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.”