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Superintendent's response to the passage of ESPLOST:
"In celebrating the positive outcome on November 8th, we extend special thanks to the citizens committee, headed by Sean Murphy and Mike Levengood, for leading the successful campaign for the sales tax extension. Thanks go as well to the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, and the numerous community leaders and Gwinnett residents who helped promote passage of the education SPLOST."
Different SPLOST, but still taxpayer dollars being used for the promotion of taxes. The difference? ESPLOST passed last year so we will be paying that penny tax even though complaints abounded that the projects proposed were not appropriate and would each increase the GCPS annual operating budget. First thing they did (well, I guess it was second to paying the Chamber) was to take out a loan so they could start spending before it the money started coming in. Now that SPLOST revenue is so much lower than projections, what will happen now?
Correct. I apologize for confusing punctuation. I look forward to hearing more from Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government!
I would love to see an article with input from an Ivy Prep family. Ivy Prep opened too late for her daughter but she was a huge proponent of an all girls school. She showed me the graduation statistics for African American and Hispanic students in GCPS and she said that as a mother, she could not take that risk with her child. A young woman I worked with, said when she started school in GCPS her school was predominately Hispanic, her high school had over 100 Hispanic students in her graduating class. She said less than 10, maybe less than 5 of those students graduated with her. GMST is a great option, but dealing with Gifted students is not a problem for GCPS. My children were fine at GCPS. But, meeting the needs of students that need a little more, or something different is the problem. Ivy Prep has shown phenomenal success with students that GCPS was failing.
Superintendent Wilbanks, Mike Levengood, Sean Murphy are all on the Gwinnett Chamber Executive Committee and Board, right? Hmmm.....
Please show me the last time a school board member cast a dissenting vote. Our school board votes on an average of about 200 motions a year and I have yet to see or here an abstention, a dissenting vote, a request for reconsideration. I've heard that it has happened at some point in the past but I've never seen or heard it. When the annual salary of a school board member is less than the superintendents car allowance, it must be an easier job if you just yes to every motion.
We do not elect our superintendent. He is appointed. None of our school board members cast dissenting votes or even give voice to a viewpoint that is different from Superintendent Wilbanks.
"It's more about whether you want a downtown group of appointed people controlling your tax dollars or if you want it left to local officials. It's local control versus zero-accountability appointed people downtown."
Dan, I may feel differently after November 2014, but up to this point, I've received much better response from GDOE on issues of concern than I have from my "local officials". I have received prompt and courteous response 100% of the time when contacting the GDOE. When over 1,400 constituents provided returned input forms, called, and personally addressed the school board on an issue, none received even an automated, "Thank-you for your input." Then (IMO) our school board violated sunshine law by making changes regarding the issue in a closed session between the 4:30PM work session and the beginning of that evening's session. An immediate vote was called, without public input, and was voted in unanimously by the local board. (I've heard that there has been a dissenting vote in the past, but I went back over 3 years in notes and couldn't find one) and passed against overwhelming constituent opposition where both sides were simply begging for the board to not vote at that time. It's not that I have complete trust in the "appointed people downtown", but I feel confident that my appointed uptown school superintendent and cronies will be holding them accountable if there is a single penny to be added to their pockets.
This is Jen Falk's response to the AJC and League of Women Voters when asked about SPLOST & GCPS. All the board member candidates were asked to respond - Jen's answer was the only one brave enough to call out the chamber agreement.
"Do you think that the SPLOST should be used for any part of annual operating expense? If so how much stated as a percent?
Yes – if closely monitored. We are close to the millage rate cap and do not want to raise property taxes. The state continues to cut funding even as local property revenues are declining. The School Board could use SPLOST dollars to avoid massive teacher layoffs and end furlough days. However, it’s crucial that those dollars not get “lost” in the budget and end up being used irresponsibly as they were when the Gwinnett County School Board funded economic development positions for the Chamber of Commerce."
Transparency and accountability from elected officials should be a given. Unfortunately, they are qualities that are in short supply among board members today.
I think the SPLOSTS had/have their place. Didn't they start as true "Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes"? I seem to remember the itemization of exactly what would be done, specific information about why it was proposed, and it was voted on LOCALLY for usually 2 years. I had always thought that SPLOSTS had adequate accountability. But, I started looking at the details of the renewed ESPLOST and was appalled by the proposed projects that all increased the annual operating budget of school systems that are increasing class sizes, and cutting teacher benefits and salaries for I believe the 5th consecutive year. The first thing that was done is for GCPS to take out a loan so they could spend funds before they were even collected. And now, "Surprise" the ESPLOST collections have been way under budget and they've already overspent. But maybe, ESPLOST has gone towards the education of the voters and taxpayers.
I think the SPLOSTS had/have there place. Didn't they start as true "Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes"? I seem to remember the itemization of exactly what would be done, specific information about why it was proposed, and it was voted on LOCALLY for usually 2 years. I had always thought that SPLOSTS had adequate accountability. But, I started looking at the details of the renewed ESPLOST and was appalled by the proposed projects that all increased the annual operating budget of school systems that are increasing class sizes, and cutting teacher benefits and salaries for I believe the 5th consecutive year. The first thing that was done is for GCPS to take out a loan so they could spend funds before they were even collected. And now, "Surprise" the ESPLOST collections have been way under budget and they've already overspent. But maybe, ESPLOST has gone towards the education of the voters and taxpayers.
Last login: Thursday, June 20, 2013