Revote set for 9th-grade center at Harrison High School
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
April 28, 2012 12:00 AM | 3984 views | 55 55 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Cobb school board will reconsider the ninth-grade academy for Harrison High School at its May 9 meeting, though it’s unclear whether any of the four board members who voted last month to delay the nearly $15 million project will change their minds.

Meanwhile, the issue has been so controversial in west Cobb that it has resulted in an election challenge for board member Alison Bartlett. New redistricting maps put Harrison in her district.

On Thursday night, board member Lynnda Eagle requested, and chairman Scott Sweeney agreed, to revote on the SPLOST-paid project on May 9. With east Cobb’s David Banks, the three were in the minority and opposed delaying the Harrison project when the board voted 4-3 on March 22.

Instead, amid declining enrollment at the school, the board agreed to build only a new chorus room and cafeteria, and reconstruct the track.

“There is so much community interest in this,” Eagle said Friday. “We can’t really afford to have a whole section of the voters not willing to consider a SPLOST IV because of this. … It all comes down to one of those four. Maybe they will consider changing their minds. We can still keep the summer schedule if we could approve it May 9. It’s the last chance to meet that window.”

Bartlett, though, sees no need for reconsideration and doesn’t believe any board member will change his or her vote. Vice chairman David Morgan and members Tim Stultz and Kathleen Angelucci voted with Bartlett on Harrison.

“In speaking to the people who voted the way I did, no one has changed their votes,” Bartlett said, adding that without new information, her vote will remain the same.

Bartlett also said she is “disappointed in Mr. Sweeney as chair.”

“What is going on at the Harrison ninth-grade center is the same kind of behavior that we had with the calendar. When a committee votes you should be working actively to support that vote. It’s called an oath of loyalty,” she said.

Bartlett said she’s received some emails and phone calls since the March vote but not as many as Eagle, who claimed to have received about 300 since the March 22 vote.

“The emails I’m getting, they are concerned about it and often some of the facts they have are inaccurate,” Bartlett said. “But I live in the community so I have a lot of interaction with the Harrison community.”

Not all emails are from frustrated residents, Bartlett added. She said some have been from people thanking her for being fiscally responsible, because the project was over budget by about $700,000, or 5 percent.

The deciding vote in March came from Morgan, who had previously voted in favor of hiring an architect to design the Harrison project. Morgan did not immediately respond to inquiries on Friday, but Eagle said she would “hold out hope” he or another member of the majority would change his or her vote.

“David is very reasonable, and I do know some of the west Cobb group have either met with him or made contact,” Eagle said. “Maybe after seeing what’s there, he would consider this.”

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa had recommended to the board that the ninth-grade center and other improvements at Harrison be built all together, with a completion date of July 30, 2013. The district has already spent nearly half a million dollars on architectural fees to design the addition.

“The administration is pleased that the matter is back on the agenda, as it was our original recommendation to proceed with the project,” Hinojosa said in an email to the Journal on Friday.

Meanwhile, Heather Ryan, a business owner and parent of a Harrison senior, told the Journal on Friday that she will run against Bartlett this year, in large part because the redistricting pushed her into the area represented by Bartlett.

Ryan is a Republican while Bartlett is a Democrat. If no other candidates enter the race, the two would face off in the November general election. The party primaries will be July 31.

“I didn’t have a problem with the way that Lynnda handles business,” Ryan said of Eagle, her current school board representative. “I don’t know much about Alison, but my view about what’s gone on with Harrison just makes me extremely disappointed.”

Regarding the March Harrison vote, she said board members “aren’t doing what’s right for the kids, and they should have come out and looked at the facilities when they made this vote. That’s just wrong. Come out during the school day when the halls are full and check out the condition of the trailers, look at the cafeteria … look at the things that you have now voted for us to do, and it’s not going to work because you haven’t seen it,” she said. “I think as a board member, you should be required to go look at the facilities that you’re actually going to vote on. You can’t make a decision unless you’ve seen it.”

