Ninth-grade center coming to Harrison High after all
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
May 10, 2012 12:44 AM | 7106 views | 60 60 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In an unusual revote, the Cobb County school board decided to build a ninth-grade center at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, above. David Morgan changed his position on the center, citing the costs the district would have incurred if they delayed the project, and the support from the community to build it.<BR>Staff/Laura Moon
In an unusual revote, the Cobb County school board decided to build a ninth-grade center at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, above. David Morgan changed his position on the center, citing the costs the district would have incurred if they delayed the project, and the support from the community to build it.
Staff/Laura Moon
slideshow
MARIETTA — With David Morgan reversing his position in an unusual revote, the Cobb County school board decided at its Wednesday work session to build the West Cobb 9th Grade Center at Harrison High School.

Board members Kathleen Angelucci, Alison Bartlett and Tim Stultz remained opposed in the 4-3 vote.

After the work session, vice chair Morgan said he changed his mind because of the costs the district would have incurred if they delayed the project, as well as the outcry that arose from the Harrison community when the board voted to postpone it at its March 22 meeting.

“When you think about the amount of money that’s already been put into the project, the amount of money that might be spent by delaying it and that that the cost might increase any more, but also, there’s a lot to be said for the commitment of the community and their belief in the ninth-grade center,” he said.

Breaking the proposal up, as Bartlett recommended on March 22, could have cost the district up to half a million dollars, mainly because of the cost of redesigning the project.

The $14.5 million project, which was approved by Cobb voters in 2008 as part of the SPLOST III notebook, included a new chorus room and cafeteria inside a freshman academy and renovations to improve a track that hasn’t been used for a meet in nearly eight years.

Bartlett and Angelucci, who have been vocal in their opposition to the project, have said they are concerned about the stagnant enrollment growth at Harrison, that the new facility will cost the district an additional $130,000 per year to maintain and that the project is approximately 5 percent, or $700,000, over budget.

The project is now back on track to be completed by July 2013, with the track being finished sometime over the summer, according to Chris Ragsdale, deputy superintendent of operations.

After the meeting, Lynnda Eagle, who currently represents Harrison, said she was very excited.

“I’m very relieved. I’m appreciative that one of the board members listened to the public, weighed the choices and changed the vote,” said Eagle, who asked for the revote. “I know that the Harrison community is thrilled. They too are appreciative, and I look forward to watching this construction begin.”

But while Eagle was happy with the outcome, Angelucci said she believed the board violated its own policy by revoting.

“I was really taken aback at what transpired after the last meeting,” she said during the meeting. “I checked with everyone and no one had changed their position, so for it to be placed on the agenda again violates policy.”

After the meeting, Angelucci said Rule No. 7 of the board’s Code of Ethics says “You express your opinion, but once a vote is taken, you abide by the majority.”

She previously brought up this rule when board member David Banks was continually asking for a revote on the school calendar last fall.

Angelucci argued that revotes will “hold this board hostage” because she could see them becoming an “ongoing thing.”

As for accusations of vote-swapping, Eagle denied she would help Morgan get Teach For America put back on the agenda if he voted for the ninth-grade center.

“I haven’t asked for Mr. Morgan’s vote,” Eagle said. “I did say to him that I thought he should do the right thing.”

Morgan has also denied making any agreements before Wednesday’s vote.

During the public comment session, eight members of the Harrison community encouraged the board to approve the construction. One parent even brought a portion of the track to the meeting, saying a soccer player was injured on it last week and had to have stitches.

Karen Boff, who also spoke at the last board meeting, asked the board to help her understand why they can’t get their track fixed.

“This is very confusing and frustrating,” she said.

Another parent said the board was obligated to approve the project because voters approved it in SPLOST III.

“Do what you told us you were going to do,” Tim Paradiso said.

After the vote was made, Heather Ryan, who has announced she will run against Bartlett in the upcoming election, said she was thrilled by the decision.

“I’m completely overwhelmed. When I saw Mr. Morgan’s hand go up, I had to question what I was seeing on the TV. Is that really his sleeve I see?” she asked. “You wouldn’t believe the emails going around. Everyone is so grateful and so thankful. They just couldn’t believe it.

Ryan said she got about 20 emails celebrating the vote within an hour of the project’s passing.

