The Charter Amendment – Free at Last? #6

It was refreshing and confidence boosting that Amendment I, Charter Schools, was passed by an overwhelming majority in Georgia. The greatest majorities in favor were from areas where public education serves the interest of students and taxpayers even less effectively than average. I suppose these voters are part of the ‘parent problem’ often attributed by the public education establishment as the reason for poor results.

The facts speak for themselves, yet, the public is told not to be confused by them. State charter schools receive 70% of the funding that other local charter and public schools receive. The results produced at this reduced funding level are superior by any objective measure. The problem with most government administered programs is that process trumps results and in the case of public education, the end users, the children & taxpayers, are abused by this prevailing mentality.

We can only hope that amendment I is the beginning of a grassroots movement to end state sponsored child abuse.

Mark Grubaugh

Cooking the Books? #5

As promised, here are some facts and thoughts on the Morgan County school system’s budget.  At least two sets of books exist.  One called the General Fund and one for ELOST*.  For some reason, (only a government entity could get away with this), ELOST funds are not accounted for as revenue or costs in the general budget as though these monies are not part of the cost of operating the school system.  Regardless of how money is generated for capital projects (new buildings, re-roofing, upgrading HVAC systems, new busses, etc.) whether by ELOST tax or issuing bonds, it is still revenue and expense and part of the total cost of operating the schools.  The revenue and costs advertised by Dave Belton only account for the General Fund expense.  He recently tallied the costs to be $8,171 per student.  When you add ELOST to this figure it becomes $9,930 per student.  Without delving into the moral legitimacy or effectiveness of results for monies used, the accounting scheme is yet another example of a politician pissing down our backs and telling us it’s raining.  Many who are burdened with funding these programs, at least those in “Ivory Towers listening to talk radio”** are growing resentful of half-truths and marginal results.

Next installment lets pick apart some costs and results and discuss whether either is sustainable by taxpayers.

Mark Grubaugh

*ELOST – Education Local Option Sales Tax – 1% sales tax, the proceeds go to the School Board, 5,800,000/year.

 

**quote from Dave Belton, Morgan County Citizen October 25, 2012

Dave Belton, the Champion of Average #4

When SAT results were below state average, Mr. Belton spent much effort in marginalizing the test as not objective (Belton Bulletin of 9/16/2008) and problematic. Now that Morgan County is in the average category, the results are an important tool and measure of school success. He fails to mention the expenditure of Charter money to buy Kaplan Tutoring, which is when results began to rise and not due to any improvement in standard instruction. By Belton’s writings, the job of the school is to “graduate seniors” not produce students competent enough to produce average SAT results.

As for MCHS being in the top 9% in the nation, my question is by what objective standard? A beauty piece in the Washington Post? This measures about 5% of the student body. What about the other 95%?

I am still waiting for requested budget info from the BOE staff. More on this when the information is provided.

News flash for Belton and school employees, the good old days of excess are gone and not likely to return. We have all suffered and sacrificed, most pay their own health insurance increases and provide or contribute to their own pensions. With the average income in Morgan County at $33,000/year, no one at the schools is suffering (with an average teacher salary of more than $51,000 + benefits, click here for backup).

Dave, what are Ivory Towers? I’m sure many of your constituents are surprised at the elitist arrogance that chastises them for listening to talk radio. (Note: Dave Belton in his column dated October 24th referred to people in Ivory Towers who listened to talk radio.)

All the bad parents who Dave blames for poor public schools are the product of said schools. No objective measure of teacher competence (my gosh, what a concept). Even with the bar set so low, not reaching it is always the fault of third party concerns. The aggregate public education system and its apologists have taken us and the children down this road. The stench and rot of low expectations have been festering since the late 1960’s (Great Society Programs). We seem to be grateful or content with over the smallest uptick in public schools or our nation’s economy, neither really move us forward. Our elected officials now seem to think story telling is governance and we should be grateful. And talk about scape-goating, those in public education have refined it to an art form. I cannot recall every hearing thanks or gratitude from Belton or “educators” to the taxpayer for setting such a fine table for them. No, instead we receive condescension, lectures and instruction of what our expectations should be. Sorry Belton, you are not the arbiter of expectations and if you future depends on them it’s a damn good thing.

Stay tuned, specific research to follow.

Mark Grubaugh

 

Mack Bohlen, the Long Goodby #3

“Please remember that Commissioner Mack Bohlen has been a loyal Republican and a good friend to the party. He’s done a great job for Morgan County, not only in the business he’s attracted but also for the maverick stance he took many years ago as one of our first-ever elected Republican leaders in Morgan County. Please wish him and Kay well as he retires from politics and leads a more pleasant and normal life.”

The above comment was in the GOP email of August 22nd, from Dave Belton, the face and voice of the Morgan County Republican Party.

