Kentucky — The Fayette County School Board has proposed budget cuts of $20 million for the 2014-15 school year in order to balance state funds. Superintendent Tom Shelton has suggested that more than half of that money may be found in the salaries of teachers who have been employed less than five years.
The news came as a shock to a school system that has been recently on the rise, with both high school and middle school students making great leaps where testing scores are concerned. Overall, “the number of Kentucky schools labeled distinguished – the highest category – increased from 137 in 2012 to 179 in 2013,” an article by Kentucky.com boasted in the fall of 2013. Unfortunately, many of the teachers who’ve made this possible may not be around to see their students through another school year.
Discussion on the topic was put on hold as of Monday, after community backlash became too heavy. Halting under the weight of public disapproval, these talks will continue, the only question is when and will the board struggle to find a more appeasing solution. Tensions have been high throughout the county with both school employees, parents and community members on edge. Even board member Amanda Ferguson walked out of last week’s meaning, citing her frustration with Superintendent Tom Shelton.
Shelton can’t seem to stay out of the hot seat lately, as he was just called into question by angry parents less than a month ago after some strange decisions were made regarding snow days (decisions which resulted in pushing up the last day of school into mid-June).
Yesterday Shelton released a letter to parents explaining the reasoning behind the cuts and why the budget had reached such epic proportions. It’s long and distracting-ly worded, but the general concept speaks to poor decisions on the part of the district in running special programs when grant money was no longer funding them, though these programs were not specifically identified. I struggle to understand why this system of operation would be foreseen as anything but (to use a comparative analogy like Mr. Shelton) buying things on credit when you know you’ve lost your job — no pun intended.
The decision, however, will be made by the end of the month, giving the board only a few days to settle on a solution. Hopefully, for Fayette County and its teachers an alternative proposal can be found. Like most politicians, Shelton has made no comment on whether or not he’ll take a pay cut.