I’m responding to Phil Bowers’ letter entitled, “Progress or propaganda?” where he criticized me for voicing outrage over school board votes to close schools, eliminate classroom teaching positions and raise property taxes.
As GOP chairman, Bowers should remain neutral, giving all candidates an equal chance at his party’s nomination.
True, I have expressed outrage over recent school board decisions. News Flash: It’s not only me; the entire county is outraged.
Parents, students and alumni of Holly Springs and AR Lewis are upset because Bowers, Judy Edwards, Brian Swords and Herb Cooper closed their award winning schools, Holly Springs having a tradition back to 1881.
Teachers are upset. They loved their schools, and know squeezing five schools into three will harm their students. Children will be on buses forever, labs turned into classrooms and if there is any growth, portable classrooms will return. Additionally, the board is eliminating 65 teaching positions in three years – so class sizes are rising too.
Taxpayers are outraged. They spent $6 million to renovate the two schools. The board flushed their $6 million investment down the toilet, yet taxpayers will be paying back that loan until 2032. Plus the board is boosting its borrowing, so Bowers, Swords, Edwards and Cooper are increasing property taxes too. Tax and waste.
Those who support good-government are upset. The process of closing the schools deserves a big fat “F”, providing more evidence of their poor leadership.
The Bowers, Swords and Edwards facilities committee held their meetings at 6:30, 7:00 and 7:30 Saturday mornings. Following good-government practices public meetings should be scheduled when the public is likely to attend, not before sunrise on Saturday.
They recommended closing the schools on Saturday, February 6 and sent it to the entire board for a final vote on Monday, February 8. It wasn’t until powers higher up got involved, did they delay the vote four weeks to let the public weigh in.
The day of the final vote, the capacity of the board room was cut down, so citizens, teachers and children were locked out of the meeting, in a rain storm. When Henry Wilson made a motion (seconded by me) to move next door to the Skelton Center where all could attend the meeting, Edwards-Bowers-Swords-Cooper voted it down and they also voted down hearing public input before the final vote.
When in the minority (like I’ve been 9 of my 12 years on the board) and I oppose the plans created by the majority, I can only vote “no”, explain why their plans make no sense and provide alternatives. I did all that opposing their cuts in teaching positions, closing of schools and raising taxes.
Others screamed all this was a bad idea too. Now Bowers and board majority are still getting tons of flak from the public and they are now looking to blame others.
School Board Trustee – Pickens