At Issue: What should be done to improve downtown Marietta?

Last week: Is Fayette doing enough to retain good teachers?

Fayette County teachers have expressed frustration with the school system over the past several years, due to recession-related pay and staff cuts. The system has begun restoring pay levels slowly, but pay levels are still below what they were in 2008. The loss of some benefits subsidies and the increased demands in the classroom have resulted in some teachers already moving elsewhere and others contemplating it.

Fayette County schools still rank very highly in metro Atlanta and the state, but if high-quality teachers leave to go to better-paying districts, that reputation may be in jeopardy. So we asked teachers about their views of current practices, morale and outlook.

Here’s what our readers had to say:

Teachers are always afraid to voice their concerns because they are afraid of repercussions in evaluation and treatment. I want to thank you for your “voice” for teachers. There is a huge imbalance of support vs. duties and responsibilities. While I am not yet brave enough to voice concerns without being anonymous, this is a great first step in the right direction.

One Fayette County school severely lacks support for their teachers. It has no place for students to hang book bags (unless teachers use their money to buy containers or hooks), no copy paper for teachers (they must buy their own) and the copy count per month is extremely limited (400-500 per month for classes of 23 or more), and if grade-level printers are damaged, teachers are told to "use what they have or use nothing." - CW

A high school teacher with a T-4 who earns $196 per day typically has around 138 students. When you divide their daily pay by their individual students, the teacher only makes about $1.42. How much are parents willing to pay for tutoring and for daycare and preschool? Do they really want to only spend $1.42 [per day] for quality teaching of their children? Does the county want teacher output that reflects this pay? – Grace Cannon, McIntosh High School

They are still trying to balance their budget on the backs of their employees. Another benefit they severely cut was payment for unused vacation for 240-day employees. For lower paid employees, this is a VERY significant loss of money. – Barbara Sims

The question should be "Can Georgia keep good teachers?" Since the 2002 Republican takeover of state government, so-called "austerity cuts" have ravaged education budgets. Since 2008, our classroom sizes and testing requirements have increased and our pay has decreased. I am astounded by how teachers are treated by the legislators, and Georgia teachers just sit by and receive the treatment because we have little recourse. People are treated in the manner we allow. It's truly time for Georgia teachers to take a unified stand and create change. The children deserve it and so do we. – Dale Duncan

- Jill Howard Church for the AJC

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin would like more people to shop, dine and attend shows in downtown Marietta.

The Marietta Square has changed since his boyhood when downtown was the destination for shopping in the area. In recent years, a shuttered art deco theater was renovated and reopened, and a variety of new restaurants have sprung up around the Square.

Tumlin wants to keep the momentum going.

The city council has approved the first phase of a plan to make downtown Marietta more pedestrian friendly and attractive to visitors. Money will come from SPLOST funds. Trees to provide shade have already been planted downtown along Church and Powder Springs streets and more will be added soon along Mill Street.

The project will continue a year from now on North Park Square. Sidewalks across from Glover Park will be widened to 7.5 feet to provide restaurants more space for outside dining and room for walkers. The city will reduce traffic lanes on the street from four to three. The council is also looking at tucking away garbage dumpsters and adding parking meters and public restrooms.

The mayor has suggested a vacant lot on the Square, owned by Councilman Philip Goldstein, as a place to relocate the Marietta Visitors Bureau. Goldstein, however, has plans to build a brew pub on the site.

We would like our readers to weigh in on the Marietta makeover. Would you like more restaurants or retail; a brew pub or welcome center? Or do you have other suggestions for the downtown area?

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