“I instantly called the chorus teacher (Erin Gunter) and I got to break the news to her,” she said. “The weight is off her shoulders now and, she is so grateful for everyone who has fought for this.”

Ryan likened the fight to get the project approved to David facing Goliath.

“It became political, and it wasn’t about our kids, and I don’t agree with that,” she said. “We all have our general beliefs and philosophies, but there is a moral obligation and a right.

“I’m just glad this battle is over.”
Comments
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Dr. Teresa
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May 15, 2012
I watched the entire BOE meeting on Wed. I did not hear anyone mention the legal cost of defending a losing (by CCSD) lawsuit if the Board did not build the 9th Grade center. I was on the BOE that Voted for the SPLOST III Notebook. It is ILLEGAL to not do the large projects, delaying the center was only going to cost more money. Bartlett's stance that the building would create more stress on the general funds budget is just plain stupid!! We have to fund maintainance of whatever "roof" the students are under, be it trailers or bricks. Using that logic, none of the building projects should have beeen done. Enrollment projections are unreliable. Four yrs ago Virginia Gregory was up in arms claiming that Osborne was "overbuilt," had empty classrooms (not true), and a declining enrollment projection. Today OHS is FULL and the projections are for continued growth. Ms. Bartlett knows all these things. She continued in her efforts to harm students at Harrison just to seek revenge against LCE. I am surprised so many people think her "logic" is so wonderful. When she ran for election, she was openly AGAINST SPLOST III. She said there was a better way to fund capitol outlay projects. She has been mute on that claim for 4 yrs now. She pretends such surprise that it costs so much to maintain buildings. She's an engineer, shouldn't she know this already? Wonder why she ever stopped working as an engineer? Good question.
anonymous
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May 15, 2012
It's amazing how so many women are so catty regarding Ms. Bartlett.
Dr. Teresa
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May 15, 2012
Women can see right through her. Men are not so inlcined. Bartlett has always had her own personal agenda and it has nothing to do with what is best for students or teachers.
Not sure
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May 15, 2012
I don't live in the area so I'm not sure about this, but wasn't Dr. Teresa Plenge the board member that Bartlett beat to win her seat on the board?

Are you Teresa Plenge?

If so, wow, I feel bad for you still holding this petty bitterness.
Dr. Teresa
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May 15, 2012
I am Dr. Teresa Plenge. Bartlett did not defeat me. After serving for 11 1/2 years I was forced to resign due to VERY serious disabling conditions brought on by my successful battle with cancer. I am permanently disabled and use a power wheelchair to get around. However, I AM NOT DEAD!!!! And I still care very much about CCSD where I devoted more than 30 years as a special education teacher and a board meember. Your are right, you have not been paying attention.
Dr. Teresa
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May 15, 2012
Just to be sure "Not Sure" understands, I am not bitter about my circumstances at all. God is still using me in powerful ways. Can you say the same? I use my own name when I blog, but you do not. Who has something to hide?
anonymous
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May 16, 2012
Never said that I wasn't paying attention.

Just said that I detect a lot of petty bitterness.
Calendar Again
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May 10, 2012
Next Thursday night, Banks will move to reconsider the calendar and LCE/Morgan will 2nd and 3rd. And why not? If you can take a second vote on one matter you should be able to do it on another.
calendar again
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May 11, 2012
I could only wish that would happen...since changing the superior balanced calendar was a revote...no reason it couldn't happen! I will vote against any candidate in favor of TFA, and any candidate who will not vote to return to the far superior balanced calendar
unheard parent
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May 10, 2012
Morgan said "there’s a lot to be said for the commitment of the community and their belief in the ninth-grade center". It would have been nice for him to have interest in and listen to the people in his own community when voting to close Sky View. Maybe someone from the board could visit the school and call for a revote on it!

