Saturday, January 21, 2017
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Concerned Williamson County Schools Taxpayer Letter

Here is a letter not from a concerned parent, just a concerned taxpayer.

“Dear Editor –

I read with interest the letter you posted from the concerned parent titled “WCS Sets Up Centennial to Fail?”  As a tax payer without affected children, my interest was more related to the expenditure of funds for the Edulog program than for the actual rezoning.  I intended to write in a letter questioning the funds, and then comment on how generally these third party software packages are  used only to provide political cover for a difficult decision.  However, before I could write the letter, a host of new information was released.  Specifically, the board vote was postponed (except for closing Pinewood and setting Summit boundaries), and the WCS administration “discovered” that Centennial has a capacity for 1800, not the previously stated 1600.  Holy cow, why isn’t this on the front page of the Tennessean?  Think about the facts below:

– The county commission approved and funded (using tax payer funds) an 1800 student school
– Ravenwood High School was later requested by the school board and funded by the county commission, BASED ON OVERCROWDING AT CENTENNIAL
– The proposed WCS rezoning plan broke the clean feeder at Woodland-Ravenwood based on Dr. Looney’s assertion (from the Centennial community meeting of September 28) that “we couldn’t do more without overloading Centennial”.  Did he not check before making this statement?
– At the same meeting Dr. Looney stated that we need a new school in the Nolensville area.  Will the administration and the board insure that we really need new capacity before asking for more tax payer money to build a new school?
– Later (at a hastily called October 1 press conference) Dr. Looney stated “I think it’s important that we don’t point fingers” and that he still believes in the district’s staff

So a few questions for Dr. Looney, the school board, and the county commission:

1. Will you be refunding money to the tax payers, given that the staff and board spent six months of administration time and paid Edulog $80,000 to build a rezoning plan using wrong data even though a rudimentary google search or records check would have yielded the correct data.
2. As a tax payer I funded an 1800 student school that someone in the administration arbitrarily decided should only be used as a 1600 capacity school and then the school board zoned such that only 1350 students attended.  All of this occurred while taxpayers were funding an overcapacity Ravenwood. To put this in perspective, if an average high school costs approximately $30m to build, by arbitrarily lowering the capacity to 1600, someone in the WCS administration (and the board?) disenfranchised tax payers out of one ninth of the capacity or more than three million dollars.  I want my money back and I want to know who made this decision to waste my tax dollars.
3. In the private sector someone would absolutely be fired for such a misuse of company money.  Can the school board explain to me why we should hold them to such a lower standard.  Can the school board explain why these questions weren’t asked during Friday’s meeting?  Does Dr. Looney work for them or is it the other way around?
4. How is it that with a stated goal of “optimizing capacity” no one in the administration (including several that have been with WCS for many years) knew that wrong capacity numbers were being used?
5. Were faulty capacity numbers for Centennial used to justify building Ravenwood?  If so, how do I get my money back for that?  If someone had not asked the question, would the board have used these same faulty numbers to justify building a new school in Nolensville?
6. When will the county commission demand an investigation?  When will the county’s Inspector General’s office get involved?
7. How will the public (i.e. your funding source) have any confidence when you say you need more money to build another school?

Something stinks in the WCS administrative office.  The only question is what did the board know and when did they know it?  When will the press start to investigate?

Concerned Tax Payer”

Thoughts or comments?

Cool Springs in Williamson County, TN

Cool Springs in Williamson County, TN

  • naif

    If you are aware that President Ike warned us about the military-industrial complex then you can see we also need to be aware of the education complex from top to bottom is turning into, sorry, has turned into a self serving perpetual machine.

  • smnjstr

    I appreciate the tax payers concerns, and agree with the idea that we need to optimize the use of the resources we have before investing in new assets. With Summit High School coming on-line this fall, we will have the capacity to meet the needs of 2000 more high school students. This should carry us forward for a while, and the money for a new school could be better used to improve the roads that serve all citizens of Williamson County. In addition, I would like to thank Dr. Looney for taking the correct action of putting the process on hold when he realized the data was not correct. The process of checking all the data before developing the new plan will serve us all well – measure twice, cut once.

  • coolsprings

    Dr. Looney does deserve credit for putting things on hold, while more research is done to ensure the county is making the right move.

  • Taxpayer

    Start thinking about how you will appeal your property taxes…many people will be able to prove that they are damaged by this proposal.

    County Board of Equalization will be busy.

  • Lsu14

    Concerned Taxpayer..I totally agree with everything you stated! It seems like we as county residents and tax payers have zero voice! I’m ready to make some serious changes when I vote again!