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Old 11-08-2011, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA (Dunwoody)
2,047 posts, read 3,874,733 times
Reputation: 957

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I've been going back and forth on this issue for months. It really goes against everything I believe in to vote against a tax for schools, but my progressive ideals ran into a pragmatic reality a couple of days ago.

On Sunday I spent pretty much the whole day baking. I baked a lemon pound cake, a chocolate pound cake, two batches each of oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I have a legendary sweet tooth, but these goodies weren't for my family. No, they were for my son's school bake sale. Was this bake sale for some special field trip or to pay for a Christmas party? Uh no. It's for landscaping, and not just some flowers or other fripperies, but for some much needed erosion control.

After I finished my baking marathon I sat down to pay my bills. One of those bills was my DeKalb County property tax bill. And that's when it hit me, and hit me hard: What in the name of all living hell are they doing with this money? By North DeKalb standards I have a very modest home, yet my taxes are five times what they were in Alabama and the schools are no better. For this type money I don't expect there to be 25 kids in my son's classroom, or for him to have to play on a playground that literally makes me fear for his safety. The entire campus is a disgrace before man, let alone God.

Then comes the SPLOST issue. A half billion dollars??? Seriously, for what? They've been set loose with that type money, yet we have to have a bake sale to keep our campus from washing away??? For a half billion dollars we could contract to assign a landscaper to every school in the district!

It breaks my heart and goes against everything I normally advocate for, but I just can't vote for this SPLOST. I don't know if the administrators are crooks or just willfully stupid, either way my money is best kept in my own pocket.
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:23 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
7,732 posts, read 11,767,892 times
Reputation: 2774
^I feel you, Roslyn. I won't be voting for the SPLOST this time around either. I have never NOT voted yes to a SPLOST in the past, but not this time.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Lilburn
448 posts, read 1,444,605 times
Reputation: 589
They are going to get that money somehow, if you vote no, they will just raise your property tax to pay for it.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA (Dunwoody)
2,047 posts, read 3,874,733 times
Reputation: 957
The property taxes will got up $57 because we lose a deduction, but it won't go to SPLOST it'll go to the general fund.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:40 AM
 
28,113 posts, read 24,646,505 times
Reputation: 9528
Everybody wants education to be well funded, and in fact it is.

However, the real issue with these school SPLOSTS is holding the school board accountable. If a school board wants new taxes, shouldn't they be required to come out and publicly make the case?

First of all, by showing exactly what they've been doing with the vast public money they are given.
They need ot prove to taxpayers that they are in fact using the money wisely and not wasting a dime.

For instance, they need to show that there's not a surplus of highly paid administrators. (And that they're not running around with $100,000 a year chauffeurs.

They need to show that their contracts with outside sources have been bid and are closely monitored. Take the food contract, for example -- that's an absolutely ginormous expense. But who gets it? And why the same company every year? What were the other bids? Who is bird-dogging how this contract is administered?

They need to show that they're not operating on a crony system.

They need to demonstrate that they're not creating an environment of fear. Or an atmosphere that approves of charting by teachers. Or a culture that turns a blind eye to inefficiency, incompetence and corruption.

They need to show that the top priority is educating children, not providing employment.

The list goes on, but the school boards need to remember that they work for us taxpayers, and are accountable to us.

So where has all this money been going? And exactly why do you say we should give you more?
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:51 AM
 
2,642 posts, read 7,237,320 times
Reputation: 577
I voted YES.

Here's why: http://www.30307schools.org/

And here's APS plan: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&p...5MjA3&hl=en_US


Note the 12M for Mary Lin to renovate and expand the classrooms.

Right now Mary Lin has trailers crowding into the soccer fields.

Also, a recent study by APS showed Mary Lin to be "over-utilized" and one option on the table is to split the school, send kids to Toomer. Most in the community are opposed to breaking up the community this way. We already have a neighborhood school. Kids in the neighborhood shouldn't be forced to go to a school in a different neighborhood.

Not to mention how livid homeowners are going to be when they've purchased a home in the Mary Lin cachement area for the purpose of sending their kids to ML.

