DeKalb’s Womack: SPLOST “spent on projects…not on bureaucracy.”

As I have said many times, DeKalb is a county with deep feelings toward its schools, both positive and negative. And that is apparent in the number of e-mails I am getting from DeKalb readers on Tuesday’s SPLOST vote.

Here is one that I want to share because its author is school board member H. Paul Womack, Jr.

I hate that I have to remind Get Schooled posters to focus on the issue, not on the personalities. But that message has not reached everyone. Please feel free to flag comments as those notes are taken seriously by my editors to whom flag requests go.

Now, back to the note from Womack:

I have served on the DeKalb County Board of Education for more than 14 years, but I’m writing this today as a taxpayer and citizen.

I’m not one to respond to every critic, nor someone who participates in every online conversation about DeKalb County. But I’m writing this today in response to some serious misinformation being distributed by politicians and others about the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST IV, which will be decided by county voters on Nov. 8.

Without getting into a public debate, I will take this opportunity to provide some facts about the SPLOST, and let voters decide for themselves, based on accurate information

First, I’d like to clarify something about the last SPLOST. It’s been stated by a candidate for City Council that there was some $30 million in waste in SPLOST III, and that is completely untrue.

The taxpayers of DeKalb County voted for every dollar that was spent in SPLOST III, and by law the school system had to proceed only with projects approved by the taxpayers. These taxes must be spent on projects as promised, and not on bureaucracy.

In fact, the last SPLOST replaced four high schools and made significant improvements to our facilities on time and under budget.

As a conservative, you may ask why I would talk about a tax of any kind. But as a conservative, I prefer consumption taxes like the SPLOST to income and property taxes that punish hard work, savings and investment.

More than 30 percent of SPLOST revenue comes from consumers outside of DeKalb County, and without the SPLOST, the Board of Education would have to look at raising property taxes to improve our schools, which I am philosophically opposed to.

Questions also have come up in the media surrounding the School System’s Administrative and Instructional Complex, which was built under the last SPLOST. Most of the criticism has been about the central office, and it has been suggested that the central office was put on the list of SPLOST projects after the fact.

The fact is that the current complex – and all of its components – was advertised on the public SPLOST brochure and described on the resolution when it went before the voters in 2007. The complex also includes two working high schools, populated by hundreds of students each day, a bus repair facility and the public meeting room for the Board of Education, as well as the School System’s central offices.

People have said that the central office is bloated. On this point, we may have some agreement. We have some strong professionals at the central office, but I have always advocated for the administration to be as lean and efficient as possible.

That’s why I am in full support of Superintendent Atkinson’s recently announced review of Central Office staff. That review will begin in the next few weeks, and I look forward to its conclusions, which will be presented to the Board of Education in January.

I urge DeKalb voters to learn the facts, make up their own minds and vote based on their own opinions, and either pro or con, I hope you’ll participate in this vote on Nov. 8. I’ll see you at the polls.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

118 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

November 1st, 2011
6:23 pm

Anybody else think that a board member who would qualify his agreement that there is central office bloat with the word “some” (”Some” bloat? Isn’t that like saying there was “some” bombing in London in 1940?) is probably exhibiting a level of denial that indicates this BOE is fully incapable of being a good steward of the taxpayer’s money?

redweather

November 1st, 2011
6:30 pm

So Mr. Womack is justifying SPLOST with the threat of a hike in property taxes if it isn’t voted in? As if my property taxes in DeKalb County haven’t gone up every year since about 1995.

dekalbed

November 1st, 2011
6:35 pm

Maureen, Can you post the 2007 SPLOST brochure?

I can’t believe voters knew about a shower for the superintendent or $2,000 chairs for administrative personnel.

Also, can you post Womack’s record in approving salaries and administrative policies? If he is to be trusted that this is taxpayer money well-spent and protected and he has always advocated for a lean and efficient administration, then I trust that he has voted against such “bloat.”

Beverly Fraud

November 1st, 2011
6:43 pm

I think, in light of the fact we have been encouraged (admonished?) to focus on the issue, that dekalbed has brought up some fair and legitimate concerns.

