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Date Posted: 16:55:56 12/01/09 Tue
Author: Donald F. Valtman
Subject: Finally!

2 MONTHS after the fact, we now know the results of GCPSS's October 06, 2009 count of K-12 FTE students -- 158,438!!! 3,798 students SHORT of GCPSS's 'forecasted' 162,236 students.
But the decline in GCPSS's 2009/10 student enrollment isn't over. Based on October/March comparisons for the previous 3 school years, the March 2010 count can be expected to show a further fall-off of about 1,480 students. Therefore, the ending 2009/10 K-12 student enrollment will be about 157,000 students! So what obvious conclusions can be drawn from these real-life statistics?

1. GCPSS's student enrollment 'forecasts' are reasonably accurate when the COUNTY'S ECONOMY IS GROWING; they shoot blanks when the COUNTY'S ECONOMY STARTS TO TANK,

2. GCPSS sells voters on SPLOSTs and Lease-Purchase schemes based on 5 YEAR-OUT STUDENT ENROLLMENT 'FORECASTS.' The 2007-2012 SPLOST building program was sold based on the need to accommodate 'forecasted' enrollments of 155,618 students in 2007/08; 157,734 students in 2008/09; 162,236 students in 2009/10; 176,122 students in 2010/11; and 180,883 students in 2011/12. Anybody really believe that there's going to be 24,000 ADDITIONAL GCPSS STUDENTS OVER THE NEXT 2 SCHOOL YEARS?

3. GCPSS currently is OVERBUILDING new classrooms and schools! Rather than 'forecasting' enrollment GROWTH, GCPSS should be planning on near-term student enrollment SHRINKAGE. This shrinkage already has manifested itself over the past few years and will increase primarily as a result of (a) the County's declining economic base, increasing unemployment and residential foreclosures, (b) the corresponding departure of workers with school age families, (c) increased competition from private/charter schools, and (d) the 'graying' of Gwinnett's population as documented by the U.S. Census,

4. GCPSS annual budgets HAVE to decline in synch with declining student enrollments! This is axiomatic assuming all else remains constant. And in that Gwinnett taxpayers only receive one (1) property tax bill, a reduced school tax will enable the BoC to increase the County's portion WITHOUT increasing a property owner's TOTAL property tax bill, lastly

5. GCPSS has CLEARLY SIGNALLED that it can satisfactorly operate on reduced budgets in the near-term by (a) VOLUNTEERING to forfeit $20 Million in property taxes over the next 25 years through participation in County TADs, (b) OBTAINING GADoE APPROVAL for its IE2 Program which will free it from costly state mandates yet simultaneously improve student academic performance, (c) possessing a SIZEABLE RESERVE FUND to fall back on in the event of emergencies, and (d) hopefully COOPERATE with the BoC to eliminate numerous routine functions currently duplicated by both GCPSS and the County.

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