E-SPLOST & ‘Them’: We are the ‘Them’
A lot has been written and discussed regarding the looming shortfall of $15 million facing our excellent Fayette County schools.
Many have claimed our schools have been reckless with our tax money. However, the state of Georgia school district expenditures report for 2011 (last available) indicates that our cost per student of $8,538 is actually less than the state average cost per student of $8,593.
The hard work of our students, teachers, administrators and parents has resulted in an excellent school system with few peers. Each of our schools has always achieved annual yearly progress (AYP) and Fayette student test scores are always among the best in the state.
When we consider the quality versus the cost of our schools, it does not take a Harvard MBA to recognize that our schools provide a good return on our tax money.
To be clear, we do need to close schools and get more efficient; however, we do need to recognize we have a revenue problem also.
The economic downturn has reduced funding from the state to Fayette County for the education of our students.
Although some of this decrease has been driven by a decrease in student population, the state has also not completely funded its own school formula since at least 2005.
At some point these cuts will affect performance. The decision to maintain our E-SPLOST must be part of our comprehensive strategy to preserve the Fayette Advantage.
The E-SPLOST can only be used for purchasing items like textbooks, buses, technology (classroom computer hardware and software), building improvements/remediation, and other tangible goods. The funds may also be used for lowering school bond debt.
State law prohibits E-SPLOST funds from being used for administrative costs, or teacher and employee salaries.
What this amounts to is that 100 percent of the funds are used for either purchasing tangible goods, which directly benefit the education of our children, or reducing the interest paid on school bonds, which directly benefits taxpayers.
Some, including me, question the recent events and wonder if we can trust THEM with this money. Our schools are THEM. Our teachers and students are THEM. We the voters of Fayette County are THEM.
These are our schools and we must continue to provide them with the funding and tools necessary to continue the quality results we have come to expect.
I ask that you vote YES to maintain the Fayette County E-SPLOST and maintain excellence.
Co-Chair, Fayette Citizens for Children
Peachtree City, Ga.