Members of Cobb School Board favor guns for school staff
by Geoff Folsom
February 04, 2013 12:45 AM | 5431 views | 11 11 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
School Board Chair Randy Scamihorn speaks at the monthly Cobb GOP breakfast on Saturday about ways to improve student safety in Cobb Schools.<br>Staff/Todd Hull
School Board Chair Randy Scamihorn speaks at the monthly Cobb GOP breakfast on Saturday about ways to improve student safety in Cobb Schools.
Staff/Todd Hull
The first question for Cobb School Board members at Saturday’s Republican breakfast was a hot one: Should a principal or other staff member in plain clothes be armed with a gun in schools?

Post 2 board member Tim Stultz said there is already a bill in the General Assembly that would allow for armed staff inside schools.

“As a very staunch Second Amendment advocate, I think it is within the best interest of our schools to have somebody carry a weapon to help protect our children,” he said to applause from the audience of 100 people.

Post 4 board member Kathleen Angelucci said the Cobb School District already has safety resource officers at all its high schools and middle schools, who also spend some time at elementary schools.

“It would be wonderful to have one at every school, financially that is something we can’t support right now,” she said.

Post 6’s Scott Sweeney said he also supports the idea of plain-clothes, armed school staff, but said it shouldn’t necessarily be the principal, which some have suggested, because the principal is often taking care of off-campus business.

“I’d actually favor allowing schools the flexibility of deciding whether or not they want to make that happen,” he said. “It has to be done very prudently.”

Though he was on the panel at the Cobb GOP event, Post 3 board member David Morgan, the board’s lone Democrat, didn’t address the guns issue during the discussion. After the meeting, he said he has questions about allowing one armed person in a large school.

“It’s just one person with a weapon, and they would only be in one place,” he said. “I just don’t know if that makes our children safer.”

When he did address the meeting, it was Morgan who earned the largest applause of the morning from the partisan crowd. Morgan, who Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy pointed out was the only one wearing Republican red, said that the best way to handle budget issues in school is to make the pay structure more efficient than the one that currently rewards teachers for the years they have taught and what they are certified to teach.

“Teachers, principals, human capital should be paid based upon how they perform,” Morgan said. “Until we systemically and structurally deal with that, and the reason it’s not dealt with, let me be honest, is politically it’s radioactive, but at the end of the day it’s about how well you deliver a job to the public and that’s what taxpayers deserve.”

Facing an $80 million budget shortfall for the upcoming year, Sweeney said that another problem that could face the district is teachers leaving for the private sector after years of furloughs and no pay raises. That could mean a shortage of teachers.

“There is nothing on the horizon that is going to indicate this is going to get better for them,” he said.

Sweeney defended the school district’s upcoming SPLOST 1 percent sales tax vote, saying projects like new concession stands at football stadiums were needed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. He also said that having the referendum in March, as opposed to when other races would be on the ballot in November; will cost taxpayers an estimated $20,000 more, which he expects to recoup in saved construction costs by starting earlier. He said the district could begin construction on some projects in summer 2014 with a March vote, but would have to wait until 2015 if approved in December.

J.D. Van Brink, chairman of the Georgia Tea Party, said that saving money isn’t the only reason to have the election in November.