If Womack, with HIS own words to the AJC, claims to have advocated for a lean and efficient administration, then is it not fair to ask to see if his voting record backs up that claim?

Where’s DekalbWatch when you need them?

Maureen Downey

November 1st, 2011
6:51 pm

To all, Just received this note from state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, on his plans to vote “yes” on SPLOST:

I will vote yes on this measure. No one is more disappointed in our academic performance and the past chaos at our School Board. However, we have a new superintendent and major projects for this continued one cent sales tax include a new Chamblee High School and a new Austin Elementary School. As respects Austin, I have spoken with Lynn Jackson who oversees school construction for the state. Even though the current site is only 10 acres, a new school could go on that site as long as there are no additional serious hazards (environmental study). The power lines should not be a problem. There is no absolute guarantee but I will use whatever influence I have for the new school to remain at this location. DeKalb County Schools and the state are aware of my feelings on this matter.

Several additional points need to be made. Our current SPLOST which included the Dunwoody High School renovation has delivered the projects on time and under budget. A citizens oversight group has been established to monitor the upcoming projects. Finally, we need to have quality facilities, technology, buses, etc. for our children. However, I will continue to be a watchdog on our current School Board

The "Roll-Out"

November 1st, 2011
7:18 pm

First Shirley Franklin, now this…..Don’t be Duped! The contractors are salivating over this deal and will take care of their “firends.”

DannyX

November 1st, 2011
7:26 pm

This SPLOST needs to be voted down. The board and Atkinson need to reform the system first. Come back next year when demonstrated progress has been made, and a semblance of trust has been earned. It can wait a year.

dekalb parent

November 1st, 2011
7:34 pm

Sen. Millar: Chamblee High School is only being rebuilt because the citizens, teachers and parents finally stood up to the BOE and made a stink about the fact that this crumbling, overcrowded and dangerous school had been repeatedly passed over by pet projects and new or expanded projects added to the previous two SPLOST lists. In fact this BOE proposed to remove Chamblee High from the SPLOST III list and “wait” to rebuild it with SPLOST IV money even though it was over a year from the end of SPLOST III.

Chamblee HIgh’s rebuild is funded with a combination of SPLOST III funds and tax free bond funds courtesy of the federal government. However, I am extremely concerned that the mismanagement of our construction program is continuing. Half of Chamblee was slated to be torn down in June 2011 yet it is November 2011 and not a single brick or wall has come down. Instead over half the student body and teachers were moved to a massive trailer park (where theft of computer equipment is rampant).

Sorry Mr. Womack, you get two NO votes from this household.

novel idea

November 1st, 2011
7:41 pm

of course Fran Millar will make sure everything with Austin goes well. The school is literally in his backyard!

Dixiecrat

November 1st, 2011
7:44 pm

No more SPLOST taxes. Work within your budget or do without like the private sector. I live In Dekalb and the b.o.e is a joke. All of the waste and cronyism and corruption. The last clown in charge has cost the county 10’s of thousands in legal fees… And for what? No more taxes. Cut the fat and operate within your means. Don’t put it on the backs of the public struggling to make ends meet. We don’t have it.

catlady

November 1st, 2011
7:54 pm

Ms. Downey, can you quote EXACTLY what the SPLOST III called for funding? What I have seen is that the language is sometimes fluid enought, open to enough interpretation, that the CO can make their plans fit under the language.

And what specifically is SPLOST 4 to be used for? Or do they have to vote it in and THEN be told what is on the list?

Like our health insurance. We have to select a program, BUT we won’t be told all the particulars we are agreeing to until Jan 1! This is for every teacher in the state’s public systems!

what is Millar up to now?

November 1st, 2011
7:59 pm

There are additional environmental issues at Austin. Parents should not be lulled into complancey on this one.

A no vote is the only appropriate vote at this time.

TaxWatch

November 1st, 2011
8:12 pm

Informed citizens will be voting NO!

Cere

November 1st, 2011
8:21 pm

Below is the text of the brochure encouraging us to vote for SPLOST 3 (COPIED & PASTED)

WHAT IS SPLOST ?
Referendum: March 20, 2007
This Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is an opportunity for voters in DeKalb County to continue the onecent sales tax for school improvements. This sales tax extension is limited to 60 months or until an established cap of $645 million has been reached, whichever comes first.

