Todd: Developers may have driven schools’ locations

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An earlier article in The Citizen may provide some clues as to why the current school building and land purchasing actions of the Fayette County School Board have resulted in such controversy. The most important part of the article was statements by the board chair about the role of developers in the community.

Her statements did not distinguish between those who have a positive effect on a community and those who do not. Perhaps the attitude that all development is good, regardless of the consequences, was the primary factor affecting major board decisions in the location of schools in the last bond issue.

That attitude could explain why schools are located in places removed from population centers (see the Fayette land use plan), abandoning the mega-complex concept for Cleveland Elementary, Bennett’s Mill Middle School and the sixth high school, and schools being over-built.

Interestingly, the relocated site for the sixth high school sits in the middle of yet another proposed development project. How much will the local taxpayer have to pay for that project?

That attitude may have involved the board in land purchasing activities resulting in the ownership of approximately $4 million worth of property that is not needed or cannot be sold under current market conditions.

It could also provide an explanation as to why no thought was given to the additional local costs for operating schools with enrollments that do not earn full state funding for that purpose. It could explain why no thought was given to the cost for operating excess classroom space due to overbuilding.

That attitude could explain why no thought was given to the additional financial burden being placed on local taxpayers to transport students to schools located away from population centers. It could explain why no thought was given to the burden being placed on parents in dealing with their children being assigned to schools remote from their homes.

Actions of the school board during these activities appear to support the philosophy that all development is good and the placement of schools will be the catalyst to drive it had been adopted by a majority of the FCBOE members.

The system is in financial crisis and it’s time to break the coalition with its emphasis on development, regardless of cost to the taxpayer, and return the focus to protecting the taxpayer and using all funds available to provide the best education possible for our children.

I urge everyone who is concerned about the financial well-being of the school district to vote for me in the July 20 primary. I will work diligently to assure a focus on fiscal accountability and will place the well-being of students and the protection of taxpayer money as priority one.

I ask for and thank you for your support and vote in the July 20 Republican Primary. For more information see my webpage (drbobtodd.com).

Dr. Bob Todd, Post 4

Fayette County Board of Education

Fayetteville, Ga.