'May God help all of us'
To the editor:
As a longtime Clayton County taxpayer (I have lived here 33 years), and a recently retired administrator with 32 years of service to the Clayton County School System, the time has come for me to vent about the problems that have arisen within our school system.
Please note that we have truly outstanding, dedicated employees within our system, who work diligently every day to make our school system the best that it can be. I am proud to have worked with some of the finest people in the world.
I have watched and read in horror over the past year at the ridiculous behavior of the school board, and now our newly hired Superintendent, Dr. John Thompson. It is time for ALL taxpayers and voters to stand up and be heard, especially at the polls on July 15. When I started in the Clayton County School System in 1976, it was ranked as one of the top-ten districts in the state. I must admit now, it probably ranks near the bottom of the 187 districts, even though I do not have the data to prove it. Our system is the laughing stock and disgrace of our state and country, because of the antics by the present school board and our newly hired superintendent.
Board members are supposed to know right from wrong, and work only for the betterment of the students. They have acted in a pompous, self-righteous manner, ignoring their purpose for being elected in the first place, and have followed THEIR own agendas. Look where their actions have gotten us.
Dr. Thompson has been here only two months and has used his Napoleonic powers to add fuel to the fire. We are trying to escape the losing of accreditation, which not only affects our school system, but the local business and housing markets. Dr. Thompson hasn't helped with his recent directives.
He has used his carte blanche powers to hire whomever he wishes at ridiculously high salaries. The contract the board gave him is truly outlandish. I assume that Dr. Thompson must think he is a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, not a local school superintendent. Who really needs security 24 hours a day in Clayton County? I surely hope Dr. Thompson resides within Clayton County where he should reside, caring for the school system and community.
The waste of taxpayer dollars that would have been spent with the shredding of 3,500 high school diplomas recently because his name was not on them makes no sense. (Front page of the AJC and Clayton/News Daily on Saturday, 5/31) Who really cares, except you, Dr. Thompson? Please forgive me, but $80,000 would have been a true waste of taxpayer dollars. Are you that egotistical? Do you think the graduates will remember who you were 20, 30 or 40 years down the road?
If it were not for the kindness of the Herff Jones Company, our system would be out almost $80,000. Now, you can use that money for a decent purpose, books or better yet, paying for the background checks for all the men involved with the DADS mentoring program that has been so beneficial to our schools. We need those men back in our schools as soon as possible.
Also, I need to mention the complete waste of more taxpayer dollars in leasing the Georgia World Congress Center for our High School graduation ceremonies last year and this year. Isn't the Clayton County Schools Performing Arts Center (the finest high school performing arts center in the country), which seats 3,500 good enough for each of our graduation ceremonies?
Another expenditure that is unwarranted is a proposal to spend $120,000 to lower the school board dais. Dr. Thompson, think of the old adage, "If it's not broke, do not fix it." The dais has been that way for years and serves its purpose just the way it is. Why waste money on something trivial as that.
Our present board picked Dr. Thompson even though many reputable people (Gov. Purdue appointees) said, "DO NOT HIRE." Dr. Thompson is laughing all the way to the bank because of his contract. He can usurp the board, which makes him the "King of the Hill" and he can do as he pleases.
Why do we need a board if he can do what he wants? I sincerely hope he does what he says he can accomplish; help us maintain our accreditation. If he does, we need to thank him for his services and send him immediately back to North Carolina with his cronies, and hire a superintendent who'll be in it for the long haul. Our students and everyone else in our county will be better off if that happens.
I wish this was a dream, but it's reality when we all wake up every morning. I really hate looking at the newspaper these days, thinking there might be another detrimental article about our system, which of course continues all the negativity. Clayton County residents, please vote on July 15 to replace a board that should never have been voted for in the first place (exceptions: Eddie White and David Ashe) and then take away some of those ridiculous powers that the former board gave to Dr. Thompson.
I challenge you, Dr. Thompson, to keep your word and make sure our school system keeps its accreditation by Sept. 1. There are lots of wonderful, deserving students, employees, parents, business people, and homeowners counting on it; especially me.
May God help all of us.