This letter is written to encourage Polk voters to reject the latest in a long string of expensive SPLOST initiatives in Polk County. The latest SPLOST tax will burden this county for nearly another decade.
While supporting school performance is vital in Georgia, we would be wise to take a step back and look at the sad history of SPLOST spending in Polk County. One of the best ways to put the issue in perspective is to compare Polk County to a nearby largely rural county, such as Haralson County.
Haralson school district budgeting practices and construction spending is quite different from Polk. On average, Polk has kept less than one half of its budget in reserves in comparison to Haralson County. While Polk has spent millions through three SPLOST initiatives from 2005-2014, Haralson made the wise decision to recondition its schools through a single modest SPLOST during that ten year period.
It is only fair to ask what academic advantage has fallen to Polk by spending over three times what its more conservative neighbor to the South has done. However, it is disheartening to discover that Polk scored significantly lower than Haralson in the latest CCRPI ratings, the state’s standard measure of school performance.
School and student performance improvements come from three common sense sources, more homework, more hours of instruction and higher expectations of student performance. All three are available to students in reconditioned buildings as readily in expensive buildings of little effect.
A No vote on the SPLOST tax will send a clear signal that voters expect more budgetary discipline from the school board. If the board cannot justify new spending in the regular budget, such spending should not be off-loaded to yet another long lasting SPLOST tax.
- Perry Barrett, Rockmart