Todd: Redistricting email ‘bold-faced lie’
Controversial in its intent or not, a June 19 email from Peachtree City attorney and HighGrove subdivision resident Doug Warner over past actions and
supposed future plans by Post 4 Fayette County Board of Education incumbent Bob Todd has found its way into numerous inboxes across the county.
For his part, Todd made no mystery that he takes exception to the contents of the email, including calling one of Warner’s assertions a “bold-faced lie.”
“Bob Todd, who has teamed up with Steve Brown, voted against keeping HighGrove at Starr’s Mill, and he plans to move both HighGrove and Whitewater (subdivisions) to Whitewater High School and Middle School. All of HighGrove should be voting against Bob Todd and in favor of Charlie Cave. Make sure all of the moms know this,” Warner’s email read.
Contacted Friday, Warner said his position in the email is based on a Dec. 17, 2007 vote by Todd on elementary school redistricting. Todd was one of those in the 3-2 vote that opposed the redistricting proposal.
“Most parents (at HighGrove) want their children to stay where they are at the Starr’s Mill complex,” Warner said, noting the subsequent progression of elementary students to middle and high schools. “The 3-2 vote to approve the (redistricting) plan kept HighGrove students at Starr’s Mill.”
As for his suggestion that HighGrove residents should cast their vote for Post 4 challenger Charlie Cave, Warner said he had heard from unnamed sources that Todd was planning to have HighGrove and Whitewater students redistricted to Whitewater Middle and High.
Warner added that he had not spoken to Todd about what his sources were saying.
“His vote in the past speaks loudly. I’m looking at the record,” Warner said, adding that Todd’s past vote is his single issue in the school board election and that he has no reason to believe that Todd would not “go there again.”
Contacted about the issues contained in Warner’s email, Todd said he did vote “no” on the elementary school boundary map that came before the board in December 2007. He cited two reasons for his opposition. Todd prefaced his statements by noting that, though Warner may not be aware, the elementary school boundary map pertained to schools countywide and had nothing to do with one or more particular areas within the school district.
Todd said he opposed the measure because it did nothing to resolve the situation at the former East Fayette elementary and, at that time, there were not enough students (south of Fayetteville) to justify opening Inman Elementary.
Second, Todd said, the boundary map did nothing to relieve the overcrowding at Burch Elementary even though there was available space at Cleveland Elementary and other elementary schools on the north side of the county.
Essentially, said Todd in reference to Warner’s statement, the boundary map had no effect on the Starr’s Mill complex of schools or the Goza Road complex.
“There may have been conversations about a particular issue, but conversations are not the same as a motion that comes before the board for a vote. The final presentation and the motion had nothing to do with (the HighGrove or Whitewater subdivisions),” Todd said. “Why on earth would I or any board member single out a community? Any redistricting plan has to be done within the context of the whole county.”
On the issue of Warner’s assertion that he has future plans to have HighGrove and Whitewater students transfer to the Goza Road complex, Todd said that belief was ill-founded.
“Absolutely not. That is not a board member’s function. That is the function of the superintendent and his or her staff along with the community. Besides, you don’t do spot redistricting,” said Todd, adding that, “There has been no talk of redistricting by the board. That conversation would have to be brought up at a public meeting.”
Todd in his statements broadened his remarks to include any political motivations by others on the school board.
“Redistricting is not an issue in this election due to declining and/or slow growth in student population which is not likely to change in the near future. Apparently it is a desperate last attempt to change the focus from the greatest issue facing the district, the approximate $60 million building and land purchasing boondoggle planned and completed under the leadership of Terri Smith and Janet Smola,” Todd said Monday.
Smith and Smola for several years have teamed up with outgoing member Lee Wright for many 3-to-2 votes that had Todd and member Marion Key on the losing side of the argument.
“The cost of this poor building and financial planning is slowly bringing the district to its knees,” Todd said. “Unless there are significant gains in state revenue, an additional $5-6 million must be taken from the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. This is true since we are spending $5-plus million more than the revenue we will receive in the FY 2011 budget. If citizens of Fayette County are happy with this financial burden, vote for Charlie Cave and continue the Smith-Smola domination of the board.”
Concerning Warner’s statement that Todd had teamed up with Steve Brown, Todd took significant issue with that premise.
“That is a most bizarre assertion since the Board of Commissioners and the School Board are two separate organizations with neither having power over the other. The boards do, from time to time, cooperate on initiatives that benefit the community. To suggest or imply that I will work with any other individual to move students from one school to another is ridiculous and a bold-faced lie,” Todd said Monday afternoon.
”It would be well for the author of this assertion to understand that any current board member, or candidate for the board, who makes promises of this nature is violating board ethics, accreditation standards and state law,” Todd continued. “An individual board member has no authority to meddle in the administrative operation of the system. (Remember Clayton County.) The authority of an individual board member can only be carried out in an open public meeting and with a majority vote.”
The primary election for the post 4 seat of the Fayette County Board of Education between Bob Todd and Charlie Cave will be held July 20.