Few comment on plan to close 2 Cobb schools
by Lindsay Field
February 10, 2012 11:55 PM | 3806 views | 12 12 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Fewer than 50 people have contacted the Cobb County school district about a redistricting map that proposes the closure of two south Cobb schools and relocation of a third, and no one spoke at the first of two public forums about the issue last month.

The district will conduct the second public forum at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the school board office, 514 Glover St. in Marietta, just before the board votes on the redistricting.

In the system’s largest redistricting ever, the district plans to close of Sky View Elementary in June and Brown Elementary in August 2013, moving Fitzhugh Lee H.A.V.E.N. Academy to where Brown is currently located and turning both Austell Primary and Austell Intermediate into traditional K-5 elementary schools.

SPLOST administrator Doug Shepard, whose staff has handled a majority of the process, said they have received just 10 emails since the final map was released on Dec. 7 and that 37 people have voiced their opinions on district’s “public comment” wall.

“Our goal for this redistricting was to ensure that the community was informed and had ample opportunities to provide feedback,” he said. “In that regard, I think we were successful.”

And while no one showed up on Jan. 26 to the first public forum, a pair of Smyrna City Council members have contacted their school board representative, Tim Stultz, to speak to him about the closure of Brown and said that what they’ve heard from their constituents that there wasn’t sufficient notice of the public forum.

Brown is located off Concord Road in Smyrna. The K-5 school serves about 300 students.

“It was my understanding that there was nothing sent home with the parents of the Brown families,” said Councilman Wade Lnenicka, who represents east Smyrna, where Brown is located. “Some of them found out after the fact through the media. I wish it had been better publicized.”

However, Brown Principal Brett Ward said the district level called every parent on Jan. 24 telling them about the January and February public forums.

“We did not send out an additional phone message from the school as this would have been redundant,” Ward said in an email Thursday morning.

Lnenicka said he has seen a “fantastic” transition at Brown over the years.

“We are trying to represent those views to our school board member,” he said. “None of us are trying to do the school board’s job in how their attendance zones should be districted, but I’m making the case that Brown is really an excellent performing school and deserves to be maintained as a school.”

Councilwoman Susan Wilkinson, who represents northwest Smyrna, said her constituents feel that the redistricting is too far along to be affected by public comment.

“The people that I have talked to and heard from, thought it was really too late, regardless (of the forums),” she said.

But “it’s not over till it’s over,” Lnenicka said.

The district has changed the redistricting map twice based on feedback from the community.

If it closes, Brown students will be moved to the new Smyrna school, located at 1099 Fleming St., about two miles away.

Sky View is the other school on the chopping block. It is located in southwest Cobb near Veterans memorial Parkway in Mableton and serves about 400 of students in K-5.

School board vice chair David Morgan, who represents Sky View, said “all has been quiet on that front” and that he is pleased with how the district staff has handled the process.

“I think there has been an earnest and quiet successful attempt to make sure it was a successful process because it can be a highly charged issue,” he said.

The district is planning to move the students to Mableton Elementary, 5220 Church St., about a mile away.

The third school affected by the redistricting is Fitzhugh Lee H.A.V.E.N Academy. The school is located 4400 West Atlanta Road and serves students who have severe emotional behavior disorders and autism from Marietta and Cobb and Douglas counties.

There are about 75 children at the school, which is funded by federal, state and local monies.

On Wednesday, Shepard announced that the redistricting proposal recommends closing the school on Dec. 31, 2013, and moving Fitzhugh Lee students to what will be a newly renovated Brown.

Renovations will take place fall of 2013, cost an estimated $835,866 and be funded by SPLOST III. Details of the renovations are not yet available.

The redistricting is a result of the opening of the new Smyrna elementary school, construction of Mableton Elementary, replacement of Clarkdale Elementary and the addition of eight classrooms at Nickajack Elementary. If approved by the board on Feb. 23, it will affect 24 schools and 2,500 students in south Cobb.

