Saturday, January 21, 2012

Clarke Schools Come At High Cost

Read the column here (22 January 29012).

All of the above percentage and percentile calculation are my own.

The Georgia Department of Education usually posts its per pupil expenditure information in December for the previous fiscal year (meaning, for example, in December 2010 for FY 2010, which ran from July 2009 through June 2010).  For whatever reason, FY 2011 figures were not posted until either very late this past Tuesday or very early on this past Wednesday.

Those school districts smaller than the CCSD that have a higher per pupil expenditure range from the Taliaferro County School District, with a mere 199 students, to the Decatur City School District, tallying 2902 students.

Those interested can take a look at the Georgia Department of Education Revenue and Expenditure reports for FY 2011 for themselves:

Here is the current CCSD “Facts & Figures” web page that omits any ands all mention of per pupil expenditures:

Here are my blog posts, letters to the editor, news articles, and opinion columns on this and related subjects.  If one has nothing better to do, one can follow the various topics through time.

The Other Athens:

Banner-Herald letters to the editor:

Banner-Herald news articles:

Banner-Herald opinion columns:

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Clowns To the Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right

Doug McKillip, former Democrat and current Republican representing self'consciously progressive Athens in the Georgia House of Representatives, appears to be an unpopular sort.  See here and here.

The Democrats are promising to exact revenge for his sudden shift to the GOP, just weeks after being named to the number two post in the Democrat's House leadership structure following the 2010 election.  Also, the locals are upset with what they see as his "interference" in local redistricting by virtue of McKillip's sudden interest in the composition of the Athens-Clarke County Commission.  He is sure to face spirited Democratic opposition in this year's general election.

If he makes it that far.  Many of the GOP faithful are not the least bit impressed with McKillip either, and local attorney Regina Quick is throwing her hat into the ring as a Republican primary opponent to McKillip (they faced one another across the partisan divide back in 2006).  If she wins, and I hope that she does, my only regret would be that serving in the House may take away from her time drubbing City Hall in the courts.

No one seems to be on McKillip's side, with the possible exception of the state's Republican establishment.  I am a Republican, but I am less and less enamored of the "establishment" at both the state and national levels (more about which at a later date).

I penned this at the end of 2010 concerning the local GOP Christmas party:

Finally, Doug McKillip of the 115th, the GOP’s newest member of the Georgia House of Representatives, was in attendance. I had wondered if he would make an appearance, and sure enough he did. For his part, it was a good political move if nothing else. For my part, I welcomed him over to the Dark Side. I wrote some pretty harsh things about McKillip’s sudden political conversion over on the Banner-Herald comment boards and still think that it is up to McKillip to prove me wrong, but we shall see.

We shall, indeed.

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More GOP Presidential Bye-ku

Here is another installment of bye-ku for (former) Republican presidential hopefuls from WSJ online's James Taranto:

Jon Huntsman (16 January 2012)
Call me crazy, but
I think insulting voters
Will warm them to me

Rick Perry (20 January 2012)
Trounced in Iowa
New Hampshire and--the third one
I can't. Sorry. Oops

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Impertinent Observations

1) I saw, with some relief, that Whatever It Takes was denied any part of the $30 million Promise Neighborhood “implementation grant” up for grabs.  A couple of years ago, WIT received a $500,000 “planning grant” from PN to develop a series of proposals to hopefully address the appalling academic underachievement that has characterized the Clarke County School District for so long.

The result was a 77-point program released just a month or so back.  I read the proposal; many of the points seemed to simply duplicate existing services and many others seemed related only tangentially to the ostensible purpose of the program (kind of like the “stimulus” crap up in D.C., the WIT proposal read like a wet dream of every taxpayer-funded idea its members could imagine).  So, in the end, we blew half a million dollars of grant money trying to secure yet more grant funding.  It seems this is how so many of such efforts end – not with a bang, but with a whimper.  To paraphrase Limbaugh, I’m glad they failed.

2) According to the Gainesville Times, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the lobbying organization for the state’s counties, is pushing for a change in the SPLOST law: “Currently, the voter-approved 1 percent sales tax can only be used to fund the construction of big-ticket items, such as parks, libraries, roads or sewer lines. Once those projects are built, their operation is largely funded through property taxes and user fees . . . The ACCG wants Georgia's law changed in 2012 to allow as much as 15 percent of SPLOST revenue to be used for operating costs.”

This would be such a bad idea.  It seems that government has discovered a strategy to move things that used to be financed through the general budget into their own “dedicated revenue stream” funds (LOST, SPLOST, ELOST, TSPLOST, stormwater utility fee, septic tank fee, trash-hauler fee, etc.).  That would be okay if general fund expenditures decreased accordingly, but they never do – the dedicated funds simply allow government to spend more while claiming that taxes (and/or fees) are not going up to cover the new spending which, of course, is sophistry.

3) I realize that I criticize local government quite a bit.  Unfortunately, though, the folks down at City Hall keep serving up those hanging curve balls that beg to be smacked.  A case in point is the local “public art” ordinance.  Passed in December 2010, I noted at the time that I thought it was a bad idea because it mandated unnecessary spending and created and funded yet another bureaucracy.

Be that as it may, our betters down at City Hall claimed to not have understood the ordinance they passed and we ended up with the prospect of spending some $520,000 on public art at the new county jail.  Faced with a tide of public outrage at this, the Commission backtracked and revised the ordinance.  My reading of the revised ordinance, however, leaves us right back to where we were before we had any public art ordinance at all (City Hall can require some unspecified percentage of the overall construction budget of SPLOST projects be spent on public art – or not).  A full year later we right back where we started, having accomplished nothing other than the recognition that some of the folks inside the rail do not pay attention to what they are doing (not once, mind you, but twice now on this same issue).

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

GOP Presidential Bye-Ku

Here are the 2012 GOP presidential bye-ku, so far, as shamelessly lifted from James Taranto via WSJ online’s Best of the Web Today:

Tim Pawlenty (15 August 2011)
No match for the girl
He'd be dead if not for her
"Minnesota Nice"

Thaddeus McCotter (22 September 2011)
He plays the guitar
And yet he never managed
To strike any chord

Herman Cain (06 December 2011)
Cheater at haiku
Instead of 5-7-5
It was 9-9-9

Michele Bachmann (04 January 2012)
She of "crazy eyes"
May be crazy like a fox
News contributor

There will probaby be a few more in the not too distant future.

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