How about the FCBOE not making budget next year?

Wed, 06/04/2008 - 10:37pm
By: buckstopshere

Why is this happening when the tax base over the last 10 years grew by leaps and bounds? Who was watching the FCBOE run the system into the red? Into the can? Why weren't they prudent with the tax payers money? If they had planned properly, they wouldn't be looking to raise the millage rate. Keep passing the buck FCBOE you have'nt broken us completely.

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Submitted by tc on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 11:11pm.

Folks, keep your eye on the ball. The issue is not the funding source, the issue is did we need the schools? The answer is no. There are economic indicators that were ignored which clearly show a downward trend in the number of school age children for Fayette County even though the overall population has increased. Due to this "oversight," we will have six schools that under minimum capacity for full funding next year. And this is with Fayette Elementary being shut down. What a shame. What a waste of resources.

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 7:24am.

So, if it's true that they have more space than they need, you don't want them to have the funds they need now? I googled Ga school SPLOST and found this list. Fayette schools are missing out on millions of dollars because they don't have a SPLOST.

Submitted by buckstopshere on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 7:35am.

Take a look at your school board at work in reference to SPLOST...

I guess people are still crying over sour grapes.

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 10:29am.

Wednesday, May 17, 2000
With no opposition, school board candidate ready to start

Janet Smola, candidate for Post 1 on the Fayette County Board of Education, faces no opposition in her bid, but that hasn't diminished her efforts to stay informed about the issues.

She will take over from Debbie Condon, who announced she will not seek another term.

As cochairman of the Fayette County Citizens for Excellence in Education, a group that formed last summer to disseminate information about a proposed 1 percent special local option sales tax that was defeated by voters in a September referendum, Smola will continue to act as liaison between citizens and the board until a successor can be found.

“Right now we're going through House Bill 1187 and the budget process for the school system. In all honesty, when I look at House Bill 1187 and upon completion of the advisory councils the governor has assigned to each and every school, there should be no need for the FCCEE,” Smola said. Until the advisory councils are phased in over three years, according to the governor's directive, the FCCEE will continue, she said.

“My greatest concern about the advisory councils is uniformity, a universal approach to each school individually. If you don't have that, it's very likely that you'll have (for example) Starr's Mill managed very differently than Sandy Creek. The creation of these councils is going to have to have a common denominator in order to keep the school system on an even keel,” Smola said.

Smola said she has always been an active participant in the goings-on in the schools system. “... only because I have three children and I have strong opinions about things and always feel that you have your right to voice your opinion... but the prudent thing is to have all the information surrounding a subject before you voice your opinion.”

When the decision was made by the school board to try and finance new facilities and expansion of existing facilities through a special local option sales tax, Smola said she wanted to know why they came to that decision rather than taking the traditional bond route. “I wanted to see the budget. I had heard all kinds of things, people throwing around words like misappropriation of funds and mismanagement.”

She has a working knowledge of financial issues, having been a licensed securities dealer and insurance agent.

“When I looked at that funding issue, I could understand why that board made the decision that they did. To fund those facilities through bonds would have cost the school system more money, a lot more money,” she said. Smola is still in favor of a SPLOST.

“I will do everything in my power to influence this board to put a finance funding opportunity on the ballot. The only way you're going to get a fair vote in terms of the numbers of people, is to put it in a general election.

“The facilities issues are not going away,” she added. “They are increasing in severity. If Peachtree City annexes the property [a 1,200-acre proposed west village), it's going to grow in leaps and bounds, and it's going to be an issue the school board is going to have to deal with,” she added.

Smola sees the key issue facing the upcoming board as complying with the Education Reform Act. “We have to comply with what the governor has set forth... there are lots of things the governor is looking at and one of those things is the fact that Fayette County has twice denied funding to the children here... now if in the future the governor decides to help with facilities issues, which counties do you think are going to get the help? The ones that are helping themselves and still need help, or the ones who haven't helped themselves and are looking for a handout?”

Smola said she is concerned about the school district maintaining its high level of student performance given the change in funding from the state, for instance, taking away funding for nonscientific labs. “I see some shifting of expenditures and that's definitely going to be an issue for the school board.”

Despite serving as cochairman with Don Apking for the FCCEE, Smola said she would not vocally endorse any one candidate for posts 2 and 3. “I have to remind myself that whatever I do is going to have an impact on my position on the school board. Regardless of who is elected, I will serve with two people in two seats and I don't know who is going to sit there.”

