Details emerging about SPLOST IV Career Academy
by Lindsay Field
November 11, 2012 01:16 AM | 2480 views | 14 14 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Details are beginning to emerge about a proposed $29 million career academy listed in the Cobb School District’s SPLOST IV notebook, but much about the project has yet to be decided.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the academy’s location, number of students, teachers, staff, transportation, types of courses and operating costs have yet to be determined.

Assuming voters approve the tax in March, it could be several years before the projects are bid out, he said.

“A lot can happen in that time frame, including enrollment shifts. It would be irresponsible for us to identify a school today, and then, say, three years from now when the project is bid, realize that enrollment or other factors have made other schools a much higher priority,” he said. “We also have to consider the availability of land.”

Hinojosa said not identifying locations gives the district “flexibility down the road to ensure that the public’s tax dollars are spent where they are most needed.”

Chief academic officer Judi Jones said the district would need to hire a principal, an assistant principal, a counselor, three custodians, and possibly library, technology and lunchroom personnel.

Total salaries for these positions weren’t available.

Additionally, Jones said the cost to run each of the several academic programs, or clusters, at the academy could be between $150,000 and $200,000 annually, but said the costs could be offset by state grant money and business partnerships.

Jones said possible clusters offered at the academy include architecture, construction and transportation, health care, STEM and computer information science.

Jones said the high school schedule could be used by students on either a traditional or block schedule and that 11th and 12th graders would probably attend the school for half of their school day.

During a recent school board meeting, Hinojosa pointed out that career pathways are part of the goals board members set for him when he started in 2011.

“We didn’t come up with this on a whim. Our vision is ‘Empowering Dreams for the Future’ and our mission is ‘Creating and Supporting Pathways for Success,’” he said.

The vision and mission were created recently when the district revised their Strategic Plan.

Jones said that if the SPLOST passes, the district will conduct a needs assessment over the next two years, prepare for building the facility following that and possibly constructing and staffing it between 2015 and 2017.

“Nothing is set in stone,” she said.

Lance Lamberton of Austell, who serves as president of the Cobb Taxpayers Association, said he is concerned about the district proposing a fourth SPLOST and believes the career academy is one of the more controversial standout items on the list.

“I don’t feel like we need to have it embedded in the entire curricula of the district,” he said.

His problem with the career academy is that the district hasn’t released the details of transportation, land cost, maintenance costs or exactly what kind of student the school would attract.

“Why not incorporate this into existing high schools?” he asked. “Those programs should be built in and embedded into all of the high schools rather than have the separate stand-alone facility.”

Lamberton also has a problem with the district not talking about staffing the academy until January.

“That’s only two months prior to vote. These things need to be worked out before they are put before the voters,” he said.

In regards to SPLOST IV as a whole, Lamberton said, “They are creating enough projects to spend all that money. What they should do is determine the real needs and requirements for the district, then put before the district that cost.”

The project is one of many proposed in the SPLOST IV project list, which will include collections in the 1 percent sales tax between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2018, if approved by Cobb voters in March.

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we HAD that
November 12, 2012
We used to have an AWESOME "tech prep" program in most if not all the Cobb schools. Students learned great "career" skills such as auto shop, computer programming, horticulture, culinary arts, etc.

They were all ditched about 2 years ago. We can do this IN our current schools...we don't need anymore segregation of students by making "magnets" or "academies"!
November 13, 2012
They tore down or renovated most of those areas into other uses now.
oh happy day
November 12, 2012
my husband & i both will vote NO for this or any other splost the CCSD puts out there and In January we get to apply for the senior exemption to the school tax on our property taxes, looks like we get to give the CCSD a double whammy.
noooo to splost
November 12, 2012
Say NO to splost and NO to the continued mismanagement of our tax dollars from a school board who just wants to spend,spend,spend. Also say NO to a board member (Banks) who is now whining about the naming of the Lassiter theatre, that was SUPPOSED to be a "regional" theatre for all Cobb Co. schools to use, now we find out the Board is proposing the building of many NEW theatres as part of Splost. Does anyone else see the problems and deceit in this? For shame. You can bet that there will be a HUGE backlash if they try to push this splost for a vote... HUGE
November 12, 2012
feed the pig,.. keep the slush a flowing!
Ole Man
November 12, 2012
We have to pass it, to find out what's in it. Where have we heard that before? SPLOST has become an extended budget with no plan to ever end the deception. Politicians always have a list that special interest want someone else to pay for. It's time to break the cycle. Vote NO more SPLOST. Force these politicians to live in a real world budget. If cuts have to be made; make the cuts. How many staff positions are really needed? Is one staff per faculty enough?

