Todd: To change faulty policies, re-elect me
The election for Post 4 on the Fayette County School Board is the most significant in recent memory. The School Board is dominated by the Smith-Smola coalition and has eliminated policies that set expectations, established board minutes that are meaningless, constructed schools that are not needed, refused to establish a reserve account for budgetary purposes and purchased millions of dollars worth of land for possible resale.
The financial drag on limited financial resources for construction costs will continue for years and will limit district options for maintaining system quality.
Voters have the unusual opportunity to take matters into their hands and bring about a refocus on what is important, our children and their needs.
The focus for too long has been on the interest of a very few developers while ignoring the impact on the district and all other business interests in Fayette County.
Let me explain: If achievement declines due to financial constraints, one-third of the reasons (quality of life and law enforcement being the other two) people move to Fayette County is gone.
That is the single issue in this election regardless of the desperate attempts of Janet Smola and Neil Sullivan to change it. Smola has been exposed and a simple check of the facts will do the same to Sullivan. Just think about what has happened to property values in Clayton County due to irresponsible acts of that school board.
How unusual: If you want change, the only way you will get it is by re-electing me to Post 4 on the Fayette Board of Education.
A vote for my phantom opponent, the hand-picked choice of Terri Smith and Janet Smola, will guarantee that nothing changes and they will continue with their priority of helping a very narrow group of developers to the detriment of the district and the community.
My opponent, the phantom, is in hiding and will appear only if he is elected. He has not made a single public statement with the exception of the Rotary Forum. His supporter, Neil Sullivan, continues to spread fear through lies and innuendo. Apparently my opponent is unable to respond verbally to any question since they must be given in writing so that others may respond to them for him.
The campaign strategy as designed by Mrs. Smith, Smola and Neil Sullivan reveals their contempt for the citizens of Fayette County.
First the phantom opponent will appear only in small meetings and he will only answer questions submitted in writing and will only provide a written response.
Apparently he views himself as being too good to associate with the unwashed masses, the citizens of this county. This is America, where citizens expect and demand that those running for public office make themselves available and publicly answer any questions they are asked.
You have to return to the Middle Ages to find a governance model of this nature, and it is called the “divine right of kings.” In this model the king chooses his audience, which rarely included ordinary citizens. He also had his emissaries (Mrs. Smola and Neil Sullivan) to speak for him.
The king’s priorities certainly did not include benefits for anyone other than the elite. The current coalition on the School Board reflects that attitude with the location of schools and land purchases. A vote for me in the July 20 primary will stop that process.
Mrs. Smola was totally discredited in The Citizen Newspaper for spreading false rumors about me. Now comes Neil Sullivan with another false rumor about me with fear-mongering about school closings. Neither of them understand that it is the superintendent’s responsibility, not a board members, to make recommendations about the use of school buildings. Apparently they do not learn or, are consciously continuing to desperately promote their candidate.
Now let us look at several issues Neil Sullivan continues to misrepresent or distort. First, we have already eliminated 127 teaching positions, thereby increasing pupil-teacher ratios. The question now is how much larger must classes become before my opponent and Mr. Sullivan are willing to look at other areas to reduce or redesign?
According to Sullivan none can be touched; therefore he is in support of increasing class sizes, and leave everything else alone through this financial crisis. He needs to talk to some parents in order to see what they have to say about this matter.
Second, we are using $5-plus million from the reserve fund to balance our Fiscal Year 2011 budget. The state is expected to reduce their funding by an additional 3-5 percent for that same period.
My opponent and Neil Sullivan oppose any modifications or reductions needed to protect pupil teacher ratios. They obviously don’t have a clue as to what must be done to protect instructional quality.
Third, our math and science students have always had access to, and have completed the fourth year in these courses under the general seal of endorsement program. Mr. Sullivan does not comprehend the fact that requiring all students who do not need or want those courses is denying them access to technical education, fine arts and advanced level languages.
Fourth, the general diploma with the seals of endorsement for college prep, technical education, or fine arts allowed each student and their parents to increase their options in any area of their choosing.
Apparently Mr. Sullivan and his candidate do not support that option.
The current program of four math and four science courses for every one regardless of their needs is extremely short-sighted in that technical education programs are being closed because students do not have time to take them.
Mr. Sullivan and his candidate do not appear to comprehend or care about what is happening to all students who will not be pursuing a math or science career.
Fifth, Mr. Sullivan needs reminding that Fayette Schools became number one under that program. Are the new requirements really helping us maintain our position? Check the data and decide for yourselves.
Sixth, he says a return to that program would lead to reductions in Advanced Placement courses and classes for the gifted. He has no comprehension of how a master schedule works.
Students enrolling in those classes are shifting from one course to another. Increasing classes for the gifted would increase state funding, so why hasn’t that been done? There is no excuse for not offering any Advanced Placement courses to students who need and want them since we can have, through our technology initiative, virtual classrooms.
Seventh, our technical education, fine arts and language programs already exist. The issue is whether or not students will continue to be denied access to them. Mr. Sullivan and his candidate appear to be quite willing to allow that to continue to happen. What has happened to the notion that all students are entitled to the opportunity for the education they need?
Eighth, the ESPLOST has not saved a single job, contrary to Sullivan’s promises that it would. The fund balance came as a result of eliminating 157 positions, a 4.5 percent reduction in salary for all employees, including board members, and the underestimation of local revenue. In times like these, being conservative on revenue estimates is a prudent move that I support.
Inadequate planning for E-SPLOST has caused all allocations for textbooks to be used up in one year. They need to provide the rationale for that error.
Ninth, Sullivan says all schools are neighborhood; what a cruel joke on the taxpayers of this county. There are less than 20 houses within walking distance of Inman or Rivers. Inman has a reasonable enrollment, bussed there, only because East Fayette was closed.
I was an early supporter of that decision. Rivers is a school with no neighborhoods within reasonable distance.
Yes, I did vote for the school, based on false information given to me. I also became an early proponent of mothballing the school since enrollment projections did not justify its opening and we could not afford to pay the almost one million dollar overhead cost to operate it.
Summary: Our students, teachers and staff with parental and community support continue to stay focused on results. That performance will not be maintained as long as the attitude is that all aspects of system operations are as important as students and teachers in the classroom, as suggested by Sullivan and my opponent.
High performance can all be lost if we do not carefully reduce costs due to the current financial crisis. It is the money and its use that now threatens system quality.
The first round of cuts included 124 classroom teachers. I have made it clear that my vote in any next round of reductions will not include classroom teachers.
For change, vote for me in the July 20 Republican Primary for Post 4 on the Fayette County Board of Education. Examine my qualification in an ad in this newspaper and visit my website “drbobtodd.com” for additional information.
Dr. Bob Todd
Fayette County Board Education Post 4