Coffee County teachers want answers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Coffee County teachers want answers

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Some teachers in Coffee County are angry.

About 40 were told recently they'll soon be out of a job because the school system can no longer afford them.

Hundreds of people showed up at a school board meeting complaining that teachers shouldn't be the first to go.

Administrators say more cuts are coming to balance the budget.

"We want to do our part but it's only the teachers that are being asked to do any sacrificing in this county," said Mary White, 3rd Grade Teacher.

So far about 40 have been informed they will lose their jobs next year.

"We dealt with people who did not have tenure, and I know it sounds unfair, and there's no good way to do it," said Billy CliettBoard Chair.

"Nothing has been changed at the county office the same people will get up and go to work next year," said Cindy Poucher, 5th Grade Teacher.

A crowd of about 300 showed up to get an answer about why teachers were the first to go.

"We don't know what criteria they used, there was no criteria," said Poucher.

"Between 40 and 60 teachers were cut on Friday and that's before I believe anything else was tried," said Bari Sims, 5th Grade Teacher.

The schools system says the cuts are needed to make up for a $4 million shortfall in next year's budget.

"Teacher cuts only account for about $2 million of that $4 million cut," said Dr. Steve Wilmoth, Superintendent.

And others may follow.

"This is not the only cuts we have to make there will be others in other areas, we did the cuts we thought we could do without affecting the education of our kids," said Cliett.

"We felt abandoned, we felt uncared for we felt left out and that's how I feel, and I'm not even one of the ones cut," said Sims.

Some of these teachers already agreed to cut part of their local supplement in their salaries; they say cuts should be made elsewhere before going into the classroom.

Those at the meeting hope the board comes up with other options, not only to save jobs, but so the 8,000 students in Coffee County are properly educated.

The chairman of the board told WALB they don't like the deep cuts, but that's the only way to avoid a large property tax increase.

They brought up the possibility of making some teachers part-time instead of laying them off.

They also talked about implementing a clear Reduction In Force policy on how to choose which teachers might lose their jobs.

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