December.

For this reason, I would like to respectfully request that the board vote for the return of the furlough day money and health and dental benefits as soon as possible, preferably before the first of the year.

While I appreciate the cautious approach to our financial situation, it will never be the “right” time to approve any spending under that approach. We can never be 100 percent sure that economic issues are not on the horizon.

I, and other employees, would like the county to take a small risk and approve expenditures that would help employees immeasurably.

I would like to make a request of Fayette County citizens: Take the time to contact Dr. Barrow and the members of the Fayette County Board of Education and ask them to restore the local supplement for health and dental as well as restoring furlough day pay for Fayette County Board of Education employees.

I know that it is time-consuming and difficult to be involved, but treatment of teachers is a cause worth fighting for. Our county is known for its schools. Many of us are here because of the outstanding schools. I’m sure none of us would like to see the quality of our schools decline. Remember that teachers are not asking for more, just a return to what we once had.

My wife and I are veteran Fayette County teachers. We have seen our workload increase as we adopt new curriculums, increase AP enrollment, teach more students, and have more duties and responsibilities placed upon us, all while having our pay and benefits reduced.

Our family now takes in $4,000 less per year than previous years because of these cuts. My wife and I are financially conservative and yet we are now living paycheck to paycheck. We are not alone among Fayette County educators.

Despite the fact that educators are incredibly dedicated in this county, eventually such a financial situation wears on you. My wife and I will continue to teach and will continue to teach at a high level. Not everyone will. Eventually the quality of teaching will decline in this county. This is the truth.

Fayette County has good teachers that will knock themselves out and teach at a high level through almost any adversity. Everyone has their breaking point. I know that the board and the citizens of Fayette County appreciate us, but at this point that appreciation must manifest itself in ways other than simple platitudes.

Mark Kienast
Peachtree City, Ga.