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Protesters oppose school tax hike

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:56 PM
Last updated Thursday, Aug 1, 2013 2:15 AM
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The Rev. Christopher Johnson understands the school system is suffering. He has heard about the state funding cuts and crippling expenses.

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There was a protest concerning transportation at the Richmond County Alternative Schools outside of the Richmond County School Board Building.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
There was a protest concerning transportation at the Richmond County Alternative Schools outside of the Richmond County School Board Building.

Despite the troubles, he said raising property taxes as the Board of Education has proposed will only worsen the problem by discouraging people from living in the county, hurting the tax base.

“We don’t want our taxes raised at all, period,” Johnson said. “In bad economic times, we cannot afford to be raising taxes ...We’re asking you to consider going back to the trough again and try and see what you can come up with before raising these taxes.”

About a dozen parents and citizens protested with signs and chants outside the Richmond County Board of Education on Wednesday during a public hearing held to hear concerns about the proposed tax hike. The board is set to raise the millage rate .98 mills to 19.982, which would mean a $30 tax increase on a home valued at $100,000 for a total of $699 in school taxes per year.

Board members responded by ensuring they have cut all they could before turning to the wallets of the public. The school system has seen more than $150 million cut in state funding over the last 10 years and is set to pay $1.8 million more in health insurance for noncertified employees this year.

The 2013-14 budget approved in June included nine furlough days, the elimination of 135 positions and the tax increase to make up for the losses.

“We are simply coming to the public for assistance to help us run this school system efficiently and try to keep as many individuals employed as possible,” Superintendent Frank Roberson said.

Still, residents argued the board is raising taxes at a time when results are not being seen and services aren’t there – such as transportation for alternative program students.

“Taxes are one thing, if you’ve got to do it, fine,” said Rico Jackson, president of Barton Chapel Progressive Association. “But I’m concerned about these kids getting to school. If you raise the taxes, raise the service.”

Board President Venus Cain said her colleagues have done all they can.

“We have cut everywhere, but (you) stand here in front of the board saying ‘You all are wasting money,’ ” Cain said.

TAX HEARING

The third and final hearing before the adoption of the higher millage rate will be held Aug. 8 at 4p.m. at 864 Broad Street

Comments (17) Add comment
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cgaines85
39
Points
cgaines85 07/31/13 - 10:05 pm
3
3
These people have no idea

These people have NO idea about the TRUE financial situation of our school system and individual schools. Despite this property tax increase, this will be the toughest year yet financial. Moral is at an all time low, and we are still expected to provide the same level of education and produce even higher test scores...SMH.

whozit
147
Points
whozit 08/01/13 - 12:16 am
2
13
Simple truth

The simple truth is that ever since Republicans took over the state government, education funding from the state has been slashed. Year after year. That has left counties in the position of cutting until they are cutting muscle, not fat. Thousands of teachers have lost their jobs and those that remain are left dealing with unpaid furlough days. At eh same time, Republicans engineered the existence of charter schools, funded by the local districts even if they did not approve thse charter schools. This only benefitted their donors who want to privately finance those schools and collect tax money for their services. Republicans on every level have shown their disdain for education. Follow them if you will, but do so knowingly.

wildman
1185
Points
wildman 08/01/13 - 03:57 am
13
1
Are you kidding me?

The republicans are dealing with the truth something that democrats are afraid to do. The USA is past broke, the state of Georgia is broke and Richmond County can't get out of its on way. Now let me explain why, to many people living off of the government and not paying taxes. Nothing in life is free, somewhere down the line an honest hard working American is paying for those that don't or won't. Have a nice day!

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 08/01/13 - 05:53 am
7
0
Well now that they have free

Well now that they have free lunch and breakfast then I guess they will have more money for taxes. Geez!

