After dancing around the issue and muttering about “ugly turns”, the VDT finally gets to the point in its editorial of today:
We still believe in school unification, but we can no longer support the current effort.Most of those questions do have answers:
For the past several weeks, readers have asked us how unification would work. Would it change millage rates? Would students be bussed cross-county? Who would lose or keep their jobs? When would Valdosta City Schools dissolve its charter and the Lowndes County School System take over? What are the estimates on cost savings? Would it be more efficient? What happens Nov. 9, the day after the election?
We’ve asked these questions, too. No one can answer them.
The organization that worked to place the issue on the ballot has not offered satisfactory answers. Community Unification for Educational Excellence has admirably spent time proposing ways to increase academic performance if the systems are unified. But CUEE has yet to present a recommended plan for how the merger would work.
If the referendum passes, the school boards will decide how unification would proceed. And both school boards are opposed to unification.
It is this prevailing sense of the unknown that has spurred The Times to oppose the Nov. 8 referendum.
There are too many unanswered questions. There are too many uncertainties at this point. There has to be a better way to present this to the voters.
A vote for unification in this climate is a vote for chaos.
Would it change millage rates?
Craig Cardell answered that one:
yes, by a minimum of 8 mils.
LCBOE answered that question in
WHEREAS the consolidation of school systems has consistently led to an increase in the tax burden on the taxpayers of the newly consolidated schools, financial claims about widespread benefits of consolidation are unsubstantiated by research.
- Would students be bussed cross-county? Duh! Yes. It’s the only way to deal with the racial disparities between Valdosta and the rest of the county that developed after the last attempt at desegregation. But given that desegregation by bussing didn’t work before, why would we want to try it again, when it would just promote Bright Flight to Lanier County and private schools?
- Who would lose or keep their jobs? That one is harder, although there is plenty of evidence from the previous experience here and from elsewhere that at the least it would result in less cultural competence by losing local knowledge.
When would Valdosta City Schools dissolve its charter and the Lowndes County School System take over?
I don’t know the answer to that one,
but you’d think CUEE would, given that that’s what CUEE’s referendum
is specifically about.
For that matter, if CUEE had followed the Georgia Constitution and
petitioned for a county-wide referendum
we’d have a better idea.
And if CUEE had done what both LCBOE and VBOE recommend, for example in
the Valdosta Board of Education statement:
The board feels that a decision to merge the two systems should be a collaboratively planned effort between the two school boards, the citizens of both the city and the county, along with those who have the best interest in educating all the children of our area.If CUEE had done that, we’d know what would happen. But of course then we would have discovered long ago that both school boards oppose consolidation.
What are the estimates on cost savings?
CUEE did answer this one!
CUEE’s own expert consultant
said, at their own
“If you believe in the end that running one system is cheaper than running two school systems. If in the end you are going to cast a vote for a single system because you think it would save money, I wouldn’t cast my vote. I do not think it will save money.”You were there, VDT, pay attention!
Would it be more efficient?
Sam Allen, president of Friends of Valdosta City Schools (FVCS), answer that:
The only duplication you have is right there, sitting in that seat right there.He was pointing at the Valdosta School Superintendent. And if we got rid of that post, we’d have to hire a couple more assistants, which would cost just as much.
- What happens Nov. 9, the day after the election? You know, if CUEE can’t answer that, it never should have gotten people to sign petitions for that referendum.
It’s good to see the VDT finally realizing CUEE won’t answer those questions.
Hm, can a newspaper be a big man? I’d say no, because while VDT has reversed course on this particular consolidation effort, it has not admitted that most of these questions do have answers, and those answers say consolidation is a bad idea.