“Mack Bohlen Exits The Political Scene
The runoff election saw Mack Bohlen lose his Commisioner
seat to newcomer Philip Clack. The citizens of Morgan County
owe a debt of gratitude to the leadership Mack has given our local government over his long tenure. Having served twice as the chairman of the BOC, Mack showed unwavering
love for our county and a vision for our progress. His tight-fisted fiscal conservatism was
much appreciated by the taxpayers. The republican party will be forever grateful to Mack
Bohlen for the political courage shown when he walked into the room on qualifying day in 2000 as the sitting Democratic Chairman of the BOC and changed parties qualifying as a Republican. Mack paid a price for this act as he lost his chairmanship but this act of courage helped turn the political tide in Morgan County. Thanks Mack for all you have done for Morgan County.”

The above ode to Mack was printed in the “The Right Word” the GOP newsletter of September, 2012.
Let me disagree with the opinion that it took political courage to change from Democrat to Republican in the year 2000. It would have taken political courage in the year 1975, but in the year 2000? If I may quote Bob Dylan, ‘it doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows’. What Mack Bohlen did is called jumping on the bandwagon.
I would like to hear of his accomplishments and especially all the business he brought to this county. To me his tenure seems like a lot of missed opportunities, from the Wal-Mart warehouse, now doubled in size, where Walton County gets the jobs and property taxes and Morgan County gets the trucks to the onerous Planning & Zoning regulations that were passed in spite of overwhelming citizen opposition in 2005. These same regulations that the Mack Bohlen led BOC paid (if memory serves) $80,000 for which turned out to be an exact copy of the regs of a town in Massachusetts, when the GA Dept. of Community Affairs provides these Planning & Zoning regulation to GA counties for free (like Oconee Cty). Mack never saw a consultant or study he didn’t want to pay for, anyone remember the bypass study or should I say studies?

And finally, the gift that keeps on giving, we (and when I say we, I mean all property owners in the County that are not in Conservation Use or CUVA) have subsidized Mr. Bohlen’s property taxes to the tune $11,000 per year for years and years. If you count all the Bohlen family land it comes to more than $30,000 per year, every year. You know, I never heard a thank you from Mack. Now, we will probably be paying for the lawsuit that may well result from his harassment of a County employee (alleged).

Thank God the people of Bostwick did not re-elect Mack. The citizens of Morgan County will wake up one day, I hope, and start putting people with character, principals and conservative values in office.

Schools

For those of you who opened this blog because you were interested in the comment I made about the International Baccalaureate program in the schools, here is what I found after a cursory search.

Let me say first that I already was suspicious because when I asked to look at the books for this program – which is already in existence in the high school, I had to go thru the BOE Staff – Debra White, Asst. Super.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Unraveled by Debra K. Niwa a 21 page pamphlet with a bibliography. This section caught my eye:

Here is a seven-point list, given to educators in North Carolina at an in-service workshop:
1. There is no right or wrong, only conditioned responses.
2. The collective good is more important that the individual.
3. Consensus is more important than principal.
4. Flexibility is more important than accomplishment.
5. Nothing is permanent except change.
6. All ethics are situational; there are no moral absolutes.
7. There are no perpetrators, only victims.
Notice that all of the items on this list involve no particular issue; rather they reflect ethical ‘outcomes’ that a child is supposed to ‘internalize…

Our schools are moving in a scary direction and the ‘elected’ BOE is nothing more than a rubber stamp. A few overpaid bureaucrats are making decisions that affect our lives and our futures; we can’t sit back and let it happen.

We were foolish enough to tax ourselves 1% sales tax so that the school system could hand out free lap tops to all the teachers and put $10,000 smart boards in the classrooms and we have Jay Cawley, who is the Director of Technology with a salary (last year) of over $92,000. So can someone please tell me why the BOE meetings are not on streaming video? It’s obvious, for the same reason they are scheduled at 6 pm. They do not want anyone to see them or be there.

& Politicians

Just a quick note to say that while I am a Tea Party conservative and registered Republican, I am voting for Becky Astin, a Democrat for Tax Commissioner.

My first rule in voting is not to vote for anyone whose taxes I am obliged to pay.  Renee Nestor lives in a subdivision that was created by a developer.  It is called Fieldcrest and she has horses.  I once attended a Board of Assessors meeting where she was appealing the decision to remove the 14.66 acre property from the Conservation Use program (CUVA).  I can still hear her statement in my head ‘We won’t be able to live here if we have to pay property taxes.  I grow hay to feed my horses and that makes me eligible for the program.’  The Board caved and gave her the program – just another reason for outrage.  This December, Ms. Nestor will pay $731 in property taxes rather than $1,370 she would pay without the CUVA program.  You and I, the people of Morgan County who do not participate in this scam, pay the balance.  The irony of ‘protecting & subsidizing’ land that has already been developed and subdivided and has CC&R’s is apparently lost on the corrupt or moronic (you choose) politicians & bureaucrats who write & administer this scheme.

The other reason I am voting for Becky Astin is because she is very good at her job.  She has solved several problems for me that in other counties would have been major hassles to resolve.  She has a very good staff that provides excellent service and you don’t have to stand on the other side of bullet proof for service.

Please feel free to leave a comment  – you are also invited to “follow” and you will receive an email with every new post.