Tag Archives: ESPLOST

ESPLOST yes way ahead

ESPLOST will win by 4 to 1. Going not very far out on a limb, with only 3 of 9 precincts reporting, but with 79+ yes to 20% no at 8:30 PM, I predict ESPLOST will win. Oops, make that 7 of 9 precincts; changed while I was writing this.

600x137 Bar graph: 79+% yes 20% no, in ESPLOST wins, by John S. Quarterman, 17 March 2015

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Videos: ESPLOST V kickoff meeting @ ESPLOST 2015-02-24

Co-Chair Jerome Tucker emphasized that ESPLOST helping public schools also helps economic development. See below for who we now know are the committee members for the Educational Special Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST). It’s mysterious why that information wasn’t in the PR before the meeting, but now we know, since Gretchen went and took the videos and collected the flyers you’ll find below.

Early voting already started that same day and continues through March 13th, with the final Election Day 17 March 2015.

600x450 Crowd picture, in ESPLOST Kickoff and Press Conference, by Gretchen Quarterman, 24 February 2015

Lowndes/Valdosta Citizens for Excellence in Education
Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax
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ESPLOST V kickoff meeting today @ ESPLOST 2015-02-24

A committee of unknown members is holding a kickoff meeting today for the Educational Special Local Option Sales Tax. Various local news media carry the announcement below, but none of them seem to have the names of the committee members beyond one co-chair. I guess we’ll find out from the videos Gretchen is going there now to take.

In the City of Valdosta’s In The City This Week, Feb. 23-28,

Feb. 24: ESPLOST V Campaign. The ESPLOST joint committee will host a campaign kickoff on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 5 p.m., in the Valdosta City Hall Annex Multi-Purpose Room. At the meeting, committee members will share proposed projects for Lowndes County and Valdosta City Schools with citizens. Early voting runs Feb. 23 through March 13. The final opportunity to vote will be on the official Election Day, March 17. For more information, email Co-Chair John Eunice at jleunice@yahoo.com.

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Moody’s confirms excellent bond rating for Lowndes County School District

Lowndes Schools’ decrease of $4.1 million in annual bond payments after 2013 is more than the total $3.6 million in bonds Dublin Schools issued to pay for their megawatt of solar power. So Lowndes Schools could float bonds for solar panels at Lowndes High School like Dublin Schools did for Dubin High School. Or on the new Pine Grove Middle School, which already has some energy efficiency features. Either would decrease outgo in the future, thus evening up the financial structural balance and increasing reserve levels. The SPLOST mentioned by Moody’s is the educational ESPLOST, which passed by more than 4 to 1 in March 2011.

Moody’s PR 17 July 2013, Moody’s confirms Lowndes County School District, GA’s Aa3 GO rating,

$34.9 million in GO debt affected

New York, July 17, 2013 — Moody’s Investors Service has confirmed the Aa3 general obligation rating of Lowndes County School District, GA. The Aa3 rating affects $34.9 million in outstanding general obligation bonds. The bonds are secured by the district’s general obligation, unlimited tax pledge but are expected to be paid from proceeds of a one percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The district has an additional $10 million in general obligation bonds not rated by Moody’s.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

The confirmation of the Aa3 rating reflects the district’s sizeable and growing tax base, SPLOST support of debt service, modest debt burden, and rapid payout. The rating also incorporates the district’s below average socioeconomic indicators and recent trend of General Fund operating deficits. Excluding a slight 1.7% decline in fiscal year 2011, Lowndes County School District has consistently experienced growth in the $3.87 million tax base, which is expected to continue going forward. The base benefits from the institutional presence offered by Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta State University (A1/stable), and South Georgia Medical Center (A2/stable). The current SPLOST is authorized through September 2017 and should provide sufficient revenues to make debt service payments. In fiscal year 2012, SPLOST revenues were $12.4 million compared to debt service payments of $12.2 million. Following fiscal year 2013’s payment of $12.1 million, the district’s payments will decline to just under $8 million annually. Amortization is rapid with all debt fully matured by fiscal year 2018. The district does not have any plans to issue additional debt.

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Q: Why are so many states pushing charter schools now? A: ALEC

Michigan, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, plus Georgia. Why are so many states attempting pro or con charter school referendums this year? Because many states have a push for charter schools, especially Louisiana. Where’s that coming from, at the same time in so many states? ALEC, that’s where.

Ed Anderson wrote for The Times-Picayune 12 January 2011, Gov. Bobby Jindal says charter school proposal is based on Florida initiative,

Jindal said his proposal will be fashioned on a Florida law known as “Charter-Schools-in-the-Workplace Initiative” which also has been introduced in 14 other states.

Excuse me? Which “also has been introduced in 14 other states”? Then it’s not just a Florida law, is it? And who introduced it?

Mattreichel wrote for FireDogLake 5 April 2012, Jindal Puts Louisiana’s Schools Up for Sale: ALEC’s Education Reforms Rammed Through

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Louisiana, the poster child for private school privatization

The poster child for charter school privatization is Louisiana. It started in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but the man-made education disaster has spread to the whole state.

