Schools Chair: Not ‘caught off guard’ by support for tax hike
December 09, 2013 08:08 PM | 954 views | 2 2 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

I want to commend MDJ guest columnist Susan McCullough for a well written article, (“Higher taxes would help address Cobb budget crunch,” Sunday’s MDJ). It is thorough, concise and easily understood.

However, a clarification is needed in two areas.

The most important clarification is her statement, “And more austerity cuts are planned for the next year’s state budget.” I have been assured that this is not true and wonder where this assertion originated. I am unaware of any state-level elected official or elected Cobb school board member advocating for this or saying this. I want to stop this bit of misinformation before it goes any further.

However, state funding will remain about the same as this year with a possibility of a little bit of an increase. This is reassuring on face value but will not fix the problem.

Second, her comment that I was “caught off guard by the unanimous show of hands” (to my question at a public meeting at East Side Elementary asking how many in the audience would be willing to pay higher taxes for education) is misleading. I was never “on guard,” therefore I was not caught off guard!

If she knew me as others do, she would know that I learned long ago to never ask the question if you don’t want to hear the answer! I would be appreciative of any answer.

This is not an “us against them” issue. The taxpayers, our customers, (yes, they are our customers) and our state elected officials deserve to know the facts, unpleasant as they may be. We are all in this together, as Ms. McCullough indicated, and together we will find a solution. Pointing fingers and making others uncomfortable is not going to fix it. Informing and getting everyone involved, I believe, will allow us to find the best solution.

Again, Ms. McCullough, thank you for your article. It was a job well done!

Finally, we started informing everyone and having conversations eight months early to allow all of us time to decide the best course of action. Besides your Cobb County School Board, many community groups throughout the county, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, our County Commissioners, community leaders and our elected Cobb delegation are helping us find a solution to our budget woes.

The Cobb County School Board is committed to maintaining, and where possible, increasing the excellence in education that we enjoy. That is a certainty.

As the current chairman, let me reassure our customers, Cobb citizens, that we on the school board work well together and will continue to solve the issues that come before us. Thank you.

Randy Scamihorn

Chairman

Cobb County School Board

Comments
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CCSD Mom of Two
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December 10, 2013
Readers of this article might be interested to know that although Mr. Scamihorn qualifies for the over-62 exemption from school taxes he does not apply for it. He got a nice round of applause from the crowd last week when he made that statement.

The budget situation provides us with a chance for all of Cobb County to come together to figure out a solution to this long term problem. It's not East Cobb vs West Cobb or parents vs the CCSD. If you live in Cobb County this issue affects you. Get informed and get involved.
@ The Chair
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December 10, 2013
I wouldn't expect any help from the Cobb Delegation. Sans a few, they've consistently proven their lack of support for public education. The only thing you hear from the state Senators and Representatives is that funding is the school district's problem.

Yet, it's those same people who won't address the senior school tax exemption, won't change the Quality Basic Education formula, won't change Fair Share contributions and won't change Equalization funding.

Facts:

- Gwinnett receives more than $60 million in equalization funding from the state while Cobb receives $0.

- Cobb's senior tax exemption equates to more than $60 million annually.

- The Quality Basic Education formula hasn't been fully funded by Georgia for years.

- Georgia's education austerity cuts have cost the Cobb County School District roughly $500 million, that's one-half billion dollars, since 2003.
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