The DeKalb County School Board met last night, Dec. 10, in front of a packed house. We were very pleased to hear some intelligent, well-thought out, factual presentations during the public comments portion of the meeting, which lasted nearly and hour and a half.
At times, the audience broke out into spontaneous applause, an act the board chairs frequently admonished, but with little success.
The Public's Comments
One woman who said she had two children at Henderson Middle, called the board to task on the incorrect or vague numbers given in the sloppy proposal put before the board by Superintendent Atkinson. She received cheers and applause.
Another speaker read a letter from a current MLK student. It stated that the students were losing faith in the adults and were planning to protest.
Willie Pringle, who often says he is "a voice for the voiceless" was there to place blame on the board members and issued a warning that they are not above a recall vote by the people.
The Board's Response
Chairman, Dr. Eugene Walker stated that the board normally does not respond to public comments, but he felt he needed to set the record straight. He insisted that there is no mismanagement of funds and "you have honorable people sitting up here representing you." The crowd of parents, teachers, taxpayers and others chuckled simultaneously out loud at that thought, which only made Dr. Walker continue to defend the school board and administration.
He talked about the various audits that have taken place and said that nothing substantial has come from them. But, we have to wonder... how would an audit of books that do not accurately reflect the money coming into the school system ever be able to show that the money is being used inappropriately? If it never hits the books to begin with, there simply is nothing to show for it.
As one simple example of how this logic is faulty, just take a look at the cell tower deals that were signed on July 12, 2011 by the board of education.
That money is.... where? Did the schools get it? Did the PTAs get what they were promised? As Mr. Pringle said, "WHERE IS THE MONEY?"
Here's a quote directly from the cell tower contracts:
"Neither party shall record this Lease in the official records of DeKalb County."
To review a copy of the cell tower leases received via an Open Records Request with DSCD, click here.
Right there is the proof, Dr. Walker, of the mismanagement of our funds. Money is missing and we are tired of dealing with criminals. The people of DeKalb County are finally starting to realize that we all have the same concerns. We all want what is best for our children. No one wants to see schools close in order to pay interest on bonds to speed up construction by six months.
Goodbyes and Grandstanding
And, to end the evening's agenda, board members Don McChesney, Tom Bowen and Paul Womack summed up their experiences on the board as this would be their last official public meeting. To summarize:
- McChesney was sincere and warned the public to beware of those who seek to help their own agendas without concern for all the children. He named Nancy Jester and Pam Speaks as being his friends, confidants and said they are truly in it for the children. We think that was his way of saying that everyone else on the board is likely corrupt in some way. McChesney will be replaced in January by Marshall Orson.
- Vice Chairman Tom Bowen said a lot of lawyer-type gibber-gabber but did not appear to be concerned about anything other than how he looked on the TV monitors. His replacement is Melvin Johnson.
- And, finally, H. Paul Womack, the arch-rival of Get the Cell Out - ATL and many others whom he has harmed during his tenure on the board said his bittersweet goodbyes. He will soon be replaced by Jim McMahan, a parent from Sagamore Hills and Henderson Middle. Womack likened himself and the job of the school board as second most important to that of the President of the United States.
Moving forward, may we all learn to vote responsibly from now on or run for office ourselves if we cannot find suitable candidates to support! Remember, the new school board term starting in January will only last for two years! Then, in 2015 we get the chance to make real change happen when it will be possible to vote in a whole new board of education all at the same time.
The wheels of change turn slowly sometimes, but they are capable of turning. Keep the faith!
For a more detailed rundown of the board meeting, visit www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org