Board delays Harrison High 9th-grade center
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
March 23, 2012 12:12 AM | 5017 views | 36 36 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — After about 30 minutes of heated debate, the Cobb County school board delayed construction of a ninth-grade center at Harrison High School, perhaps indefinitely.

The board also renewed administrative staff members’ contracts and heard about a possible SPLOST IV.

During its 3-hour meeting Thursday night, the board voted 4-3, with Board Chair Scott Sweeney, Lynnda Eagle and David Banks opposing, to make maintenance renovations at the school but not build the $14.5 million West Cobb Ninth Grade Center at Harrison.

Board member Alison Bartlett, who represents central Cobb, said she was concerned about the number of SPLOST III projects that were coming in over budget, arguing that building a new facility would just add to the district’s already high maintenance costs.

“For me, it’s looking at fiscal responsibility,” she said. “What I would prefer to do is pull out what needs to be done … come back at the end of SPLOST III and see if the money is still there.”

Harrison’s representative on the board, Eagle, was visibly frustrated by the vote.

“To the Harrison community, my disappointment and my apologies for not being able to take this project forward,” she said after the vote. “I’m sorry that my fellow board members did not see its necessity, but that’s how things work.”

Eagle argued that the board must approve the construction because the community approved it as part of the SPLOST III referendum in 2008 and because the school hasn’t had any major renovations in since it was built more than two decades ago.

Members of Harrison’s community, including parent Heather Ryan, told the board how much the center is needed.

“I ask that you approve this and quit neglecting Harrison High School,” Ryan said. “It is time for Harrison to be brought up to all the other schools.”

Because bidding companies had included the ninth-grade center in their proposals, district staff will have to return to the drawing board to separate out the maintenance needs, Sweeney pointed out, adding that it would incur additional costs to the district.

Additionally, re-bidding would delay any future construction or renovations.

The board also renewed contracts for 15 members of Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa’s administrative staff.

All were approved unanimously, except for Deputy Superintendent Alice Stouder, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Judi Jones, area assistant superintendents Ed Thayer and Angela Huff, and Communications Director Jay Dillon. Angelucci voted against all the renewals, and Bartlett opposed Jones’, Thayer’s and Dillon’s.

Board members discussed the contracts during executive sessions both before and during Thursday’s meeting.

As for SPLOST IV, Hinojosa introduced the idea of another special sales tax to board members Thursday night as part of a “preliminary discussion” to see what funding sources the district would need over the next five to seven years.

Hinojosa asked Deputy Superintendent of Operational Support Chris Ragsdale to come back in April with a list of necessary technology, band, orchestra and athletic projects to see where the district will be as a whole in terms of needs over the next five to seven years.

“What I would like board members to do is have in your mind … funding mechanisms moving forward with those needs,” Sweeney said.

After the meeting, Hinojosa declined to answer questions regarding specifics because the talks are in their infancy, referring to Thursday night’s 10-minute conversation as a “fact-finding session.”

In other business, the board also approved:

* That $20.3 million in SPLOST II funds be declared as excess to buy down the property tax rate from 19.9 mills to 18.9 mills;

* A $1 million contract with Southcore Construction of Kennesaw to renovate Keheley Elementary School;

* A $700,000 contract with American Trailer Haul Inc. of Calhoun and Robcon Inc. of Norcross to relocate 275 portable classrooms between Cobb County school properties;

* A $683,000 contract with T.A. Millsap Construction Inc. of Marietta to renovate Russell Elementary School;

* A $666,875 contract with Cablik Enterprises of Atlanta to renovate Davis Elementary School and McClure and Barber middle schools;

* A $320,000 contract with T.A. Millsap Construction Inc. to renovate Riverside Intermediate School; and

* A $23,000 agreement with Cobb DOT to create a right-of-way in front of Sope Creek Elementary School.
Comments
(36)
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Perplexed
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March 24, 2012
Are you serious?

Bring Harrison up to the level of the other schools?

Clearly, the Harrison parent has never been to Osborne, Pebblebrook, Campbell, or Wheeler. Even with Wheeler's new rebuild, Harrison is still WAY ahead.

Shoot, Walton and Pope aren't even at Harrison's level, as far as facilities go.

If overcrowding is the issue, then redistrict. KMHS and Allatoona can take more students and are REALLY nice facilities.

Maintenance upgrades, sure, no problem. But a new 9th grade center for Harrison? You must be kidding.
clavenLeigh
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March 24, 2012
Bartlett runs her mouth to ad nauseum. She likes to hear herself repeat and repeat the same old thing. Hope the contractors who bid the project at HHS don't sue for damages. And Angelucci.....she's a laugh.
David Riggans
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March 23, 2012
If it was in the SPLOST referendum, then the board should keep its word. But we all know that Angelucci and choice others do their own thing, almost in spite of previous board decisions. The MDJ might have gotten her elected, but voters are now tuned-in to her stubborn, selfish ways and will soon send her packing.
To be clear:
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March 23, 2012
The splost notebook states that a ninth grade center is to be built at West Cobb High School 1. That actually would be Hillgrove, as Allatoona was West Cobb High School 2. That is in the actual first splost notebook. No Cobb voter ever voted to have a 9th grade center built at Harrison High School.