If the continuation of the one cent sales tax is approved by the voters on March 20, 2007, improvements for our kids are funded by everyone who buys goods in the county, regardless of where they live.

With the extension of SPLOST …

• Over 2,646,000 Square Feet of New Roofing
• Another 201,800 Square Feet of Roofing Repairs
• 2,535,000 Square Feet of School Renovations
• 185 New Technologically Advanced High
School Classrooms
• 183 New Innovative Elementary School Classrooms
• Over 1,206,000 Square Feet of durable Asphalt
Paving
• 7,000 Square Feet of safe Concrete Walkways
• 6 New State of the Art High School Teaching
Auditoriums
• 22 New Advanced Career Technology Instructional
Centers
• 25 HVAC Replacement, Repair, and Upgrade
Projects

OVERVIEW

In order to maintain a healthy and safe learning environment for the students of the DeKalb County School System, a Capital Improvement Plan [CIP] has been developed and approved by the Board of Education.

The CIP outlines the most pressing facility needs.
The CIP is aligned with Board /Superintendent Goals, the Facility Needs Assessment and the Demographic Study. The plan is educationally sound, philosophically based, and fiscally responsible. To that end, the focus of the plan directly addresses the High Schools That Work principles and the commitment to learning environments that are healthy and safe.

The Capital Improvement Plan will touch every facility, school and center in the DeKalb County School System.

The main areas of focus for the CIP are as follows:
�� Retirement of existing COPs* financial debt
�� Completion of deferred SPLOST II work
�� Major Roofing, HVAC, Code & Life Safety Improvements
�� High School Improvements
�� Career Technology, Fine Arts, & Classroom Additions
�� Renovations of Classrooms from floor to ceiling
�� Technology Upgrades to ALL Facilities
�� Transportation Additions of New Buses to replace
Aging Vehicles
*Certificate of Participation

Facilities Affected

�� Technology Improvements & Upgrades will be completed at ALL Schools & Centers
�� Other Specified Projects Elementary Schools
Allgood, Austin, Avondale, Bob Mathis, Briar Vista, Cedar Grove, Chapel Hill, Chesnut, Clifton, Evansdale, Fairington, Fernbank, Flat Shoals, Forrest Hills, Glen Haven, Hambrick, Hawthorne, Henderson Mill, Hightower, Hooper Alexander, Huntley Hills, Idlewood, Indian Creek, Kingsley, Knollwood,
Laurel Ridge, Livsey, McLendon, Meadowview, Midvale, Midway, E.L. Miller, Montgomery, Murphey Candler, Nancy Creek, Oak View, Oakcliff, Pleasantdale, Rainbow, Rockbridge, Sagamore Hills, Sky Haven, Snapfinger, Stone Mill, Stone Mountain, Terry Mill, Vanderlyn, Wadsworth, Woodward
Middle Schools Champion Theme, Henderson, McNair, Miller Grove, Salem, Sequoyah, Stephenson

High Schools
Chamblee, Clarkston, Columbia, Cross Keys, Tech-North, Tech-South, DECA, Druid Hills, DSA, Lakeside, McNair, Open Campus, Redan, Stone Mountain, SW DeKalb, Towers Centers Clarkston, Coralwood Diagnostic, Transition Academy, Doraville Driver Ed, Fernbank Science, Freeman Administrative Building, Heritage, Sam Moss, Warren Tech

�� Large Model Additions
Dunwoody, Lithonia, M.L. King Jr., Miller Grove

�� New Schools
COPs Retirement: Evans Mill ES, Dunwoody/Chamblee Area ES, Rock Chapel Area ES
Tucker High School