Vote to force responsibility on the system, VOTE NO!
November 11, 2012
To: Many Concerns--Your racist statement about Hispanics is unacceptable. How many Hispanics do you know? If you analyzed the data, the Hispanic students on the southern part of town are more than assimilating flawlessly but advancing well above other subgroups. The reality is that tens of thousands of STEM positions are avalilable in the USA and few are capable to fulfill the need. Get a book and educate yourself before you throw around false statements. By the way, if you haven't heard, the USA is no longer a majority white country, so get over yourself.
Samuel Adams
November 11, 2012
Sounds like we have ourselves a local stimulous bill disguised in the form of an eductional "academy."

Why don't they call it what it is? It's a technical school for learning technical jobs. It's not some ritzy academy. It's an admission that our schools are not doing their jobs, i.e. they are not preparing kids for college or technical jobs. So we spend spend spend just to say we are doing something.

I liked whichever board member's idea of checking into facilities already in place at various schools to put these technical classes back into our existing high schools. If enrollment is going to go down, use existing resources and extra space to boost auto shop, culinary arts (what used to be called home economics) and other tech courses. Give the kids already at the schools a chance to take one or two of the courses within their academic pathway (my kids never got to take home ec, art, shop or anything like we took). Produce well rounded kids without having to hire new staff. And let's stop mimicking liberals tax and spend, spend spend ideas in our majority conservative county. Which is about to experience Obama Recession #2 by the way.
Make it a Magnet
November 11, 2012
The CCSD should consider running these Career Academies like they do their magnet programs. Students would need to pass certain criteria and apply to the programs to attend. If they use the "school within the school" model that our magnet schools currently use - I would think that this would work well. The students would be in core curriculum classes part of the day and their career classes the other. Put one academy in the North / one in the South. OR one in the East /one in the West. (opposite sides of the county) The students would go to the one that is closer to their residence which would allow for transportation to not be a huge issue.
Concerned Taxpayer
November 11, 2012
Two things stand out in this article:

1. Dr. H. said "the academy's location, number of students, teachers, staff, transportation, types of courses and operating costs have yet to be determined." These are not easy to answer before a March vote. Again, taxpayers are waking up and not supporting these special interest tax initiatives.

2. "Assuming voters approve the tax in March, it could be several years before the projects are bid out." If we used current schools for career paths, I would think we could do it with less money and a faster turn around.

The way the SPLOST 4 is being handled, I will be voting NO. The list so far is not representative of the needs for our schools, students and teachers - they are wants or "nice to have."

Go Wildcats
November 11, 2012
This is a case of the school system having more dollars than "sense". It is really hard to support throwing money at this concept without any real idea what it is about. Wake up school board before it is too late.
Cobb Whiners
November 11, 2012
The Career Academy is a tiny part of the SPLOST IV notebook. Stop using it as a red herring to misinform the public. @MDJ...try reporting about ALL of the projects and stop trying to manufacture news. The school district has $2 Billion in facility needs that was trimmed to $700 Million. What happens if the SPLOST does not pass??? The school district would be forced to BOND these needed maintenance projects. In other words, the county would be forced to use DEBT to finance the school projects. How does the Cobb Taxpayers Association feel about debt??
Lance Lamberton
November 12, 2012
If the MDJ reported on ALL the projects in the SPLOST IV notebook, they would find that the Career Academy is just the tip of the iceberg concerning wasteful spending projects. As for debt, the Cobb Taxpayers Association, which I represent, would rather the district incur a modest amount of debt for TRULY NEEDED projects, rather than backfilling with wasteful projects to find ways to spend the $717 million windfall. It would cost a lot less, and would not result in an increase on our property taxes. As for claim of $2 billion needed facility spending, that is patently absurd and profligate, and woud require a more than 2% increase in our sales tax rate. Is their no limit to the amount some want us to spend on government schools? Are taxpayers simply to be regarded as sheep to be fleeced to satisfy the district's unlimited appetite for wool? I hope not, and have strong reason to believe that if this boondoggle is put on the ballot in March, that it will be defeated, despite the unfair advantage that spending interests have by holding another special, stand alone, SPLOST election.
Many concerns
November 11, 2012
I agree that the county needs to have alternate options because not all kids want to attend college. In addition, not all kids are able to pass high school classes, such as, a large portion of the hispanic population due to their parents unwillingness to assimilate into the culture. With that being said, our county needs to come up with a better plan. They are already not able or willing to pay their staff and have made cuts and furloughs a common practice now. The county needs to partner with Southern Poly Tech or Chattahoochee Tech and hold the programs at those schools. It is funny how they look to the business community regarding education, which they are not qualified to give an opinion, but when it comes to a trade of auto mechanics or plumbing, they are not reaching out to those businesses for help. Get it together CCSD! You can not afford this plan. I will not vote yes on SPLOST with this as a part of the plan.
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