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Community Forum: Ballowe passing buck for school budget woes
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I have been reading about the city schools tax increase "proposal" with great interest and disappointment. (Once an increase is put out there, we can count on it going through.)

I am shocked that we have so many problems coming to a head all at once and Dr. (Steven) Ballowe seems to be blaming everyone but himself. Isn't he the leader? Isn't he the one with the final say? You would not know it by reading his memo. He consistently refers to himself and the board, never standing alone on any wrongs that occurred.

Yet he is the one with the full-time position, knowledge of the system (it is his "model") and the enormous pay plus benefits. Shouldn't he be held accountable? He seems to be a master at passing the buck.

We have money unaccounted for and misused over the past few years. School system officials have not been good stewards of our money. Their accounting has been so sloppy they can't give us an accurate number on anything, not even the number of lunches sold. Now we are supposed to believe Dr. Ballowe is just realizing this? Come on!

He says the old accountant received a memo about the tax shortage in spring 2006 (never telling him). Yet there is no proof of such a memo and she says she never saw it. Then he says our new accountant found this memo in August 2007, more than a year later, but she has not confirmed his story. And if he did know about it in August, why did he propose a tax rollback that same month?

Now on top of his $187,000-plus pay, he wants taxpayers to provide him legal council so he can keep his high-paying job.

Those of us living in the city who are not retired already carry the school tax load. As our city grows, the land annexed into the city does not pay into the school system. Yet new residents have the choice to attend city or county schools. Then there is the transportation costs of these students who live on the far edges of the city. I believe we should have school districts, and if you want to attend another city school, you should provide transportation or pay a bus service fee. Gas is at an all-time high and all this driving is costing us.

People in the districts should have a guarantee that their kids will have a space in their school. As it stands now, if you moved into the city over the summer, there is no guarantee you could attend the closest school. Your child may have to go to a school across town because your school is full. That just isn't right.

I know a lot of great, involved families who do this, but what incentive does anyone have to move into the city? None.

Despite all this mess, we have some great schools here. That is due to the fact we have excellent principals, teachers and staff at each school dedicated to educating our children. It has nothing to do with our superintendent.

In the end, the tax increase is not a ton of money per household, but it is an increase in a city where we already pay high taxes. This is a sad situation because Gainesville is a great city and has so much to offer. We want more people moving into the city, not moving out. Please let the Gainesville City School Board know how you feel about this situation.

Kellie Weeks
Gainesville

Gas prices force folks to make hard decisions
My husband works and I'm soon to start school at Lanier Technical College. What I got out of the article on gas prices is a salesman trying to sell a car just because the gas mileage is good.

Well, as for the other people in Gainesville who barely have enough money for the gas in their cars and have to support their families, they can't go out and buy a Toyota Yaris. They have to figure out other means.

I was at the doctor with my daughter and I overheard a lady talking to the receptionist saying that she will have to postpone her son's doctor appointment because she can't afford to put the gas in her car. Who could blame her? These prices are outrageous.

It's stupid. Why are we having to pay so much more when we could drill the oil out of our country?
What it comes down to is having to make your trips count. If the gas prices go any higher, I'm going to park my '95 Acura Integra (which I could fill up with $25 and drive it for almost two weeks). I'm going to get out my daughter's baby stroller, put her in it and walk to town.

That's what it's going to come to. People are just going to give up. This is getting terrible.

I'm taking into great consideration who I'm choosing for president. Hopefully they can get us out of this mess.

Tiffany Tormey
Gainesville

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