Todd ‘appalled’ at Smith, Smola for attacks at BoE

Fayette County Board of Education member Bob Todd

Fayette County Board of Education member Bob Todd at a press conference Tuesday said he wanted to clarify some of the events that transpired at the May 4 board meeting where a verbal brawl occurred between him, board member Janet Smola and Chairman Terri Smith.

“I am appalled at the behavior displayed and I apologize for any part I had in it,” Todd said. “My concern is using board meetings for political purposes by me or anyone. Differences should be dealt with in a different type of public forum. Political behavior is not appropriate at school board meetings.”

Asked why he felt Smola and Smith were being political, Todd said, “Because they used my announcement for re-election to challenge me and question my ethics and honesty in an open board meeting.”

Referencing what he said were assertions made during and subsequent to the meeting, Todd gave his opinion on a possible ethics violation being filed by Smola over his not working in harmony with decisions made by the board.

“My concern is that I was elected to represent the citizens. When the board votes for stuff that we find out later was not in the best interest of the county we need to do what we can to fix it,” Todd said.

“I will support board decisions as long as they are made correctly. If I find out after the fact that we have made faulty decisions based on incorrect or partial information, then I have a moral obligation to bring it up. If the decision is irreversible, we need to find ways to make it better. We need to learn from our mistakes and do better the next time we make a similar decision. But we need accurate information,” Todd said.

Todd said an example of his position pertained to his vote against adopting the budget last year. His “no” vote came after the new teacher leader positions were created and after the state finally agreed to partially fund the school system’s national board certified teachers.

Those two actions, said Todd, put approximately $500,000 back into the budget and resulted in his vote against adopting the budget.

A Concerned Sen...
A Concerned Senior Citizen's picture
Joined: 05/10/2010
Reply to Wants to Know

I agree that you should get a reasonable response from Wright, Todd and Key to your question. I also agree that monies raised in a local school, elementary, middle or high school should stay in that school. Not try to equalize every nickel, just to say we are "only being fair". Thats hog wash. Monies provided by student fees or those raised by Booster Clubs should follow the student. As to Smola and Smith being the only ones to have a knowledge of school finance and carry the day, thats also hog wash.
The questions and input by each board member must be considered and the board should act in a reasonable, unified and professional manner in the best interest of all the students, parents, teachers, admininistrators, staff and most importantly the citizens of Fayette County. Strong arm tactics by board members are not appropriate.

As to the financial matters, we should have enough in reserve to handle the day to day business operations and emergencies. For too long FCBOE and indeed Fayette County has had the attitude that if there were a few extra bucks, lets find something to spend it on. As to a new ESPLOST, I would not count on that for the next few years.

It was kinda funny to see all the County and city leaders meet to determine a wish list of things to waste money on in a new SPLOST. We voters turned them down five to one. I suspect the next ESPLOST will suffer the same fate. Unfortunately, we are limited by the 20 Mill Statewide education tax limit. Only if the local district voters approve an increase will there be more funds for the FCBOE. I doubt if a vote would be approved. Thats not all bad. The school district should be very effective and very lean. The current downturn, although terrible for many employees, students and programs is an opportunity to shake out the core. The FCBOE should be about providing the best basic education possible for all the students with the monies available. It is not about trying to provide every educational opportunity for every student regardless of cost. If you want your child to have all the extras, try private schools and pay for it yourself.

If the public were to get a good look at the numbers, salary and cost of each administrator including those in the central office and in schools, it would be an eye opener. We might find a duplication of duties, especially curriculum staff, and find that a number of positions could be eliminated or combined. Why does a local school district with 23K students need all those curriculum people? That includes department heads, coordinators, assitant coordinators, support staff and gofers. Curriculum at the K - Grade 12 level is pretty much standard. Looks like the State Department of Education has already done that. Why then do we need all those people? Also, what about all the high salaries. We really do not need to to be paying excessive salries just to keep up with Atlanta, Gwinnett and Fulton County. More hog wash.

FCBOE needs to have a more open citizens review and advisory process that represents the spectrum of Fayette citizens. FCBOE needs to operate in a more open manner, not operate solely on the views of Smola and Smith.

Just remember, we voters are listening, reading and watching what goes on at the FCBOE meetings. We can and will correct any mis-steps and errors of each board member at the polls in 2010 and 2012.

wanttoknow's picture
Joined: 10/31/2007
Board Member Performance - Dr. Todd's not cutting it either!

I am a voter who is disappointed in the financial state of the FCBOE and would like to point out that the board members' decisions are not the only reason we're this mess. You can't solely blame Smola, Wright, Smith, Todd or Key for all this mess. There's plenty of blame to go around.

