This wasteful tax has not received much media coverage either. Perhaps, like so many citizens, they too are suffering from the effects of “SPLOSTaphobia” — three SPLOSTs in as many years.
This one is no different from the others; the maximum amount of revenue that could be extracted from taxpayers was determined first, then a projects list was created to spend it.
Unfortunately, the ED-SPLOST will fall woefully short of doing what it’s supposed to do, improve our children’s education. Instead it will hamper education in Cobb County and will exacerbate the projected $80 million school district deficit by building additional infrastructure that the county is financially unequipped to maintain.
Hard-working teachers need to know that even though this SPLOST proposes 56 additional classrooms, there is no funding to hire educators to teach in them. SPLOST funds are restricted from being used for salaries.
When I asked how the school board would address this disparity, I was told that the board is considering having teachers handle multiple classrooms simultaneously. If you’re a teacher, you might want to ask about that before you cast your vote.
Additional maintenance requirements generated by the new infrastructure will worsen the current $80 million deficit. And, according to some school board officials, since the majority of the budget goes for teacher salaries, furloughs may be the only way to balance the budget. Teachers should never take a back seat to infrastructure.
The Ed-SPLOST doesn’t improve education, but diverts funds from true needs. While the project list includes new athletic facilities, gymnasiums, track resurfacing and theaters, less than a third of it provides any instructional benefit for your children. The remaining two thirds raises more questions than answers.
The Career Academy, for example, is a $30 million, 95,000-square-foot facility that will be built somewhere in Cobb County … maybe. Ask where it will be built or how staffing, maintenance and transportation will be funded and you will hear, “We don’t know.” Ask how your child will get from high school to the facility and Superintendent Hinojosa will say, “If the student wants to get there bad enough, he’ll find a way.”
That should frighten any parent with a child in a Cobb County School and should be reason enough to vote no.
If you press on with more questions, you will discover that there is a good possibility that the Career Academy won’t be built at all and the $30 million will just be absorbed into the system.
Another $73 million is allocated to replace two elementary schools and a middle school, but no one can tell you which schools will be replaced, or when. Could this be like the Career Academy — perhaps not to be built anywhere? To assure that everyone gets something, every elementary school will get restroom modifications “as needed,” even though there is no funding in the notebook for such projects. Two of the schools scheduled for restroom modifications are only six months old.
The ED-SPLOST projects list is flawed, the process is flawed and your tax money will be wasted on things that don’t improve education. Students, teachers, parents and taxpayers don’t have to go along with this plan. We can demand a better one after this SPLOST is defeated.
But bear in mind what one school board member repeatedly has said, “A non-vote is a yes-vote.” Certainly most Cobb citizens will agree that our children’s education is too important to be decided by non-voters. Concerned citizens should go to the polls and vote no.
Tom Maloy of Powder Springs is a member of the Georgia Tea Party Board of Directors.