Ryan has lived in Cobb for seven years and owns Southryan’s Surgical Group, a medical recruiting company, with her husband, David. Her daughter, Morgan, is a senior at Harrison, and her son, Campbell, is in seventh grade at Lost Mountain Middle.

She attended Thursday night’s school board meeting and said she was extremely pleased that the Harrison project will be reconsidered.

“We’re excited, and it’s time to get the troops rallied even more. We’re gaining momentum, finally,” Ryan said.

Bartlett had no comment on the election challenge but is trying to schedule a public forum on the Harrison project.

“I am trying, the key word trying, to coordinate a public forum at Harrison to respond to the community’s needs on the ninth-grade academy,” Bartlett said. “This is how I operate across the board, anywhere, not just in my own post. My goal is to meet with the community and help them understand where I’m coming from and how the board got to where we are.”

Bartlett will host a town hall meeting on May 3, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Norton Park Elementary, 3041 Gray Road, in Smyrna.
Comments
(55)
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I have to say...
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May 01, 2012
Well played by Eagle and Banks.One of the arguments against putting the calendar back on the agenda has been board policy; once a vote is taken on any matter the decision is supposed to be honored and supported by the entire board.

Banks and Eagle don't care about Harrison and the 9th grade center. This was just political bait.

Getting this back on the agenda gave Banks the "in" he has been working on for the last year. Look for Banks to make a motion to put the calendar back on the agenda and force the board to vote again.

How does that bait taste, folks?
anonymous
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April 30, 2012
I don't see anything wrong with holding off building the 9th grade center, until we know what the enrollment numbers will be in West Cobb. Since the project is over budget, maybe it needs to be built on a smaller scale. Where will the $700,000.00 come from? Will other schools' projects have to be cancelled because this one is over budget? Perhaps if millions hadn't been spent on the turf.......If Harrison is so overcrowded, maybe some of the Harrison students should be redistricted to Allatoona.
Coob Resident
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April 30, 2012
This is nothing more than Bartlett trying to cover herself to hopefully win re-election. Upset the residents, then back-track to try to win back their vote and SPLOTS vote. Typical politician move...
Hypocracy Call
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April 29, 2012
Bartlett says that "when a committee votes you should be working actively to support that vote," yet she is the one failing to support the majority vote on the Harrison HS projects taken last year.

Then, Bartlett proceeds to call out fellow board members for the very thing she has failed to do herself.
I16
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April 29, 2012
I can't helped but feel sorry for Dr. H, Mr. Walrus, for the performance of this Bord.

What a disgrace.
West Cobb voter
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April 28, 2012
The frustration I feel when reading this article is great. It feels as if I've been a victim of a bait and switch. A West Cobb Ninth Grade Center WAS included in the SPLOST notebook and the promise of that facility was relied upon by many in casting their vote for the current SPLOST. The Board then voted on the locations The other Ninth Grade Centers were built but Ms. Bartlett has determined that Harrison is undeserving of the expenditures for this project. Ms. Bartlet, please explain exactly what will happen to the funds raised by the current SPLOST that are marked for construction of a West Cobb Ninth Grade Center. There should be millions upon millions of dollars going unspent since you stopped the development/construction.

I live in the Harrison district and look forward to voting against Ms. Bartlett. I have no intention of voting for another SPLOST, either. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!
anonymous
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April 30, 2012
The Splost Notebook lists the 9th grade center at West Cobb School Number 1. Which one was that? Oh right, the first of the two schools built. Harrison was not West Cobb School Number 1.
West Cobb Voter
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May 01, 2012
Anonymous...please explain your statements further. What exactly do you mean by a Number 1 school?