Board decisions are based on many sources of information and facts that fluctuate just like our economy has. All of these members will say they've based their votes on the available information and the wishes of their electorate. However a great bulk of this information comes directly from the FCBOE staff, which doesn't seem to know what's going on in the real world. This is the staff that pushed for new schools to be built when a survey of builders in this county would have shown that we didn't have housing that was affordable to attract young couples who would have children to continually repopulate our schools. This is the staff that showed up at a recent board meeting with financial figures concerning transportation issues that didn't jive with figures from other in house committees as to potential savings that could be made. This is the staff that is so out of touch what's right and wrong that they forced all high schools to "pool" student parking fees collected at each school because Sandy Creek and Fayette Co. couldn't maintain and pay for their parking staff and maintenance requirements without taking funds from the other 3 high schools (Student User Fees collected at one school shouldn't be used to fund anything at any other school). Is the FCBOE staff going to play tit-4-tat and put all high schools on a level playing field by making Sandy Creek "share" their proceeds from state football playoffs with the other 4 high schools in our county? Are they going to make Starr's Mill soccer players foot the cost of playing soccer at McIntosh and Fayette Co.? Of course not. . . .and they shouldn't. The only issue that I've heard to date that begins to be truthful is that no one at the FCBOE (staff or board members) can seem to stop spending our taxpayer money irresponsibly and say "NO" to approvals to some of these extras that we can't afford at this time. It doesn't mean that we'll lose what we have by not spending more. . . It means we may get to keep what we have! Maybe if our board would 1st address the job performance of the FCBOE staff we may begin to see where the true improvement is needed.

I would like to note that all of the board members are "employed by and accountable to" the citizens who elected them in the 1st place. I voted for Dr. Todd when he ran 4 years ago and am not sure that I'll be voting for him again. He has been unresponsive to me at a voter in his district. In the last 4 years, I have called him once and emailed him 4 times with no response at any time. As he works for me and the many others in my district, this is unacceptable.

My latest email to Dr. Todd and the other board members was sent to approx. 2 months ago addressing concerns about potential cuts in athletic programs on the middle and high school level. The only board members to respond to me were Janet Smola and Terri Smith. Their emails were prompt (within 24 hours) and they answered my questions directly. They did at no time tell me they agreed or disagreed with my views or made promises as to what would be done. They thoughtfully asked for additional information that I may be able to give them for use in making educated decisions concerning these matters. They present themselves as having open minds and provided thoughtful comments. Some may say that they were being politically correct but they did actually use some of the information I gave them in questioning FCBOE staff at the next board meeting. I don't expect them to agree with me on everything and appreciate that they actually listened to my concerns. To date, I have still not heard from Lee Wright, Marion Key or Dr. Todd. The lack of response by the remaining board members leads me to believe that they could care less about the opinions of their constituents. Lee Wright has an excuse. . . he has short timer's attitude. What's Dr. Todd and Ms. Key's excuse? If they were employed by my company, I would have at least put them on performance probation. If they don't do a better job for the voters, they should be given the same thing they've given many teachers. . . . PINK SLIPS!

Just Asking
Just Asking's picture
Joined: 05/07/2010
FCBOE Information and facts that fluctuate?

Let's talk about these fluctuating facts. Have you listened to the last board work session pod cast from May 4? In this meeting, DeCotis said that the reserves were $8 million. A little later he says $10 million. Then board member Lee Wright says later on that the system - which had no reserves when every other system in the state did - now has $16 million in reserves. A little bit of fluctuation or a lot of insane??? Is it any wonder that the community is totally frustrated and perplexed about what is being done with our tax dollars which total nearly 70% of our property taxes in addition to the esplost? Would we better off with a board member who is willing to stand up and say that bad decisions have been made and strive to do better in the future or better off with board members who continually try to sugarcoat bad decisions?

Suzie's picture
Joined: 05/14/2010
Janet Smola

Here's a video clip of a board meeting that shows just how much Janet Smola cares about unity and professionalism.

Spear Road Guy
Spear Road Guy's picture
Joined: 07/21/2006
Janet Smola and Teri Smith

If you could file a recall based on the public's hatred of board members, Smola and Smith wouldn't last another day.

Brooks Parent
Brooks Parent's picture
Joined: 11/01/2007
Way to go Dr Todd!!

Smola, insinuating an ethics violation??? You have got to be kidding me!!! hummm You know what the say about people living in glass houses....
I have heard some things that make you go hummmm......

A Concerned Sen...
A Concerned Senior Citizen's picture
Joined: 05/10/2010
Reply to Dr. Todd's comment

Dr. Todd,

Those of us who have lived in Fayette County know that the quality of the Fayette County Schools is key to our children's success and the quality of life here. Thank you for your honesty and all the long years of service to the schools.

Do not be intimidated by Smola and Smith. They have personal agendas and seem to be on a power trip. Yes, they have done a few things for the children and school district, however their tactics have resulted in a loss of trust among the other school board members, administration, staff, teachers, parents and citizens.

Irresponsible behavior such as exhibited by Smola and Smith at the recent board meeting closely resemble the antics of several Clayton County School Board members a couple of years ago. That resulted in the decimation of the district and a loss of accreditation. They have lost their professionalism. Apparently they slept thru the Georgia School Boards Association classes on boardsmanship. School boards are supposed to operate in a respectful and professional manner in the best interest of the students, parents, teachers, school staff, administration and most importantly the citizens, not act like two teenagers engaged in pillow fight. We do not need that kind of behavior in Fayette County.

Rest assured that the voters in Fayette County have good memories. We can and will correct any school board member mis-steps or actions at the polls in 2010 and 2012.

suggarfoot's picture
Joined: 10/10/2007
Smola filing ethics violation against Dr Todd?

"Todd gave his opinion on a possible ethics violation being filed by Smola over his not working in harmony with decisions made by the board."

I guess if you don't bow and scrape to her, that is 'not working in harmony'?

It sounds much more like she is trying to suppress your right to opinions contrary to her own.

This is completly out of control, and it is nice that she showed us just how far out of control before the elections!

You go Dr Todd!

Recent Comments