Smola said she didn't want to create hard feelings or set herself up in an adversarial position before she even took office. “But I have made it clear that I will come out and support those candidates that are well versed on the issues,” she added.

Another goal Smola has set for herself is to “reopen the lines of communication within the governing board [school board].”

“The best way to do that is by example.” Smola said, adding that if you disagree with a board member, put the issue behind you and move on.

She also advocates making decision that are in the best interests of the students in the county and not what the voters necessarily want to hear. Smola gave the example of the current board turning down a recommendation by superintendent Dr. John DeCotis to raise the millage rate to 20 mills, simply because the voters had just turned down the SPLOST.

Smola is known in the community as a professional fund-raiser. For approximately five years she worked to raise money for the Joseph Sams School. She is now free-lancing as a fund-raiser and event planner for political hopefuls.

Smola and her husband, Mike, a Delta employee, have three children, Zachary, Andrew and Evan. The Smolas live in Tyrone.

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 10:26am.

Wednesday, December 22, 1999
Ethics Commission cites anti-SPLOST action committee
Staff Writer

Georgia's Ethics Commission Monday cited anti-sales tax advocate Carl Avrit for failure to identify his organization in phone messages last September, but chose not to levy a fine.

Avrit and his lawyer, Don Johnson, said they will appeal the ruling, which includes an order to cease and disist.

Avrit is head of the political action committee Fayette Citizens for Better Government, which launched a last-minute phone blitz in opposition to the Fayette Board of Education's special purpose local option sales tax referendum Sept. 21.

“This was a political decision by a political body,” Avrit said following the Ethics Commission hearing Monday morning. The decision was “a miscarriage of justice,” he added.

Janet Smola, cochairman of a political action committee that supported the 1 percent sales tax for school improvements and construction, filed the complaint against Avrit.

“I feel like the voters of Fayette County have been vindicated,” Smola said following the decision.

The last-minute phone campaign consisted of two different prerecorded messages. The phone messages received by Fayette County voters instructed them to vote against the $91 million spending package. There was no tag line, or disclaimer, which is required on politically generated print ads or TV spots.

John Garst of Rosetta Stone Communications, the firm that Avrit used to place the calls, said tag lines were “not standard industry procedure. Literally, it's never been done,” Garst told the commission. No distinction was made between politically generated phone calls and printed material being called “advertisement” by the commission.

The vote was 4-1 citing the lack of identification on the calls as a statute violation. Commissioner Sam Nicholson said that voters “are entitled to know who is spending the money,” in this case $900, when a group is trying to influence an election.

Johnson, who represented Avrit before the commission, asked that the complaint be dropped based on constitutional grounds and improper venue. Both motions were overruled by commission Chairman Michael McCrae. Johnson tried to prove that the definition of “referendum” was vague and Douglas County, where the hearing took place, was not his client's home county.

He called the special local option sales tax referendum a “ballot question,” which he said should negate the need for a tag line on the calls.

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 10:24am.

this is getting to be pretty fun

Wednesday, November 24, 1999
SPLOST ethics charges against Avrit have some substance
In response to Bill Webster's claims that Janet Smola is a poor loser for going after Carl Avrit, let's get something straight: Carl Avrit is a certified cheap-shot artist.

Regardless of whether it was Janet Smola or the ghost of Elvis Presley who made the ethics complaint against Avrit, the state Ethics Commission obviously agrees that something in Avrit's anonymous telephone campaign to defeat the SPLOST had the odor of rotting mackerel.(Maybe that was what Avrit's fellow traveler, Claude Paquin, was referring to as not passing the smell test).

Avrit's claim that he didn't identify himself or his group in the telephone recordings for the sake of brevity is hogwash. He didn't identify himself or his group for one reason: He's a coward who hoped to avoid being taken to task by outraged folks who dislike telephone solicitors attempting to sell a campaign of lies and deceit. Rest assured that had the shoe been on the other foot, it would've been Avrit going after Ms Smola. So, please, Mr. Webster, don't even try to make a martyr out of your friend. He doesn't have the necessary credentials.

Avrit said he launched his secret telephone blitz because he didn't approve of the way the SPLOST campaign was being conducted. There was ample opportunity for him to express his concerns in the proper forum. The citizens group meetings were open to the public. Anyone who wished could attend. I read about them in the local newspapers and, finding the subject matter interesting, I decided to attend. I ended up getting involved with the group and speaking to several groups about the SPLOST. I didn't understand, at first, how the whole thing worked, but I went into it with an open mind and I learned. Avrit didn't attend one meeting.