The second school closure public forum will be held at the school board office, 514 Glover St. in Marietta, on Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. Interpreters will be present.
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Mike O. Bedenbaugh
February 11, 2012
Why would you move 300 students out of Brown Elementary and put 75 handicap children in it and spend nearly a million dollars on its remodeling; that is $13,333.33 per child; and they raised a lot more noise about a seat in an arts building for several high school in East/West Cobb. Sure Fitzhugh Lee is one of the oldest schools in the county, but put the children in a more larger school with below capacity which the new Smyrna Elementary school will be even with the Brown kids there. Spend the money where its needed to get rid of trailer classrooms. Sell Fitzhugh Lee for a Highrise Hotel being it is on I-285 near Cumberland Mall, Cobb Galleria, and Cobb Energy Arts Center.
February 11, 2012
Close them all down and allow the market to fill the need with private schools.

Why should the tax man rob ME blind to pay for day care for your children who are too stupid to learn? I am sick and tired of these failing socialist schools stealing MY money that I earned!

If parents paid their own children's way through school rather than picking my pocket, maybe they would be more involved, and the schools around these parts could turn out smart graduates rather than illiterate moron drop outs!
You are
February 11, 2012
definitely an angry idiot. Not a good combination.
1986 Wills HS Grad
February 11, 2012
As a Brown Elementary parent I knew that closing the school was a done deal early on. We do have a great staff and teachers. My kids have received the best education possible.

I would have contacted Stultz but I have viewed him as inept since I watched him at the Campbell High meeting that discussed calendars. Can't wait to vote him out.
February 11, 2012
Why on earth do you need a building that serves 300 kids, Brown, to house the 75 kids from Fitzhugh Lee? I understand the special needs kids have unique challenges. But how much sense does this make?

My child is already in jr. high, and did not attend Brown, so I am not advocating for or against anythingt for myself. But I do know MANY people who love Brown.

Will someone please smack me down and tell me why Fitzhugh needs the Brown facility.

I'm waiting..........

February 11, 2012
....answer,... because Mayor Bacon wants it gone, as well as the Smyrna Heights neighborhood!

And w/ 30 years of rule,.. what the mayor wants,....
Destroy Smyrna!!!
February 11, 2012
This is very sad times for Smyrna. There's already no sense of community here!

Nothing but treeless, cement sidewalks & mega grocery stores & gas stations.

There's no quaint parks, after school theatres or cultural art centers.

Actually, there's no support for arts whatsoever!!

There are no schools involved w/ Safe Routes to School, while obesity rates are on the rise in Smyrnas schools!!

There is noone in city hall that advocates for Brown Elementary, or the Smyrna Heights neighborhood of 450 homes , that it serves.

Guess the mayor will get his wish & destroy house values to the point that a developer can swoop in and once & for all, rid the heart of Smyrna of what COULD/SHOULD be a great neighborhood , filled w/ quaint 3/1's.

Smyrna is a cold, heartless, disconnected city.

If you want to live in a city w/ 'community spirit',... Decatur, Buckhead neighborhoods, Roswell & Dunwoody are good places.

The 'mega' elementary that's being built,... looks like a brick prison!

If you want good a elementary school for your kids,.. get out of Smyrna!!

charles cathey
February 11, 2012
~If you want ?good a? elementary school for your kids,.." get out of government schools altogether. Government schools are the most concentrated from of child abuse ever created. Government schools, staffed entirely by agents of the local government, are little more that propaganda mills dependent totally upon the whim of entrenched bureaucracies!

February 11, 2012
turn off Rush and Boortz and get a clue. Nothing wrong with the education being provided. Simply a matter of parents and students who don't give a hoot about being educated.
February 11, 2012
I went to Sky View. It is sad what has happened to the area. Put it to rest.
Clarkdale a waste
February 11, 2012
We are in tough economic times and reopening Clarkdale is a huge waste of money. All of those kids who spoke at the board meeting will not even be there because it is so far down the road. Those kids were farmed out to schools who are not at capacity and it worked out fine. They should not have been isolated from the school communities they moved into that that was a huge administrative error. Again, a waste of tax dollars!
February 11, 2012
...so it was necessary to build a brand new East Side Elementary School next to the perfectly good one that already existed?
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