Hebert to Huey: Bond is not Dead

Full coverage of the upcoming half-a-billion-dollar GCS bond referendum continues.

The image “https://i1.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/hebert.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. 1. GCS Board member Garth Hebert called me out…sort of. In response to my on-the-record stance on the bond, Garth said the other day on the News & Record Chalkboard blog:

“E.C. [the] Bond is not toast and is so badly needed that even a cynic like myself supported a bloated bond proposal. I could argue the inflation factor blue, but the underlying need is critical. Taxpayers can say no, but overcrowding is big issue to discipline as well. We do need some new blood on the Board- or at least different…”

Now make no mistake, I supported Garth a couple of years ago…quite frankly, his district could not stomach another year of Susie “do-nothing/no-clue/out of touch” Mendenhall. And he’s visibly taking the “gloves off” these days during these latest Board meetings.

However, unscientifically, I asked around to see whether various people are supporting the bond or not and if not, why not.

Reasons why not (in random order)?

A. Cuts in arts

B. Busing

C. Discipline problems/school safety

D. Lack of fiscal accountability

E. Deena Hayes

F. Front office too bloated

I do not know of one person supporting this bond. Not one.

We’ll have to agree to disagree…it is a bloated bond, Garth. It’s too much. It’s too much money and it’s too much pork. If it was less money combined with front office staff cuts/front office salary reductions, I would take a second look. If GCS knew how to respect the taxpayer’s checkbook, I would take a second look. But as is, I cannot support this thing.

And folks, a “no” vote does not mean you’re against new school construction! The GCS Spin Machine is already gearing up to paint no-vote advocates as being against school construction…far from being the case. We do need new facilities. And if we built schools more smartly and cheaply, I could support this thing. But we don’t…and I can’t.

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2. This all leads to the discussion over on Guarino’s blog site Tuesday. An excerpt from what he said yesterday:

…The County Board of Commissioners should not feel bound by the proposal that Guilford County Schools sent them. Each of the commissioners has a fiduciary responsibility to county taxpayers; and the fact is that tax dollars have been wasted mightily. And there will continue to be considerable waste unless there is a different approach taken on the board to demand accountability from the schools system. The commissioners need to be ready to ask for this, armed with comparative data from other districts.

The projects need to be whittled down from the standpoint of costs. The school system needs to notch down its expectations, and adjust its preconceptions regarding what is necessary in each project. It needs to break out of its tunnel vision regarding how to do them.

But it will not do so unless it is held accountable by the Board of County Commissioners.

Well-said, well spoken. And the only way to break out of this vicious cycle is to demand a fundamental change of the state funding formula in Raleigh. Our Guilford delegation needs to deal with this NOW!

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3. Additional background from Tuesday via the News & Record. Also, see the recent article in The Rhino. The County Commissioners will take this up at their Thursday meeting.

E.C. 🙂

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4 Responses

  1. Is it just me, or is Mr. Hebert slowly transforming into yet another “go along to get along” school board member? What happened to the reformer the people elected?

    I have to say I’ve been sadly disappointed in his performance to date.

  2. JS: My impression FWIW is that Garth is very independent and moreover that he does his homework. At many recent board meetings he has shown a real familiarity with and understanding of research and data pertaining to various matters before the board. He took a firm stand on the possible extension of the school day and was able to force hired consultants to concede his points. Come to a few board meetings and watch GH in action. I bet you won’t be disappointed.

  3. Erik,

    Your listed points are valid reasons for rejecting the bond, but the biggest negative factor is the lack of trust that people have in this school board and Terry Grier to be good stewards of their money. We have seen to many misuses and waste of our tax dollars.

    Voters in Forsyth County have approved several school bonds recently because they have that trust in Superintendent Don Martin and the school board to use the money well. That trust is well-placed as it has been earned. Garth is right that we need more schools, but people have been burned so many times that they are no longer wiling to trust these people with $1/2 billion, especially when they know it will cost them dearly in property taxes. Terry Grier and the school board need to earn that trust before they will be allowed to have $1/2 billion of our money. Their track record is abominable.

    A good example is today’s story about universal free breakfast that the schools is considering. Since when is it part of the schools’ responsibility to provide free breakfast for all students? So, it “might” improve student’s performance, but what is next? Free universal health care for all might as well, but is it up to the schools to provide it? What about free universal housing, etc.? I might be willing to go along with all of it, if any increased coats that might be incurred would come out of Terry Grier’s paycheck.

  4. Is the free breakfast program somewhat excessive? Yeah, it probably is. But at least I can see some merit in it, unlike much of what the Guilford County School Board wastes money on.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and, sadly, many kids might not get a good, nutritious breakfast at home. It’s more a case of the parents don’t care enough to provide a good breakfast than a lack of money to buy food, but still, the kids don’t get it. The school cafeteria is the only place many students get a decent, healthy meal, so I see some benefit to continuing that.

    But your instincts are 100% right, Stormy. There’s a lot of fat in Guilford County Schools budget – construction boondoggles, feel-good training seminars, a bloated central office and more new programs than you can count. By comparison, free breakfast for poor kids sounds like decent investment.

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