Unanswered Questions About Reconfiguring County Schools - And Response

Thursday, December 5, 2019

One of several meetings by something called MGT was held in Lookout Valley last night. Ostensibly billed as a forum, it appears it was mostly a man telling those in attendance what MGT was proposing to the school board regarding closing and reconfiguring county schools.

One articulate parent on WRCB speaking to a reporter, stated her questions as to where the data on the recommended closings and pairings was coming from were unanswered by the consultant. She also expressed concern about the impact this kind of reconfiguring had on other communities. She said he had no answer for that either. So how was this a forum?

After spending a half million dollars on this “study” from a school budget slammed with controversy, it seems odd the “expert” sent to convince the parents this is a good thing had no idea how the plan was formulated or what effect similar moves have had in other places. Did someone think they could razzle-dazzle us like Professor Harold Hill in the Music Man and then it would all fall into place?

This should call into question the choice of some outside group to recommend of all things moving a middle/high school of performing arts away from a building with one of the few real auditoriums in a public school in Hamilton County to a small middle school. CCA has a full size band and choral facility which is consistent with a Performing Arts high school, Dalewood doesn’t. And if these structures have to be added to Dalewood, the cost and time spent would be as much as building a new middle school. Do they even have enough land there next to Dalewood to do this? Knowing how they arrived at these decisions would explain a lot.

These unanswered questions makes one wonder how much of a “study” this really was. Is there some hidden agenda here? Parents and taxpayers should attend future meetings expecting full accounting of how MGT arrived at their decisions and what other agendas are behind some of the moves.

Ralph Miller

* * * 

The meeting in Lookout Valley Wednesday evening showed an involved community concerned about not only our school but how out of touch some school board members and county commissioners are to the pulse of their electorate.  

MGT came in to promote an idea of consolidating schools at a cost of half a million dollars for their efforts, that's money not coming back. What they found was a community that said no thank you we will not sacrifice our children at your altar of unnecessary cost cutting.

We hired a superintendent to right the ship in our schools and to date has done okay not great but okay. To believe that he was able to increase grade scores over the term of one year is naive at best that accolade belonged to the teachers already in the system.

When participants were asked if they would support a tax increase to make all the MGT magic work the response was a deafening 95 percent opposed. Commissioners Boyd, Fairbanks, Smedley, Bankston and Martin should feel vindicated once again and personally I appreciate their courage hopefully my commissioner Sharpe will get on board and tell his puppet master UnifiEd to take a hike. 

So where do we go from here well let me explain the pecking order! Taxpayers are the boss, elected commissioners are the funding mechanism, elected school board members discuss to approve or disapprove expenditures as recommended by the superintendent. You work within your budget, Mr. Johnson. If you cannot manage this task it is incumbent upon school board members to ask for your resignation or you simply submit your resignation in order that a more qualified individual may be found. 

Ron Ray


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