NtheNo
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May 10, 2012
Politics is nothing but reactive....apply enough pressure and they will react. The tax burden at federal, state & local levels being left for the next generation is insane.
Bill Clements
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May 10, 2012
One or two concerns about SPLOST "notebooks" or project lists: All projects should have a priority for expenditures from day 1 of the resolution ( this way politics for scheduling would go away ) voters know exactly and precisely what/when they are voting for. There needs to be, like the original SPLOST, a list of undesignated classroom additions that would accomodate dramatic attendance changes during the term of the tax. Finally, some statement as to how any/all surplus will be allocated - this current method or gamesmanship will never hold up under serious legal challenge - but does earn Brock and Clay some more billable hours (money). How much of a fee reduction or furlough of hours will Brock and Clay experience in these tough times ? Why does an attorney have to attend every meeting to mostly play parlimentarian for Robert's Rules of Order ?
concerned taxpayer
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May 10, 2012
When referencing "our schools in the south" I wasn't indicating that I live in the south part of the county.

Like it or not, regardless of where we live in this county geographically, the schools in CCSD are "ALL OF OUR SCHOOLS" and our district is measured as one entity.
concerned taxpayer
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May 10, 2012
Congratulations CCSD school board you have just added these new staff costs to monthly expenses: Freshman Coordinator, administrator, counselor, secretarial staff for attendance and counseling, media center paraprofessional, and additional cafeteria staff for the new 9th grade cafeteria!

The total lack of fiscal responsibility is shameful and then you ask our teachers to take pay cuts and furlough days!

Also, Harrison may have needed maintenance upgrades and these should be taken care of immediately for the safety of the students; however, a whole new facility is not needed in a community that has a reduction in enrollment.

Kennesaw Mountain and Allatoona were not full this year so if there is an enrollment issue then redistrict to balance enrollment. Both schools were receiver schools for School Choice based on our schools in the south that haven't made AYP in previous years.

Speak up then
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May 10, 2012
Then maybe your community and your parents should begin to speak up. Elect someone that cares more about the children tah he and his wife's political agenda to the board
anonymous
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May 10, 2012
Actually, per the CCSD website Kennesaw Mountain is over capacity and has trailers. Please get your facts straight.
Not necessarily
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May 10, 2012
concerned taxpayer:

North Cobb did not acquire any new staff when opening the 9th academy. It was staffed all in house. Due to the economy and RIF, they did not earn any new jobs. You do make a good point though
Just a thought....
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May 10, 2012
I watched the entire meeting and could have told you which way this was going after LCE became a sudden supporter of TFA. I must say the expression on Mr. Sweeney's face when confronted by Ms. Angelucci was well worth the millions of dollars that he just helped throw out the window. LCE, Morgan and Sweeney played politics yesterday....but were there "meetings" that occured without the bright light of day? Perhaps Brock and Clay can charge us some money to find out.
My Secret Name
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May 10, 2012
Well said Mr. Bedenbaugh. I never, ever, ever have understood how Hirojosa or any other big wig at Glover St. can justify the expense of TFA possible "teachers" when certified, experienced, current Cobb County teachers are being booted.

I am truly mystified! And administrators and Glover St. big wigs say they have heard some wild stories from students. H saying he wants to use the TFA program qualifies for a Best Actor Oscar and if Morgan backs it, he deserves Best Supporting Actor.

Hirojosa- Use what we have and stop trying to line some consultants pockets or use some new concept that may make you look good in some research paper.

We Do NOT need it or want it!!
anonymous
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May 10, 2012
..TFA possible "teachers" when certified, experienced, current Cobb County teachers are being booted.

It's not about the employees (teachers) it is about what is best for the students. If a principal feels the TFA are better, then they should go for them.
anonymous
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May 10, 2012
"It's what is best for the students" is such a district phrase right now. I love it when I hear it from principals that stay in their office all day and never mingle with the students. That certainly is not what is best for the students but of course this phrase only has merit when reassigning or riffing teachers.
Mike O. Bedenbaugh
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May 10, 2012
I still say TFA is a no brainer from two points; (1) we do not need TFA uncertified teachers when as stated by the Super Dr.H they are going to FIRE 25 CERTIFIED with college degree teachers. (2) We do not need to spend $400.000.00 to train or certify TFA people (they are not teachers)and pay them what certfied teachers make in a $62 million budget short fall for next year (wasting what money we may have). As far as it costing $133,000.00 per year to maintain the Harrison Nineth grade building (it will be brand new) is a out right lie; keeping the whole Harrison High School CLEAN (custodial care)is an outragious claim. If it cost that much the Custodians must be getting paid what the central office people are. I am never ashamed to sign my name to what I have to say.
Concerned Cobber
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May 10, 2012
WOW!!! Reading these comments just makes me pretty mad!! I don't think many of you who are attacking HHS community have all the facts...