There was nothing mysterious, no hidden agendas and, contrary to the claims of Avrit, Paquin, John Regan and everyone else who continually lambasted the school board and the citizens group, the information as to where and how the money would be spent was freely accessible to anyone who was responsible enough to inquire.

Avrit is starting to sound like another famous prevaricator of our times, President Bill Clinton. Avrit tells the Ethics Commission he had nothing to do with the crudely lettered and racist anti—SPLOST signs that sprouted along roadsides overnight, or the same garbage that was left in and on people's mailboxes. And yet, just a few weeks ago, Avrit said in an interview with a local newspaper that he had no “direct involvement” in the placement of signs and literature. Did he or didn't he?.

Avrit and Co. literally can't see the forest for the trees. The first time the SPLOST question came to the ballot box, it got clobbered. This time around, the anti-SPLOST faction only managed to win by a few hundred votes. Common sense suggests that even most of the party faithful bailed out on them this time around. And who could blame them? Who wants to be associated with a group of crackpots?

Avrit and his dwindling band of disciples will eventually disappear from the radar screen. They're so insignificant that they won't even be missed.

Joe Palmer


Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 10:16am.

Wednesday, August 11, 1999
SPLOST supporters getting organized
Staff Writer

A grass roots effort by Fayette County parents and citizens pushing for passage of a $90 million special local option sales tax and bond referendum Sept. 21 is taking shape.

A steering committee called Fayette Citizens for Continued Excellence in Education, the official name submitted to the secretary of state, has organized and will launch its pro-SPLOST campaign in about two weeks with a barrage of brochures, speakers, mail-outs and telephoning aimed at informing voters about the proposed tax and the key needs of the schools, which include more classrooms, improved technology and security devices.

Heading the group are Janet Smola, a Tyrone resident, parent and fund raiser for the Joseph Sams School, and Don Apking, a Fayetteville parent and president of the Fayette County High Booster Club. Treasurer is Connie Leary, a Peachtree City parent whose children attend Huddleston Elementary.

They will be guided by Todd Barnes of A.G. Edwards financial group, one of the bond advisers working with the Board of Education on the SPLOST/bond initiative. “We need to go after the positive and organize properly at the grass roots level,” Apking told those assembled Friday morning. The overwhelming feeling of the group is that the facts are so positive, that any negative aspects of the referendum will be overshadowed.

According to Barnes, the number of votes needed to pass the SPLOST are “not as much as you think. There are currently 50,478 registered voters in the county. Historically, there is a 15 percent to 20 percent turnout for a special referendum, based on statewide observations. “In Fayette County, you can expect a slightly higher turnout,” Barnes predicted.

A 25 percent turnout would bring in 12,620 voters. Barnes estimated that for a 60 percent or better “yes” vote, only 7,572 votes would be needed. “Within the network, you've got the votes,” Barnes said, referring to the number of school district employees, which totals 3,500, plus their spouses. Six hundred Realtors also have pledged to support the tax.

Fayette school superintendent Dr. John DeCotis reviewed the highlights of the sales tax effort, carefully giving only facts, because state law prohibits school employees or members of the board from actively campaigning for passage of the referendum.

Passage of the tax would provide 300 classrooms or space for 5,000 additional students, property for two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school, playground improvements, electrical and technology upgrades at existing schools, a new auditorium for Sandy Creek High School, stadium improvements at Fayette County High School, concession stand, lockers and bleachers, plus rest rooms at Starr's Mill and major renovations at McIntosh, including a new physical education building and upgrades to the existing stadium.

The SPLOST calls for a one-cent sales tax to be levied starting Jan. 1, and the sale of $50 million in bonds to provide the funds to begin the proposed projects simultaneously. The bonds will be repaid through the money generated through the sales tax. The tax ends in five years or when the school board collects $90 million, whichever occurs first.

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 10:08am.

thanks, that is very interesting. i dont think janet smola was on the board yet on the school board later. i am going to dig a little deeper but i think she was found innocent of the ethics violation.

Submitted by susieq on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 7:46am.

I believe it's called "crying over spilled milk," not sour grapes. LOL

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 6:43am.

What are the economic indicators that the school system should have seen? Is the system supposed to build schools for population or for economic indicators? Which six schools will be under minimum capacity?

