School board sees little progress in calendar
by Lindsay Field
October 11, 2012 01:09 AM | 3725 views | 18 18 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Despite creating a 21-member committee to narrow down their options, Cobb school board members seem to be no closer to their goal of a 2013-14 calendar than when they started.

Some members of the calendar committee, which is composed of parents, staff members and district personnel, expressed frustration with board members, who they say have already rejected the panel’s findings even though they haven’t been presented yet.

“Do you feel like the board members are going into this with an open mind?” Lisa Miller with the Jessye Coleman Council in south Cobb asked at a Wednesday committee meeting. “I know three board members who have conveyed that they don’t like the calendar.”

Cobb Schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa admitted board members had said they weren’t satisfied with the committee’s work.

“Look at me when I answer this: No,” he said. “I’m just doing what I’ve been asked to do and I’m presenting my best and I’m going to try and be as persuasive as I can.”

Hinojosa thanked them for their work, saying it was a difficult task that got “messy” and that his counterparts nationally were always surprised at how big of an issue the calendar has become in Cobb.

“Consensus decisions are messy, but they take time. … it’s democracy in action,” he said. “We’re trying to come up with the best recommendation that we can.”

During the 30-minute meeting, the committee scored their first two calendar recommendations, along with one Hinojosa was planning to present to the board.

Hinojosa’s proposal starts Aug. 7 with a break on Oct. 7 and 8.

Calendar “A,” which starts school either Aug. 1 or Aug. 4 with a week-long break in October, got the most points with 80, followed closely behind by Hinojosa’s calendar choice with a 73.

During the meeting, Abby Shiffman, a parent on the East Cobb County Council, recommended the board set a calendar at least a year out so families can prepare better for it and asked the district to consider a policy deterring the board from making changes in the middle of a calendar process.

Roughly three hours later, Hinojosa updated the school board on the committee’s process, recommendations and lack of consensus, after which each board member had an opportunity to give Hinojosa their feedback.

Lynnda Eagle asked if anyone from the committee would address the board about their recommendation, but of the five members in the audience, no one spoke up.

Board chair Scott Sweeney presented data that suggested that utility costs, attendance and student achievement weren’t affected by the school calendar, prompting Eagle to remind him that he made the calendar a platform issue when running for the school board in 2010.

“I just want to thank you for providing this information although I do find it unusual that this information was brought two years ago when you were one of the ones that wanted to change (the calendar),” Eagle said.

Sweeney responded with a “Thank you.”

David Banks presented his own calendar, which he is calling an “inverted calendar” and includes a weeklong break in both October and February.

“I’m representing my constituents,” he said, asking if the district could poll teachers or Parent-Teacher Association members to get more feedback.

No one supported his suggestion.

Tim Stultz recommended pushing back Hinojosa’s start date of Aug. 7 to Aug. 12, which would start school on the second Monday of the month like it has the last two school years, and starting the second semester on Jan. 3, 2014, so that teachers weren’t coming back for a work day the Tuesday after Memorial Day.

Alison Bartlett, who created a calendar she refers to as a “9-week calendar,” also said her proposal reflects her constituents’ wishes.

Hinojosa said he would come back in two weeks during the monthly night meeting with another agenda item, which the board will vote on.

After the meeting, Sweeney, vice chair David Morgan and Kathleen Angelucci said they didn’t know how they will vote.

“I’m obviously not going to go with the week break in October or February because that’s too many breaks, but I am looking at other options,” she said, adding that she was still interested in finding out more from the committee about what led to their recommendation to Hinojosa.

“All I heard was that they wanted breaks,” she said.
Comments
(18)
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Concerned parent.
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October 18, 2012
I believe the school calendar should be decided at state level, with ALL schools following the same calendar.
Cobb teacher
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October 13, 2012
I wish parents cared as much about overcrowded classrooms as they do about when they can take a vacation. I don't care what calendar we're on, I can't teach effectively or safely with 36 kids in a science classroom.
@all about vacations
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October 12, 2012
And kids are not going to get lazy by coming through

a system that gives them 12 to 13 consecutive weeks

off every summer? Where is the logic to that fiasco?
New Board?
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October 11, 2012
Since there will be 1 or 2 new Board members sworn in in January, why not let the new Board decide the issue? Or, will the new Board come in and reverse what the current Board does in late Oct.?
greenbug
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October 11, 2012
It's time to move on! We need to just pick a calendar already and get back to the tough stuff like lackluster SAT scores. The continued calendar discussion is pointless and counter-productive. Is there a petition I can sign to encourage the board and superintendent to MOVE ON?
one more year
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October 11, 2012
I thank the heavens above that my daughter will be a senior next year. i only have to deal with these nonsensical calendar shenanigans ONE MORE TIME!

