Clayton County teachers are angry. They have not received a pay raise in four years.
The school district faces a $40 million budget gap over the next three years. To help close it, the district has resorted to a number of cost-cutting measures.
The board of education has increased class sizes by two students per class at the elementary school level and one at the high school level.
They also cut 170 teachers' positions, about 40 through layoffs and 130 through retirement or resignations, and froze salaries for all employees, including teachers.
Dozens of teachers Monday crowded separate morning and afternoon meetings on the budget and teachers' pay.
Sid Chapman, president of the Clayton County Education Association, complained the layoffs, larger class sizes and wage freezes hurt teacher morale.
"The cost of living continues to increase, cost of benefits continues to increase, morale is low," Chapman said. "It really makes it difficult for educators to do their job."
Many parents fear increased class sizes and fewer teachers will hurt their children's education.
"If they increase class size, the students won't get a good education. I think they should adjust their budget so they can have more teachers," said Tarina Mangin, whose two children attend Clayton County schools.
Veleeka Harris has six children in county schools. One of her daughters is enrolled in a special needs class. Harris worried that her child's education would suffer if the district increases the number of students in her child's class.
"I think it's an awful idea. It has already affected one of mine who should have been in smaller classes anyway," Harris said.
The district would not answer CBS Atlanta's Tough Questions on camera. In a telephone interview, a spokesperson said "teachers deserve a pay raise but the district is not in a position to do that."
The spokesperson also insisted that the staff reductions will not hurt student education.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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