Cere

November 1st, 2011
8:22 pm

And the published ‘PRIORITY LIST’ – from SPLOST 3

Capital Improvement Plan
Approved by the B.O.E. on 11/17/06

COPs Financial Debt Retirement $ 66,000,000

1. Deferred SPLOST II Work $ 25,000,000
2. Cross Keys Renovation with Career Tech
$ 16,927,348
3. Tucker Replacement High School $ 66,330,016
4. Roofing $ 9,877,168
5. HVAC $ 17,168,224
6. ADA $ 4,730,336
7. Local School Priority Requests $ 2,656,419
8. Site Improvements $ 8,417,986
9. Facility Improvements – Druid Hills High School
$ 9,739,800
10. DSA Relocation $ 10,000,000
11. Relocation of Open Campus, Jim Cherry Center & DECA to Mountain Industrial Center $ 29,836,296
12. Buses $ 4,000,000
13. Land/Property Acquisition $ 3,000,000
14. Career Tech/Classroom/Fine Arts Additions
$ 63,292,805
15. Technology – Refresh Cycle for All Schools & Centers $ 19,418,581
16. Lithonia High School Addition $ 11,447,624
17. MLK Jr. High School Addition $ 10,178,779
18. Miller Grove High School Addition $ 5,874,487
19. Dunwoody High School Addition $ 4,819,395
20. Site Improvements $ 5,000,000
21. Facility Improvements – Clarkston High School $ 4,000,000
22. HVAC $ 10,716,737
23. Roofing $ 10,681,471
24. ADA $ 2,052,729
25. Local School Priority Requests $ 2,500,000
26. Buses $ 4,000,000
27. Technology – Media Center Upgrades
$ 10,000,000
28. Buses $ 4,000,000
29. HVAC $ 17,408,662
30. Roofing $ 7,125,137

CIP TOTAL $466,000,000

catlady

November 1st, 2011
8:30 pm

Cere, which line item is the county office work?

Cere

November 1st, 2011
8:32 pm

As far as I’m aware, 17. MLK Jr. High School Addition $ 10,178,779 has not been built. Also, I think the reno for the Central Office came from the money to ‘move’ Jim Cherry, DECA and Open Campus as well as some money that had been slated to renovate buildings A&B. Seems we had $4 million for buses in SPLOST III. Now SPLOST IV includes ‘acquisition of buses’.

To view the video report on the Admin Office spending click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWZO3VzePXw&feature=player_embedded#!

Cere

November 1st, 2011
8:37 pm

You’ll have to ask Mr. Womack to point out exactly where he sees the item listed in the brochure. Like I said, I *think* the money for Admin Offices was used from the money earmarked to move DESA (DeKalb Early College Academy – about 100 students), Open Campus (400-600 students – it fluctuates as this is an ‘at-risk’ program), and the Jim Cherry Center (support center) and I’m told that there had been money for the AB buildings but I don’t see it.

dekalbed

November 1st, 2011
8:47 pm

In looking at the SPLOST III information copied and pasted from Cere, I still can’t figure out how taxpayers knew they were choosing to fund the building of a new administrative complex equipped with flat-screen televisions, $2000 chairs, an exercise facility, and a shower for the super.

I work in a high school that has undergone HVAC renovations and is currently undergoing a major renovation. The HVAC systems are relics of Carter’s administration without any of the energy efficiency, and I can’t see how the plumbing in the new part of the building is any more efficient. So I have little confidence that this money has been and is being spent wisely for renovation projects.

In looking at the SPLOST IV projects on Dekalb’s website, I see @ 38 million for “video conferencing,” “enterprise content management solution,” “telecommunications,” “mass notification system,” and “telecommunications.” The many Dekalb students struggling to read need smaller, remedial classes-not “virtual learning.” And I am still concerned that most of these “projects” have little to nothing to do with learning. Ask a teacher about the last technology purchase-ESIS. Ask a student about internet service or computer access in his or her school. And then ask Mr. Womack or any board member to explain exactly how these projects will enhance our students’ learning.

It’s puzzling to me that the energy invested in getting people to vote for this tax can’t also be invested in educating our students.

