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Agency, district differ over economic development salaries

SUWANEE -- A state agency is taking the position that the local school district may be out of line in paying the salaries for two positions dedicated to an economic development program in Gwinnett County. A spokesperson with the district, however, said Gwinnett County Public Schools has adhered to board policy and state law.

The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts recently drafted a letter to the state Department of Education advising the DOE to seek legal advice from the State Attorney General's office regarding the expenditures by Gwinnett County Public Schools.

According to District Spokesperson Sloan Roach, GCPS pays the salaries for two positions dedicated to economic development because it is valuable to local education.

"There is significant value to the school district in ensuring the economic vitality of Gwinnett County," Roach said. "According to the Partnership Gwinnett Annual Report, the initiative generated over $800 million in its first five years."

A Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce program, Partnership Gwinnett sells the county's image to businesses on an international scale.

Roach pointed out that the district, however, "could not and did not make a monetary contribution to Partnership Gwinnett."

"GCPS has provided two positions that have been devoted to economic development strategies at a cost of $150,000 a year," Roach said. "These positions work to increase the property tax base, the district's only source of local revenue."

She said the positions have been provided for six years at a total cost of $900,000.

A member of a local watchdog group doesn't think that the school district should be using education funds for economic development.

Sabrina Smith, with Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government, said she has questioned education leaders with Gwinnett County Public Schools about the matter but has received no response.

Smith said that the Attorney General's office is investigating. In an Oct. 4 email Smith that shared from the Georgia Department of Education, a staff member confirmed that legal advice would likely be sought through the Attorney General's Office.

Comments

R 1 year, 6 months ago

"GCPS has provided two positions that have been devoted to economic development strategies at a cost of $150,000 a year," Roach said. "These positions work to increase the property tax base, the district's only source of local revenue."

At best tax dollars spent to increase taxes, at worst it's misdirected funds that are TAKEN from residents for student "educational purposes" being spent elsewhere.

In a 2 BILLION plus budget, whats 150K among friends you say? it's not even noticed. Down in the trenches, it's at least 2 or 3 more teachers than we have now...

Throw in a 1,500 dollar a MONTH car allowance to one man, and it seems we could probably get yet a little more for our dollars too.

Now, how much MORE in tax dollars roll into the "partnership" from the BoC, Gwinnet Convention Bureau and all the CIDS? Perhaps the school system should pull out and let the other organizations fund the "development" focus, as the charters of the other groups are more inline with that goal.

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NewsReader 1 year, 6 months ago

It did? It generate over $800 Million? That's about half of the B$1.7 budget. Why don't we simply hire these two people, add two more, and we can fire all the rest of you? LOL, you are going to try to convince me that two people are responsible for generating $800 Million, and their salaries are only about $75K each? LOL, I ain't buyin' it! Show us! I don't believe you!

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SabrinaWorks247 1 year, 6 months ago

You can read how the Gwinnett Chamber supported their claim of generating $800 million in economic activity at this website:

www.GwinnettPetition.com

We asked for an explanation of the numbers that do not stand up to scrutiny several months ago and have heard nothing since then, despite numerous promises from BOC members who said taxpayers deserved a credible explanation.

Don’t forget that GCPS admitted they have never asked for any substantiation of the claim that the Gwinnett Chamber/Partnership Gwinnett generated $800 million in economic activity. GCPS does not have one shred of paperwork to support their claim that paying the chamber salaries resulted in $6 million going to the classroom.

Also do not forget that the claim of $800 million in economic activity was made to other government entities that provide funding to the chamber, and they apparently never questioned it either.

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NewsReader 1 year, 6 months ago

What about it GDP? You should be digging into this like looking for the source of a foul stench filling the air from the bottom of a tennis show that just stepped in it. Do the people that read your nonsense have to do all of your investigative work for you, or are you going to get off of your backside and go find out and report back to the rest of us? I think I can speak for many of us here that would like for you to go rattle some cages at GCPS and get some answers to these most basic questions that are being largely ignored. Go rattle some cages in a very "...squeaky wheel gets the oil..." where they can no longer ignore you kind of way. We really do want answers.

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BuzzG 1 year, 6 months ago

We have lived knee deep in graft and corruption for so long that it is beginning to seem normal. And how sad to see this abuse of the taxpayer justified by Frank Reddy and the GDP. Where is Danny Porther? Why are we taxpayers forced to pay for the salary of this do-nothing?
I am about to write a large check to the county for my property taxes. I must do so or men with guns will come and take my home. My tax bill says X amount will go to schools. Now I find out this is not true. Some of the money they are forcibly taking from me for schools is going to "economic development" whatever the hell that means. They have been lying to us all the time. Charlotte Nash, Danny Porter, Kevin Wilbanks, lets throw the whole damn rotten crew out.

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CD 1 year, 6 months ago

This is simply wrong. The practice must end or the terms of those on the school board must end.

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