We have been waiting for a new track for over 8 years...That was approved but then due to whatever their excuse was...we did not get a new track or any repairs done....

Then there was a plan for a new WEST COBB CENTER that they were not sure where to put it but then decided to put it at HHS...with that plan came a "bundling of a new track, and some much needed renovation done inside our school. BTW...it's 20 years old and has been over crowed for most of the time it has been opened...

We didn't ask for the center...we accepted it to get the other renovations that had already been approved and promised to us.

So here we are now many years later and even though all this was APPROVED by this board...we still had to fight just to get the track that we asked for over 8 years ago....

If we could have unbundled and got our new track and other much needed renovations and got them started this summer with out the Center...I assure you many of us would have gladly voted for that...However, with the way politics and boards work...it would have cost a lot more money and time for HHS to receive it's much needed facelift!!!

I hope this helps enlighten many of you of our plight and why we had to fight for this....

At the end of the day...we all live in Cobb and it behoves all of us to support and make ALL of Cobb a place to be proud of...North, South, East and West...
harrison parent
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May 10, 2012
Exactly. Thank you for stating the facts so well! The problem here is that so many comment, without knowing all the facts. They assume too much.
anonymous
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May 10, 2012
Yet your community crucified Bartlett who pointed out that the renovations should be separate from the 9th grade center, and made plans to move forward on doing the renovations, including the track. When will someone step up and point the finger at Doug Sheppard, Gordon Pritz, et. al who linked the 9th grade center to renovations?
West Cobb Mom
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May 10, 2012
Please correct me if I'm wrong. But we are talking about SPLOST money. I don't think it can be used to save teachers from being cut. SPLOST is for school improvements and capital projects. I am deeply saddened by the teacher cuts this year. We were very lucky to have a kindergarten class with only 14 kids and 2 teachers. Next year the classes will not be so lucky with 8 teachers being cut in between all grade levels. That is not a good learning environment regardless of what type of facilities you have.
Just a thought....
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May 10, 2012
You may want to check your facts there. SPLOST is NOT supposed to be used for general fund items BUT they voted to do so several weeks ago and have taken "excess" funds out of SPLOST to do just that. Plain and simple....the are already playing games with the money.
NW Cobbie
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May 10, 2012
Such a shame that these matters become a battle and name calling starts. The explanation of the SPLOST requirements for building the 9th gr hall now or later is unclear to me. I know CCS Board has to build what is approved in SPLOST, but when & what takes a priority is the question.

That said, I had rather have teachers come first then repairs, and then the 9th GR addition if I had to choose one over the other.

As far as Harrison being 20 yrs old & needing renovations as one commenter said...Dangerous code violations should be fixed whether they were in the SPLOST or not. But what is a code violation now may not have been a code violation 10 yrs ago. Building a new choral room because you need a larger space or updated is low on the "must need" scale.

Ask Osborne, Campbell, South Cobb or Pebblebrook about being an old school and needing additions, repairs & renovations. And North Cobb asked and asked and waited many, many years to receive their first new wing and improvements to other areas. A 20 yr old school is nothing compared to others.
@Morgan/Hinojosa
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May 10, 2012
Morgan says he did not change his Harrision vote in a trade off for support of the Teach for America program. I find that very hard to believe. This screams politics at it's heigth. Also, the superintendent states the stipulations for the deal would include..."principals will decide if they want to hire TFA teachers." Come on what principal, wanting to remain in good standing with the superintendent would reject a TFA teacher? It's so sad that people who go to school, study to be a teacher will be lower on the list because a TFA candidate will look good on paper. Don't forget the "boot camp" to show them how to teach. The most sad part is that these people will be placed in south Cobb schools because they need help. Having taught in the south Cobb area over 15 years, let me tell you, they will be eaten alive the first month. Again, it looks good on paper, but that's not the reality of education. Good for Harrision, but the payback will cost us all.
I agree
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May 10, 2012
Well said. This thing smacked of politics all around. Shame on Scott Sweeney for opening this can of worms. When an area has declining enrollment they don't need to build more schools. This was done to help Linsey Tippins company out who won the bid for this project and so Scott had to do some greasing of the palms. Thank you to the 3 members of the board that still have integrity!
I16
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May 10, 2012
Thank you Mr. Morgan, our track stars needed the new rubber to run on.

