My family lives in area and are trying to decide who to support in District 4. My husband and I recently watched the video of the Edukalb debate. I was hoping to ask what I hope are short follow up questions: 1) what did you think of the concept of utilizing both budget cuts and a millage rate increase this year? Would you have voted for the budget as passed? If not, what would you have suggested instead? 2) What is your position on the process of how decisions were made about placing cell phone towers? Do you support the placing of towers at schools other than at Lakeside? 3) What did you think of the process of decision making with redistricting 2 years? I will be happy to share this information with other voters if you like. (I already sent quite a few the Edukalb link.)
Thank you for your time and attention,
1. The budget cuts have impacted the education quality by reducing the number of teachers and increasing class sizes. I would have been much happier had I seen central office staff reduced to 0 head count before any class size increases. The millage rate should have been raised to the maximum. As the home values have plummeted across Dekalb, the actual amount of resources sent to the school system has fallen. A millage increase would not have restored the amount to pre-bubble-burst amounts but it would have prevented the loss of 500+ student-contact positions.
I have never seen a school system that is "adequately" funded. Given that the Georgia Constitution has a clause stipulating the providing of an adequate education is a mandated responsibility of the State of Georgia, maybe the legal fees would be better spent to challenge the state level budget cuts in the Georgia Supreme Court while arguing for a legal definition of the word "adequate" as it pertains to education.
I would also like to see a state-wide special $1 per ticket education fee added to every professional entertainment ticket - sports, movies, ballet, concerts, anything where the people doing the entertainment are getting paid to do it. Put 1/2 the funds into the general budget targeted for K-3 academics and the other 1/2 into funding the elementary school art and music, science lab equipment, academic field trips and all the other parts of education that keep getting cuts while high school sports goes untouched.
2. What I know of the cell-tower decision process is third-hand at best. My understanding is that it appears to many as a "secret, backroom deal". The county has a track record of not making good contract decisions so I have very little trust that this one would be better. I don't like the idea of a for-profit entity having a literal footprint on the school property. The corporate-funded research has not been a good thing in the long run for universities and this is similar. It provides an un-elected virtual board position for an organization whose only function is generating a profit for their shareholders. It's not a question of if they ask to be heard in the decision process, but when. As far as the perceived "safety issues", the fear of cell tower radiation underlies my view that we need to do a far better job of science education. The school food is more dangerous than the microwaves from a cell tower.
3. As everyone on the board will have 2 years now, things are going to be both a mess and a good opportunity to set long-term educational goals in place. I don't see the decision process getting much worse than it already is. I'm hoping to be a new face on the board and maybe that will be a catalyst for some consensus building on long-term goals.
I think, also, that the state legislature needs to rethink school board districts in general. I would prefer to see the board membership count based solely on student size (3, 5 or 7) and not based on geographical region but county-wide academic areas instead - humanities and arts, science and math, health and nutrition and physical education for 3 seats with further separations for larger boards. This has the opportunity to engage more qualified people, i.e., professionals in their field, and eliminating the regional bickering and focusing on academic bickering instead.
Feel free to forward this to anyone interested in schools. I will also post it on my website http://electjimkinney.org/edukalb_email_reply
District 4 Candidate
DeKalb County school Board