Remarks Made at Jamestown Middle Forum 11/28/07

UPDATED… Tonight was the second of two forums on the possible inclusion of Jamestown Middle School in next year’s proposed bond. An estimated 60-70 people came out to the JMS gym to voice opinions and ask questions, and receive instant feedback from GCS Board members. Grier was not there, neither were board members Deena Hayes nor Walt Childs.

What follows is the full text of my speech; see today’s News & Record coverage for more on last night’s forum:

Good evening Mr. Chairman, members of the Board.

In 2003, the citizens of this community voted in the affirmative for a school bond in which they were promised a replacement school for Jamestown Middle. Because of the incompetence of Guilford County Schools, that school never came.

Five years later, this system is coming to us once again, asking us to sign off on a nearly half-a-billion dollar bond referendum in which Jamestown Middle is at the top of the list. I’m not so sure you will have the same amount of support as you had in 2003, but this school needs to be built.

Let me say that I don’t like school bonds. And I know there are many in this audience who also despise bonds.

Those bonds must be repaid and it only creates more debt. For a school system that does not know how to control its expenses, debt seems to spiral like a bad bottle rocket. And it only hurts our children.

I’m very uncomfortable that Jamestown Middle is included in another bond…when it was already approved by the voters in the affirmative five years ago. No one has discussed what will happen if the bonds are voted down. Certificates of participation are indeed an option but if the County Commissioners will not agree to hand them out, then what? This community waits once again for a new middle school?

Then there was recent talk of redistricting part of the Jamestown Middle zone to Allen Jay. In my opinion, any talk of redistricting is dead on arrival. Nothing short of neighborhood schools will be acceptable to me or this audience you see behind me. Then there has been discussion about where to place the autism facility. I think a dedicated autism facility is a noble inclusion and it can be done, using existing facilities with minimal disruption. And while I’m not the biggest fan of large schools, I think if this Board sat down with this community not only as you’re doing tonight but more frequently and see what the community’s needs are, it will be more fruitful than arbitrarily making decisions that this community will be unhappy about.

My daughter is a second grader at Pilot Elementary School this year, which is a feeder school for Jamestown Middle. If we remain in this zone, the decisions you make for Jamestown Middle will affect her, and my neighbors.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re gathered here simply because our elected school leadership once again failed to do its job. And as a result, Guilford County Schools continues to fail our children. The discipline and violence in our schools and classrooms is out of control, cultural arts is being scaled back in favor of teaching our children how to pass a two hour test, teachers are thrown under the bus if they blow the whistle and voice a complaint in their schools, construction projects are botched…I could go on and on.

This is an opportunity to do something right for our children, an opportunity to show the citizens of Jamestown that they can still have an ounce of hope in their public school system. This is an opportunity to commit yourselves to building this school, smartly and cheaply. This is an opportunity to both initiate and engage in substantial dialogue with this community instead of being reactionary and jumping the guns like this board does periodically.I urge this board to reconsider tying Jamestown Middle to a bond that’s likely to crash and burn. Build the school. Build it now. Show this community that you’re committed to our children. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the children of Guilford County.

E.C. 🙂


5 Responses

  1. Please report on the evening’s discussion for your readers who were unable to attend the meeting.

  2. And, I forgot to mention – great speech!

  3. Thank you, I updated this post to give a more thorough report.

  4. EC, You are the best thing that’s happened to our schools in a long time. Thank you for your compassionate words. I will thank you properly in November!!

  5. Beth, you’re too kind. The words come from the heart, for my campaign represents change, and reform. Stay tuned, please tell your family, neighbors and friends about this campaign, and join the effort for change in our schools.

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