Mattreichel wrote for FireDogLake 5 April 2012, Jindal Puts Louisiana’s Schools Up for Sale: ALEC’s Education Reforms Rammed Through

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has wasted no time this legislative session in pushing wide-reaching education reforms designed to expand the charter school footprint, while opening the door to vouchers and tying teacher tenure to student test results. In the early hours of the morning on March 23rd, after a marathon session, the Louisiana State House passed two bills that form the core of a wide-reaching education reform agenda designed to expand the charter school footprint, while opening the door to vouchers and tying teacher tenure to student test results. Governor Bobby Jindal wasted no time in pushing these reforms through in the first weeks of the legislative session, and the urgency with which he has advanced this agenda has infuriated teachers and left even some charter-school advocates alarmed. “The governor’s expression of urgency for these bills is specious at best. [They] did not have to be passed under cover of darkness,” says Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) president Steve Monaghan. Even Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat who has been an avid charter school advocate, criticized the Governor’s haste: “I am by no means naïve, and know full well the Administration’s political advantage of pushing legislation through with as little debate as possible.” With these bills, Louisiana is set to join Florida, Ohio and Minnesota amongst the states that have enacted the most far-reaching of these school reforms. This marks the latest wave in a concerted nation-wide effort by right-wing advocacy organizations and their corporate supporters to ravage the public sector.

While “reform” usually has connotations of “making better”, in this case, “better” means more profit for private school companies, not better education for students.

Why would Louisiana’s legislators vote for something so counterproductive for education?

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Charter school referendum in New Jersey?

Here’s another potential charter school referendum that BallotPedia doesn’t seem to have caught yet, in New Jersey.

John Mooney wrote for NJ Spotlight 3 February 2012, Assembly Committee Votes to Put Charters Under Local Control: Bill calls for local referendum on any school that wants to be granted a charter in a NJ district,

The Assembly education committee yesterday moved a bill that would give local voters the right to approve new charters in their home districts. If passed by both houses, the law would make New Jersey only the third state to require charter schools to face a local referendum.

First proposed last year, the new bill has been toughened for the new session. Amendments filed with the bill would make those referendums retroactive for as many as 30 urban and suburban schools awaiting their final charters.

The votes would come after the state’s preliminary approval, but often as much as a year can lapse before the final charter is granted and a school can open.

NJ bill A1877 seems to have gotten stuck in the NJ state Senate Education Committee back in May. It has 21 sponsors, starting with Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), shown in the picture above.

Related bill A2147 got as far as a second reading in the Assembly in February.

Charter schools in Georgia already have to be approved by local school boards. Let’s not give up that local control. Vote No on the charter school referendum in November.

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What other states have had charter school referendums?

Thanks to Jim Galloway, we learned that charter school proponents say “No other state has had a positive outcome for a charter-positive ballot initiative.” OK, what other states have had any sort of charter school referendums? Such ballot initiatives have at least been tried in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Washington.

BallotPedia records some state charter school referendums.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, charter school proponents couldn’t even get enough signatures to put a pro-charter school referendum on the ballot this year.

The measure would have removed limits on number of charter schools, their funding, and enrollment. Other changes would have been made in laws that governed charter schools, including requiring approval of qualified applications for charter schools to be in districts where there was low student performance.

Michigan

In Michigan, a referendum to ban for-profit charter schools may be on the ballot in November:

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Support for charter school referendum falling?

A recent poll shows markedly lower support Georgia Charter School Polls for the November charter school referendum than polls in March and July, which were already down from January. At this rate, the charter school referendum can lose as badly in November as T-SPLOST did in July. Maybe people are catching on that diverting local taxes to control by a state appointed body is a bad idea, especially this time when the money would end up going to private profit.

Georgia Family Council wrote, presumably in January, Poll Shows Support for Charter School Changes,

On January 24, the Georgia Charter School Association and My School, My Choice Georgia held a news conference on Capitol Hill to release the results of a new study regarding public school choice….

The new numbers showed that 52 percent of voters are dissatisfied with the public system as it currently stands. A whopping 72 percent feel that a group other than local school boards should be able to authorize charter schools, the basis for HB 881. Moreover, Georgia voters tend to support a “money follows the child” approach to charter school funding.

So there’s a baseline for January for what proponents of charter schools claimed: 72% support for something very like the charter school referendum that ended up on the November ballot.

Or not. That writeup includes a link to georgiaschoolchoice.com, but that domain is no longer registered. This is probably it over on the snazzy new gacharters.org website. The gacharters.org writeup doesn’t mention 72%, and does say:

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Charter school preamble biased like T-SPLOST?

T-SPLOST proponents are up to their old tricks again, starting with the preamble to the charter school referendum. And Bert “Little Goose” Brantley, formerly of Lowndes County, defends that wording.

Paul Crawley wrote for 11alive.com September 12 2012, Is Charter Schools Amendment wording biased?

Here we go again, apparently another ballot issue with questions about whether it’s worded fairly.

First, it was the July 31st transportation sales tax issue, known as T-SPLOST, which Georgia voters rejected overwhelmingly.

Opponents howled when they found out the ballot preamble wording promised to “create jobs” and “relieve traffic congestion”.

Now, opponents of a November ballot question are also crying foul.

They’re upset over the preamble wording for the Charter School Commission Amendment.

It reads, “Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.”

How can the preamble say that?

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