Consolidation was about economic development —Fred Wetherington @ LCBOE 4 Oct 2011

Current LCBOE member Fred Wetherington said he was on the Chamber of Commerce Board and is still a member. Remembering how consolidation started at the Chamber:
The whole idea was could it help us with economic development in our community. At the same time could we increase student achievement. And could we save the taxpayers money.

Well, I’m here to tell you tonight that I was one of the board members… that if that theory and those ideas had held up after research and study, I would be supporting this idea.

But he doesn’t. Because that theory and those ideas did not hold up.

He might have settled for something less than that:

I promise you that if I thought after our study and research that this would improve student achievement, because we could even say, Dr. Smith, if it would improve student achievement, maybe it would be worth a little more local revenue….

But that’s not what we found.

Student achievement cannot be gained if our systems consolidate…. It will increase property taxes.

Then he connected the dots:
If you believe what I’m saying that student achievement gains are not to be found; it’s going to increase local property taxes significantly; then how in the world will we ever help with economic development? We will not.
School consolidation: lose, lose, lose on all three points of the original Chamber idea.
  • Lose on educational achievement.
  • Lose on property taxes.
  • Lose on economic development.
Fred Wetherington ended by getting to the real issues with education:
We can do something. We can do better. I want to end this on a positive note, not just no no no.

Dr. Smith mentioned it earlier, and I just want you to know this. Poverty. All the issues surrounding poverty are our number one enemy in public education. And it don’t just reside in Lowndes County, folks: that’s everywhere.

How can we as a community better reach out to our parents, guardians, grandparents, single parents, particularly in the low socio-economic status, the low-income earners, the ones that’s underemployed or unemployed. I’ll ask you; that’s where we need to put our energy.


There’s more. For example, he said he was taught at LHS to question everything he read:
And I’m saying that to you tonight even about what Fred Wetherington is telling you. Go home and do; this information that we presented as fact is the best of our ability what we brought to you tonight as the truth. But do your own work. Go home, challenge us. Whether you’re on one side or the other, I say go home, do your homework, and decide. And then get out and get involved, because this vote on November 8th is extremely important.
And a final key point:
Talk to the businesses where you work. Talk to the businesses where you trade with, where you do business at. They have to understand funding in education is not like a business; it’s not a business model. It’s not like two businesses merging.

I’m telling you, I raised my hand a while ago, I’m telling you, I was one of the guilty ones. The theory that was proposed to me several years ago was very interesting. Can we improve student achievement at a lower cost, and help economic development all at the same time? It was very interesting to me.

That’s not where the facts have led me.

Here’s the video:

Consolidation was about economic development —Fred Wetherington @ LCBOE 4 Oct 2011
Why we oppose consolidation,
Community Forum, Lowndes County Board of Education (LCBOE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 4 October 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.