The three-member subcommittee will consist of David Morgan, Tim Stultz and Board Chair Randy Scamihorn.
It was Morgan’s idea to form the committee to determine whether there is any correlation between degrees, years of experience and certifications and teacher effectiveness, as he has read in various research and studies.
“I want to make sure the pot of money is being used judiciously,” he said in reference to the district’s budget. “Is what we are basing compensation on, giving us our biggest bang for our buck?”
Kathleen Angelucci said she couldn’t justify looking into merit pay when the district is looking at cutting teachers, implementing five furlough days and not giving a full step increase to balance the fiscal 2014 budget.
“If I were a teacher, this would be a huge insult,” she said. “I don’t know why we are even having this conversation.”
Angelucci then asked Morgan if he would be willing to bring the board the research that shows there is no connection between compensation and these three variables.
Morgan said he would do that and proposed that they form the subcommittee to review this more closely, maybe over the next year.
“Let’s take a serious dive into this … see where the information falls,” he said.
The three will begin their subcommittee meetings sometime over the summer, and they will be open to the public.
In other business, the board also approved the appointment of Peter Giles, an assistant principal at Kell High School, to become Palmer Middle School’s new principal.
Palmer Principal Cathy Wentworth is retiring.
The group also unanimously accepted the retirement of Cynthia Hanauer as the principal at Murdock Elementary School.
Budget up for approval
The board also had one more in-depth conversation about the district’s fiscal 2014 budget, which is up for final approval at the May 16 night meeting.
Angelucci, who has been outspoken about preserving teachers’ jobs and the classroom as best as possible, asked several questions about specific funding.
She asked about lapse funding, which is the amount of money left over at the end of a budget year.
The board plans to use $10 million of the average $22 million in lapse funding each year to adjust the $86.4 million shortfall for next year.
“I’m trying to think of every job that can be saved,” she said when asking why they aren’t using the remaining $12 million in lapse towards their budget.
Angelucci also asked her board colleagues if they were ready to cast their votes on the budget next week or if they should postpone the vote and hold another special meeting before final approval.
For the first time in district history, the board failed to approve its final budget during the night meeting last year. The group came back less than a week later and approved it.
“I just want to make sure we get our t’s crossed and our i’s dotted,” she said.
No one responded to Angelucci’s question specifically, but Scamihorn said the board does have time between now and next Thursday to “shape” the budget and submit questions to Chief Finance Officer Brad Johnson if needed.
On the other end of the spectrum was Stultz, who said he believes the district should make the essential teacher cuts now to help future budgets.
He continued to say he would rather the district increase the number of teachers accessing online learning, which could essentially save Cobb Schools money in the long run if successful.
“I’m looking at the longer term … we need to start doing something now rather than save 10 or 20 positions,” he said.
Stultz also asked if Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa would come back with an estimated cost to have an outside source perform an audit of the district’s funds.
Hinojosa agreed to check into that cost before next week’s meeting.
There will be a salary hearing Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. budget public forum. A second salary hearing will be two days later at 6:30 p.m. The Thursday night meeting is scheduled to start directly thereafter.
The board also talked about when it would implement five furlough days next school year.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the group got its first look at the administration’s proposed days for this implementation. The board will approve one of two recommendations during next week’s night meeting.
Option A calls for furlough days to be implemented July 31, Aug. 1-2, and Feb. 13-14, 2014.
Option B, which is the one Hinojosa is recommending, will warrant furlough days on Oct. 3-4, and Feb. 13-14 and Feb. 18, 2014.
State law does not allow the district to use more than three days per semester.