Parents, community members and business owners packed the Cobb Board of Education meeting on Thursday, urging the board to pick their schools to be rebuilt.
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa presented board members with a list of six options, which included 11 schools that will be in the running to be rebuilt or consolidated within the next two to three years.
The six options are:
- Argyle Elementary to be rebuilt;
- Belmont Hills/LaBelle Elementary to be consolidated and rebuilt;
- Brumby Elementary to be rebuilt;
- Clay/Harmony Leland/Riverside Intermediate/Riverside Primary to be consolidated and rebuilt;
- Mountain View to be rebuilt;
- Powers Ferry/Eastvalley Elementary to be consolidated and rebuilt.
All six options would require the schools to relocate.
If all goes as planned, board Chairman Randy Scamihorn says he hopes the board will select the two options to be paid for with special purpose local option sales tax dollars by its December 11 meeting.
Twenty-four students and parents spoke before the board, and reiterated their desires for new school buildings, listing mold growth, crammed classrooms, traffic and safety issues as reasons to have their school rebuilt.
Jordan Tisdale, a fourth-grader at Mountain View Elementary, stood on a pink stepstool, and said, “I love my school. The teachers are awesome … but why isn’t anybody fixing anything?”
Tisdale spoke of the school’s flooding and leaking problems.
Amoni Witcher, a parent and the PTA president at Brumby Elementary, told board members, “I need your help to make Brumby a better place.”
Board members listened patiently, and after public comment ended, Scamihorn said, “We hear you. We know you are out there. We want your participation. I’m available.”
Scamihorn urged parents to contact him and other board members as the process to pick two schools progressed.
There are 67 elementary schools in the county, and the schools on the list were selected because they met certain criteria, said Chris Ragsdale, deputy superintendent of operational support.
The criteria included the number of portable classrooms at the schools, the last construction the schools underwent, whether or not land would need to be purchased to build a new school, the current enrollment and the school’s capacity and the total amount of SPLOST I, II and III funds previously spent on the school, Ragsdale said.
Banks’ tax proposal rejected
In other business, board member David Banks reintroduced a revised draft of his letter he hoped to send to the Georgia School Boards Association, signifying the board’s support of his new tax initiative.
The board shut down his proposal in a 4-3 vote, with members David Morgan, Scamihorn, Tim Stultz and Kathleen Angelucci opposed. Banks, Scott Sweeney and Brad Wheeler were in favor of the initiative.
The initiative, called a Local Education Sales Tax, is an attempt to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow counties to tax themselves to raise funds for school improvements. The proposed tax is similar to a SPLOST.
When Banks introduced his idea at the last meeting Oct. 9, the board was split on its support, with members Angelucci and Stultz strongly opposing the idea, and Sweeney, Wheeler and Banks supporting the measure.
Hinojosa supported the tax idea at the last meeting, and said he thought it was a creative way to raise more money for schools.
The GSBA will not take a stance on the issue until it receives a document certifying the school board’s approval, Banks said.
Pleased with board attorney
The board also unanimously took a “vote of affirmation” to continue its legal services with Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun and Rogers, LLC.
The district pays $75,409.10 each month to the Marietta-based law firm, which has represented the district since 1989.
At the last board meeting, Angelucci asked the board to discuss it options to bid out the district’s legal services, only to be dismissed by other board members, who did not see the need to bid out what they said was a great business relationship with the firm. The board has never placed its legal services out for bid, according to the district.