School board needs to look more closely before cutting teachers

I am deeply concerned by what I heard during Saturday’s work session of the Wilson County Schools Board of Education. I am concerned that we would even consider cutting 41 teacher positions, 95 EAs, the adult high school, coaching stipends, mentor stipends/stipends of any kind. I know the list is more extensive but I will stop there. We need to look at other ways to cut spending in this district and ask other questions about our spending habits.

1) Between you seven (board members) your income is $70,000 a year. I propose that is cut from the budget. I wouldn’t ask a teacher to lose a job before I gave up my salary.

2) If you add up the top salaries in the central office it totals over $4 million. As with everyone else during this time of economic hardship in America, companies have taken 20-50% off the top personnel salaries. I propose a 25-30% pay cut for those in Central Office or we do a serious reduction in staffing as you have 17 people making $80,000. This is based on the open records request last year.

3) There should also be no bonuses or no raises

4) The question should be asked why did we pay subs and The Learning Center during this time? Did we pay our hourly employees? These folks should have been furloughed due to COVID-19 like everyone else in the state and the U.S. and allowed to draw unemployment knowing they had a job to come back to upon the easing of guidelines. Instead, we caused the collapse of the TLC program! At this point would it be a better cost savings to go ahead and abolish it since that is what you will do anyway and give teachers ample time to find childcare?

5) What has been our savings these past two months to the district since we have not been in school and there should have been a significant reduction in utilities, maintenance, no gas for buses, no hourly employees, etc? What did that add up to and where is that money?

6) We need an immediate ban on travel for the next year for all of Central Office as the amount of money that gets approved for them through executive committee and then by the board is outrageous. How much would that save?

7) Knowing the issues with that the roofs on so many buildings, we should have taken the money for the three indoor practice facilities and put it toward maintenance on buildings. Those were wants, not needs. We need to be thoughtful with our spending!

8) Mr. (Deputy Director Mickey) Hall stated he has been working on this budget for a month yet we still continue to hire in this district. GHHS just announced a new position last Thursday, LHS just announced a position and jobs on our website have been posted as late as May 7. We need to be in a hiring freeze so that teachers that are being involuntarily transferred or will be possibly cut can fill these spots. Let’s quit hiring from outside our district if one of our own is highly qualified to take the job.

9) According to the open records request we have a bus driver (that is the job title given) that makes over $74,000. How is that possible based on hours and pay?

10) Based on the budget information maybe you should go back and revisit the contract and cost with the energy company from the May 4 meeting, as you didn’t have all the information as a board to make that decision.

11) You may want to look at your medical/ dental renewal. How much does it actually cost for the CareHere clinics? Could that be eliminated for a cost savings? I think employees would rather that go than jobs.

12) With the Cares Act money, why are we spending it on TE 21 and Achieve 3000? How will that help educate our children when this happens again, if they don’t have internet, a device or good broadband? That seems to be a complete waste of those funds when we need to be focusing on educating our students! Plus read the guidelines carefully as principals get discretion in how that is used and it is supposed to be used for continuity of students.

13) Has the district placed all outgoing buses with less than 200k miles on them into extended utilization at the end of year 15 of service? That allows them to be run for 2-3 more years under this program for a reduction in revenue.

14) Every department needs to come back to you before you vote on a budget with cost savings and or cuts. Particularly we need to look at all the employees in central office and their pay? The fact we have an HR director that makes $120,000, two supervisors that make $95,000 then everyone in HR and payroll make no less than $60,000 seems concerning to me. I bet the public would find this concerning, too.

Seriously look at these points I have brought to you and ask the hard questions, we don’t need to cut teachers and we don’t need a tax increase as many families are hurting( my family included by the economic down turn). It is time to tighten up like we have had to do.

Also, we need to figure a way to let parents address you as a board on this topic as it vitally important. I understand that an order is still in place, but you had more than 10 in your meeting May 4 and Saturday. A couple of staff could step out and let parents one by one step to the back of the room and address the board or we could call in or Zoom in.

Kristi Dunn

Mt. Juliet

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