Fayette School System’s #3 wants statewide 1¢ education sales tax

Fayette County School System Assistant Superintendent Sam Sweat

The number three official in the Fayette County School System is not shy about his request to lawmakers: Impose a 1-cent statewide sales tax to fund education.

Assistant Superintendent Sam Sweat on March 11 sent a letter to Gov. Sonny Perdue and area legislators suggesting that the state consider a “temporary” 1-cent sales tax statewide to help offset seven years of austerity cuts and to promote the gains being seen statewide in public education.

“To get through this difficult economic period, I suggest we look at the state of North Carolina,” Sweat wrote. “They imposed a one-cent sales tax statewide to fund their public education system during these tough financial times.

“I believe one gets exactly what one pays for — if we choose to cut funding another year to our students and schools at just the basic level — then we will get what we have chosen . . . mediocrity,” Sweat said in the March 11 letter.

”Is that what our citizens want? Our students are beginning to make substantial gains from increasing graduation rates, to posting improving ACT and SAT scores, and to accepting the challenge of rigorous Advance Placement courses in increasing numbers. Do we have the moral and ethical right to refuse to do what is best for our students? I know it is an election year, but I implore you to have the courage to vote to support students and teachers in Georgia.”

Some may say Sweat is trying to promote his own self-interest since he is part of the public school industry that would benefit from a 1-cent sales tax. But Sweat said he begs to differ.

“I am a concerned citizen, a parent and, lastly, an educator,” Sweat told The Citizen last week. “It’s time for people who care about public education to speak up. I’m tired of it. We’ve had austerity cuts for seven years and I don’t think it’s right. Where are the legislative priorities? I understand Fayette residents do not favor increased taxes. There are a lot of different options. For me, it’s a 1-cent sales tax for a short period of time.”

Sweat’s comments mirrored those he sent to legislators, citing the potential overall impact to student learning.

“I am deeply concerned with the financial cuts school systems across the state of Georgia have taken during the past several years and most importantly this past year (2009-2010). My concerns are for the upcoming school year (2010-2011),” the letter said.

“How much more can our public schools take in financial cuts? How many school systems will go to a four-day work week? How many students will suffer in over-crowded classrooms in which teachers cannot make individual contact? How much of a salary reduction will our teachers have to take this upcoming year?” Sweat wrote.

“How many programs that enrich and support academic achievement will be cut? What kind of impact will these cuts have on student achievement scores and economic development in the state of Georgia? How do we explain to children that they are less important than other projects or plans that could be postponed until more secure financial times?” Sweat’s letter said.

Returning to the austerity cuts experienced by school systems over the past several years, Sweat said that decrease in funding and the negative affects stemming from it will only be exacerbated if the modest gains experienced in school systems statewide are compromised by further state cuts to education.

“If what I am hearing is true, there is going to be a huge hole in the FY ‘11 budget for education; that hole cannot nor should not be closed at the expense of children,” Sweat’s letter said. ”How can you expect local school systems to absorb another large cut financially?

“For the past seven years our public schools have had austerity reductions which have reduced our QBE (Quality Basic Education) funding by millions of dollars at the local level. We have seen vouchers and charter school legislation passed by our legislators which has stripped away monies from all of our public schools. This year (2009-2010) my school district has reduced expenditures over $15 million dollars by reducing personnel (150 positions) and cutting costs at every turn,” Sweat’s letter said.

“The upcoming school year will be even more difficult because we cannot reduce our budget with large personnel cuts. If the cuts are going to be as large as we hear, we will have to cut important student programs and drastically increase student class sizes. Again, all personnel will have to sacrifice to take furlough days and pay cuts. Is this really what the legislature wants to do?” Sweat’s letter continued.

“As the state of Georgia competes globally, do we want to shorten the school year when we know from research that we need to lengthen it in order to be more competitive? Our students deserve the best public education possible in the state of Georgia. To market Georgia, we need the best public education we can provide,” Sweat said in his letter.

Sweat is third in line behind retiring Superintendent John DeCotis and Deputy Superintendent Fred Oliver in the system’s hierarchy. A nationwide search is underway for a replacement for DeCotis following his June retirement.

kayfay
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The great brain drain of

The great brain drain of Fayette started with Kathy Cox taking the brightest and best downtown. We were left with the ones who did not make the cut. It's about the students and teachers, nothing more.

hsh87
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I'm glad I'm not the only one.