commoner
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October 11, 2012
We need to go back to the "balanced" calendar we had two years ago. It was supposed to be a three year commitment. What is so political about this that current board members made it their platform to get elected using the East Cobb vs. West Cobb mantra and rich vs. poor. It works in Cherokee why can't it work here. From my interaction with teachers they preferred the week long breaks and still continue them by taking off. I liked the breaks since it allowed me to take my family to areas where it was not peak season. BTW Bartletts' calendar is ridiculous putting school holidays at the beginning and end of the school year. Whoever calls that compromise is silly!
All about vacations
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October 11, 2012
Really? The calendar is all about when you can afford to take a vacation? You're a great parent!

We are sittng at the bottom of the barrel because of ignorance such as yours. No other state has this issue, only ours. Other states have simply made it a law that school can not start until after Labor Day. Your children will be lazy and won't be able to keep a job because they think a vacation is needed every month. Good luck with that! I am a teacher and believe the week long breaks are disruptive. A long weekend is fine, but this business of week long breaks is absurd.
whatwaspromised
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October 11, 2012
I think the school board members are missing what caused a commotion about the calendar. We were promised and provided a 3 year calendar which they abruptly changed. Morale has suffered as a result. Now they don't want to make changes because it is an election year next year. How sad! Parents beware Politics are reigning in Cobb County.
@whatwaspromised
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October 11, 2012
Yeah, where have you been? Politics have played a part of this board for years, that is why it was ample time to get the real problems out.. Banks, Morgan, and Eagle crowder, too bad two of them are staying. I think its time for SACS to step in. Look at the dysfunction in Clayton Co. There are similarities.
EAlready
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October 11, 2012
Enough already SHUT THE H UP!!!!!!
susan lyman
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October 11, 2012
When are they up for re-election? What positive programs have they agreed upon? They all have their own agenda and it does not include the well being of our school children.
missed our chance
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October 11, 2012
Banks will be on the Nov. Ballot, but I suggest a write in, or else don't vote...maybe we need to think of impeachment. Of course the board disregards everything he proposes...he is not mentally sound.
anonymous
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October 11, 2012
Banks avoided a runoff by a mere 7 votes, far less than the 60-70% vote tally he shamelessly and incredulously expected for himself.

This means just shy of 50% did not want him.

Where are the Hanson supporters with their write-in campaign? The time to gain some momentum was yesterday and the days preceding that.

Small breaks
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October 11, 2012
Unfortunately, this board either goes far left or far right. They have no vision to compromise in the middle. Alison Bartlett's calendar is a compromise and the ONLY compromise on the table. She started mid month August, a long weekend in October, a week at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas, a long weekend in February, and out by the end of May. That would be perfect but they are all dismissing it. Why? I am a CCSD teacher and think a 3 or 4 day weekend in each October and February is a perfect solution. I am total embarrassed that we have to discuss this every year. MOVE ON! They have much bigger issues, such as our $100 per month increase in insurance benefits and shortages next year.
I like Small Breaks
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October 12, 2012
I am also a CCSD teacher and I am so sick of the calendar issue. For heavens sake, enough already. Make a decision and still to it. I, personally, do not care what calendar we have. I do like the long weekend in October and again in February idea, though. And the week for Thanksgiving is good too, because students will not come to school on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week anyway.
the committee
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October 11, 2012
recommendations all included fall and winter breaks; apparently those board members who says things like "I'm obviously not going with the week break because that's too many breaks" just ARE NOT listening yet. Amazing!!!!!!!
Ed B.
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October 11, 2012
As the Canadians might say, this whole calendar situation is a dog's breakfast.

Let us decide on one, and stick with it.
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