Cere

November 1st, 2011
8:49 pm

So, looking at the list titled, “high schools” – let’s evaluate the results:

Chamblee, (Finally approved a tear-down/rebuild using a no-interest federal loan, will be repaid regardless of SPLOST) Clarkston, (renovations completed – not sure if they got the auditorium and career tech package) Columbia, (major renovations and the main project listed on the criminal charges against Lewis and Pope, Tony Pope was the architect), Cross Keys, Tech-North, (Tech North merged into Cross Keys, some nice renovations were done to the buildings, especially the Tech school portion. No auditorium, no career tech labs other than the tech school, no exterior athletic field work, still have a dangerous, ruddy track), Tech-South, (Don’t know if work was done here, anyone?) DECA, (moved to the Stone Mt Admin facility) Druid Hills, (renovations done) DSA, (moved to Avondale HS), Lakeside, (reno under way, along with auditorium/career tech and an additional 28 classrooms not originally slated) McNair, (I believe McNair still needs some work, but some work was done) Open Campus, (moved to the Stone Mt Admin facility) Redan, (still needs work) Stone Mountain, (still needs work) SW DeKalb, (Major work done here during SPLOST 2 and 3, more proposed in 4. Also a major source of corruption charges) Towers (nice reno, auditorium, career tech) Clarkston Center (not sure what this is or if they got work done) Coralwood Diagnostic, (Lots of work done – they even got the nice electronic marquis – $25k) Transition Academy, (don’t know) Doraville Driver Ed,(don’t know) Fernbank Science, (don’t know) Freeman Administrative Building, (ah! this is where they refer to the work done for Admin offices – these were closed and sit empty – everyone moved to the new Stone Mt facility) Heritage, (closed. sits empty) Sam Moss, (lots of work done at the Sam Moss Center – this is the maintenance facility) Warren Tech (don’t know)…

If anyone knows more about what kind of work was done to these facilities, feel free to correct my info or add to it.

bill

November 1st, 2011
8:52 pm

If you agree to let politicians tax you and are surprised when they are corrupt you are dumber than a stump!!!

Worried about the numbers

November 1st, 2011
9:01 pm

I suspect that if we do not vote for SPLOST, the millage rate will just go up instead. And that’s just on the backs of homeowners.

a reader

November 1st, 2011
9:07 pm

What was left out in this argument is that money is fungable. Even if the splost funds do go for specific projects it frees up the rest of the money the schools have from our property taxes to be used / wasted by the board “as they see fit”. I think we need a year with the new super to redefine our priorities and spending. I’ll be voting “no”.

Dundevil

November 1st, 2011
9:07 pm

Mr Womack is out of touch with the taxpayers. The local version of Congress.

Cere

November 1st, 2011
9:09 pm

Ironically, Bill, to your point there are many who say that they are willing to accept a certain level of waste, fraud and incompetence because the rest of the money does end up doing as promised. Others are happy to have ‘visitors’ paying the bulk of tax money required to build our local schools, as something like 30% of the money comes from people who don’t live in DeKalb. I think most good school districts around the country, however, put their property taxes to work and are able to fund their schools’ needs.

That said, in Georgia, we have something called “Equalization” whereby 5 mils of our tax dollars get ‘redistributed’ to ‘poor’, ‘rural’ counties around the state. Shocker: Gwinnett receives equalization money – DeKalb pays into the fund. We pay out about $100 million to this — add to this tax loss, the “Austerity Cuts” made by the state every year – and we should be incredulous that our board members aren’t down at the Capitol demanding our tax dollars returned rather than hounding visitors for pennies.

Truth in Moderation

November 1st, 2011
9:10 pm

9 year old student government school bus rider, who attends Royal Palm EXCEPTIONAL Center in Ft. Meyers, proves to be EXCEPTIONAL….charged with 4 felonies! Wild bus tirade….over trick or treat candy.
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/nine-year-old-girl-arrested-453619

Cere

November 1st, 2011
9:13 pm

And last, to “a reader”, sadly, over $17 million has been paid and an additional $19 million committed to attorney’s fees for the civil case against Heery/Mitchell construction for SPLOST II. This money cannot legally be paid from SPLOST funds (even though the legal fees are about SPLOST projects) – they come from the general operating budget — the budget used for educating our children. So, ironically, SPLOST construction has actually harmed the operation of our schools due to litigation – and these lawsuits, civil and criminal, don’t seem to have an end in sight.

catlady

November 1st, 2011
9:30 pm

Cere, I also note they deferred 25M of work from SPLOST 2 to SPLOST 3. Wonder how much will be “unable to be completed” from SPLOST 3 and to SPLOST 4? And how much more are the utilities on the new CO complex, compared to the old? THAT won’t be SPLOST money, as the voters in my system are about to find out!