I agree - and see that others do too. The system is way too top heavy. And a lot of spending goes on up at the top with people I have seen not do much of anything. Sure, another 1% why not - they can afford it with their large salaries. It's those of us who have honestly suffered from the increased taxes and pay cuts that will feel that 1%.

scribbler
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This isn't rocket surgery...

The FCBOE its administrators and staff should go back to the drawing board on the spending side of the equation. IMHO... it's time for a "RESET" for the Board's mission and System priorities. Simply manage the budget outlays to live within the means of income.

(1) FCBOE is quite top-heavy with staff, sundry administrators and various specialists whose positions and salaries always seem to escape additional scrutiny and, in turn, the budget scalpel.

(2) Get our system back in the business of well-taught basics: excellent academics and a safe, conducive-to-learning environment. The "Three R's" with an adequate level of arts education and sports activities; instead of every little popular twist, turn and newfound fad in the sub-culture of sophisticated education systems. We have tried many of those cutesy & fashionable unproven methods--with very expensive marginal results.

(3) Simply eliminate all the fluffy, fuzzy, feel-goods in the curriculum and extra-curricular spectrum. It should NOT be the mission of the Board or the System to become cultural architects, social engineers, or surrogate parents for our students. This is a business operated in the public trust. Please take care of business.

(4) Monitor the registration /attendance matrix well enough that out-of-county students are identified readily, and sufficient numbers of punitive cases brought against violators-- that this becomes widely-known as exceedingly risky, and certainly too expensive.

(4a) In the alternative, offer a limited number of out-of-county registrations (up to system capacity) to families that are able to pay Fayette county tax assessor tuition and fees equivalent to twice the per-student cost for in-county students. Every "imported" student pays for at least one other in-county student. This amount paid "up-front" should be LESS than the burden of fines for attempting a clandestine registration and participation in our county system.

(5) Please remember: it's not "your money". The main burden of funding schools in Fayette County is borne by the property owners. We are indeed Taxed Enough Already at every level.

Another SPLOST -- or "temporary statewide 1-cent sales tax" would simply throw good money after too much already-wasted money.

"We the people" are now awake... And paying close attention.

suggarfoot
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Sweat and the 3 amigos should hide their heads in shame

we don't have to look far to find others doing MUCH better with the tax dollars than the next county...COWETA..

"The situation in Coweta County, at least in terms of reserve funds, is markedly different. Coweta School Board members last month said the school system would absorb up to three upcoming furlough days if state funding for those days was withheld. Coweta currently has more than $22 million in its reserve funds account"

and these BOE here want to beat on their chest about how they wrote to the gov of George demanding they impose a tax on us to cover their a$$?
They look like fools!

And anyone that voted the 3 amigos look the same!

Coweta is up and coming, they wiped Sandy Creek and Fayette county high on SAT scores and it didn't take nearly as much money from the taxpayers.

Coweta is up and coming, and because of our administration...down and going dow more...

jpopeye
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To suggarfoot

Wow, thanks for your perspective. I did not realize Coweta was doing so much better than Fayette. I'll need to check the facts because, well - because. But if Coweta is really flush with reserves and beating Fayette in scores you have contributed meaningful points to the discussion.

suggarfoot
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Jpopeye

My statement was
"Coweta is up and coming, they whipped Sandy Creek and Fayette county high on SAT scores and it didn't take nearly as much money from the taxpayers."

but you turned it into.."I did not realize Coweta was doing so much better than Fayette."

As far as the financial end of it, this is out of the Citizen

http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/04-01-2010/coweta-schools-unaffected-...

Coweta BOE has been a good stewart of the tax money and not built schools they don't need.

As far as test scores...My statement that Sandy Creek and Fayette county high stands correct. Not saying they are not good schools, they are. But the scores represent how hard the kids, teachers, and parents try. Not what the over overbloated Administration does in the main office. These are 2009 scores

reading math writing ttl

Coweta East Coweta High School 504 511 479 1494 Details

Coweta Newnan High School 510 515 493 1518 Details

Coweta Northgate High School 522 522 498 1542 Details

Records 1-4 of 4

Georgia SAT scores
Georgia's average score on the SAT college admissions exam fell for the third consecutive year, according to results released Aug. 25, 2009.
The state's results dropped by six points to 1,460.

