Monday, February 15, 2010

Impertinent Observations (education edition)

A quintet of interrelated education items for your reading pleasure:

I submitted this letter-to-the-editor of the Banner-Herald a while back and assumed that the powers that be over at Press Place had decided against running it. I guess they were short of letters for last Thursday’s edition, though, because there it was. The issue has to do with spending revenue from the Unified Government’s hoped-for continuation of SPLOST on “technology infrastructure” for the Clarke County School District. As readers can see, there are problems with that suggestion: the legalities governing a county/municipal SPLOST versus those of a school district ELOST, the fact that the CCSD is wallowing in money even without such funds, and the fact that the CCSD is hardly lacking in technology infrastructure.

Concerning the latter point, see this
article about the CCSD’s classroom technology that came out the day after the letter that prompted my response. As an aside, the picture in the article attracted the attention of the folks over at Nealz Nuze (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Also, the write-up of the recent “Seeing is Believing” tour of the CCSD sponsored by the Junior League of Athens and the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce contained this quote from former Athens-Clarke County mayor and current Chamber or Commerce grand poobah Doc Eldridge:

“For the child that wants it and has the ability, they can get the finest education in the Clarke County School District as they can anywhere in the state. Period. End of sentence.”

Everyone knows that I am a vocal critic of the CCSD, but they should also recognize that I fully concur with Eldridge in this regard and, in fact, have made this very same point for years. The problem has never been with those few students – and just as importantly their parents – who have the good sense to make the most of the educational opportunities the CCSD offers. The problem has been, and remains, that the majority of the student population does not. The response of the Board of Education and the appointed bureaucrats to this situation, for a long time now, has been to increase expenditures – an approach that has manifestly failed. While I am not without a certain amount of sympathy for the CCSD in trying to score a few PR points, to my mind the annual Tour amounts to little more that a propaganda exercise. See here for another take on the Tour.

I support the Board of Education’s decision to close down the SOAR Academy and turn its mission over to a private contractor. From what I can gather, the CCSD’s punitive alternative school has not worked as hoped. If the CCSD can get better student performance, and do so at appreciably less cost, then so much the better. Even so, while I think this is a good thing, critics who note that the decision seems to have been made before the issue came up for public discussion just a couple of weeks ago do seem to have a legitimate point.

One of the CCSD’s middle schools is under suspicion after an audit found a higher percentage of erasures than expected on its students’ CRCT answer sheets. At this point, I’m not sure what, if anything, to make of this.

Finally, the CCSD’s web site still has as its per pupil expenditure the figure from Fiscal Year 2008; as reported here, the updated figure for Fiscal Year 2009 was posted by the Georgia Department of Education at the end of December. At least, though, the District is now using the correct source.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Qualifying Information For 2010 Elections

Per the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections, here is qualifying information pertaining to the various local offices for which elections will be held this coming November. Note that this list does not pertain to state offices.

Solicitor General
Salary: $114,353.86
Qualifying fee: $3430.62

State Court Judge
Salary: $128,597.57
Qualifying fee: $3857.93

Salary: $45,000.00
Qualifying fee: $1350.00

Commissioner (odd-numbered districts)
Salary: $15,000.00
Qualifying fee: $450.00

Board of Education (odd-numbered districts)
Salary: $3600
Qualifying fee $108.00

The qualifying period for the office of Solicitor General runs from 9:00 a.m. on Monday, 26 April, through noon on Friday, 30 April. The qualifying period for all of the other offices listed runs from 9:00 a.m. on Monday, 28 June, through noon on Friday, 02 July. For further details concerning voter registration, voting procedures, district maps, and contact information for the Board of Elections, see here. For a calendar of election-related dates, see here.

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