The SPLOST III referendum Section I(A)ii calls for:

"constructing and equipping four (4)new or replacement schools, specifically:

East Side Elementary Replacement Elementary School; Mableton Elementary School Replacement Elementary School; Smyrna Area Elementary School; West Cobb 9th Grade Center"

The West Cobb Ninth Grade Center is in addition to the Ninth Grade Center Additions completed at North Cobb and South Cobb high schools.
I Say
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April 28, 2012
Seems that classrooms (9th Grade Center) would be more important to students' education than a new chorus room and track. Over crowding at the school has been an issue since the mid 1990's. My daughter graduated from Harrison in 1997. The 4 years she was there she had classes in trailers and the interior halls were so crowded she couldn't get to her locker between classes. The chorus room and track that are only used by a limited number of students should be dropped and the money should be spent on the classrooms (9th grade center). Especially since $500,000 has already been put into it.
Just a thought....
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April 28, 2012
With all do respect, we simply cannot afford additional square footage at ANY school right now. We start the next fiscal year short over 40 million dollars...money that we borrowed and will not be available to us ever again....and we have no way of maintaining anything once it is built.

I live in the Harrison district and would love to see this built, but folks...we do not have a way to handle this once it is built. I am no fan of the CCSB, but in this case they were right. They made a decision that was NOt political.

The big shocker in all of this is that Lynnda will not be re-elected. She alienated too many people when she was board chair, and has not been able to get along with any other board member since.
anonymous
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April 28, 2012
The project is $700,000 over budget? Hmm. Seems to me the project needs to be scaled down or delayed until they find a way to build it within the budget.
Ironic Twist
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April 28, 2012
The least loyal board member shouting out for an oath of loyalty. Times have been hard for poor

Alison ever since her chairmanship and the calendar

debacle. And the hits just keep on coming.
anonymous
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April 30, 2012
calendar, calendar,calendar

etc.
no fools
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April 28, 2012
Bartlett scheduling a public forum for WHAT? Does she think she can talk her way out of how she snubbed west cobb. Guess she's trying to begin her campaign with an explanation. She'd better wise up to the fact that voters in West Cobb don't fall for that. Wise up Mrs. Bartlett.
West Cobb Resident
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April 28, 2012
Not everyone in West Cobb supports the 9th grade center to be built at Harrison! The SPLOST that we voted on was for a West Cobb (not limited to just one school) 9th grade center. Given these tough economic times and the fact that multiple schools are overcrowded in West Cobb, I think the 9th grade center should be built in West Cobb as promised, but not limited to any particular school. Any 9th grader residing in West Cobb should be allowed to attend the center and its attendance zone should pull students from Hillgrove and Kennesaw Mountain as well.
To WC Resident
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April 29, 2012
So if all of the 9th Graders go to one center... what sports team / band / orchestra, etc. do they play for? What happens their sophomore year if they go back to their home school?
anonymous
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April 29, 2012
That's ridiculous....
anonymous
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April 30, 2012
North Cobb is not considered West Cobb?
West Cobb Resident
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April 30, 2012
I didn't say every 9th grade student residing in West Cobb should go to the center. I said that every 9th grade student residing in West Cobb should be allowed to attend the center. There is a difference. The idea being, if they choose to attend the center. Extracurricular activities such as sports and music are something that each student would consider in making his or her decision. Obviously a student involved in sports would probably choose to stay at their current school. When we voted on SPLOST we voted on a West Cobb center, not a Harrison center. This way all of West Cobb would get what was promised, a true WEST COBB 9th Grade Center
Down Low
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April 28, 2012
Alison makes me want to swear some oaths but an oath

of loyalty is not what I had in mind. She's the most

disingenuous board member we've ever had. Don't know

Heather Ryan but she's bound to be an improvement as

far as representing the best interests of students

and Cobb schools.
No More Splosts
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April 28, 2012
The Board needs to explain why this Splost had enough money to immediately put in turf at every high school but wants to delay needed upgrades and repairs that have been pending at Harrison for over 8 years. This kind of action will result in an overwhelming turnout in this part of the county to vote against the next Splost. And putting Bartlett in this area seems like a just way of having her new constituents vote on her performance. Wonder why she wants the Board to try and take some action to get the lines redrawn?
ivotedtim
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April 28, 2012
Dear 'surprised' the real truth is, there is NOT a huge majority on Either side of your calendar issue. It is so evenly split that neither side wants to admit it. Plain and simple.