Unless the Lord Himself appears to be to tell me otherwise, I will vote NO from here on out, forever.

dekalb weary

November 1st, 2011
9:33 pm

I think Number 11 on the list is the money used to build the DeKalb executive and administrative offices at the Mountain Industrial site, along with DECA and Open Campus, two specialty schools, not regular high schools. There was never a separate line item for a multi million dollar executive office complex complete with a work out facility. Instead, buried under the heading “High Schools”, there is a reference to “Freeman Administrative Building.” Under this “High School” heading there is also a reference to Coralwood Diagnostic and Sam Moss (the maintenance building) which are also not high schools. Some taxpayers feel that placing these non-high school facilities under the heading “High Schools” was not very transparent and that there could be a repeat of this with the current, rather fuzzy list.

Perhaps it would be better for the school system to clarify the list of projects that would be funded with 5 additional years of sales tax.

catlady

November 1st, 2011
9:35 pm

Also, Cere, you may have heard this before, but my small, poor, rural county (75% free lunch) also sends money to “poor” counties like Gwinnett. Thanks to the banks (most have been taken over by FDIC/bailed out by taxpayers) and speculators (many of whom were bank insiders like officers and the bank governing boards) our county APPEARS wealthy, although virtually no property is being sold, lots of foreclosures, few jobs (one big industry which is 80% or more Latino workers).

Dekalb Tax Payer

November 1st, 2011
9:39 pm

DeKalb School of the Arts (DSA) renovation SPLOST III – Pat Pope presided over this (until her indictment on racketeering)
$10,000,000 renovation of one wing of Avondale HS for less than 300 DSA students

Late work – students and teachers were holding classes for months in the middle of construction that was supposed to have been completed before school started. As the work was completed, dust and debris were constantly coming out of the air and heating units which blew so hot in the winter that teachers had to open their windows. Teachers didn’t receive any shelving until near the end of school. Toilets were in disrepair shortly after installation.

Shoddy work – they “forgot” to put a book storage room in the building (no shelving so teachers stored them on the floor), stairs with steps not the right height, not enough toilets, and many other mistakes that degraded the learning environment for students

Please ask the students and teachers who lived through this renovation if Mr. Womack’s phrase “made significant improvements to our facilities on time and under budget….” applies to the DSA renovation.

Teacher Reader

November 1st, 2011
9:46 pm

Shoddy work can be found throughout the construction that has been completed. Not sure who is managing these projects, but I know that I wouldn’t be paying any contractor who did work like that in my home, so I am not sure why the district keeps handing out millions of dollars like it’s growing on trees out back.

There is no management of the funds that DCSS has. The millions wasted on lawyer fees makes no sense, when you figure what it could provide for. Construction on buildings that serve few kids, with perks like Coralwood with a therapeutic swimming pool, is nice, but is it really necessary? Our board and administration has not known the difference between wants and needs for some time, and until they learn. We will be voting no in our home.

teach ss

November 1st, 2011
9:52 pm

So thankful I’m a Gwinnett Co teacher and citizen. At least this county cares about education and I’m most confident SPLOST will pass here. That will leave Dekalb and others jealous once again of our progress when your citizens fail the children.

Hummon

November 1st, 2011
9:57 pm

There appear to be a lot of well-informed people who want to hold elected officials accountable and make sure tax dollars are well spent.

But in trying to teach the school board a lesson, you might just be shafting kids.

Dekalb Tax Payer

November 1st, 2011
9:59 pm

It would be nice to get the $100,000,000 back that flows out of “rich” DeKalb for “equalization”. “Poor rural” Gwinnett meanwhile gets tens of millions flowing in from “equalization”.

Our BOE and legislative reps should be busy trying to get this corrected.

not shocked

November 1st, 2011
10:17 pm

Somehow I am reminded of the Ghostbusters movie depicting an evil giant (Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man) who gained strength via the negativity of the citizens of NYC. Wow, the venom spewing from the general public over ANY education piece is incredible. I wonder how many of you hateful individuals really spend any time researching information prior to blasting a Board, a Superintendent, a Mayor, etc., etc., etc. If you really, really gave a flip about education, how about spending some time volunteering at a school or actually attending a Board meeting on a consistent basis, or seeking a placement on the many committees that are out there with regard to schools…..quit complaining and throwing stones – get involved and where change is needed, place your energy in making it happen.

