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Thursday, 21 July 2011

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Karen Noll

Questions abound: Why is it that Lowndes County residents will not be voting on the most important issue to face their school system since its inception in 1950?

If I lived in the county I'd be mad that CUEE and the Chamber of Commerce chose to leave my vote out of such a very important decision.

Quick fact: Consolidation alone will not save money & Consolidation alone will not improve academic success, according to the Vinson Institute report commissioned by CUEE and the Chamber.

Further Query: Why would CUEE and the Chamber of Commerce spend $50 grand to collect the signatures for the petition causing the City of Valdosta to spend thousands of tax dollars (2 staff dedicated to task & 4 temps hired) to verify the signatures on the petition?

FYI:To get the referendum on the ballot for both city and county residents to vote on, a state representative need only ask for the ballot initiative on the house floor. Wow, that sounds quick, easy and very cost-effective. No need for the petition drive, no tax payers monies wasted on the signature count, AND a true vote with all parties participating.

So, why, oh, why didn't CUEE go the GA constitution route for a REAL vote!!?

I'll give you a hint this is NOT about education!! CUEE board members have very little connection to the public school system.
CUEE's effort to consolidate the schools is also NOT a noble act to integrate the school systems. Let's just say many county residence have already exercised school choice.

CUEE says they need a better prepared work force to attract business to the area. First off, there is absolutely no evidence that a consolidated school district will produce marketable workers, nor is that the schools only goal. And frankly, the chamber and the Industrial Authority have this all wrong. Both school systems produce very prepared college bound students. It is the job of business to provide the opportunities for our graduates so we can retain them HERE and do not continue to experience brain drain.

Why has CUEE and the chamber put extensive time, energy and money into this project to consolidate the schools? What is the end game? (wait for it)

The end game is consolidating the governments of the county and the city.

If a community seeks to consolidate the governments, they must FIRST consolidate the schools!!

This is why the chamber commissioned a number of studies on the school consolidation issue and when these studies didn't get the result they wanted they simply used anecdotal evidence to say a single school system would attract business to the area.

This is also the reason why CUEE has no educational plan to speak of. I might also point out that CUEE would make NONE of the multiple decisions about the schools if consolidated. Only the Lowndes County Board of Education would be responsible for finding the solutions to a vast array of issues that consolidation would hoist upon the board; namely 7500 new students with a dramatically different demographic!!

The REAL route to school consolidation: If both districts expressed interest in consolidating, the state would send down a team to devise a plan for a true consolidation of the schools for FREE! We would have a clear plan for educating our students to be valuable contributors to our community.
Before I would consider voting to change the two system situation we currently have, I need to have a PLAN that clearly identifies quality education as the first priority of the schools.

Karen Noll
Friends of Valdosta City Schools

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