The new board have thankfully represented their constituents with regard to same.

When elections come along, any seat up for grabs has the right to advocate for or against whatever issue they feel their stakeholders are interested in.

So get out there and run yourself, or work to get voters to out to change the holders of the office.

And putting the brakes on building at Harrison is a goode idea IF it is true that the school is declining in enrollment. Just like it would be a good idea to put the breaks on the Florida conference if there was a mechanism to move the money to salaries.

One poster (on that other MDJ story)said there is a mechanism and the leadership needs to utilize it.

The kids need teachers, and the teachers need their jobs.

anonymous
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April 28, 2012
Bartlett, Angelucci, Morgan and Stultz managed to take a project that was, according to Barlett, $700k over budget and have now easily put the same projects significantly more than $1 million over budget with their votes to delay the Harrison High School projects.

The rationale some of them used to delay the projects was that they would increase maintenance costs.

Well, they've succeeded in raising costs while delaying much needed projects.

I'd venture to say that increased maintenance cots are probably significantly less than the costs to delay and redesign the projects.
@ anonymous
|
April 28, 2012
Better check your facts. Alison Barlett reported at the March 22nd board meeting that the F&T committee supported the Harrison High School projects by a vote of 7-5.

If Bartlett is being so sanctimonious about supporting votes of the board,she should have voted to move this forward since it was approved by the board last year.
4 the Kids
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April 28, 2012
Mrs. Bartlett and Mr. Morgan,

Please listen to your voters and taxpayers when they are respectfully addressing you at a Board Meeting. It's not very nice to be talking and passing notes to each other when your public is trying to talk to you via this forum at a Board Member.

Respectfully,

A former SPLOST Supporter - but I'm on the fence for SPLOST 4
Go Heather!
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April 28, 2012
We really need to get Alison out of there. She done

enough damage to our school system. She's more enemy

than friend to the students of the Cobb's school

Closest thing we've had to a proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing on the CCSB. Talks about loyalty from one side of her mouth while verbally stabbing fellow board members in the back from the other side. Do believe we've had enough of her.
surprised?
|
April 28, 2012
This board did not care one bit that the huge majority favored the balanced calendar, so they do not care that the majority of Harrison district voters favor the much needed expansion. Again, I say vote against splost and anything else this board does until the much superior balanced calendar is returned. End of discussion
anonymous
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April 28, 2012
Morgan flipped and is a primary reason we're in this mess.
anonymous
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April 29, 2012
calendar, calendar, calendar

calendar, calendar,calendar, whine

disney fun, groan

oh, misery, calendar, calendar

why, oh why can't we in Legacy Park become part of Cherokee
Cobb Dad
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April 30, 2012
Pleeeeeeeease! no more about the stupid calendar. Nothing proves one calendar superior than another. And again, there was not a huge majority.
no surprise
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April 30, 2012
that only the unbalanced calendar folks resort to name calling and attacks, everyone else just states their case...the calendar is just the symptom, this board is so out of touch..proven again by the 9th grade center vote...and no, I won't ever let the calendar issue go, so get over it
@no surprise
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May 01, 2012
re: "..that only the unbalanced calendar folks resort to name calling and attacks.."

This is a blatant lie.

Have you read the holiday songs/poems with altered lyrics published in the Patch by the balanced whiners? You are likely a participant in their facebook teamroom where they do plenty of name-calling (not to mention the numerous name-calling they do in juvenile side discussions). I guess you haven't read about the name calling and threats that Mrs. Bartlett faced by the whiners either. The whiners have done nothing but embarass themselves and their families.
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