Monday, September 30, 2013

Suburban groups say no to CMS bonds

The $290 million bond package for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools got its first formal opposition today,  as Tom Davis from SPARK Educational Performances and Tim Timmerman from SMART issued a statement urging voters to say no (read their statement here).

SPARK,  or Strategic Partners for Accountability and Reform of Key Educational Performances,  is a north suburban group that has argued for splitting CMS into smaller districts.  SMART, or South Mecklenburg Alliance of Responsible Taxpayers, is based in the southern Ballantyne area and joined with SPARK to explore the notion of splitting the county into northern, southern and central school districts.

Timmerman at a SMART meeting

It's unclear how many people these two groups represent.  "We've got hundreds of people out there who support us,"  Davis,  an Air Force retiree and Republican political activist from Huntersville,  said today. (Update: Davis, who ran for N.C. House in the 2012 Republican primary, says he's now registered unaffiliated.)  He said he and Timmerman weren't the only people who crafted the position statement,  but he declined to give numbers or names,  saying many fear running afoul of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce,  a major backer of the "Vote Yes for Education Bonds" campaign.

The  "vote no"  position paper raises several issues,  including uncertainty over the role that charter schools and vouchers will play in CMS growth projections,  skepticism about the  "no tax increase"  claim and a call for Mecklenburg County to focus its energy on getting teachers a cost-of-living raise.  County officials say they can cover the cost of repaying the CMS bonds,  along with $210 million in bonds for Central Piedmont Community College on the Nov. 5 ballot,  without raising taxes.  But Davis argues that today's voters and officials can't  "tie the hands"  of future county officials.


"Current elected officials and special lobbying groups cannot bind the voting privilege of future elected officials. This breaches credibility and trust,"  the statement says. "No one can guarantee what will transpire with future tax rates."

The  "vote yes"  campaign hopes to raise $300,000 in donations and has hired a PR firm to help make the case.  Davis said the SPARK/SMART effort won't be anything like that.  "We're not going to get money into it,"  he said.  "We're going to get the information on the street and let people make decisions."

He said the groups don't plan to take a stand on the CPCC bonds.

Just last week,  Davis was just appointed to the Bond Oversight Committee,  a citizen panel that monitors how CMS spends its bond money,  by school board member Richard McElrath. Davis says he missed the Bond Oversight Committee's meeting last week because he didn't realize it was coming up just two days after his appointment.

McElrath opposed the last CMS bonds,  in 2007,  before being elected to the board in 2009.  He's running for reelection this year and said he doesn't expect to take a stand for or against this year's bonds.  


Anonymous said...

We should also take the position that CMS should equalize $ per pupil spending in all schools and only allow the special bucket money from the feds or state lottery funds be the difference makers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:44,

I couldn't agree more strongly with your suggestion.

Today CMS is grossly under funding/serving too many students throughout the district. Now the vote yes crowd wants the parents whose kids educations are being under funded to vote for this latest bond package.

Anonymous said...

Suburban schools receive at least THREE TIMES LESS funding per pupil that schools on the westside.


Anonymous said...

Your wrong as the "west side" receives Project LIFT money funneled from the business community. If your going to speak out speak with knowledge please. You do not want to put that fence up as those of us on the southside would just rather go dollar for dollar to a voucher. Careful what your lack of knowledge could get you.

Wiley Coyote said...

Underfunding isn't the issue. The issue is over spending whether it's for buildings or pencils and the ongoing waste of money in other areas.

Prior to closing schools a few years ago, Ashley Park was at 54% capacity. Whitewater was at 46% and who knows how many other underutilized schools there were at the time.

Yes, there are growing pains in some areas, but until CMS and the current BOE get a grip, get a clue, I don't care what you call it and start closing schools and consolidating - making the most efficient use of properties we currently have, NO MORE BONDS!!!!!!!!!

I've talked recently about Mountain Island Elementary being converted to a STEM K-8. It is my opinion this is an absolute waste and they even state Coulwood would "see a drop in enrollment". Okay, then can we bulldoze Coulwood and move those students elsewhere, sell that 30+ acres to a developer?