Let's see what happens by 2013 with enrollment. If it is needed, it will be built.
NOt true
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March 27, 2012
Your comment is inaccurate.The referendum did say West Cobb, but this same board voted last fall that the location would be Harrison. Harrison is 21 years old and needs to be updated. Sounds like you're a sore loser.
A regular voter
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March 23, 2012
Remember this vote and the way that a Board is willing to say one thing and do another when it is time to vote on the Atlanta area TSPLOST. This is small potatoes compared to the money that will be available to politicians if the TSPLOST passes this summer!
Tired!
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March 23, 2012
I have never voted for a tax increase of any kind, bonds and SPLOST included. I can't understand why anyone would.

Since when should anyone be surprised at things politicians do?

That being said, this is the wisest thing that I have seen the CCSB do in a while. If only the votes could have been found to delay the Wheeler High School project.

All of these new facilities will have to be maintained within a budget that can't take care of what we already have. Why not wait for the economy to turn around a little?
to Tired!
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March 23, 2012
I totally understand your frustration and non-support of SPLOST. However, SPLOST does more than build buildings.... HVAC systems are upgraded and/or replaced, parking lots are repaved, carpeting/flooring is repaired/replaced, lighting is improved/replaced, desks/other furniture are upgraded/replaced, computers are upgraded/replaced, technology is upgraded, and MANY other things with our SPLOST dollars. If we did not have SPLOST money, our building would not be receiving these things and the alternative would be increasing property taxes to pay for these things. Check out the SPLOST part of the CCSD website to see many of the other ways that SPLOST monies are used.
anonymous
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March 23, 2012
As I recall, the SPLOST that we voted on was for a WEST COBB 9th grade center, not a HARRISON 9th grade center. If enrollment truly has decreased as has been stated, then I think the board needs to reevaluate the location for this center in West Cobb.
Pleaaassseee
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March 23, 2012
People, if you want to use the approval of SPLOST as an argument then hold the got in a major November election. Remember that SPLOSTS are marginally approved and with the lowest turnouts on record.

I voted AGAINST SPLOST. I feel the right decision was made to put the 9th grade center on hold. In case you have forgotten, the construction industry is still hurting, a little delay is not going to have costs sky rocketing.

There is room at neighboring schools, perhaps redistricting is a better answer. While not pretty, I think an overall redistricting would be the best way to approach over crowding.
Mike O.Bedenbaugh
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March 23, 2012
A surplus of $20.3 million declared in SPLOST II is to go to buying down taxes!!! We have already paid taxes on Splost II. Take the money and put it in to splost III where we can use it for buildings not operations and maintainences. HAS ANYONE THOUGHT OF A LAW SUIT TO POINT OUT VIOLATING THE STATE LAW ON SPLOSTS? Sounds like a good case for Sam Olens to take a look at!!!!!
anonymous
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March 23, 2012
What you are proposing is illegal. It's illegal to move SPLOST II funds to SPLOST III.

Should "Sam-O" be on the lookout for you?
anonymous
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March 24, 2012
It would be illegal to move SPLOST II money to SPLOST III.
anonymous
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March 23, 2012
Those 200 students over capacity can be redistricted into Allatoona High School. DId you watch the meeting? All the schools around Harrison are under capacity except for Hillgrove.

The paper added the word indefinitely; if you watched the meeting, no one said that it would not be built. But priorities please! It's far more important that our safety and maintenance projects get completed before any new construction. The lesson from the turf is this - do priority items first.

I salute the board for being fiscally responsible even with an unpopular decision.
More Delays
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March 23, 2012
In case you missed it last night --- now that 4 of our CCSB members separated the projects from the 9th grade center, all of the projects will need to be re-bid. Mr. Brown stated that none of the projects would begin in 2012. He indicated it would be Spring/Summer 2013 at best. Also, the delay would also increase the cost on both the 9th Grade Center and needed repairs. The original cost was $14.5M for the entire project. What will this now end up costing the taxpayers of Cobb County? The CCSB is reviewing and redistricting the lines for our school board members. Nothing is final, but guess who our new School Board member will be???? Alison Bartlett!!

Thank you Ms Eagle, Mr Sweeney and Mr Banks for the continued support.
Point of Order
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March 23, 2012
The General Assembly sets the district lines.

