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.