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Accountability key for schools

Lawrence Knighton

Lawrence Knighton

Since 1998, I have been fighting a battle that has been fruitless to say the least. While serving as the youth minister at Greater 2nd Mt. Olive Baptist Church, we held an eight week Summer Camp yearly. At the beginning of the camp, we would give students an assessment to determine where the students were academically. What was so sad to me was the fact that there were a vast majority of students who were considered “Honor Roll” students in Dougherty County, but their assessment results proved otherwise.

I brought this to the attention of then-Superintendent Dr. Sally Whatley, as well as the curriculum director. When I brought this matter to their attention, there was never any follow-up to address these concerns. The conclusion that I came to at that point is that the system just wanted to make sure that the numbers looked good. Fast forward some 14 years later and the same problems remain. For what it is worth to you the readers, the Titanic (Dougherty County School System) is slowly sinking and unless someone throws this school system some lifesaving techniques, the whole city will suffer.

This city will not thrive unless we do something about the educational system that is broken. Only in Dougherty County will we allow people to stay on jobs that they are not even qualified for. Case in point, the Title I director gives contracts to family and friends and the policy states that it is illegal and she is able to act as if she did not know it was policy. How much longer are we going to allow these asinine things to continue? It is time to hold people accountable and clean house!

I wholeheartedly agree that these things did not just start happening under our current Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree. What I do not understand is why some of the School Board members do not have the wherewithal to tell the superintendent to get a forensic audit of the entire system. Now that all of the skeletons are starting to fall out of the closets, some of the School Board members want to go back and look at the contractors and expenses for the past 10 years. The real issue is that there was no accountability in the school system then just like there is not any now. The question still looms, “What will it take for some of the board members to stop going along just to get along?” There are too many department heads, teachers, as well as building administrators who need to be released from their positions.

David Maschke made a presentation in December of 2011 based on data he received from the Dougherty County Curriculum Department. This data tracked students from 3rd through 8th grades. The data proved that by the time the students were in the 8th grade, their failure rate increased drastically.

From December 2011 until July 2012, neither the School Board members nor the superintendent ever addressed this major dilemma. My question is, “How can you not address such a pertinent issue such as student failure?” Some board members will make you think that Mr. Maschke is only trying to stir up trouble, when the real truth is that he is trying to make the system work. David Maschke is the only board member that I know of in the past 10 years who has brought any issue of substance up at the School Board meetings. If you do not believe me, check the records of the board meetings.

The Bibb County School System had very similar problems to DCSS when they were searching for a new Superintendent in 2010. When Dr. Romain Dallemand became superintendent in February of 2010, he spent his entire first year analyzing data, staff and the strengths and weaknesses of the system. He also held meetings across the city with parents, students, staff, community leaders, religious leaders, public and private groups, as well as other entities.

During this process, Dr. Dallemand and his staff were creating a plan of action to turn a failing system around. This plan was presented to the school board and accepted unanimously. Therein was born the Macon Miracle.

What this system needs is a plan of action to turn this failing system around. I am not saying for one minute that there are not any great students and great programs in place, but the results of the system as a whole is what I am basing my information on. There is only one high school out of four in Dougherty County that makes AYP year after year — Westover. I can assure you that the schools that are excelling are not excelling because of a system wide plan, they are excelling because they are real administrators.

Do not be fooled, there is no cohesive plan in place in this system that everyone is working from. As a matter of fact, there is no plan in place to reach the goals that are set. Do not take my word for it, ask the building administrators or better yet, ask any board member.

There are some schools that still do not have all of their staff in place for this upcoming school year and there is not a meeting scheduled before the school year begins. How can we expect to have a successful school year in some of the schools where there are interim principals in limbo and there are teachers who do not have signed contracts and are wondering if they are to report to work on the first day of school? Again, only in Dougherty County will we have announcements for principal positions three weeks before school starts. If that is not a lack of leadership, I do not know what is.

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The word “perish” in the Hebrew means to run amuck or to run without restraint. Matthew 15:14 says, “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” To sum up these two verses is real simple: This system needs a visionary leader who knows how to take this system from where it is to where it needs to be. This system also needs board members who can help lead the system out of darkness and into the light. Accountability is the answer and until we recognize that, things will stay the same.

Lawrence Knighton is the Sales and Marketing Director for Chick-fil-A and the Pastor of the St. James Baptist Church in Baconton, Ga.