“I do know that if we have it in November and more people are participating in voting, there will be more incentive for the (SPLOST project list) to reflect true needs, rather than needs and wants,” he said.
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Tax Referendum
February 04, 2013
I lived and taught in Illinois where property taxes are high. Anytime dollars were needed to do building improvements, it had to go before the voters in the form of a tax referendum to increase property taxes. While the voters generally voted the issue through, their taxes are remarkably higher than here in Cobb County (and this was Central Illinois - NOT a Chicago suburb) I LOVE having the SPLOST. The burden of these items for the school is NOT totally on the shoulders of the property tax payers but everyone who purchases items in Cobb County. Our school facilities are able to remain adequate and our technology needs for our students remain adequate also thanks to SPLOST. I agree - there have been some things that may seem more a "want" vs a "need". But I see many more NEEDS on the SPLOST list vs WANTS.
Already losing
February 04, 2013
The county has already lost over 1500 with teachers retiring, retiring early and teachers at the 5- 7 year mark leaving. 50% of teachers leave in the first 5 years which costs the county millions in training. There are no incentives to stay when the public are beating teachers up left and right, class sizes are increasing, benefit premiums are rising, etc. The county continues to state they have cut to the bare minimum but they have not. Get rid of area superintendents, their secretaries, and cut the cabinet down. Close the whole district three weeks in the summer months. Stop vacation accrual for principals and have their vacation for the three weeks in the summer, at Thanksgiving, Spring break, and Christmas break. There is no need for furlough days if you truly cut all the unneeded positions in the county at central office. Why did they give employees a furlough day back with the extra 33 million instead of saving that money?
February 05, 2013
Also cut the target or gifted programs, these do nothing but create a feeling that some are more gifted than others, there is nothing substantial about this program other than glorified field trips, and extra work on an elementary school level. The teachers aspire to these jobs because it is less work for them. Look at all the payroll and expenses that could be saved if we diss this program. It is a waste.
performance pay no
February 04, 2013
Paying teachers by performance will result in teachers not wanting to teach in the south end of the county - everyone will want to teach at school's like Walton & Pope. Yes teacher's are responsible for the student performance to a certain extend. People forget that parents and students play a part of student performance. One of my best friends is a HS teacher in the south end of the county and the kids will admit to not reading assignments, studying for tests, turningin work ect. Sometimes it is because these kids have to work to help out the family or have to watch younger siblings and sometimes it is just plain apathy sprinkled with a sense of entitlement. So if you base it on performance what is the incentive to teach at Osborne, South Cobb, Pebblebrook when you know you probably won't be as successful as you would in the East Cobb schools? Teachers in the south end also deal with thing the good old East Cobb teachers dont such as transient students, high numbers of ESL, being title 1 ect...
rick z
February 05, 2013
You can get around that problem by making improvement, rather than just raw scores, part of the definition of performance.
In Addition
February 05, 2013
We need to remember we are in the business of teaching children. We are not working with just a can of beans. We are working with human beings with so many different variables. If it was so easy to measure performance schools would have did it a long time ago. We deal with PEOPLE and that in itself is such a hard factor to deal with. There is already no incentive to teach at-risk kids. Those with a passion for it are getting turned off quickly. Shoot, ask David Morgan. He didn't even last an entire school year at Lindley MS.
Just Wait
February 04, 2013
Before you start requiring administrators and teachers to start strapping on firearms, you better think of the liability the tax payers will strap on. Not only do they need to learn how to properly fire a gun, they need study on gun laws, when to shoot, when not to shoot and what happens if you miss. They also need to learn physical skills in retaining that gun when some "thug" student tries to take it away from them. Believe me, it will happen. What will be the cost when a principal is disarmed by a student who then shoots the principal and other students? There's a lot more to this than just giving them a gun.
Skeptical in Cobb
February 04, 2013
Most of us can agree that there are teachers who should be doing something else and replaced with those that have the qualities needed to get the best from students. However, enacting procedures that will make the educational environment as a whole far less attractive for the teachers that are proficient is ill-advised at best. Unfortunately we vote people into political office who are the LEAST qualified (e.g. Morgan, Angelucci, Stultz) to make reccommendations on procedures to determine which teachers are effective and what to do with those that need help or expulsion. Setting up an unfair system that puts our good teachers in no-win situations, caught between uninitiated, personal-agenda driven politicians, administrative bureaucrats trying to justify their jobs and uninvolved parents is only going to cause more defections and fewer new teachers willing to take a chance on a profession that is garnering less respect as time goes on.

The evaluation process for teachers is already so arbitrary that many don't consider them valid anymore. Add to that the BOE witch hunt principals went on to reduce staff a couple of years back and you have a recipe for low moral and higher job stress for all teachers, not just the ineffective ones. Adding bureaucratic minutae with more paperwork, student evaluations (just to get ready for testing), meetings and curriculum changes that many feel are ill-advised and a waste of time serves only to make a bad situation worse. It's hard for teachers to do what's necessary to be considered "exemplary" when so much of their time is taken up with bureaucratic busy work. Oh wait, let's also freeze raises, reduce pay and add furlough days to put icing on the proverbial cake.

The push to base teacher's pay on some flawed evaluation system is going to have far reaching consequences and many won't be good. Yes you will be able to weed out a few ineffective teachers, but changing the overall work environment for teachers by adding even more stress with an unfair system and a growing lack of respect for the profession will not only have a dramatic effect on the teachers, but the students as well.
February 04, 2013
This is the way they pass SPLOST,put the vote out in March, when few people go to the polls. Incite the people who don't have great facilities that it is "their turn to benefit" and hope that they drive the vote to a "yes". People need to wake up, we don't need more "wants" in the district. How many more million dollar theatres, are needed? Why build a career academy when we have empty buildings? It is a shame that more people aren't outraged at the manipulation of the public when it comes to splost!
Private sector gal
February 04, 2013
Sweeney can't really believe the private sector will take that many of our teachers. First of all, there aren't that many private schools, but just look at the economy. Teachers will tough this out and be better off as govt employees, and he knows it.

He's just already campaigning for the passage of SPLOST.

Hey, are board members supposed to campaign for SPLOST?
Note To Sweeney
February 04, 2013
Scott...with all due respect...there will be no cost savings resulting from an early vote on SPLOST, because SPLOST, in it's present form will be voted down. Somewhere along the way you forgot about why people voted for you in the first place.
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