Mandated cutbacks mean tough decisions

Mandated cutbacks mean tough decisions

There are 7 comments on the Smoky Mountain News story from Feb 20, 2009, titled Mandated cutbacks mean tough decisions. In it, Smoky Mountain News reports that:

The first Friday in February came with some bad news for the Swain County School District and systems around the state.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Smoky Mountain News.

Since: Mar 09

Bryson City, NC

#1 Mar 8, 2009
Well, well. Had the Swain County School Board had not opted to buy a parcel of land that was terribly inflated by millions of dollars, for expansion that they now have decided that is not needed for school expansion because they may get money from the "simulus package" to add on to exisitng schools, they would not be in these dire straits. As well, if they had the decisive number of votes by their concerned state representatives of the area, ie. Snow, Haire, recently, they would have also been entitled to $70,000+ from the education lottery which Swain County did NOT get.

Franklin, NC

#2 Mar 9, 2009
The debt for the land buy is paid for by lottery dollars, not regular state funding. State funding pays for teacher salaries. Had Swain not bought the land, the schools would be no better off today.

United States

#3 Mar 11, 2009
Anonymous wrote:
The debt for the land buy is paid for by lottery dollars, not regular state funding. State funding pays for teacher salaries. Had Swain not bought the land, the schools would be no better off today.
How were the owners able to extract such a high price for the land?

Franklin, NC

#4 Mar 12, 2009
That's a good question. The seller, who I believe has passed, is the former husband of one the Democratic leaders in the county. Fraud might have taken place.

However, Muller claims the school system is in "dire straits" because the county opted to buy the land. That simply isn't true. If the county had not bought the land, the lottery dollars would not be coming.(Now, thanks to the new governor, the lottery dollars didn't come in this quarter anyway. Nonetheless, the county has $1.2 million in reserve for debt services, which will pay for two years of school loan payments without lottery dollars.)

The school system is in dire straits because its second largest source of funding, which directly pays for teacher salaries, will be cut by either 3, 5 or 7 percent this year because of huge decrease in tax dollars across the state.

Imagine the county didn't make the land purchase, so they don't have debt payments to make on an overpriced peice of land that is not currently being used. Does this in any way make up for state funding cuts? No, because the county would not be receiving money for debt services it currently receives to pay for the land purchase.

Despite the fact that the commissioners and other local government employees probably committed fraud, their hardly responsible for a global recession.

Franklin, NC

#5 Mar 12, 2009
Last line should say, "they're hardly responsible for a global recession." Pardon the error.
Just another native

Franklin, NC

#6 Mar 13, 2009
The land in question, adjacent to the football stadium, was up for sale by private owners, who certainly had the right to do as they pleased. At that time, the most likely result of the sale to anyone other than the schools system would be for a private development, houses built for profit. The school system is certainly well on the way to needing a new school; and the most sensible solution is (IMHO) a new high school with modern classrooms built to train for the future and not the past. Where would be the most sensible place to put this new school? You got it; that land is ideal for future expansion. The fact that the people who sold the land made a tidy profit is beside the point. The trend in land values at that time was that the land was expensive, but so would be any suitable land for a new school, and no other tracts would have been as well-situated.
Did the owners have inside knowledge? Wouldn't suprise me; but who can blame them for wanting to maximize their profit? The school board still made the right decision, because any other tract of land would cost so much more to be made useful, and ultimately the decision will save the county money.

Franklin, NC

#7 Mar 16, 2009
I agree.

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