Friday, January 28, 2011
The Kelley Williams-Bolar mess: A school board members take
I have sat back and until today have not posted anything about a case in which a poor black woman Kelley Williams-Bolar was jailed for sending her kids to an out of district school.
I must first state that I do not agree with her being sent to jail for 9 days. She should have been forced to pay back the $30,000 she owed. Now truth be told the school district will never get most of that money back especially if she is as poor as I have read. In most cases districts are lucky to get half their money back if any.
Some say race may be an issue in the severity of the punishment dealt to Mrs. Bolar. I don't know if it did or not but that's not what I am going to write about. Hundreds if not thousands of bloggers will touch on that.
As a school board member I read with great interest the many stories on this case and especially the comments section included with every story posted.
One thing I noticed from many of those who support Mrs. Bolar is that many seem to down play what she did and treat it as a victimless crime. It's being treated as a no harm no foul situation.
It is not.
One of the first questions if not the first question I was asked when I first ran for a board seat was about what I was going to do about getting rid of out of district students. This is a huge issue for many taxpayers and parents in district that neighbor failing school districts. They don't want to pay for kids that don't live in their town or district.
I don't think many that are supporting Mrs. Bolar are aware the crippling effect out of district students can have on school districts especially smaller ones in this current economy where school budgets have been slashed and districts have to work with less.
Let's use this example. If it cost $10,000 per child to educate them per year and a district has 20 out of district students that's $200,000 in taxpayer money walking out the door. In a small district $200,000 is a lot of money. And if one of those students is a special needs student that cost can got to $100, 000 just for one child with aids, transportation, etc.
But let's stick with the $200,000 .
$200,000 could be 4 or 5 more teachers. Because that money is going somewhere it's not supposed to that could mean that a district has less teachers and class size increases from say 22 per class to 30 per class. The children in those classes are being hurt by not getting the same attention they did before.
$200,000 more dollars could mean more computers, books, enrichment programs, more clubs, more tutors, or building improvements ( windows, telephone systems, bathrooms, roofs, boilers, etc ).
Also in school districts where school budgets and voted on by the voter this is an issue that can't be ignored. Voters wont support a budget if they feel not enough is being done to keep out of district students out of the schools. If a budget is defeated it would cause districts to make cuts on top of cuts that have already been made due to state cuts in school aid. That would be devastating to the students, teachers, and parents in those districts.
I feel bad for Mrs. Bolar and don't believe she should have went to jail. But in trying to help her children she unintentionally was hurting others. That may not be a popular notion but it's one I feel all should be reminded of.
George Cook AAreports.com. Author of the Kindle book Let's Talk Honestly: One Black Man's Thoughts $1.50 Tweet