Real Fiscal Responsibility
No discussion of our schools can avoid the topic of money—whether there is enough, whether it is well spent and what we really need to operate our school system. There is no question that the previous board was fiscally irresponsible—so much so that a DeKalb Grand Jury recommended the creation of a special grand jury to investigate the DeKalb Board of Education and its failure to properly and effectively oversee use of tax money for the benefit of public education in DeKalb.
Those board members preferred to divide DeKalb and make it an argument between North versus South. But, that missed the point. As every investor knows, it is not just how much you buy but the quality of what you are buying and the potential return. As a county, we need quality schools everywhere or our children will lose out as well as the entire county. No business will want to invest in DeKalb if the schools are lousy. So, it is not about how much is spent at any one school but how much we need to spend to ensure a school is good. Treating every school exactly the same is a guarantee of mediocrity and a guarantee that we will fail. We are moving away from that model.
So, while we cut in the central office—both replacing those not up to the job and reducing the size of the central office so the focus is on service—we need to be smart about where we reinvest those savings. If schools are successful with their current investments, we want to protect those successful schools while redirecting savings to those which need help. Those new investments must be coupled with placing strong leaders in those schools and a plan to turn around those schools.
During the last year we had to undo the huge mess created by the former Board including my opponent.We settled the fruitless lawsuit, that cost us over $20 million. We cut legal expenses nearly in half. My opponent supported giving the former, now-convicted Superintendent a pay raise and contract extension when there were already widespread questions about his lack of leadership and ethics. In addition, he supported spending a staggering amount of money to pay that former Superintendent’s legal fees for his criminal acts. The current Board would not have made those poor choices.