Fayette County High 491 486 475 1452

Mcintosh High School 540 559 533 1632

Fayette Sandy Creek 507 504 491 1502

Starrs Mill High School 540 565 527 1632

Whitewater High School 504 506 491 1501

The combinded scores are respectivly

Mcintosh 1632 Fay

Stars Mill 1632 Fay

North gate 1542 Cow

Newnan High 1518 Cow

Sandy Creek 1502 Fay

White water 1501 Fay

East Cowetta 1494 Cow

Fay County High 1452 Fay

suggarfoot
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Jpopeye

My statement was
"Coweta is up and coming, they whipped Sandy Creek and Fayette county high on SAT scores and it didn't take nearly as much money from the taxpayers."

but you turned it into.."I did not realize Coweta was doing so much better than Fayette."

As far as the financial end of it, this is out of the Citizen

http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/04-01-2010/coweta-schools-unaffected-...

Coweta BOE has been a good stewart of the tax money and not built schools they don't need.

As far as test scores...My statement that Sandy Creek and Fayette county high stands correct. Not saying they are not good schools, they are. But the scores represent how hard the kids, teachers, and parents try. Not what the over overbloated Administration does in the main office. These are 2009 scores

reading math writing ttl

Coweta East Coweta High School 504 511 479 1494 Details

Coweta Newnan High School 510 515 493 1518 Details

Coweta Northgate High School 522 522 498 1542 Details

Records 1-4 of 4

Georgia SAT scores
Georgia's average score on the SAT college admissions exam fell for the third consecutive year, according to results released Aug. 25, 2009.
The state's results dropped by six points to 1,460.

Fayette County High 491 486 475 1452

Mcintosh High School 540 559 533 1632

Fayette Sandy Creek 507 504 491 1502

Starrs Mill High School 540 565 527 1632

Whitewater High School 504 506 491 1501

The combinded scores are respectivly

Mcintosh 1632 Fay

Stars Mill 1632 Fay

North gate 1542 Cow

Newnan High 1518 Cow

Sandy Creek 1502 Fay

White water 1501 Fay

East Cowetta 1494 Cow

Fay County High 1452 Fay

Bonkers
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To: Rocket Surgery or Major Science?

I think you meant to say "Major Science."

Now, "We the People," Have you looked into the website for:
Guardians of the Free Countries?

Enter those words on Google and you will be there.

I'm not recommending them, but you may fit.

Not: you are fairly correct about cutting the budget for schools but readin, ritin, and rithmetic is now taught by 3rd grade. Computers are expected to do the spelling and makes it unneeded to know how to write cursive anymore.

Third through the 16th grade teaches primarily how to get a job. They care nothing much about liberal arts and engineers can't spell, write or write checks.

jevank
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Not the brightest fish in the tool shed

Sorry, rocket surgery made me chuckle...couldn't resist.

The 5-0
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Tightwads

It is one cent people! We're not talking about a one percent increase or a one dollar increase. It's one cent!!! You people need to chill the heck out and stop being so dang belligerent. It is true that they mismanaged our money and made some pretty bonehead mistakes, but that's why we have to power to elect new people (if people would actually go out and vote!!!). Don't hurt our faltering school systems even more by fighting over a one cent tax increase. It's extremely juvenile.

jevank
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Simple math

It's not just one cent. It's one cent per dollar, which does mean it's a one percent increase. (100 x .01 = 1%)

The 5-0
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My Error

I stand corrected.
The article should have clarified that.

suggarfoot
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what in the ...is he talking about?

"As the state of Georgia competes globally, do we want to shorten the school year when we know from research that we need to lengthen it in order to be more competitive? "

To be more 'competitive'? are we trying to pimp our kids overseas?

Are we hawking for kids from abroad to come here? What is this except...polit double speak..?

baffle them with the BS, so they won't notice the S we have done to the school system.

