Editor, It is mindboggling to me to hear Liberty County Board of Education members and Liberty County School System administrators talk of the millions of dollars tossed about our school district’s budget during school-board meetings, work sessions and public forums as if it’s no big deal. According to information presented by the district, our revenues for the 2013-14 school year were $92,203,140, and our expenditures were $98,130,080 — meaning, our school board authorized $5,926,940 in overspending. However, the board continued to operate in the same manner for the first half of the 2014-15 school year until realizing a $12 million shortfall and, in a panic, enacting a hiring freeze and upcoming reduction in force.
How do we, as stakeholders, know that the information being provided to us by the school district is accurate? How do we verify the facts? Are we to blindly trust those in charge to report accurate, factual information to us when their own facts clearly demonstrate that they have repeatedly mismanaged their funds? It is our responsibility as stakeholders to ask effective questions. Questioning information and demanding that information be verified is a must if we are to trust our school-district leadership. For example, on Jan. 22, a flier was passed out at a community-stakeholder forum. The first statement on that flier says the state has withheld $33 million from LCSS over the past four years. How was this figure reached? Which funds were withheld, and why? What is the source of this information?
In order to be an advocate for your child and all children, it is necessary to make it your business to learn about our school system, what you can expect from your child’s school, how to get things done, who the “main players” are and how to sense when there is a need for concern. The difference between a good school and a great school is the involvement of its parents and those parents who hold our school officials accountable for their actions and decisions. It’s time to verify the “facts” and get our school system back on the road for success.