Comments

chinaberry25 2 years, 1 month ago

Look at Washington DC. The Asian woman who was doing a very good job turning the school system around was fired after a new mayor was elected and replaced by an incompetent person. It really boils down to is that society does not care. They would rather go on and draw welfare than get a good education. I have seen black children make fun of other students who are good students. They call then whitey or you want to be white. I have even heard them say to expectant mothers, that is a white name. White people do not expect black folks to be like them or the other way around. Both races need to learn to make a decent living and live in harmony. Most of the killings or shootings of black you men are done by other blacks. So who are you most afraid of?

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MRKIA 2 years, 1 month ago

THIS MAN, MR. KNIGHTON SPEAKS THE MIND OF MANY BLACK FOLK WHO REALLY CAN SEE THRU THE B.S. AND WANT MAJOR CHANGE IN THE DCSS, UP TO AND INCLUDING THE FIRING OF MURFREE; AMONG OTHERS.

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waltspecht 2 years, 1 month ago

Bravo, this has been said before, but has been slandered as racial prejudice. Now, who or what entity is going to cause the needed change? Certainly not the many unqualified members of the current board. As they seem to get re-elected by the uneducated, or uncaring voters in their districts. One only has to look at Junebug's qualifications to sit on this board to understand the problems. Then there are the Administrators, that have been failures for decades, never mind years, and are still in their positions.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 1 month ago

If June Bug were honest he would be okay on the board, not great but okay. But honesty is the key here.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 1 month ago

WOW!! A man with intellectual integrity to assess the facts and the backbone to speak the truth!! THIS is the kind of leadership we need in our community.

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athens 2 years, 1 month ago

WOW!!! Finally a real leader stands up.. He is not of afraid of what his brothers will say,, he is RIGHT, not politically correct. Thank you for who you are and for taking a stand for Albany!!!! I am sending a donation to your church in Baconton! I challenge others to follow.

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beenhereawhile 2 years, 1 month ago

BRAVO!!! Mr. Knighton tel.ls it like it is. Now we need people to step up and start fixing the problems

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laurieny 2 years, 1 month ago

Bravo Mr. Knighton...you are spot on in your assessment. Please get your fellow religious leaders on board with you to oust the current superintentendent, Baker, Milton and Riggins. They are driving the system into the ground and this hurts the whole area, not just Doco...we can not attract development, industry, or a tax base to this area with these clowns (and a common criminal street thug) are running the school system

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

I wonder....if the best person for a board/administrative job identifies as homosexual, would chik-fil-a and the bible keep this person from being elected to the School Board or be given a position in administration?

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waltspecht 2 years, 1 month ago

What you are addressing isn't Chick-fil-A's Corporate Policy, but the stated individual belief of the Companies President. Were it Corporate Policy to law suits would be filed. but it isn't. You and I are both allowed our individual beliefs, and freedom of speech allows us to express them. So why are you trying to twist this into something it isn't?

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm not; just curious. This is what made me wonder: "Lawrence Knighton is the Sales and Marketing Director for Chick-fil-A and the Pastor of the St. James Baptist Church in Baconton, Ga". Oh, and it's 'company's' (possessive), not companies (plural).

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Jacob 2 years, 1 month ago

"I'm not; just curious."

Sounds like you are more than just curious. You sure can't seem to keep that subject off your mind....

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

I fear hate. Since you are not clear of which subject, I'll address both. I want to ensure that I do not live in a world of hate. I, as an American citizen, am protected by the first amendment. I will defend anyone's right to believe or say anything they want as long as they do not tell me to or expect me to follow or believe them.

Who prays to whom is not my concern; I do worry that people become numbed. Who thinks what of whom is not my concern; I do worry that people hate for unfounded reasons.

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waltspecht 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm glad your well enough educated to address the errors in my writings. Then again the only course I ever failed was high school Freshman English in a poor Brooklyn school system. No, not Brooklyn Georgia.

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MRKIA 2 years, 1 month ago

WRONG SUBJECT. FINALLY AN ARTICLE SPEAKING TRUTHS AND YOU WANT TO DERAIL IT WITH GAY RIGHTS. STOP IT.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 1 month ago

erudite........ it is people like you who cannot stand for a man of intelligence to stand up and speakup. You choose to make snide remarks rather than open your mind and listen to what he is telling you. THE TRUTH. You and BVR and Coach are all afraid of the truth because you know an educated population is harder to control than an uneducated population depending on their Master to support them. I applaud Mr. Knighton for having the guts to do what even out Mayor Hubbard will not do because she is afraid of the Black backlash. MR. KNIGHTON HAS DRIVEN A STAKE THROUGH THE HEART OF ALBANY WITH HIS LAST LINE. “Accountability is the answer and until we recognize that, things will stay the same”.

