Questions linger about finances and personnel cuts in Fayette schools


At the March 11 school board working session, I was pleased to see a more detailed presentation by Ms. Erin Robinson, Executive Director of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator, regarding the current resizing of our Fayette County public school system.

She informed the board, that “affected employees” were notified, and she felt that most if not all certified teachers would find placement in Fayette County.

To be clear, in the recent past several employees were told they were “surplus” and their job in their current school was eliminated. Now, several have already been placed within the system, one being moved to replace my wife who is retiring. At this writing, “less than ten” are still awaiting a spot.

Some have asked if I thought this system downsizing is a ploy to get the public to rescind the 3% property tax homestead exemption recently voted in by we taxpayers. I hope not.

While I have great respect for many of our FCBOE leaders and staff, in this case, any efforts they have taken on behalf of the children of our schools and the taxpayers in general has been cloaked in unnecessary vagueness and lost in an outward lack of empathy and urgency.

While downsizing is never easy, its important that our school system be transparent in its plans and empathetic in its actions. These events are no longer hypothetical, and the public must be clearly informed. We need to know which schools will have less and where will it be less.

Many would like to know of the 70 or so position reductions, how many were at the school level and how many at the central office? Reasonable people would hope that our administration has prioritized the classroom over back-office functions and administrative positions. We do not need to hear the words, but rather see the facts.

It is fair to see what questions were asked and which processes were considered to be automated, streamlined, and possibly eliminated from the central Office that would save personnel costs that could then be spent on school or classroom positions.

For example, in 2023, over 150 people were paid almost $2.2 Million dollars for “miscellaneous activities” according to How much of that money will be directed to the classroom in the coming budget?

One question that stands out is why there has been no open discussion to move the school tax milage rate to 20 from 19.25 as it has been in other recent financial crisis situations. While this one action would not solve the problem, its odd we cut staff without making this move.

In a time when we are building tennis courts for all and “auxiliary gyms,” how can we move some of the costs for the ever-growing extracurricular entitlements to the families of those participating and the booster clubs? We parents pay a lot to private organizations for our children’s activities, but maybe we need to pay more for school activities too.

Are there ways to outsource technology services, food services, custodial services, or maintenance for lower costs? End of the day, I would have hoped that the administration looked under every rock to protect the classroom like others have in the past. Instead, I only see a governmental funding algebra formula playing out without the background data to explain the answer.

Even if, the cutting of the positions is a ploy to “wake up” the public and take action to regain the blank check granted by double digit property tax growth, our Georgia Legislature has a raft of property tax bills to limit future property tax growth across Georgia currently under consideration. Any relief would be brief. Limited property tax digest growth seems to be here to stay.

We need an innovative plan to properly fund our schools in the world of rising costs with the tax digest we have. In the past, we have proven able to save our system by working together, I believe we can again.

[Neil Sullivan is a finance/accounting executive and CPA. He has lived in Peachtree City over 20 years with his wife Jennifer, a Fayette County History teacher and son Jackson, a sophomore at Erskine College. He has been active in public school related issues in Fayette County, leading three E-SPLOST initiatives as chairman of Fayette Citizens for Children. He has appeared previously on these pages in letters to the editor.]


  1. gplanman is a broken record with a partisan bias hard to take seriously. That being said, if the general public understood the millions of dollars FCBOE spends on trendy professional learning programs, software licenses, assessment services, and boutique administrative positions (e.g. instructional coaches) we have now, cautionary submissions like this one might not be necessary.
    Thank you Neil!

  2. It sounds as if we need some people at the FCBOE with some business and public relations sense. The lack of urgency, priorities and opaque communications are hallmarks of a government bureaucracy.

    I agree with jacketman about the noticeable increase in school administrators from years past. We can get by without another highly-paid Phd in education in the office, but need top-notch teachers in the classroom.

    Big picture: there are over 4,400 federal Department of Education employees in DC and a $68,000,000,000 budget that also needs cut. Education is supposed to be locally run, and those are dollars we don’t need to send to DC just to try to get back again, but with lots of strings attached.

    Good article, Neil.

  3. I am old enough to remember when schools had a principal, admin, counselor and teachers. The district had a superintendent and their admin and a person or two. Now the number of non teachers is more than the teachers. Many medium school systems now have budgets in the hundreds of millions taken from the local community to feed an ever growing overhead layer. Yet cry’s if we need more are constant.

  4. it is difficult to motive taxpayers, who for the most part, do not have any students attending FCBOE schools. Or to motive taxpayers, who so old, they don’t even pay their portion of their property taxes support FCBOE schools. Georgia is a low tax, no service state. Georgia provides over $6,000 in vouchers to parents who send their kids to private schools. It is clear, Georgia wants public schools to die a slow and painful death.

    • Every student who gets a voucher and leaves the public school system takes only about half of the per-student average funding. So, the school actually has more money per student to work with. I believe the appropriate expression is “win-win”. Still trying to figure out how this is supposed to be a problem.

      • Someone told me back when the spec ed bill was up for approval (2006?) that the money follows the student to the school of choice and when the parents aren’t happy and want the kid back in public school …… the money is gone. That is a problem for the public school. I don’t know if matters are still handled in this way.

        • Hi Wildcat. That is not true. My son had a SB 10 Special Education Voucher. The payments are made in chunks. If we were to have returned to Fayette County, The next and all other payments would have come to Fayco.

          State funding works the same way, we basically get two demester payments.

          • Hi Neil-Thanks for the update on how the voucher works. If the student stays at the private school for the “chunk of money/time” before returning to public school (if they return at all) then I don’t know what the big deal is about. I was led to believe that SB 10 would lead to job cuts for spec ed teachers. That never happened. People just hate vouchers. Maybe it is a control thing?