So, I voted Yes.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA (Dunwoody)
2,047 posts, read 3,874,733 times
Reputation: 957
I suspect that the Atlanta schools are run far better than DeKalb County. It would appear that they are at least trying to be more transparent and it doesn't seem y'all have the transparency issue or the cronyism that we have, but I could be wrong. I'm not opposed to funding education, in fact I'm 100% for it. I will, and have done everything in my power to support our schools. But right now it seems to me that the bulk of the money in DeKalb is going to waste, a bloated administration and endless lawsuits. I've worked for various government agencies all my adult life and expect a certain level of shadiness/incompetence, but the level here in DeKalb transcends anything I've ever seen. For me my NO vote was actually a vote of NO CONFIDENCE in the current administration. As long as those idiots/crooks are in charge I will not willingly give them another penny of my money.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:09 PM
 
2,642 posts, read 7,237,320 times
Reputation: 577
Ros,

I hear what you're saying. If APS weren't so transparent (and this might be due to Erroll Davis) I'm not sure how I'd vote. Like you, I'm all about finding public ed. But I need details. This time around, they gave details.

Also, that website 30307schools.org? Well, that's my zipcode. There are a handful of activist parents in the neighborhood who are very organized, very focused, and very good at getting the word out to the ML district. It could be that pressure for parent activists group such as this (also APS Step Up or Step Down) are behind such transparency, etc.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:28 PM
 
222 posts, read 501,245 times
Reputation: 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by plessthanpointohfive View Post
Also, a recent study by APS showed Mary Lin to be "over-utilized" and one option on the table is to split the school, send kids to Toomer. Most in the community are opposed to breaking up the community this way.
Not to nit pik, but Mary Lin consists of three neighborhoods: Inman Park, Lake Claire, and Candler Park. Some time ago, Lake Claire was part of Kirkwood (home of Toomer Elementary). So, in one way, redistricting could be looked at as bringing the community back together. I mean, it would certainly be great for "under-utilized" Toomer to have kids from north-of-the-tracks fill up those extra seats, not to mention that Toomer is actually closer to many of the Lake Claire students.

I am still undecided, and trying to make up my mind before I head over to the polls later today. I do appreciate the increased transparency of APS, but I think it is a shame that neighborhood politics and, what I can only describe as, redlining, are part of a school system's agenda.

With under-utilized schools that are closer to many students, why not fill the classrooms first?

Last edited by cwlawrence; 11-08-2011 at 12:37 PM..
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:46 PM
 
2,642 posts, read 7,237,320 times
Reputation: 577
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwlawrence View Post
Not to nit pik, but Mary Lin consists of three neighborhoods: Inman Park, Lake Claire, and Candler Park. Some time ago, Lake Claire was part of Kirkwood (home of Toomer Elementary). So, in one way, redistricting could be looked at as bringing the community back together. I mean, it would certainly be great for "under-utilized" Toomer to have kids from north-of-the-tracks fill up those extra seats, not to mention that Toomer is actually closer to many of the Lake Claire students.

I am still undecided, and trying to make up my mind before I head over to the polls later today. I do appreciate the increased transparency of APS, but I think it is a shame that neighborhood politics and, what I can only describe as, redlining, are part of a school system's agenda.

With under-utilized schools that are closer to many students, why not fill the classrooms first? I think that if you live in Lake Claire, or Kirkwood, or anywhere else within the APS system, you should go to the school you live closest to, period.
I'm well aware of what you're saying, but I disagree. As a soft issue, as it stands Lake Claire kids can actually safely walk to school. In fact, ML has the highest walk to school rate of any other GA school. If you redistrict them to Toomer they won't be able to do that.

Also, what will this do to the property values of Lake Claire homeowners? They paid a premium for their home, mostly due to ML access. If they get districted to Toomer I promise you their home values immediately drop. Now perhaps they rise after a few years because an influx of LC kids in Toomer is bound to raise Toomer's performance. But that's a weak incentive there.

In addition, lowered property values = lower property taxes = less revenue. How is that good?

Now, what I've been hearing, as a resident of Candler Park but who is a member of the various neighborhood lists, is that NOBODY wants to break up the community of 30307 (yes, IP, CP, and LC). We already had Poncey-Highlands ripped away when they built SPARK. That wasn't painful education-wise or property value-wise but it sure did disgruntle members of the community.

I mean, one of the things that makes IP/CP/LC such a fantastic place to live is, besides the twice a day pie smell, the really strong sense of community. This threatens that. And we're trying to stop it.

As for Toomer, I'm not so worried about them. They've been on the rise for a while now. And there's still an influx of young people moving into that cachement area who will be sending their kids there. Those kids are still in the Grady cluster, which makes Toomer an attractive area for those who can't quite afford the ML, SPARK, or Morningside cachement areas.

Unless I am reading the situation really wrong, I'm pretty sure the entirety of the ML cachement area is extremely opposed to breaking up the community.
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