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Date Posted: 11:07:46 10/21/09 Wed
Author: Donald F. Valtman
Subject: Think it through . . .

Next month the BoE's lawsuit against Ivy Prep charter school goes to trial. So (A) what do we know? (B) what do we suspect? and (C) what are the future implications for County taxpayers?

A. What do we know?
1) The BoE previously has vetoed Ivy Prep applications
to create a Gwinnett County charter school for specious
reasons,
2) Ivy Prep's student body primarily consists of
underprivileged and minority students who academically
outperform comparable GCPSS student groups on
standardized tests, and
3) any reduction in GCPSS's actual student enrollments
(see GaDoE's annual October/March FTE student counts)
results in a corresponding reduction in state QBE
funds.

B. What do we suspect?
1) The BoE's lawsuit is about money -- specifically
state money -- moreso than about the constitutionality
of various aspects of state public education law,
2) the BoE's lawsuit places a higher value on GCPSS's
continuing receipt of the maximum amount of state money
than the quality of education provided to and the
academic achievement of Gwinnett County students, and
3) should the BoE prevail in its lawsuit, (a) future
applications for charter status by other schools
similar to Ivy Prep will be chilled, (b) the BoE
effectively will be authorized to compel existing/new
students to attend GCPSS schools due to the resulting
dearth of local charter schools, and (c) by so
controlling student enrollments, the BoE can assure its
continuing receipt of the maximum amount of state
money.

C. Future implications will be?
1) GCPSS annual budgets must decrease in synch with
declining student enrollments (with no accompanying
degradation in academic standards)! Simple example: if
GCPSS currently provides a 'world class' education to
150,000 students at an average cost of $10,000/student;
there should be no reason why it cannot provide a
comparable education to 125,000 students at the same
average cost of $10,000/student.
2) Over the next 5-15 years, GCPSS student enrollments
will decline in synch with a 'new normal' combination
of fewer County jobs; fewer County residential units;
changing parental attitudes re: their children's
education; growth in outlier workers locating in
Counties beyond Gwinnett; and the 'graying' of Gwinnett
County's population. The BoE's attempt to stymie
charter school competition may slow the rate of GCPSS
student decline, however, student declines shall occur
regardless of the final outcome of the BoE's lawsuit.
3) Other reasons Gwinnett taxpayers rightfully can
expect to pay less taxes to support GCPSS are (a) its
state-approved IE2 Program -- whose primary goal is to
reduce overall local educational costs in exchange for
cancellation of various state mandates, (b) the
vanishing need to continue approving E-SPLOSTs as
declining student enrollments eliminate the need to
build more new classrooms and schools, and (c) the
creation of EngageGwinnett -- a County Task Force that
hopefully will recommend combining the numerous and
costly routine services that presently are duplicated
by both the County and GCPSS.

The exception whereby the BoE might attempt to 'sell' County voters on continuing to raise taxes on themselves
would be for GCPSS to participate in proposed Tax Allocation Districts (TADs). The pitch could go something like 'since our local income is frozen, we need you to pay more taxes until the TAD developments are built-out (15-20 years down the road) and they maybe produce more tax money.'

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