Giving a drink to a drunk

November 1st, 2011
10:41 pm

@ not shocked, I would venture to guess that the vast majority of these posters DO go to board meetings and review the website and volunteer in the school and talk to teachers, and that is why they are INFORMED.

SPLOST has cost our children and this school system approx $50 million from the general fund to litigate the criminal messes that having SPLOST created. This is because of horrendous mismanagement on the part of our BOE. Until Atkinson has a strong grasp of the system, has published her plan, and we have sent a message to the BOE that we are horrified at the job they have done, I will not vote for SPLOST, and I will provide that message to neighbors, Facebook groups, church, and anywhere I can. Add up the legal fees from past SPLOST legal situation, overpaid and overstaffed central office for years, mismanaged IT department, superintendent contractual buyouts, fees to consultants whose advice we ignored and whose audits we “lost”, and we are approaching money that could have replaced SPLOST (assuming they were done properly, bid out legally, and completed as stated).

Everything negative about SPLOST has been its execution and management and, with the exception of Dr. A., we still have the same bad managers.

As for Mr. Womack, he has traded votes for inclusion on the SPLOST list (I’m looking at you, Coralwood). They’re putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Chamblee High Alum

November 1st, 2011
10:50 pm

To all of those that say they will vote “no” on this measure, I am curious as to how you think we should raise money to fund our schools. It is obvious that the infrastructure in our schools (and entire country for that matter) need a lot of work. All this bickering over not wanting to pay an extra cent is only hurting our kids. Teachers work very hard for little pay to educated our children. They deserve better than the run down facilities that they currently have. I will be voting “yes” on this measure because I believe in PROGRESSING and GROWING as a society rather than continuing to stall on important issues.

Cere

November 1st, 2011
11:14 pm

Again, reclaim the $100 million a year that gets redistributed, along with the additional millions in ‘austerity cuts’ and we are back at even. No need to ask for another penny.

DLink

November 1st, 2011
11:53 pm

I walk my dog at a boarded up school. Welded doors. Shuttered windows. Who stands to profit from this mess, I don’t even want to ask. But someone should. I see intolerance, I see debt, I don’t see a future. I remember one of my teachers at a time like this…. and that brings back memories of all of them. A good teacher is hard to find nowadays. The reality is there for all to see, and there are those who don’t want to see it. SPLOST is dead in the water. Who made up that word for a tax on average joe anyways. Just curious. Is there a word just for the…. Well, I don’t know a word for such a thing. I just call it putting your fair share back in. I feel comfortable saying. I do so, and I know who doesn’t. I put in for the common good, might be too late for some folks. Just sayin..

Jo

November 2nd, 2011
12:05 am

Passing SPLOST is absolutely NO GUARANTEE that the millage rate will not go up. Womack (who somehow with his obvious wealth pays no school taxes) and Walker are chomping at the bit to raise the millage rate to the maximum, with or without SPLOST.

So, first things first:
Just SAY NO! to SPLOST IV — and the thugs and thieves of DCSS.

Teacher Reader

November 2nd, 2011
12:07 am

@ not shocked I taught in DCSS, volunteered, and know that I can’t educate my son in the system, as do many parents. Giving the district more money isn’t going to do anything for our kids or our teachers. If the board cared about kids and teachers, they wouldn’t have put the Palace above the crumbling schools. There is plenty of places in the district to tighten one’s belt and save millions, so that schools can be improved upon. Even projects that have been projected can be improved upon. Does Fernbank really need the newest part of the school ripped down for a new addition? If they are over crowded, why did we close Medlock? There are many questions and few answers. I cannot see the board getting any more money to waste until they begin to spend what they have in a diligent, meaningful way.

dekalbcountyga

November 2nd, 2011
12:23 am

Passing SPLOST won’t necessarily do everything advertised.

Not passing SPLOST guarantees that there will be no money at all.

Personally, I think the board should raise property taxes. As a body they are practically untouchable.