I too will be sending a donation to St. James Baptist Church in Baconton, Ga.

Plus I support Chick-fil-A and will continue to do so especially Aug 1st.

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

Um, I said nothing about Rev Knighton and his views. I agree with him. I appreciate anyone of intelligence. An educated population is much more difficult to control. I wish everyone could get a quality, competitive education!!

I hope he has lit a fire under people's butts with his line about accountability and not sounded the death knell.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 1 month ago

Why don't you ask that of the preachers and fruitcakes at DCSS? The Rev. James Bush? The Most high prophetess Anita B-W? the Bow Tie wearing #34? How about Velvet Riggins? They'd have to buy her a free lunch before she'd answer. June Bug now he might like to answer that question about homersexulls. I would love to hear is answer. You have asked a very relevant question but on the wrong forum and to the wrong audience.

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

These may be some of the most true words ever written in this space: "You have asked a very relevant question but on the wrong forum and to the wrong audience."....I most certainly agree.

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Cartman 2 years, 1 month ago

What makes you think they would not hire the best person for the job? Just because the founder personally believes in traditional marriage and Christian values? You want there to be discrimination and hatred where there is none, so your accusations might have merit. There is hatred and intolerance alright. But its not coming from Truett Cathy or Chick-Fil-A. And I don't believe its coming from Lawrence Knighton either.

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

Nope, don't want it. It seems that curiosity is not tolerated here. Students are no longer curious either; they do not care about the "what if's", "how does that work", "why is it like that"....they just take what they hear as fact/truth.

I did not ACCUSE anyone; I asked a flipping question.

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albanyherald1 2 years, 1 month ago

wahhh. Get your panties out of a wad!

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

when you get your head out of your ...

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whattheheck 2 years, 1 month ago

As a black he can--and did say supported by examples-- what many would like to say without catching the wrath of those holding the race card. Of particular interest to me he supports the efforts of Maschke to better the system which all should were it not for their own prejudices. DCSS is a black dominated system top to bottom but the only people who seem to want to make it better are white--go figure!

"Only in Dougherty County will we allow people to stay on jobs that they are not even qualified for." My, how true. But who dare talk about it?

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 1 month ago

This is the Pastor/Church that Sherwood should be partnered with........not Simmons.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 1 month ago

LAUS DEO! A minister stands up to lead us out of darkness into light. There is one. Are there others?

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

I too hope that others join with him; it does not matter who raises the hopes of the area.

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ruggerprop 2 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence, not sure where you got your info on the great "dr" Dallemand in bibb county, but his "Macon Miracle" is a complete sham. Any unbiased research by you would have revealed that much. A simple Google search of Romain Dallemand would have given you cause not compare any school system to what is currently happening in Bibb Co. under this crook and clown. He is a Gypsy, living off every community he visits and destroys the moral and finances of the school system.

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LuLu 2 years, 1 month ago

http://www.wearepolitics.com/1/category/romain%20dallemand/1.html

A Macon politics website with all the skinny on Romain Dallemand. It's enough to make your toes curl.

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lknighton 2 years, 1 month ago

The Macon Miracle is a step in the right direction. Any plan is better than no plan at all. That system had a failing plan before he got there. To take it a step further, Rochester Minnesota's district was in far better shape when he left than when he got there. Anytime you have someone that comes in and shakes up the system you will always have some people like yourself that doesnt agree. If it was so much of a sham, why was it unanimously voted for?

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 1 month ago

Consider moving to Macon, we have things on the right track hear. Watch the changes, the will make you stay put.

What is your hidden agenda? what do you really want?

The cheerleaders are fooled, but you cat fool the real deal?

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BettyBowTie 2 years, 1 month ago

Well thought out and very well said. He cut straight to the point. Someone HAS to ask for a forensic audit. This board and this school system cannot continue on without it. It has lost the trust of the people, it has been going on for years and it needs to stop. The children suffer and get passed a long totally unprepared for real life.

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Progressive 2 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Knighton, Amen and Amen! I will call you Mr. because you deserve the respect for saying what needs to be said. If you have followed my blogs, you will find the same or similar statements such as: 1. The ones making the poor decisions MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE! 2. It is time for major changes at the top for the School Board and School Admin. 3. Murfree should never have been hired, and now he should be fired. 4. Anita Williams Brown needs to be replaced, 5. Velvet Riggins needs to be banned from public office, and 6. June Bug Griffing just needs to resign for a general lack of interest in whatever babblings come out of his mouth. So let it be written, so let it be done.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 1 month ago

etcetera.........etcetera...............etcetera.................!

