Once again, I read with dismay the whining of those who screech loudly that they have the answers — or rather “promises”— to reduce school property taxes for all, eliminate school property taxes for those 65 and still maintain (and even improve) all classes, all subject matter, all athletics and even build more school facilities.
They “promise” to keep art and language classes. They “promise” to roll back and eliminate school taxes. They “promise” to make school lunches more palatable. They promise to give us our cake and let us eat it, too. Those making these completely unrealistic promises have never sat on a school board. I have.
In fact, the school system I helped guide back to sound financial footing was in terrible shape when I took office. The Board of Education was actually requesting that parents send rolls of toilet paper to school because the system could not afford to buy any. So I know, first hand, what it means for a school board to have its back against the wall and to be assailed on all fronts.
The first thing you have to do is start making the hard choices nobody wants to make. Which facilities have to be shut down? Which classes can be eliminated? Which staff can be terminated? And you have to do all that according to federal guidelines, state guidelines, and the teacher’s union rules. Simultaneously, you have to start digging very deep for additional revenues, which often means raising taxes. Not because you are spendthrifts, but because there is literally nowhere else to go for the money necessary to keep the schools open. When you cut away all the waste (assuming there actually is waste available to cut, which is rarely the case), and once you shut down everything you can and end all the classes you can and eliminate all the staff you can and there are no other funds from the state or federal government, then you have to raise taxes. Either that, or you have to shut the school system down for lack of funding.
It is easy to “promise” to create an educational nirvana. It is impossible to implement it. However, if all the whiners out there truly do know how, it is their civic responsibility and moral obligation to provide the citizens of Troup County with all the details of their plan, so we can take it to the BOE and work with them to implement it. In other words, it is time to put-up or shut-up. If you have a detailed, actionable plan then give it to us. If all you have are pie-in-the-sky promises then please stop attacking our local board of education while they do their best to educate our children without the funding and infrastructure so vital to a vibrant, dynamic and successful school system.
Do not wait another four years while you plan another campaign for election to the BOE, hoping that “promises” rather than plans can actually gain you a seat. Give us the plan. Give us the details. Give us the action agenda that can be immediately implemented. Or stop whining and let the adults in the room do their jobs.