Submitted by Ever Hopeful on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 11:55am.

to correspond to the decreasing value of Fayette county homes? Hate to think of this impact on Fayette County education.

Submitted by sageadvice on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 5:05pm.

Are you out of your mind? Reduced?

Only way that would happen is if General Motors and General Electric moved their corporate headquarters here!

Submitted by pinkslip on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 2:40pm.

from the State Legislature over the past 5 years....that's what happened!

Submitted by sageadvice on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 4:42pm.

Yeah, that state funding Fayette, and all counties, used to get from the state, actually came from the federal budget in Washington.

When Ronnie Reagan stopped sending much money to the states (for such things as driving courses) the states would not pick those costs up to pay, even though Reagan said it was theirs to pay.

States like Georgia were the worst for that---they didn't want to pay for anything for kids much. That is exactly why the federals furnished 90% of the money to start with!
Hard to not put in 10% when you can have 90% more!

There would not have been any Interstate highways if the federals hadn't paid 90% of the building cost and planned where they were to go. Imagine Perdue deciding on number of miles of Interstate and where it would go?

This is why we have crumbling bridges, only one Lake Lanier, Interstates outdated, schools failing, and much more in Georgia and everywhere.

Rich don't want to pay more percentage than poor, and poor don't want to give up any bread and bean money for tax!

Submitted by inmyopinion on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 12:21pm.

The FCBOE will have to make several difficult choices that may have not been necessary had they followed the same path years ago of other local school districts by financing their construction of schools with a SPLOST. Coweta County is a prime example of using a SPLOST for construction and give the BOE available dollars for raises, maintenance and other expenses with reasonable tax rates as part of the property tax.

Fayette County has become an expensive place to live and work as a teacher and soon could become less attractive as a place to work as surrounding counties raise the pay scale while the FCBOE struggles to meet their current operating expenses. The long term affect of a bond is paying for the building not only the original cost to construct,but the several thousand and possibly millions in interest.

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 6:58am.

The state has taken $20,000,000.00 from Fayette County schools. All the surrounding counties use a SPLOST. If Fayette County doesn't get a SPLOST, the schools will have to reduce services to the students such as parapros, music and art, orchestra, computer labs, and low student-teacher ratios. They might even have to reduce transportation. The state only requires busses for students who live more than a mile and a half from school. People provide these services so when the school loses a service a person will be losing a job. Joblessness isn't good for the economy either. People don't want to lose services or jobs but that's what will happen. BOE needs to try again for a SPLOST and Fayette County would be crazy not to vote for it.

Submitted by buckstopshere on Sun, 06/08/2008 - 8:20pm.

Smola & Smith are big spenders with our taxes. You might as well include Wright in this category as well. The 3 amigos have not spent our tax money wisely. They have built schools where there are no children, they have had to ship kids to far away schools and they waste money by giving DeCotis a big fat raise last year for nothing. The 3 amigos will try to blow sunshine up your hoo-hoo all day long that they have been good stewards of all that has been entrusted to them but the truth remains. They never put money away for a rainy is now starting to rain in Fayette county. We aren't going to meet budget because instead of being fiscally responsible they were frivilous!!!

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Sun, 06/08/2008 - 9:28pm.

Have any of the Board members voted against the budget? Have any voted against the Superintendent's salary?

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 2:20pm.

I am pretty sure that FCBOE tried to get a SPLOST passed back in the 90's. The voters turned it down. Anybody remember that?

Submitted by buckstopshere on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 7:23am.

here is some of the fall out brought to you by Smola....

Wednesday, November 24, 1999
Why is Smola lying about anti-SPLOST people?
Who is Janet Smola and why is she lying about Carl Avrit?

I attended the hearings a few days ago at the State Capitol where a board heard two complaints:

Case 1: Claude Paquin had filed charges of conflict of interest against the pro-SPLOST organization, the Fayette County Board of Education. Mr. Paquin presented eye-opening, Board of Education internal memoranda and letters which showed a close and clear working relationship between our Board of Education and the company which would get about $3 million in underwriting fees if SPLOST won. Eye-opening!

The board's lead counsel strongly recommended prosecution after Mr. Paquin's testimony. Unfortunately, this Democratic board, which is a lap dog for the National Education Association, unanimously dismissed Mr. Paquin's most excellent case.

Case 2: Janet Smola filed charges against pro—child, anti-SPLOST activist Carl Avrit for his funding of an anti-SPLOST telephone campaign, flyers, etc., and that the telephone calls had lied about the SPLOST.

