LETTER: Hypocrisy displayed during last school board meeting

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 04:57 AM

To the Editor:

Obviously, the Lee County Board of Education and school superintendent didn’t get the memo. As disturbing is the hypocrisy revealed in the March 12 meeting of the school board.

According The Sanford Herald account of the meeting, John Bonardi, chairman of the school board’s Facilities and Technology Committee, led the discussion about the school needing a new elementary school. A new school for about 650-700 children would cost about $13.5 million, he said. He also proposed using the abandoned campus of the abandoned Jonesboro Elementary School. This would require another $350,000 to demolish the old buildings.

The school board also unanimously approved the purchase of electronic tablets, at a cost of $1.8 million, to replace old laptops. When questioned about data to show that the laptops had improved the academic performance of students, Superintendent Jeff Moss gave his typical, dismissive response. The bottom line is that the school system has not gathered data and cannot justify this or the original cost to taxpayers.

Improvement in academic performance could have been assured if teacher assistants had been hired rather than buying the original laptops. Instead, layoffs occurred. The $1.8 million being spent now would pay for dozens of badly needed classroom personnel. It’s evident that the school system is sitting on plenty of money. The commissioners should cut $1.8 million from the school budget.

The majority of the Lee County Board of Commissioners and the county manager have sent clear messages that the county cannot take on more debt and that the goal is to cut taxes — not increase them. The budget guidelines also call for no capital purchases this year, and no technology purchases (computers, etc.) without prior approval of the commissioners.

Then, the school board turned down a request by State Senator Ron Rabin to get a list of honor roll students so that he could merely congratulate them. Moss claimed district does not give data like that to outside groups. Then, someone in the meeting suggested it “could look political.”

How hypocritical is this? Moss and the school board had no problem with a Tramway Elementary School class sending entirely political letters to Rep. Mike Stone a few years ago.

Jonathan Fallin

Lee County