“About 90 percent (of the meeting) was in response to questions from audience members,” he said. “I’d say the major questions centered on replacement elementary schools and projects for schools in the current Post 6.”
The audience asked specifically about Powers Ferry, Sedalia Park, Eastvalley and Brumby elementary schools, which are all located in east Cobb, Sweeney said. That was a due to a previous school board meeting in which James Wilson with Education Planners Inc. of Marietta, the company responsible for helping Cobb create the project list, recommended consolidating some of these schools and building replacement schools.
“It’s a delicate subject,” Sweeney said. “And it is really important that it doesn’t become a lightning rod issue.”
In order to prevent that, Sweeney said he is constantly reminding people that the notebook of projects is just a “draft” and that as the board and district staff continues to evaluate the project lists, adjustments will be likely.
There were also some questions about East Cobb Middle School and future construction there but Sweeney said he he told the audience that a number of incomplete SPLOST III projects are scheduled to be taken up for consideration by the board next summer for the school.
“I think that there’s a lot of questions that the community has and will continue to have and I think it’s important that all of the board members do what they can to communicate with their constituents about the process and project lists and answer questions,” he said, adding that he intends to host another meeting but hasn’t scheduled it yet.
Wheeler parent Kathy Kreus, who also serves on the Wheeler Magnet Foundation Board, attended her first forum Monday night just as an observer.
“I thought that (Sweeney) did a nice job presenting the general information about the SPLOST priorities, the process, as well as the constraints,” she said. “Mr. Sweeney didn’t take a position on any particular projects, but encouraged families to make their opinions known through the link on the Cobb Schools website.”
Kreus also said that she expected a little bit more “controversy” from the crowd but the exchange was “quite respectful” and that she didn’t think anyone left the meeting feeling like their question went unanswered.
“They may not have received as much as information or the answer they wanted, but they did get some response,” she said.
Another member of the audience was Sweeney’s predecessor Dr. John Crooks, who now sits on the school district’s oversight group for SPLOST projects, the Facilities and Technology Committee.
Crooks said that while he didn’t ask any questions, he thought Sweeney did a “very good” job at hosting the meeting and facilitating answers to questions.
“He addressed a wide array of topics and he tried to be as specific as he possibly could,” he said. “I thought he did well.”
Crooks also said from his observation the biggest point of contention was from people who asked why their school isn’t getting as much as another school.
Brad Wheeler, the first-time candidate running to replace incumbent Alison Bartlett for the west-central Cobb school board seat in November, also was in attendance.
“I was invited to go to it and it doesn’t ever hurt to go learn more,” he said. “There weren’t any surprises but you get a chance to go see what other parts of the county have to say and what their concerns are.”