Can we turn Coulwood into the K-8 STEM since there are athletic facilities already there (which MIE will not have)and bulldoze MIE or lease it to a charter school???

Wake up BOE! It's not an act of treason to close a school if it needs to be closed!

Also, since CMS has absolutely NO clue as to which kids qualify for extra funding due to the NSLP, there is considerable waste and overspending there which takes away from programs other students may need.

But of course, all the BOE will do is throw up their hands and say "we can't do anything about it".

Tell ya what Tim. Why don't you get your group to insist our elected officials in Washington demand the Obama administration and the USDA allow you to fully audit the school lunch program?

At least you can say you gave it your best effort if you fail.


David Knoble said...

Just a few notes...

The statement referred to at the top of this article indicates that other states fund education through bonds implying that teacher salaries and other operating costs are funded by bonds. Bonds are long term in nature and not ever used for operating costs - only for capital needs like buildings. No state in the US funds teacher salaries through bonds.

Second, the only way a bond can be paid back is through county revenue - which is property tax and sales tax. Every county bond in the United States has a clause that indicates the county can levy taxes to pay back the bonds. It is the only source of payback. However, that does not mean taxes go up. In fact, taxes could be raised by our elected officials without bonds in place. In this case, as old bonds are being paid down, the same money is available to pay new bonds. Kind of like paying off a car loan and then buying a new car with a new loan payment - doesn't mean you need a raise to buy the car - the old debt is gone.

Finally, every single resident of Mecklenburg county contributes money to the county budget. So, the mayoral candidates should be able to endorse the bonds - they help fund it just like everyone else.

Just FYI...

Anonymous said...

David, in this city of Charlotte the Mayor has no input in CMS business. It's a easy brush off for them as I am sure they don't want to be involved in the CMS debacles. It would be nice if they could have some input and held accountable , but the system is not set up that way. Foxx used it for PR and Pat McMayor just avoided the questions surrounding education in his city. He now makes state wide decisions with no knowledge of the system. The voting public must hold the BOE accountable at the polls. Hopefully the district seats will turn to some new candidates. VOTE NO BONDS ! Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Surprise! Old people don't want to pay for schools. They don't care whether the person who changes their bedpan can spell.

Anonymous said...

I support bonds for CPCC but NOT for CMS. IN addition to being very unfair to students in the suburbs as far as funding is concerned (and I am not talking about Project LIFT), CMS has been.a very bad steward of taxpayer money. They spend and spend and spend but never seem to achieve results. Look at what little Mooresville city school district as accomplished, and their enrollment does not consist of a wealthy demographic. CMS possibly could achieve similar results if it were broken into much smaller districts. But, alas, the emperor and his court want the power a very large, unwieldy empire bestows on the few at the top. It isn't about the kids. Hasn't been in recent years.

Anonymous said...

I plan to vote NO for the CMS and CPCC bonds. Enough is enough. It was stated the Dr. Morrison would ask for a bond this election when the state did not give him the money he wanted. It is time to put a stop to all of these millions upon millions of dollars. CPCC just received several million dollars from the federal government. Not only that, CPCC now has WTVI and is using that as a pawn to try to get more money. She doesn't need the money either. Many of us live pay check to pay check and it is time these entities buckle up their belts and use the funds they have. Every time something new comes out in education CMS is the first to throw millions at it whether it works or not. VOTE NO, NO, NO!!!! Tighten up those belts CMS and CPCC. Closing schools and then turning around and wanting money to build more!!! NO, NO, No.

Anonymous said...

The real comment about this group should be "suburban group, as usual, rejects any money for public schools." It would be a miracle for these guys to support anything public. We get it old men.

Anonymous said...

I don't trust CMS BOE with $1.00.

Anonymous said...

If they close schools, where will they hold the hip-hop Zumba classes for the parents who don't care about their kids education?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
After results of 2007 Bond vote proved favoring the "elite" public schools, I will vote NO to this bond referendem. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.