School leadership is eroding trust with Fayette community

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Watching as my wife, a Sandy Creek teacher, and her students adapt to the new virtual learning environment has been great to watch. I appreciate how the entire staff has adjusted the approach to virtual learning as they gain more experience.

The Chromebooks and other technology used to make this all happen were paid for by our ESPLOST dollars. The ESPLOST funds pay for “capital items” such as technology, buses, books and buildings and cannot be used for operational items such as salary.

When we passed ESPLOST 2008, our schools were at risk of losing computers that, at the time, were leased, due to falling property values and state funding reductions in the operating budget.

This last fact is important as we are again in uncertain financial times due to Covid-19, and the state of Georgia is again in a budget crisis. While we all hope for a quick turnaround, it’s reasonable to suspect that due to state funding issues, we may have financial challenges on the horizon.

Given the importance of these computers as part of our contingency plan, we need to ensure we can continue to fund them.

As chairman of all three successful ESPLOSTs, I can tell you that our community has scrutinized all of the data provided and the list of proposed projects included in each ESPLOST.

The recent decision to build a new middle school for $46 million without alerting voters during the last ESPLOST vote is only one example of a growing lack of transparency from our Fayette County Public Schools leadership which is eroding its relationship with our community.

Our community has provided our excellent Fayette County Public Schools the financial resources they need both through the ESPLOST and a near maximum property tax millage rate. However, many question whether these funds are spent wisely and may object to future ESPLOST requests if they lack confidence in the use of these fund .

Losing ESPLOST funds would require us to again use operational funds to fix our buildings, maintain our technology, and purchase other goods, The alternatives would be to “do more with less” or cut into classroom funding.

I am a candidate for Fayette County Board of Education Post 3. As a common-sense conservative with 30 years of finance operations experience, I bring the real world business experience to challenge our administrators to find ways to provide better service and transparently ensure our money is spent carefully with respect for the community and an eye to the future.

Neil Sullivan, CPA

Candidate, Post 3, Fayette County Board of Education

Peachtree City, Ga.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I’m all about the kids, not governmental agencies and I’d be willing to pay 1 dollar for every 100 dollars I spent in Fayette County as long as the money is spent is on new technology and new facilities. Its seems like a fairly reasonable tax to protect the level of education and the value of education our children deserve. People who fail to recognize the importance in providing for future generations have no soul. They are selfish and must have been beating down by life. If you not going to past it on to the next generation then you’ve lost your way. I’ve never seen a trailer being pulled behind a Hurst. You can’t take it with you Ryan “King Tut” Jolly.

    As far as using school property for affordable housing for Teachers and Fire Fighters, not sure that’s in the school Board’s jurisdiction as Mr. Morgan is suggesting. He must have went to a private boarding school that does in some cases provide housing for staff. In turn, I suggest that Mr. Morgan sell his property at below market rates to young, low-paid, just graduated teachers. That would go a long way, maybe he should just donate it to them. I bet the nice folks in PTC would even allow the name of the facility to be called the Robert W. Morgan dorm for young, low-paid, just graduated Teachers and Firefighters. You’re a saint Mr. Robert “The Pope” Morgan, what a guy!

  2. Good news indeed. My grandkids are doing the same thing and they feel they are still in school – sort of, most importantly still learning.

    The Esplost funds are very much like the developer/builder impact fees – not understood by most, the knee-jerk reaction is “stealth taxation” but when reality sets in they become the infrastructure safety net that keeps us out of deficits or raiding the emergency or reserve funds.

    Good luck with your campaign. Getting PTC to donate the roads around the new Booth location should be your first mission. That way the school board itself can direct funds to improve the roads and probably has more clout with the state on intersections. Ever since young mayor Brown artlessly butted heads with them on the 74 widening PTC has been low priority with DOT.

    Get that done and you are Superman. Then move on to repurposing the old Booth location. Don’t forget to use the football field for an additional building – maybe a housing dormitory for young, low-paid, just graduated teachers. Maybe do two, the second in cooperation with and for the young EMT’s firefighters and police officers. Big win/win they get to live affordably in the county and we have them right here when an emergency occurs. Be even better if the young teachers became CERT certified and also got weapons training and carry permits.