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COUNTYWIDE School Board Elections? It CAN happen!

Want to have a hand in selecting the ENTIRE school board in May? You might, if the state legislators take THIS suggestion.

I recently wrote to the state Senate regarding our school board elections, which are coming up very soon.  This coming May we will also be faced with voting for new school board members, possibly in ALL districts at once.  

SACS specifically asked the appointed board to ensure that they are working toward solutions to our school problems that will be sustainable.  The question of how to ensure our voting districts are fair to the children, their families AND the community can be a difficult one to answer, however, when you have a very liberal, lenient choice program that takes at least 20%, if not more, of our children out of their own communities and sends them elsewhere daily for their educational needs.   

It is critical that ALL our school board members are beholden to ALL our communities and ALL our children.  We cannot simply continue to say, "Yes, the county schools are bad, but my school is great," because a loss of accreditation will affect everyone.  And, every child has the same right to education as the next one. 

The retreat the school board recently went on reportedly included time for a discussion of redrawing the district boundaries and even keeping the full 9 seats instead of reducing them to 7 or 5 as the law once called for.  I guess they can pick and choose which laws they have to follow.  Why not?  The board was once told that they could "police themselves," so there isn't really much here they cannot do.

Anyway, here is part of my letter, in hopes that it might inspire you to write to your legislators as well.  If you agree with the idea of a countywide / "at large" vote for ALL school board seats, please talk it up with others and take some action to let your legislators know.  There has already been a lot of chatter on some school related blog sites that seem to favor this idea of allowing ALL of us to vote for EVERY open seat on the school board.  We will never have any change if we don't start coming up with our own good ideas and pushing them forward.  

Thanks and remember to read about the cell tower issue here:www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org and the Save Tucker! effort here:www.facebook.com/SaveTuckerFromLakesideCity.

02/09/14
Dear DeKalb Senators: 
  

(EXCERPT FROM FULL LETTER SENT TO GA. SENATE)

       School Board:  Many parents, like myself, are concerned in DeKalb County that the election process for our school board, slated for this May, will have a negative impact on the progress that has been made by our current, Governor-appointed board.   Has anyone sponsored legislation this session that could correct some of the problems that led to the poor choices we, as voters, have been faced with in that past and the terrible outcome?  

Are there any measures to ensure the former, removed board members cannot run again?  The law that removed them said they were removed “permanently” yet there has been talk that several plan to run again.  Is this in the true spirit of the law?   

I know many of you have been focused on the issue of cities and city school systems as a potential way out of our failing system for some of our children, but it will not solve the governance problems on the board of education that were found by SACS.  

If we allow the same electoral process that put the former board in place, along with the demands that they faced from their strong-willed parents in their voting districts who made many individual demands of them and had community voter support in their favor, I am afraid we will end up right where we started, only this time SACS may not be quite so lenient with us and could yank our accreditation and put us in the financial peril that happened in Clayton County.    

Politics aside, this would be devastating to the Georgia economy and to many children who don't deserve this fate.   I’m asking that you consider your own ideas as well as one that has gained support and popularity for many months now across several of the online parent blog and news boards online.   

Similar to how a city council might be elected, such as the statement from Chamblee’s city government, which I have quoted from their website below, please consider amending the voter law that allows for our districts to vote separately on school board members.  Rather, please allow every parent and every taxpaying voter to have a voice in electing ALL the school board members.    

SACS has made it clear that they expect the board to represent ALL the children, regardless of the district they live in and, in reality, many of our children attend school outside their own district, meaning that we, as voters, have as much if not more of an interest in who is elected in another district as we do about who is elected in our own.  

I think this would solve low voter turnout issues in South DeKalb to some degree and would stop the north/south blame game that takes place when someone is elected whom the public thinks should not be there.  It will be the responsibility of ALL the voters to work together to put the best team in place to represent them.  It would also help solve the problems created during runoff elections where only a few districts are affected and therefore runoffs are not heavily promoted or attended.

Here is the Chamblee city statement: “ They are elected in nonpartisan elections for over-lapping four-year terms. Each Council member must live in the election district that they represent, however, they are elected citywide. “   

So, we know it can be done.  We just need someone who is brave enough to write and sponsor the bill, or co-sponsor it across the two parties so we have a true bill with a chance of passing since it is about schools, which are supposed to be non-partisan.  Thank you.    

(End of Except Section)

Sincerely,

Cheryl Miller

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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