It quickly became apparent that Ms. Smola had done poor due diligence regarding her charges. Even though it was well-known that Mr. Avrit was anti-SPLOST via his letters to the editor which were printed in local newspapers; and even though Mr. Avrit's phone number is in the local phone book, Ms. Smola had never attempted to call Mr. Avrit to see if her charges would be accurate.

Ms. Smola's presentation was pathetic, and even though she was shown to be a liar on most issues, she refused to apologize to Mr. Avrit. The board's lead counsel was quiet on Ms. Smola's complaint.

Unfortunately, this Democratic hearing board, which is a lap dog for the National Education Association, was shocked — shocked! — that Mr. Avrit's truthful and accurate telephone calls had not identified his organization's name, rank and serial number and unanimously recommended further prosecution on this one Mickey Mouse charge.

Jesus Christ said that “lawyers and priests would choke on a gnat and swallow a camel.” Jesus would have said the same of the members of that State Capitol hearing board. What a waste of taxpayer money. What a waste of Mr. Avrit's time and money. Must we now obtain a license to speak?

William J. Bryan III

Peachtree City



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Submitted by pinkslip on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 2:33pm.

Yep! SPLOST failed twice!

Submitted by inmyopinion on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 9:05am.

The SPLOST for the FCBOE failed in 1999. A SPLOST for the library in Fayette County was passed in the early 90's. We have since passed a SPLOST for roads in Fayette County. We are slowing down on growth, however we will have an enormous bond debt for the next 30 years. It would be intersting to see if a SPLOST could be passed to retire bond debt and lower our property tax in the coming years. Just a thought!!

Submitted by CitizenBlogger on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 5:39pm.

Why are you blaming the system for not using a SPLOST if you already know the voters turned it down?

Submitted by Okie on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 7:46am.

I voted for it. Most of our tax bill is for schools. With the SPLOST all the other folks coming in and shopping would be helping to pay for it.

yardman5508's picture
Submitted by yardman5508 on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 1:39pm.

I was involved with the effort on the part of the citizens of the county to pass the first SPLOST. If we had used the term "levy" instead of "tax" we probably would have been better off. As it was, the knee-jerk element within the county reacted to any form of "tax" no matter how spread out that tax would have been. It made more sense to them to lay the indebtedness on the property owners rather than on consumers.

An added benefit little considered is that a SPLOST would raise the overall sales tax in the county, making it less attractive as a place to shop for people from other counties. While that would cause Fayette residents to shoulder most of the burden, it would help appease those who see "outside influences" as detrimental to the overall "health" of our community. Keep the faith.

Even a dead fish can go with the flow.

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 9:50am.

SPLOST may have failed because one of our citizens (tax lawyer) explained in The Citizen that school bonds represent a much less costly way for citizens to pay for schools for the following reasons: (1) businesses like stores and banks pay property taxes and share the burden, while they hardly buy anything with a sales tax, (2) visitors pay fairly little sales tax overall, as the bulk of the tax comes from automobile sales and construction materials, (3) the interest paid on school bonds is low because it is free of income tax for the bond investors, (4) the school property tax is deductible on taxpayer income tax returns, reducing its net cost, while the sales tax was not, and (5) school buildings get paid for by the people who use them as they use them instead of being prepaid for the benefit of out-of-county people who come in later. Bonds were seen as more flexible, cheaper and better, when used properly, and as providing a guaranteed amount up front instead of a revenue source fluctuating with the economy.

Submitted by Okie on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 10:46am.

Well, even if we did have a school SPLOST, wouldn't everybody still be paying property taxes for schools? As for (5), I don't quite get that one. The school buildings get paid for by the people who use them....I've never used a school in kids. Still paying.

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 4:09pm.

You and I pay a lot of taxes for things we don't use, Okie. It's not about us as individuals. In 2000, the issue was financing new school buildings and paying them within five years, with a SPLOST. (Of course, five-year bonds would have been used too, repaid with the SPLOST money, because the county could not wait five years before starting construction.) The idea was that 30-year bonds would provide a pretty small tax load compared with the SPLOST, and that the tax load would not be cast upon the people who lived in Fayette during 2001 to 2005 but upon the people who lived in Fayette during 2001 to 2030 (as well as the businesses who operated in Fayette and availed themselves of its educated population as employees) as they benefited from using these new schools. Okie, you may have no kids, but you still benefit from having educated people around you. Education means, among other things, being smart about the use of money.

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