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pettibone 2 years, 1 month ago

Many years ago Nikita Khrushchev made a speech to a group about how Stalin was one of the most ruthless dictators and had killed thousands of his own people. Someone in the audience shouted, “You were in his administration, why didn’t you stop him”? Mr. Khrushchev looked up quickly and with a stern voice shouted, “Who said that”? After a long pause no one said a word. Mr. Khrushchev then said, "now you know". It is so easy to call someone out but it is hard to take the plow in your hand.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 1 month ago

I keep coming back and re-reading this man of God's letter.

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Blaqueknight316 2 years, 1 month ago

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that Mr Knighton is the only one that think's this way.

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Progressive 2 years, 1 month ago

It is not a mistake. The reactions may be caused by the rareness of hearing these much needed comments from the black community leaders. Time for many others to speak out if they feel this same way. For example: why has Mayor Hubbard not condemned the racist remarks by Commissioner Postell? The silence can only be interpreted as being in agreement.

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Blaqueknight316 2 years, 1 month ago

Believe it or not, members of the "black" community do speak out but it is not considered news worthy, Mr knighton had his first meeting with Dr Sally Whatley to address his concerns, I had my first meeting with then superintendent of schools Dr Culbreath to address my concerns. As you can see these problems have been around for awhile and I firmly beliieve they all will be solved as long as we keep our focus on what is important and not get side tracked into name calling and being disrespectful, that is when we all loose.

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Progressive 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree the issues may have been around for awhile. This just means not enough real leaders have spoken loudly enough. I am not looking to lose, or just meet with one individual. I am talking about doing more of what Mr. Knighton has done. For examples: writing articles for the paper, or meeting with School Board reps, or County and City Commissioners at their weekly meetings, or disclosing corruption to the District Attorney. I, and many others like you, want this corruption, poor leadership, and excessive spending to STOP!

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Cartman 2 years, 1 month ago

The truth and clarity of this article is refreshing. Thank you for writing it Mr. Knighton.

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washedupcoach 2 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Knighton. You and I are acquainted, but not under this name. I agree with what you say. As a coach and teacher, I fought the good fight with great frustration! Dr. Daniels refused to even respond to me, even though we were face to face, when I asked why a class that gave underachieving seniors a chance to learn how to read and INTERPRET what they read, was cancelled. Arrogance from the Board and administration seems to be the order of the day. The only thing that is important to them is getting the Federal dollars. I applied the outdated methods of discipline, respect, and work to have one of the better graduation rates in the best school in the system. Students learned that they would get only what they earned. Every year, my failure rate went fro about 40% the first 9 weeks to less than 3% the last. I never followed the Directed curriculum as put forth by Daniels, yet succeeded high above their "model schools and classrooms. The sooner we get back to basics and parents start really caring that their children really learn, the sooner we can begin to be proud of our schools.

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MRKIA 2 years, 1 month ago

HEY BUBBAVET_RU AND COACH HERE'S YOUR "HIDDEN AGENDA". HOW THIS WORKIN' FOR YA? THIS TRULY THE ONE TIME YOUR COMMENTS ARE BEING SOLICITED. DON'T SPEAK TO ME, SPEAK TO THE ISSUE.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 1 month ago

I disagree with most of this article, the leadership is solvent. They need support, not disrepectful articles such as the one in question.

This is part of the hidden agenda, ask the writer, what does he really want?

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MisterEd 2 years, 1 month ago

I guess Reverend Knighton must be an old Uncle Tom, huh?

What does he really want? Can you not read, BVR? He clearly stated that he wants for the school system to be held accountable, and for the children in the system to actually learn something.

Hidden agenda my butt.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 1 month ago

B_r..........once again proving he is totally beyond rescue..........beyond any common sense...........beyond the most basic human thoughtful reasoning. In short.........a lost cause.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 1 month ago

Remember this, real leaders dont blast systems in publc, they meet behind close doors to bring about change.

You cant fix a challenge in the media, the real question is, what do you want?

What is your hidden agenda?

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erudite 2 years, 1 month ago

BR--re-read what you wrote....if the meeting is BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, it literally becomes a "hidden agenda". Decisions cannot be made at the top; that is why the schools are in such a mess. The public/parents/teachers MUST be included to identify specific problems and for any solutions to work.