Riverman1
90171
Points
Riverman1 08/01/13 - 05:57 am
6
0
Maybe, There Is Hope

Democrats protesting taxes? There is hope.

soapy_725
43947
Points
soapy_725 08/01/13 - 06:54 am
0
0
Smoke and mirrors from those who do not pay taxes? LOL
Unpublished

Smoke and mirrors from those who do not pay taxes? LOL

soapy_725
43947
Points
soapy_725 08/01/13 - 06:57 am
0
0
Fiscal responsibility died in childbirth of the New World Order
Unpublished

Fiscal responsibility died in childbirth of the New World Order

Marinerman1
5255
Points
Marinerman1 08/01/13 - 06:57 am
7
0
Alternative School Transportation

Got a chuckle last night, watching the protesters marching outside of the BOE building. One of the "citizens" looked to be about nine or ten years old. Could not understand his comment to the reporter. They are bitching about the BOE not busing their kids to the alternative school. Well, if your little "angel" had not broken the rules, then he/she would not BE at the alternative school. If your child screws up, it is supposed to be a little hard on the parents. Then maybe they ALL will learn.

soapy_725
43947
Points
soapy_725 08/01/13 - 06:57 am
0
0
Coming in 2014: New Reality Show "Slave Nation USA"
Unpublished

Coming in 2014: New Reality Show "Slave Nation USA"

Little Lamb
47857
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/13 - 07:00 am
1
1
Shell

I salute the protesters and wish I could have joined them. In hindsight, this protest may have been more effective if they had protested before the vote was taken a couple of weeks ago.

This statement troubles me:

“We are simply coming to the public for assistance to help us . . . try to keep as many individuals employed as possible,” Superintendent Frank Roberson said.

The board of education is not an employment agency. They should try to employ as few individuals as possible consistent with delivering the required services.

The Richmond County school system is bloated, both in facilities and in personnel. They have purchased far too many different educational gimmick programs from too many vendors that take too many bureaucrats to administer.

Now that the federal court desegregation order has been lifted, there are opportunities to reduce central office staff of those staffers whose jobs it has been to tabulate the racial statistics required by that order.

avidreader
3442
Points
avidreader 08/01/13 - 08:06 am
4
0
Creeping Taxes

My home is worth $150,000. Forty-five bucks extra per year is not going to kill me, but I sure hate to pay any additional tax simply based on principle. Taxes in general are way too much for the middle class to absorb and it seems as if every year there's more. I know first-hand that it IS going to be a tough school year, but as always, the staffs and teachers of our schools will work harder than ever in order to serve our children.

Tuesday will be our first furlough day. Wednesday thru Friday will be chocked full of meetings and seminars. However, the schools will be open from 8-4 on Saturday, and you can bet the farm that the vast majority of teachers will be in the buildings getting ready for Monday.

I want my furlough days back, but I have to agree with wildman. Georgia is stagnant, but still has a balanced checkbook, unlike California, Michigan, etc. I can live with tough choices, but this tax situation really does suck.

I'm just thankful I get cheap gas with my Bi-Lo card.

Little Lamb
47857
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/13 - 08:25 am
1
0
Meetings and Seminars

Thanks for the perspective, AvidReader. You know I enjoy reading your comments here. That's interesting that they set up a four-day program of meetings and seminars for teachers before school starts; then reduce the program to three days and let you have a day off without pay on the first day of the seminar. It sounds like phony accounting to me. But what do I know?

It would seem to me that they could hold the seminars on Tuesday through Thursday, open the school buildings on Friday for you to take your furlough, then let you fix up your classroom on Friday for no pay. At least that way you could get an actual two-day weekend out of the deal. But, I guess the bureaucrats know best.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 08/01/13 - 08:47 am
0
1
dear rev johnson
Unpublished

