Don't rebuild schools in this economy

What a wonderful idea! Let's start tearing down existing, functional schools and then rebuild them. Former Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price's hand-picked successor could not have dreamed up this colossal waste of money by himself. It has the distinct odor of a certain, big-spending county commissioner.

The Augusta Chronicle needs to give a free subscription to the Columbia County BOE and the Columbia County Commission. Maybe they are not aware of our current economic woes. They appear to be blissfully ignorant.

An Augusta Chronicle headline Jan. 28 announced plans for "rebuilding" at least four county schools, while an article right below it announces additional teacher furloughs. This article also reminds us that we had also lost $13.8 million in state funds prior to the most recent cuts.

The Jan. 27 Columbia County News-Times article "School budget woes top concerns" alludes to massive cuts in education spending by the state next year. Over the past six years state lawmakers have cut $500 million from education spending. The projected state spending cuts for next year may exceed $1 billion -- more than double the previous six years spending cuts combined.

Another article in the same issue of the News-Times reports that, according to state Rep. Alan Powell, Georgia could have as many as 35 school systems at the point of "hitting the wall." These school systems will face the choice of meeting payroll or making their bond payments. Taxpayers will be on the hook, financially, when the bonds default.

When Gov. Sonny Perdue allowed school boards to increase class sizes, Columbia County canned 70 teachers. That should leave us with 70 empty classrooms to relieve overcrowding. The article also has a suggestion from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute: that teacher pay be cut.

Perdue also cut property tax assistance to homeowners in Columbia County. I urge voters in Columbia County to vote "no" on the sales tax package July 20, unless it contains relief on property taxes and guarantees that teachers will not receive any more pay cuts.

The school rebuilding plan could not have been proposed at a worst time. The proposal is utterly ridiculous!

John Sullivent

Harlem

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