Once again, the Cobb County School District finds itself in a budget shortfall situation and looking for money to close the deficit. If the deficit is real and minds are open, I suggest raising the cost of the After School Program. Yes, this won't make me popular, but at least I'm not proposing to sell teachers' curriculum and work product.
If the program is the same across Cobb, and I feel certain that it is, parents pay a mere $7 per child. For this amount, children are kept on school premises from 3 to 6:30 p.m., engage in monitored play and learning activities (homework) and are provided a snack and drink.
The program charge seems barely sufficient to cover the costs of operation. And this assumes that the monies are actually used to pay the expenses of running the program, which given the financial sleight of hand and monetary shell games conducted by CCSD, is a rather large and risky assumption to make.
I have been told that the funds collected from the ASP go into each principal's discretionary fund. However, one cannot verify this, given the lack of transparency by CCSD.
I recommend that CCSD determine the market value for the services provided and that the ASP charges more closely align with that value. I don't know what this amount is, but it certainly much more than $7. These funds should then be placed into the general fund to defray system wide expenses. Principals should NOT be able to retain these funds.
I also recommend that we use the new, high durability turf to generate income. The schools can rent out the fields or use them for competition events. Of course, this assumes that we can get the coaches to allow others to use "their" fields. I still see high school bands practicing everywhere but the fields. As with the ASP monies, these monies should go into the general fund and not some discretionary fund at the principals' discretion.
If the problem is real, then so must be the solutions. And real solutions do not involve trying to secretly and surreptitiously devise a way to tap SPLOST funds by circumventing or ignoring a July 15, 2009, legal opinion from Brock Clay regarding SPLOST "excess proceeds" and the 2004 GA Supreme Court case Haugen v. Henry County.
It's time for CCSD and the school board to pack away the smoke and mirrors and put up or shut up.