protesting outside the building will not help at all, but thank you for your efforts. sir it boils down to 2 things, the first is basic economics, the county has too many schools to support the student population (hence the reason why laney is the only high school combined with middle schools-grades 6-12). with less than 800 students it is not feasible or cost effective to keep the school open without including middle school students and rezoning students from other areas of the county into this school. so without rezoning or the middle school students this school should be closed and merged with the other bad school (josey) this way there will be sufficient population of inner-city student to justify keeping one of the two open. secondly, the school district wastes millions upon millions of proerty tax dollars of wasteful and useless "programs" attempting to teach children who have no interest in learning, or becasue of "social promotion" are not equipped nor able to understand what is being taught. its time to go back to failing students letting them repeat the grade until the can pass or get old enuff to quit, then thye be come the problem of their sorry azz mammies/parents. rev johnson i propose to demand the school board go back to teaching the 3 r's and not various failing programs in an attempt to reack -ka'jeam, lysterine, alysie, jamal, da'andre or whatever else silly name you can think of. by closing schools, and expelling all disruptive, disreplectful, violent, and student with no interest in getting and education what you will have is a leaner school population with an improved environment conducive to learning immedately causing test scores and academic achevement to improve all without the school board to constantly "soak" and "bleed" the poor property owners year after year resulting in no improvement in academic performance (of the non-magnet schools)..all that is being done ismoney being thown down a rat hole of the sinking ship that is called the richmond county school district

dichotomy
36063
Points
dichotomy 08/01/13 - 10:41 am
3
0
"until they are cutting

"until they are cutting muscle, not fat"

There is still muscle that needs cutting. It's mostly between the ears of the bloated central office staff and the superintendent that has allowed the explosion of administrative positions and "trainers".

"Board President Venus Cain said her colleagues have done all they can."

Yeh, well it don't take much effort to furlough teachers and raise taxes. I personally do not believe the Ms. Cain and her colleagues even broke sweat digging into reviewing administrative positions, under used real estate, inflated supply and service contracts, etc. It's always easiest to say furloughs and tax hikes. The BOE political wannabees are just practicing for their run at the Commission and using the same no effort, no thought, no stepping on anyone's sacred cow methods.

giwi
106
Points
giwi 08/01/13 - 03:29 pm
2
0
Lincoln County school tax

I love Lincoln County however my taxes are double from when I lived in Columbia County; half of my taxes go toward school tax!

entitlements-r-us
4
Points
entitlements-r-us 08/01/13 - 04:05 pm
2
0
school board budget

Why would a school board member want to run for the commission? They control approximately 75% of the county tax money and waste it like it was stolen money with very little question from the taxpayers. The commissioners get 13% and are second guessed on their every move. I agree the commission makes some very bad decisions, but their waste doesn't even compare to the school board.

corgimom
36419
Points
corgimom 08/01/13 - 05:27 pm
1
1
Wait until the Race to the

Wait until the Race to the Top funds run out, there are even bigger tax increases coming.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 08/01/13 - 05:57 pm
2
0
"The board of education is not an employment agency."

My vote for best quote of the day.

Second place at another school related topic, "free" meals, "You breed 'em, we feed 'em."

Darby
28257
Points
Darby 08/01/13 - 09:48 pm
1
0
"These people have NO idea about the TRUE

financial situation of our school system and individual schools. Despite this property tax increase, this will be the toughest year yet financial."

.Then maybe you can explain how private schools turn out a better product at a fraction of the cost.

And they do it, year after year, after year.

Too many sacred cows perhaps????

whozit
147
Points
whozit 08/02/13 - 12:07 am
0
0
No doubt

There is no doubt the administrative level in both Richmond and Columbia County is bloated. Not at the school level, but at the county office. The principals and classroom teachers positions are cut year after year, but not the county office positions. One would think a person educated enough to be Superintendent would be capable of speaking to the media rather than employing a spokesperson. My earlier point is till valid though. Republicans have cut education funding year after year. Remember Sonny Perdue had the state take over collection of a portion of the property tax. It was to be refunded to the counties and deducted from your yearly assessment by the county. We all know the part where the state was to refund that portion they collected went by the wayside as our Republican legislature voted to keep it. Property taxes doubled on that Republican bit of business.

Darby
28257
Points
Darby 08/02/13 - 12:26 am
1
0
"Republicans have cut education funding

year after year."

.
Democrats increase funding year after year, never demanding an account of how the money is spent.

Funny thing is, under the Republicans and/or the Democrats, the result is the same. The product (graduates) our schools produce keeps getting worse.

So why spend the money??????

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