Rich people in big expensive homes should pay more anyway.

bu2

November 2nd, 2011
12:53 am

I don’t know how Womack can say these projects were done without waste with a straight face. I don’t think he’s a total idiot. There’s a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the construction company and our construction director and superintendent are under indictment for stealing on construction projects. Those are real facts. His letter just shows that Womack has no credibility and you should take any of his “facts” with a grain of salt unless you verify it somewhere else.

Very Passionate About Our Schools

November 2nd, 2011
3:31 am

And we are supposed to believe what comes out of Womack’s mouth and Millar’s mouth? Can they even spell truth much less put it into practice? We aren’t all suckers for their lies trust me.

Steve

November 2nd, 2011
3:50 am

While I think SPLost has helped to get certain things done, and I do love the fact that it’s not just Homeowners, but even people ‘leeching’ off the public .. the simple fact is ‘a reader’ is correct

“What was left out in this argument is that money is fungable. Even if the splost funds do go for specific projects it frees up the rest of the money the schools have from our property taxes to be used / wasted by the board “as they see fit”. I think we need a year with the new super to redefine our priorities and spending. I’ll be voting “no”.”

As others have stated, you will get nothing more from me until you learn to spend the money you already get. There is no doubt the millage rates will go up again, but don’t they always anyway?

yes i am worried

November 2nd, 2011
5:17 am

It is important to note that the work done at many schools has been shoddy. Pope was famous for coming in under budget and on time, and for those of us in schools that have had renovations, we understand why. Many of these projects won’t last 10 years before needing to be replaced!

Ben

November 2nd, 2011
5:40 am

I read newspapers from across the country. The current mantra in education is pass this splost or we will raise your property taxes. Seems to be a conspiracy. Does throwing money at education (for any reason)improve the quality of education? Looking at all the statistics that are put out for education it appears that money is not the answer.I go back to the same question. You have had an accident and need emergency surgery. Do you want the doctor that practiced on cadavers or practiced on a computer? Seems to me that it is the quality of the teacher that makes a difference and not the quality of the many projects that makes a difference. I am a retired teacher and have taught science from middle school to the college level. I question all these technologically enhanced projects. Sort of like the money spent on the distance learning technologies and how often is this stuff used? I wonder how many times computer labs have been revamped with state of the art stuff and how are they used (not very well from my observations of many different schools). I understand necessity items like roof repairs, A/C heating upgrades and basic maintenance. But, a lot of the building upgrades could have been prevented with basic maintenance, by the school systems, in the past. In all the years I have spent in schools I have never been impressed by the facilities. What I am im pressed with is the teacher that is passionate and engages the students. I have witnessed many of these and they were very few in “great” facilities. My community is a classic example of why and who wants these taxes. Nearly 60 million was spent on a new high school because the old one was not fit for education. As soon as the high school opened they moved the middle school into the one not fit for education and it was not upgraded. They closed the old middle school that was just renovated and it now sits abandoned. The new high school has a huge monument at the front door with the names of the superintendent and board members boldly displayed. After being built most retired. Self indulgence. The new crew wants to build a new middle school because the current one is unfit for education. But they cannot use the renovated one because it too is now unfit. The mantra, pass this splost or we will raise property taxes. They use all sorts of stats that show how outsiders shopping in this county will pay for this new school. This is a joke.

Ben

November 2nd, 2011
5:47 am

Oops, forgot. The high school was technologically advanced, built 2 years ago and now they want to spend millions upgrading the technology. The middle school is to be technologically advanced, yet the current computer teacher is not a highly qualified teacher. In fact, she was a math teacher removed from the classroom due to poor teaching. She is also related to several in the central office. Hmmmmm.

itsmyjob

November 2nd, 2011
6:16 am

Will not vote for it unless I see my school on the list. It is so nasty teachers stay sick with chronic sinus infections, and bad coughs. Many of our students spend the entire year with runny noses. The AC units are full of mold, rather than clean and replace these ancient machines, a crew regularly removes moldy ceiling tiles. Imagine how we feel when we walk into the Palace for our mandatory meetings!
Help us Dekalb County…many of us work hard and love our jobs. We need to feel some love ourselves.