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Posted: April 29, 2011 2:31 p.m.

School cuts will affect some sports teams

It's been hectic throughout the county the past week or so as the spring sports season, and the 2010-11 sports year nears the end.

Spring is the busiest time for a prep sportswriter in Georgia and certainly a maddening time for the three Newton County high schools. Graduation only makes things more chaotic. And while I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to get everything covered and the paper put together the next two weeks while keeping my sanity, I haven’t been too busy to notice the Newton County School System made cuts last week.

Why am I bringing this up? It’s simple. The cuts, made for budget reasons, are going to affect my job. Allow me to explain.

When Eastside’s boys’ soccer team takes the field Friday at Mary Persons for the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs, the Eagles could in fact be playing their last game for head coach Trent Weiser.

Weiser found out recently he’s one of the physical education teachers losing his job as a result of the cuts. Unless Eastside wins Friday, it’ll be Weiser’s last game. This stinks for several reasons. Eastside and the county for that matter, will lose of the better coaches around.

It affects me because he’s one of a handful of coaches who cares enough not only to correspond with me regularly, but he does the extra stuff that helps me cover his team well. Unlike some coaches whose email inbox sends messages into a black hole of nothingness.

Now, these cuts had to be made, but the county should have done them differently.

Weiser’s cut came down to time of service. He was the newest P.E. teacher at Eastside.

I can understand why Superintendent Gary Mathews is cutting teachers this way. If you do it by seniority or tenure, you avoid cries of gender discrimination and racism. Not to mention his priority doesn’t factor in coaching. I bet he didn’t even know Weiser was Eastside’s soccer coach and has taken the Eagles to the state playoffs in each of his four years.

But that’s a chicken scratch way of doing things. It keeps bad teachers around when this is the perfect opportunity to purge the system of them.

In the business world, the opposite would happen. Those nearing retirement would be the first to go. They are typically paid more and sadly the closer you get to retirement, the more apt you are to mail it in. A young teacher like Weiser is the future of our county’s school system. An old, washed up P.E. teacher just waiting to hit 30 years doesn’t have close to the same value. But that’s the difference between the private sector and government work.

I can think of four P.E. teachers who are also (ineffective) coaches in the three high schools who are far less valuable than Weiser. Unfortunately, they have been in the system longer. We hear all the time from the school system how it values good teachers and wants to keep the best ones in the county.

But if you really wanted to keep the best teachers, you’d get out and find out who they are. Nobody ever asked me who I thought were the best coaches. Believe it or now, I have a pretty good idea.

Typically a good coach translates to a good teacher. Bad coaches are typically bad teachers. It makes sense. But for whatever reason, the school system acts like the teachers are part of a union in the wrong situations. As usual, it’s applying a black and white mentality to a problem with tons of gray.

Cutting salaries and benefits, that’s stuff you wouldn’t do to union employees. If you're willing to defy logic there, why not do it with personnel decisions?

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