Another Long Meeting Last Night

//www.matthewktabor.com/images/gcs_logo.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Last night’s GCS Board meeting was painful to watch, and even more painful to listen to. A multitude of audio problems plagued the majority of the meeting, making it difficult for us out here in TV-Land to hear the proceedings. Many either did not talk into the mics or mics didn’t work right or the volume was at such a disrespectful level.

I’ve complained about this before, please GCS, check the volume on the mics before going on the air.

When the meeting started, several speakers spoke out against the upcoming Bond issue, mainly from the ad-hoc anti-Bonds group, whose basis of opposing the bonds are due to not enough minority contracts being issued in GCS construction projects.

Today’s N&R:

A handful of African American parents told the school board Thursday not to count on their votes for $457 million in construction bonds.

Sharon Hightower, one of those parents, listed a litany of concerns about African American students:

* disproportionate suspension rates;

* the highest dropout rate;

* under-representation in gifted and talented programs;

* over-representation in special education population.

Under-representation for minority-owned businesses winning contracts from the previous $500 million in bonds is another concern, she said.

“You want us to support giving you another $400 million in extra money?” Hightower asked. “I’m going to be voting no.”

In a companion article, it seems that many of you are struggling over the bond questions.

N&R:

John Moore, a Guilford County resident, doubts taxpayers are in financial shape to handle an additional $412 million in debt. Moore said he is considering approving the Eastern bond but will oppose the larger package. Moore, a 60-year-old retired engineer, said his taxes would go up $200 a year if all the bonds on the ballot passed.

“I’m not sure at the end of the day if I can buy next week’s gas,” Moore said.

Moore is equally critical of the municipal and county economic development policies that don’t charge developers — and therefore, newcomers — for the additional homes that are built.

“We’re doing a lousy job today on a business model of equating the value of getting those new residents and these new jobs with the cost of having them,” Moore said. “We don’t need all this growth if we can’t afford to pay for it.”

Anita Bachmann argues that approving the bonds could help increase the tax base by attracting businesses. The Bonds for Schools committee that Bachmann coordinates estimates that the additional taxes for the owner of a $200,000 home amounts to one Big Mac a week.

“Our children are worth that much and more,” Bachmann said.

Ms. Bachman, attracting businesses increase the local tax base, with or without bonds. And that’s something our local economic developers can’t seem to do a good job of lately. It’s much more than a building…it is a question of doing things differently within GCS.

What else happened last night?

N&R:

* Personal leave days. The board agreed to support House Bill 906, which abolishes the $50 per day deduction from teacher pay for taking those days off.

* Teacher assistants. The board agreed to add 16 teacher assistants in elementary schools and to pay for those positions by slightly increasing the student-teacher ratio at high-poverty elementary schools. The net effect would be losing eight teacher positions to cover the $446,720 cost. There are 69 elementary schools or buildings with elementary-level grades. Of those, 31 would be affected by the increased class sizes.

* Newcomers School. The board voted 8-3 to expand the new school to include third and fourth grade. The school opened this academic year to serve students in grades 5-12 whose first language is not English. Features include English immersion, class sizes of 15 students per teacher and support services for families, such as an adult literacy class on weekends. The school is housed at the former Guilford Primary and has room for 324 students. Board members Garth Hebert, Jeff Belton and Darlene Garrett voted against the expansion.

* Replacement buses. The board agreed to buy 23 buses, which will be covered under the state replacement schedule at a cost of about $1.8 million. The board asked Transportation Director Jeff Harris to explore whether one bus could be a hybrid and whether adding security cameras would be cheaper at the time of purchase instead of installing the equipment later as the district does now.

* Public relations officer. The board hired Lekan Oguntoyinbo, who had previously worked as executive director of public relations for Detroit Public Schools. He replaces Sonya Conway, who resigned to take a similar position with American Express.

* Athletics director. The board accepted the resignation, effective July 1, of longtime athletics director, Herb Goins.

**********************************

Is Mr.  Oguntoyinbo local? If not, there are a number of PR professionals out of work in this town who could have been considered. I’m one of those, although I didn’t apply, and I probably would not have gotten the job! I’m a troublemaker 🙂

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E.C. )

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