Cullman Today has completed our investigation into the now infamous “Cullman County Board of Education Buys $1.2 Million Lake House” story.
$1.2 Million Lake House Our Investigation Complete
In the ‘auditorial’ above, we present the final summation of our fact finding research and in-depth investigation as well as our opinions and conclusions.
Note: This is an Editorial comment blended with facts and documentation.
If you need background information on all this, please the bottom of the page.
If you are not keen on listening/watching 45 minutes of material, here are the written highlights:
1. Cullman Today does not have all the answers.
We don’t even have all the questions.
However, through countless hours of research, interviews and investigation, we do have many answers to the commonly asked questions surrounding the recent real estate activities of Cullman County Board of Education.
Additionally, we have formulated some solid investigative conclusions and educated opinions. We present those as clearly as we can in the writings below and in the audio-visual presentation above.
2. The most important thing about this whole controversy/news story is:
The Cullman County Schools’ new Strategic Vision Plan 2015-2020 coupled with citizen involvement in the same.
Bringing this Strategic Vision Plan 2015-2020 introduced in Thursday nights School Board Meeting into full, functional reality over the next few years – specifically for the betterment of public education for all school-aged Cullman County Schools students – should be every interested party’s primary focus and top priority.
3. Don’t leave the Board of Education and the Superintendent unattended.
Be a consistent citizen participant in personally guiding forward movement and decision-making by the leaders running the Cullman County School System. You CAN have a positive, personal impact in moving the Cullman County School System forward.
4. After examining the purchase of the $1,200,000 lake front property and additional nearby properties – within in the larger context of CCBOE’s futue goals for the 400+ acres of pre-existing Section 16 lands – it acquisition makes reasonable real estate investing sense. With that said, the purchases do raises procedural and execution questions.
5. The public relations and School Board transparency surrounding the purchase of these properties was BAD.
6. Our investigation and research reveals ZERO tangible evidence of any nefarious, illegal, personal-gain-oriented activity on the part of the Superintendent, School Board members or any other parties closely related to the new real estate purchases and the related Section 16 land.
Have documentable evidence to the contrary? Submit a News Tip to us.
7. Running a school system is inherently different than running a real estate investment operation. We have no meaningful issues with Cullman County Schools leadership’s ability to effectively run a school system (given positive support and time, we believe they will ultimately be proven to be really good at the task). With that said, we do have minor concerns about their ability to maximize and manage their Section 16 real estate holdings.
8. We think a separate, part-time, professional ‘real estate professional’ should be retained to solely focus on the current management and future liquidation/monetization of their Section 16 property.
9. Educators and Administrators should focus 100% of their attention on education and not distract themselves with complex real estate transactions. We recommend temporarily hiring a sharp real estate person to maximize the potentials inherent with Section 16 property.
10. By State Law, Cullman County Schools system operations HAVE to be for ‘school use / school purpose’.
Anything else is against state law. CCBOE is currently precariously close to banging up against these statutes as well as Section 93 of the Alabama Constitution (‘the State shall not be interested in any private or corporate enterprise’). This is a complex, nuanced area of the law. CCBOE MAY be legally exposed here.
Until proven differently, it is Cullman Today’s public opinion that:
a). The Cullman County Board of Education operated inside its legal bounds in acquiring the three Smith Lake properties last November (including the $1.2 million lake front home/land combo),
b). It did a poor job of communicating the necessity of such a potentially controversial decision/purchase to the citizens of Cullman County,
c). We have concerns about the School System’s administration ability to simultaneously run a school system AND conduct a now highly public, complex real estate investment project.
d). All interested citizens of Cullman County should put their energy into engaging, monitoring and supporting the successful roll out of the new Strategic Vision Plan 2015-2020 … rather than wasting much further effort on the $1.2 million lake house.
The deal is done, for better or worse. As Bill Belichek might say when faced with a similar situation: “We are on to selling this pig …”.
e). If you directly participate in guiding Cullman County Schools future agendas, everyone benefits… if you sit on the sidelines, it may not roll out like you want.
Our $1.2 Million Lake House Our Investigation Complete