Project list for SPLOST IV debuts Thursday
by Kim Isaza
October 24, 2012 12:25 AM | 2014 views | 6 6 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb school board members will get their first look at the proposed list of projects to be financed in a fourth SPLOST on Thursday afternoon, ahead of the board’s regular 7 p.m. meeting.

The presentation of projects proposed for the fourth round of the special purpose local option sales tax will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the district’s central office, 514 Glover St. in Marietta.

The current sales tax, SPLOST III, will be collected through Dec. 31, 2013. But the school board is expected to vote next month to call for a public referendum on SPLOST IV in March. If voters approve, collections of SPLOST IV would run from Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2018.

SPLOST IV is projected to bring in nearly $718 million over its five years.

On Monday night, some members of the district’s SPLOST oversight group, known as the Facilities and Technology Committee, suggested the district should audit its SPLOST projects.

The committee, chaired by Kimberley Euston, can only make recommendations to the elected school board.

“I would encourage every voter of Cobb County to reach out to their elected school board official and encourage them to request a fiscal audit, a deep forensic audit of SPLOST III in particular,” Euston said Tuesday.

Board member Lynnda Eagle said, “The F&T committee doesn’t make decisions; they make recommendations. To tell us we need an audit, if that is something that the F&T committee does, then I would think we would discuss it as a full board.”

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, though, does not believe such an audit is warranted.

“I do not intend to make that recommendation to the board,” Hinojosa said. “Our SPLOST program is audited annually by an independent auditor and has been a model for the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars.”

During the 7 p.m. meeting Thursday, the school board is set to vote on Hinojosa’s calendar recommendation for the 2013-14 school year.

The superintendent is recommending a one-year calendar that would start the school year on Aug. 7, 2013, and end it on May 21, 2014. Hinojosa’s calendar does not include week-long breaks throughout the year, as in a “balanced calendar.” But it does include a weeklong break at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas, and a weeklong spring break beginning March 31.

Hinojosa had appointed a 21-member committee to recommend a two-year calendar, but ultimately offered his own proposal.

Board member Alison Bartlett said that committee was working under a mandate that the first semester end before the winter break, and the last day of school be on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, which hindered the committee’s options.

“By setting the calendar that it had to end semester by Christmas, it predetermines that the latest start date is the second week of August. That’s what you’re stuck with,” Bartlett said. “That committee walked in with a mandate.”

But Hinojosa disputed that contention.

“I did not give the committee any parameters other than to draft a calendar with 180 school days,” he said.

As for whether he expects the board will approve his calendar proposal, Hinojosa said: “I believe my recommendation is a good compromise, but as you know, there are many opinions about the calendar.”

Eagle, for one, would not say whether she will support Hinojosa’s calendar.

“I had really hoped the committee supported by the entire board would have been able to bring forth a calendar we could have voted on,” Eagle said. “That’s not the calendar that’s being presented. My goal all along had been to support the committee, because we gave them that charge, they spent a lot of time. Back like when we gave the survey (on the calendar in 2010), and we ignored that. I just don’t want a repeat of ignoring the work of a community partnership group.”
Comments
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@getthefacts
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October 25, 2012
If Splost has been so successful, and audited so carefully can you tell me why and how Lassiter's new theatre was built to the scope it was, when it wasn't included in the Splost notebook?
Polly Sweedlepipe
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October 25, 2012
4 clicks on the district website got me this, #1 on the list for Lassiter "Addition of a theater for the performing arts". Below that is the cash flow report which shows the moneys collected are the same as expenditures. Voted on by the public and within budget. Not sure what you are looking at or are you actually trying NOT to find what you do not want to see? By the way, annual audits are mandated by state law and if there was ever any inking of wrongdoing don't you know that this would be trumpeted on the mountaintops by SPLOST opponents. This is like Obamanation - you see the facts but repeat over and over they are not true and the mind-numbed among us believe it.
Teacher and Parent
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October 24, 2012
Cobb citizens should not vote to allocate tax dollars to more construction projects until something is done about the overcrowded classrooms. Even if some schools are in need of upgrading/updating, the focus needs to be on instruction and what will impact student learning. Some classrooms are crowded to the point that teachers cannot even walk among the students, and instead are restricted to a small area in the front or back of the classroom. When are people going to realize that what's going on in public education in Cobb and elsewhere is an utter disaster.
Col. Mustard (ret'd)
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October 25, 2012
Just trying to understand your point as I sit and try to recover from a severe case of whiplash after reading your comment. Did you actually say that you are not happy with the overcrowding in classrooms in one sentence then veered sharply on two wheels to also say that we should not spend tax dollars on new construction projects? The mind boggles. Please tell us all that you don't vote or have a driver's license. If not, none of us are safe.
vtgrad
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October 24, 2012
Of course Hinojosa doesn't want an audit of the SPLOST, just like he doesn't want to release his performance evaluation... Cmon people of Cobb Co. we should insist upon it. Also, good luck with contacting your board member to encourage the splost audit. My board member, Banks only seems to reply to any concerns that he doesn't agree with, in angry, defensive tones.
GettheFactsx7
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October 24, 2012
@vtgrad Try reading the article again. Dr. Hinojosa states, "Our SPLOST program is audited annually by an independent auditor and has been a model for the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars.” That audit has been presented to the board annually. As good stewards of SPLOST funds - Ms. Euston, Ms. Bartlett and other F&T Committee members should be completely aware of these audits. Euston has an agenda of her own or merely likes to hear herself act out of order. Mr. Sweeney needs to sit her down and explain her role or remove her. She is a loose cannon and embarrassment to the other committee members and CCSD.

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