Dear Editor: In regards to the decisions by the Newton County Board of Education, the following are concerns I as a citizen feel should be considered and addressed:
1. Why do we start the school season in the peak energy demand months? As a utility employee, we establish utility rates based on seasonal demand and wholesale costs. Traditionally, electrical rates are at there highest in the summer months. In years past, Newton County Schools started the school year later into August or even September thus lowering their energy usage and utility expenses which also lowers operating costs. When considering the number of county operated educational facilities there are, how much money could be saved by delaying the start of the school year?
2. Why have we increased our new superintendent's starting salary over 7 percent in comparison to the previous superintendent's while at the same time proposing cuts to student programs and faculty?
3. Why are we considering building new schools in place of existing schools? Board meeting notes tell us that it is a more feasible alternative to build new schools rather than upgrade existing school structures. Do neither! Place these projects on hold until we as a county can afford them without sacrificing elsewhere. Why is it that these facilities have been adequate for years and educated countless students in our system but now within the next two to four years they will no longer be acceptable? For that matter, why do we build new schools and immediately place trailers adjacent to the main buildings?
Before we spend more money on undersized school facilities, let's do some forecasting and build them to the appropriate size needed. Perhaps if we had built big enough structures to begin with we wouldn't have school sites scattered throughout the county. As a child, I remember a day when we as a county had six elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Certainly, we have outgrown those days, but do we need the number of sites we currently have? Could we not have built a few larger facilities instead of several undersized facilities or even expanded our existing schools?
4. Why are all the teaching cuts coming from the lower grade levels?
5. How many administrators are needed at each school? Recall names like McGhee, Wardlow, Bryant. What do these names all have in common? They were all principals of Newton County elementary schools. They didn't have an arsenal of assistants and office workers. These former principals and many more just like them were able to oversee the daily operation of their assigned schools and enlist the help of parents eager to assist them in special projects. They did so by having mutual respect for the parents of the children at their schools and unbiased opinions and respect for the teachers and staff that served under them. As has been the case on several occasions in Newton County, school principals have received unsatisfactory reviews by their faculty and staff as well as the PTO's. Rather than eliminate the problems, these failing administrators are removed from their current schools and placed in other schools. Effective leadership is the key to any successful endeavor. Without effective and capable leaders in our principal positions how can we expect our schools to succeed and our parents to be involved? Ask yourselves, why have local private schools experienced steady growth over the past years and why have qualified teachers steadily left the Newton County School system to take jobs with lesser paying private schools?
Thankfully, I am not the one charged with making these decisions but I am impacted directly by them.
As I have told my children on several occasions, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!
The decisions that have been made recently will have devastating impacts later.