Redistricting facilitator ‘had his own agenda’

Tue, 12/11/2007 - 5:35pm
By: Letters to the ...

To those of you involved with the redistricting process, below is a letter which was sent to Governor Sonny Perdue and copied to Dr. DeCotis and each Board of Education member. Hopefully it sums up our situation and some positive feedback will result.

If you feel strongly about any of the below, please act upon those feelings and continue to contact the board members and Dr. DeCotis. The working meeting is set for Thursday morning. All of the points brought up at last Monday night’s public meeting need to be fresh in their mind.

Thank you for all of your help and input. If you can attend, please plan to be at the meeting at the BOE on Thursday morning, Dec. 13, at 8 a.m.


Dear Mr. Perdue,

I am a resident of Fayette County, Georgia, and have been proud to be a part of a good school system. We, as some other Georgia counties, have gone through substantial growth over the past five to 10 years and like others are working through the growing pains.

As I recognize that changes are necessary as a part of this process, I feel compelled to question the logic and/or motives behind the proposed redistricting plans.

As I do not feel that I have received sufficient answers from the school administration to my questions, I would like to bring this to your attention with the hope that you may be able to provide your insight.

Our county embarked upon a redistricting to help populate two new elementary schools, one which will open in 2008-2009, the other 2009-2010. A committee of 28 volunteers led by a facilitator and an outside consultant were tasked with the job of redrawing the lines.

All seemed fine until a proposal was made to close one of our Fayette County schools. It “appears” that the facilitator of the process has his own agenda and has influenced a majority of the committee members in the direction that closes the school.

He has also met on several occasions with the staff of the proposed-closed school and ensured [sic] them that their jobs will be transferred to the new school.

Though the school is the oldest in Fayette County, there has never been a question about its condition and the children who attend the school seem to thrive (it is a Bronze Award school). However, there are several problems that the Board of Education now faces:

1. In the 2004 election, a $65 million bond referendum was passed by the voters of Fayette County. The ballot specifically states “updates and renovations to existing schools.” As of September 2006, $530,000 of bond-raised funds were used to renovate the HVAC system. In the past five years, $2.5 million has been invested in the school to renovate the kitchen, gymnasium, drainage system, parking lots, security system and other items. Taxpayers feel undermined and are in disbelief that the school could actually be closed after this sizable investment has been made in the school.

2. A true cost/benefit analysis has not been performed to determine if this is the best action for the Board of Education to take. In the inconclusive report drawn up by the consultant, our schools appear to be overcrowded again in less than five years. We feel that closing a school now is premature in light of the lack of factual data and the potential need for another school in our near future.

3. The children of our county face the potential of the most disruptive elementary school redistricting in our known history. Some schools face a student population turnover of 50 to 60 percent.

4. Many students who were asked by our administration to redistrict in previous years are now being asked to move to a different (or back to their original) school again.

Though we recognize that some shift in student population is necessary to populate the new schools, we do not feel that the process fulfills its stated goals.

Though our administration has asked for public input and opinion, every question we raise seems to be met with a “pre-planned” response that indicates to us that the decision to close the school has already been made, regardless of whether it is really necessary.

All relationships are built on trust, and my trust and that of many families in Fayette County has been shaken. Though I do not know if there is anything you can specifically do to help in this situation, I truly believe that the closing of a school is outside of the bounds of a redistricting committee and that something larger is going on in this situation to which the public has not been made privileged.

We are being told to “accept” something that will disrupt the lives of so many students and families, schools and communities, unnecessarily. What are the checks and balances put in place by our school governance system? Do you have any suggestions for action for us to take at our county level?

I kindly thank you for taking the time to address these concerns. On the behalf of many Fayette County residents, those who do and those who no longer have elementary age children in the home, I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this matter.

Mary Beth Crumly

Fayetteville, Ga.

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Submitted by messageinabottle on Sun, 12/30/2007 - 9:19pm.

Did Governor Perdue respond to you? If so, what was his response?

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Submitted by Cyclist on Sun, 12/30/2007 - 9:25pm.

You do know that these are written letters submitted to the paper?
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Submitted by messageinabottle on Sun, 12/30/2007 - 9:58pm.

Yes, I do know that. I just wanted to know what happened and figured anybody writing letters to government officials and copying their letters to this newspaper might also be looking at the blogs and wouldn't mind updating us. Am I bothering you by asking?

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