Don’t make vote on ESPLOST a punitive measure

Tue, 10/28/2008 - 3:44pm
By: Letters to the ...

I hesitate to send in an article on the SPLOST because of all of the negativity associated with the topic, all of the mudslinging at the BOE, all of the finger-pointing and unpleasantness that has been printed and debated for weeks. I will certainly not be contributing to that.

Let’s try to keep some perspective.

Parents, we have a great thing here. Don’t forget that we have the highest graduation rate in the state, and a high school with the highest SAT scores in the state for the last three years. People choose to move to our county over others because of our schools. These are all good things. We have this superior standing in great part because of our school board and the high standards that they have set. Why do we forget all of that now that they want to raise taxes?

To all of those families without school-aged children: better schools mean better communities. Better communities mean safer communities. Safer communities mean better quality of life. Isn’t that why we live here?

You are not getting “ripped off” if you have to pay more to keep great schools in a community where you do not have children. Schools are the heart of any community, directly or indirectly. They should be supported by everyone, equally.

To those that believe the BOE should be held “accountable” for how they spend our money: what exactly are you asking for here? What you seem to be saying is that you want them to be punished for their past mismanagement by denying them money and forcing them to make cuts.

Well, that would be effective if those cuts and this punitive tactic only affected those sitting on the BOE. It does not. The cuts you want affect those that deserve the absolute best we can give them, our teachers and our students.

Regardless of what went wrong in the past, it does not change where we are now. The school system (like most everyone these days) does not have enough money to maintain its current standards. Something has to give.

Personally, I am not willing to sacrifice our current scholastic standards because I do not want to pay for it. I am willing to save by eliminating other things. For me, the choice to cut back on a portion of my child’s educational experience is not a choice, even if it could have been prevented.

Furthermore, voting for SPLOST is not an endorsement of the BOE and how they operate. It is an endorsement of our standards for our schools. It is an endorsement of the value of our current quality of life. It is our local responsibility to maintain that. If state-mandated budget cuts necessitate supplemental funds in the form of local taxes, so be it.

I for one am willing to be held accountable for where we are now and pay an extra 1 percent sales tax for five years to maintain the superior education in this county. Investing in local education is an investment in the quality of our community.

But our job as citizens does not end there.

In addition to voting for the SPLOST, over the next five years, we should also collectively promise to get off of our butts and attend school board meetings, ask questions and be involved in where that SPLOST money goes.

Let’s put our energy into being proactive. Your increased involvement and interest can be a phone call or email, a commitment to attend one meeting a month, or simply reading meeting minutes and keeping abreast of issues.

After all, deciding to give the BOE more of our money is not where our responsibility ends, and theirs begins. Our responsibility as citizens is ongoing and critical to promote accountability.

Remember, folks: It is not us against them; we are all in this together, and we are ALL ultimately accountable for where we end up.

Don’t be punitive with your vote. Vote for the SPLOST to preserve the quality of Fayette County education, and commit your involvement to see that it is spent wisely.

Beth Pullias

Peachtree City, Ga.

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Steve Brown's picture
Submitted by Steve Brown on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 8:57pm.

I like Beth Pullias. She wants the best for our community. However, I cannot agree with her position here.

First of all, the facts raised about the FCBOE are a lot more than "negativity ... mudslinging at the BOE ... finger-pointing."

There have been some serious errors in judgement. In fact, I truly believe we need to initiate an investigation to ensure it was nothing more than errors in judgement.

To know the FCBOE mis-spent $65 million in bonds and then go on to say we should give them $115 million more is ridiculous.

The lack of financial accountability has been staggering. Ms. Smith and Ms. Smola need to exit.

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