Are you looking for someone to write that the hidden agenda is to separate schools by race and/or gender and/or class? I'm not sure that the emotion is 'hidden'.

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MisterEd 2 years, 1 month ago

So what you're saying is that people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, or William Wright, are not real leaders. Because last time I checked, all they want to do is get on their bully pulpit and march and make demands. They have no desire to meet behind closed doors to bring about change.

Erudite nailed you as well. You just can't fix stupid.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 1 month ago

LIKE I SAID: THIS GUY NEED TO TELL US WHAT HE WANT.

We KNOW HE IS AFTER SOMETHING SPECIFIC, TELL US WHAT YOU WANT>

YOU NEED TO GET IN THE TRENCHES WITH THE CHILDREN AND THEIR PARENTS, HELP GET THEM TO SCHOOL ON TIME, MAKE SURE THEIR HOMEWORK IS COMPLETED. GET THEM THEIR SCHOOL SUPPLIES, MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A LIBRARY TO GO TO, NEAR THEIR HOME.

YOU KEPT YOUR MOUTH CLOSED WHEN THE LIBRARIES CLOSED, YOU KEPT YOUR MOUTH CLOSED WHEN THE TEACHERS WERE TREATED LIKE CRIMINALS.

WHAT YOUR'E SELLING, WE'RE NOT BUYING!!

MAYBE, MACON WILL BE A GOOD CHANGE OF PACE FOR YOU AND YOUR CHEERLEADERS.

REMEMBER, WE DECIDE WHAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR, AND THIS IS NOT mrkia.

THE REAL DEAL - PLEASE TELL HIM/THEM LIKE IT REALLY IS!!!

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Progressive 2 years, 1 month ago

B_r - why don't you reveal your hidden agenda by continually asking the same from others? What is it that frustrates you about closing 2 of the 5 libraries? If this is such an issue, why don't you and the others find the funds to re-open them (it is only about $400,000).

If you do not have the money, then why should others pay for the libraries to be open for so few users? Also, there are no libraries in the southern part of the county. Why have we not heard any complaints about those kids not having a convenient source of free Internet service? Just more of the same whining from the dumb masses!

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 1 month ago

Let's wait for the writer to respond, or will he continue to be silent on the issues I brought forth (Library Closings). When you blew this guy's instrument, you really did him an injustice. The system need support, not criticism from a rookie.

He made a rookie mistake, he sounded the cheerleader alarm, however, he caused more divide in the race to help education!!

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Progressive 2 years, 1 month ago

Why would you not want to hold the ones making poor decisions accountable? What have the incumbents done to deserve another chance on the School Board? You never seem to answer these logical questions.

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MRKIA 2 years, 1 month ago

ANSWER THE QUESTION BUBBA.

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Jacob 2 years, 1 month ago

"Let's wait for the writer to respond, or will he continue to be silent on the issues I brought forth"

He's ignoring you because you have no credibility and your comments are laughable nonsense, as well he should.

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MisterEd 2 years, 1 month ago

You really aren't very bright, are you?

If your personal finances aren't in good shape, then you have to make choices about what you can do without. Most folks have to eat, so they do away with a "want", such as cable television and internet, versus a "need" such as eating.

The city of Albany has a financial problem, so they need to look at cutting back on the libraries. They look at the number of folks using the facilities, and chose to close those with the lowest numbers.

Does that not make sense?

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MRKIA 2 years, 1 month ago

BVR: YOU'RE RIGHT, HE DID CAUSE MORE DIVIDE IN THE RACE, THE DIVIDE BEING THOSE WHO SEE THE NEED TO MAKE CHANGES TO STOP AND REVERSE THE DECLINE OF DCSS VS THE CLUELESS MORONS WHO WANT TO MARCH ON WITH WHAT THEY'VE GOT, WHICH IS LESS THAN NOTHING. DCSS IS FALLEN SO LOW IT HAS TO LOOK UP TO LOOK DOWN.

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MRKIA 2 years, 1 month ago

WELL WE WON'T HAVE "DR" BROWN TO KICK AROUND ANYMORE. SHE'S OUTTA HERE.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years ago

Breaking New; the reason you're so vocal is that your wife was denied a principals job -hidden agenda, you're exposed. case closed, and we thought these outburst was for the kids.

Dont play politics with education!

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MRKIA 2 years ago

PERHAPS IT'S BECAUSE SHE WAS OFFERED THE SUPERINTENDANT'S JOB. THERE WILL BE AN OPENING SOON.

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