Fayette teachers’ pay to be restored?


With news of more money in the Fayette County School System’s bank account than expected — 15 times more — a lot of teachers want their pay restored to pre-recession levels.

Maybe, partially, says Superintendent Jody Barrow, but let’s go slow.

There are about 1,346 teachers, part of the approximately 3,200 system employees, according to system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach.

[See letters about teachers’ pay here, here and here.]

An open letter to Fayette County School System employees from Barrow addressing the priority of eliminating the two remaining furlough days was discussed at the Monday meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education.

“After years of lost revenue, particularly at the local and state levels, we are beginning to see what looks like an economic uptick in Fayette County and Georgia,” Barrow said in the letter. “Tax revenues have been higher than projected, and that, coupled with our balanced budget, has helped the school system begin to restore its fund balance. Although this is good, we have to proceed slowly and with caution.”

Although the system is projected to have a fund balance in excess of $16 million at year’s end, it was a different day several years ago when Fayette County was in the throes of the Great Recession. It was during that time when the school board created five furlough days for school system employees and instituted a wide-ranging number of cost-cutting measures.

It was a time when the school system was losing local tax revenue from falling property values and losing state revenues when total student enrollment decreased, sometimes by a few hundred students per year.

Barrow said a priority for the current budget is to look at restoring pay by eliminating the two existing furlough days from the school calendar.

“When we have a clearer picture of our budget position, after the November/December revenue collections come in, we will be in a better position to make concrete recommendations to the school board for their consideration,” Barrow said.

In a related matter, school board member Barry Marchman in a question pertaining to the budget and forecasting asked finance director Tom Gray if there was a way to provide a range of possibilities that could give an indication on how the year, and the fund balance, would end at the completion of the fiscal year each June 30.

Gray said he would work to provide that type of analysis.

The system serves a little over 20,000 students.