The school board has no authority on the matter.
Fed up HHS Parent
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March 23, 2012
By detaching the maintenance from the project, the repairs will now not be made for at least another 2 years because the bid process must be repeated. Two more years of floating teachers, trailers, kids with leg injuries, and declining property values in the area because the school facilities are not up to par with the rest of the schools in the area.

Simply resurfacing the track is not the only fix needed. The drainage around the track must be repaired or any resurfacing will be destroyed in a matter of a couple of years. This work was included in the project.

Please refer to Mr. Clements' and Cobb Parent III's comments below. The project was specifically detailed in the referendum on the SPLOST III ballot. All financial specifications have been met and there is not an option to not go ahead with the project. Someone should investigate whether other projects not specifically listed on the ballot may proceed before this project is started.
alwayswonderingwhy
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March 23, 2012
Is anyone running against Ms. Bartlett in the next election...hope so
Stay tuned
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March 24, 2012
You will be hearing something soon. Just need to wait until the maps are settled. Organization is already in place.
anonymous
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March 23, 2012
A big thank you to Mr. Sweeney, Ms. Eagle and Mr. Banks for supporting the Harrison 9th Grade Center.

Ms. Barlett, Ms. Angelucci, Mr. Morgan and Mr. Stultz: Since voters approved the project and it has to be done - If not now, when?

By postponing the project, you have increased the project costs, you have kept Harrison students in trailers and lengthened, perhaps even postponed until the following summer, the time it will take to repair the worst track in the county.

Bad decision!

PR50
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March 23, 2012
The SPLOST item was "West Cobb Ninth Grade Center", not "Harrison Ninth Grade Center". If you look at growth, it should be built at Hillgrove (just sayin). Also, to Hannibal, Obama came to McEachern not too long ago...
NCHS Proud
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March 23, 2012
I and my children graduated from North Cobb HS and I know first hand how NCHS was neglected for years in favor of Walton, Lassiter, and Pope. Our first wing addition in years was delayed in the 1990s so a room for BAND could be built at an east Cobb HS that will be left unnamed.



I say this to one of the bloggers who accuses Angelucci at looking out for only NCHS, which is in her district. Please note that the improvements to NCHS were approved under a PRIOR area CCSD representatives and NOT under Angelucci. NCHS waited over 20 years to have major work done.

Also, I believe there is a provision in the SPLOST which says if enough funds are not available, then items can be cut or delayed. But I do agree that artificial turf at all high schools should have been lower on the spending scale than buildings.
Proud?
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March 23, 2012
I do not believe any credit has been directed at Ms. Angelucci. She made comments in the MDJ last week that she did not believe any of the work at Harrison should be done.

As to your point, you believe that because NCHS had to wait for its upgrades, other children should suffer?

Again, this project was specifically described on the SPLOST Ballot. The board chose Harrison as the location and the bid was conducted. As has been stated by others, waiting only increases the prices no matter where the facility is built.
Postpone
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March 23, 2012
Did anyone actually watch the meeting? The vote was to separate the 9th grade center from the maintenance needs so that all of the NEEDED upgrades (including the track) at HHS could be done. Keeping the 9th grade center attached at this point would have just kept HHS from receiving all of the upgrades in the SPLOST notebook.
Poor But Proud
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March 23, 2012
Was is the cost/benefit of a 9th grade center?

This school board sure spends money as if it has an endless supply.
Fed Up HHS Parent
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March 23, 2012
Really nice Ms. Angelucci... You get your improvements at N. Cobb HS and now no one else needs them. You were all told about the condition of facilities at Harrison. The track is so bad that it is difficult for the BPE classes (a state required class for graduation) to safely conduct required running. The track team has not been able to host a home meet in the last 8 or 9 years because of conditions.

Does the board just want us all to move to Gwinnett so our tax dollars are used more effectively and our votes (SPLOST III) make a difference. It's really interesting that the Turf HAD to be installed because of SPLOST votes, but academic needs (classrooms, unstead of trailers) can't be built even though they were required by SPLOST.

Great priorities as alwats by the CCSB.
North Cobb County
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March 23, 2012
Please do not give Ms. Angelucci credit.Ms. Angelucci did not get the improvements for North Cobb. This was done before she got elected.
Bill Clements
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March 23, 2012
Mrs. Barlett has lead the charge to "draw the line in the sand" by killing the ready to sign contract, within 5% of the long ago budget, for the 9th Grade Center at Harrison High School. It's obvious that she does not understand nor support her promise's committed to in the SPLOST concept represented by the project list she agreed to submit to the Georgia Secretary of State which is a must do list unless the 1% sales tax fails to generate the necessary funds - which has NOT happened -. Cobb already has several 9th grade centers, all funded by SPLOST funds, to include Mrs. Barlett's school Osborne. The next Board meeting should include a motion for "reconsideration" and the Harrison school community leaders must respond to this Bartlett lead ambush !
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