Funny thing, it wasn't ..broke (meaning can't be fixed) or broke (meaning no money) till you Einstein's tried to fix it!

ginga1414
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I Vote For Miss Piggy

Amen again and again and again and..........to each and every comment! We need to clone Miss Piggy. We need Miss Piggy for the DeCotis, Smola,Teri Smith, Wright, Horgan, Hearn, Maxwell, Jack Smith, Frady, Perdue, Obama, and on and on and on positions in our government. Miss Piggy needs to be President, Governor, Commissioner, and Mayor. We need to call the CDC. ALL PUBLIC OFFICIALS HAVE SPLOST FEVER! However, it seems the taxpayers, at large, are immune. I think most folks in Fayette County have been lied to one too many times when it comes to SPLOST. We all need to get a NO SPLOST sign for our cars so the voters who aren't informed as to what SPLOST really means will have it burned into their brains.

suggarfoot
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SPLOST _= I know I said I could ...but I 'jst don't know how

Please give me more money.

I know I spent your money, but hey, this is my first time managing (bagging) somethin bigger my piggy bank..

I need more...I have to learn somehow don't I?

I went to 4 year college and I'm smart enough to BS you..into electing me...I know I can get it right ...with a little more money and practice.

I know I was given this much...to make the schools work..but hey..I got friends and family...(developer want to be s)...I gotta keep up, and I got my image to support! so give up the bucks!!!

you taxpayers are so ungratefull for all our plotten and schemmen we been doin...damm you!

NUK_1
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Sam Sweat...what a joke

He would be the first to go if the BOE was concerned about really cutting costs. You don't need near the amount of "superintendents" FC has, especially one who is so pathetically ignorant about Open Meetings laws.

suggarfoot
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Sam Sweat ...you pompus a@@@!

You guys, that meaning you and the 3 amigos, ...W.A.S.T.E.D.. our money on schools built on pure speculation and the kissing of the developers ring (or other parts)

I know you are fishing for De Cotis job, but no on is in love with you are your cronies.

De Cotis was a good man, but he had to do what the BOE said, that took away all the good choices the man could make.

I can still remember looking you straight in the eye when my child decided to go live with his father in another state rather than go to the school he was assigned. I begged you, I was going to loose my child, I will never in my life forget you looking me in the eye..and telling me no...like my child was a bug, and I was nothing better.

Imagine my supprise when I found out later, your kids...NEVER.. went to the schools they were suppose to!

I hate your guts!

suggarfoot
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ps

go away...find a home..and when you do, please come back for Smith, Smola, and Wright!

You want a tax? how bout you give some of your 200,0000. over paid 9 month a year salary...for doing nothing?

hsh87
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Right on!

This is the best idea I've heard yet.

Mike King
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Mr Sweat, How Pompous Must You Be?

Instead of a one percent sales tax to solely support education, why not learn to live within your means. Was it not on your watch that you unnecessarily built a school adjacent to a PROPOSED bypass at the same time school enrollment was in decline? Do you really believe the citizens of Fayette County/Georgia will fall for such lunacy? School district upon school district nationally have proven that the amount of money spent per student for public education does not correlate to the quality of education.

Would you care to compare the quality of education between kids who attend public schools and those who are home schooled? Charter schools?

Try putting more quality people into the classrooms instead of county offices. Should you eliminate fifty percent of those employed at the county office, can you honestly state that the performance in the individual classrooms will decline?

The time for accountability may be upon you. Can you handle the pressure?

bladderq
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Coweta County

He might want to look at the situation next door. Again, the BOE there serves gratis. The largest employer in Coweta.
How can he ask for more money when they have not been good stewards of what they have been given? I blame the FCBOE above all.

Bonkers
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Nationwide search?

What does that mean? Isn't there a list of superintendents or promotable such people provided to school boards?

Isn't the same procedures used that say, Atlanta, uses? Always end up with a superintendent with the same race as before?

There must be somebody available with enormous management abilities who isn't set in their ways to solve problems who will work hard for half the salary the last guy made!
As far as I can see, he made no improvements in student knowledge over what we had, but was just on the list in an appropriate manner to retire with a huge salary!

zoes
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never temporary

A .01 sales tax would NOT be temporary. Once it is established, it will never go away. I pay FAR too much to the schools in property taxes for just my little house to be paying more in sales tax.

Get this straight. You don't need more money. You need to manage the money you have. Start at the top.

ZoeS

suggarfoot
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I think the 3 amigos and Sweat

should have to stand buck necken in front of the empty school on Rivers and write on a chalk board 'I wont lie' 1000 times, or till it sinks in their thick heads...then..they should be run out of town!

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