Great job'

Been There
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May 10, 2012
Mr. Morgan,

I agree with you 100% concerning the transfer process. Teachers (and principals) should be given the opportunity to have some input as to where they are transferred due to no fault of their own. I know some counties have transfer fairs that give each party the chance to "feel each other out." I was arbitrarily transferred a few years ago and hated it. Neither the school nor the principal was a good fit for me. I would not have chosen to work there, and I don’t think the principal would have chosen me as a good fit for her learning community—nothing personal on either side. This is something the district should think about in the future. Also, someone mentioned looking at home addresses. Well, that must not have happened in my case because I was “far” away. I also knew of someone driving from the Allatoona area to the south Cobb area—that board member should practice what she preaches. I'd vote for you, if I lived in your district.
WARNING
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May 10, 2012
Mr. Morgan SOLD his vote for the Teach for America vote - if you want to get your Harrison school that bad - then celebrate.

I find the whole mess DISGUSTING and I'm glad I had no part in it. In politics be careful who you get in bed with!
Threlkeld
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May 10, 2012
A more basic question: Why spend millions of dollars segregating 9th graders from the rest of the high school student body? The empirical cost/benefit study shows exactly what? There are no limits to the squandering of tax money.
Just Wait
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May 10, 2012
Threlkeld is absolutely correct. The Harrison crowd is so wrapped around some improvements to their school that the biggest issue is forgotten. Millions of dollars to separate 9th graders from others? What a waste! This is why I didn't and never will vote for a school SPLOST.
anonymous
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May 10, 2012
Agree. None of the leading schools in Cobb or nearby counties use 9th grade centers. It is silly waste of money
notinedforthemoney
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August 05, 2012
Why spend money on 9th grade centers? Research clearly shows when students are a part of a small learning community, in this case, a community of 9th graders, students become more invested in their learning and in their futures. It is simple mathematics; the more concentrated the effort, the more of an impact staff members can make in the lives of these students. Do you research like I have. The empirical evidence is there.
disgrteacher
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May 10, 2012
Oh Yeah, Kathleen Angelucci says that the board violated policy by revoting. Give me a freaking break!!!! Oh Mrs. Angelucci, so you didnt violate policy or the people who VOTED YOU INTO OFFICE when you voted against the balanced calendar last year. IN YOUR FACE!
Get over it
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May 10, 2012
You teachers need to get over the calendar. She ran on that platform now quit your whining. Teachers have gone on the standard calendar format since I was a kid. I have to work year round with no vacation. At least you still get days off and a whole summer!
anonymous
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May 10, 2012
Why do teachers have so much time during the school day to rant on blogs in such an immature manner?

And they wonder why they get less and less respect each day?
So over it
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May 10, 2012
Get over it - the teacher is not complaining about the calendar. The people in Ms. Angelucci's post did not necessarily vote for her due to the calendar. Ms. Angelucci cannot tell other board members to follow Roberts Rule of Order, when she herself has not followed it. The point is not about a campaign promise, it is about following procedure in which it was established that the Board did not. Also, for Ms. Angelucci to state that schools who have freshmen buildings are not using all of their classrooms is an error on her part. You actually have to be in the building to know this. Board members should not be pointing fingers at one another, that is a political diversion tactic to the real issues at hand. The MDJ needs to do follow up on its stories rather than relying on misinformation from the blog.

There are a lot of people who work hard in this County (parents, teachers, staff, students). There are many cosmetic items that need to be repaired and a SPLOST vote will not solve that immediately or even at all. Each community will need to help with those items with or without a SPLOST vote.
anonymous
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May 10, 2012
Why do you think teachers are the only ones for the balanced calendar? I'm a teacher and I hated it.
pleaseleave
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May 10, 2012
I'll vote for the entire Harrison community to secede from Cobb County and do whatever it is you want as long as you leave the rest of us alone.
harrison parent
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May 10, 2012
@pleaseleave Is that the best you can come up with? If Harrison secedes, the overall scores in Cobb County will go down. How will that help you?
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