Cobb school board eyes smaller cost for math resources
by Lindsay Field
July 23, 2013 12:12 AM | 4575 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cobb County School Board will consider approving a smaller price tag — $2.9 million — to buy math resources for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. 

It voted down a $7.5 million recommendation in April after several board members voiced concerns over the materials being under the guidelines of the Common Core Standards.

The board will also decide whether it wants to approve nearly $2.5 million in architectural contracts to design the $40-million rebuild of Walton High School and nearly $20 million in facility additions at Wheeler High School, which are both located in east Cobb.

The board’s July meeting, set for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., is a rare combined work session and voting meeting.

And because the agenda is so lengthy, Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn said he’s asked board attorney Clem Doyle to review Robert’s Rules so the group knows what to do if board members ask to delay action on any agenda item.

“I would support something like (a tabling or postponement) because I want the board members to feel comfortable about their votes,” he said Monday afternoon.

Board to consider purchasing math resource again

In April, the board voted 4-3 to deny the $7.5 million purchase of new math books, teaching guides and online resources, mostly because board members were concerned about the link between the materials and the controversial Common Core Standards.

The standards have come under heavy fire in recent months from tea party groups and other conservatives who say the standards amount to a “one-size-fits-all” federal intrusion into local decision-making.

Some have also worried that student data under the program could be sold to private companies or used by the government without the students’ or their parents’ permission.

Cobb School Board Member David Banks, who was one of three that voted for the original purchase, has now requested the item come back up for another vote.

“As I said back in April when we discussed this and voted for it, we need textbooks in the classrooms,” he said.

Board Chair Randy Scamihorn, who represents northwest Cobb and voted against the first recommendation, said Monday that he supports Banks’ request.

“It’s a revised alternate proposal,” he said. “As board chair, I’m unsure but believe it will be our last attempt to lend resource support so I’m hopeful that it will pass.”

Amy Krause, the district’s chief academic officer, said this purchase is different than the last in that the $2.9 million price tag will afford digital and online materials for teachers and parents, mostly for middle and high schools, textbooks for advanced courses and teacher materials for elementary schools.

“We are grateful the board is considering this and appreciative of the teachers and administrators who have provided additional input,” Krause said.

Walton and Wheeler design contracts

A $40 million rebuild of Walton High and the $19 million addition of a theater and gym at Wheeler High, both located in east Cobb, were approved by voters countywide in March when they OK’d the implementation of a fourth SPLOST initiative.

The board will consider approving separate architectural and engineering contracts for each high school’s construction design on Wednesday.

SPLOST IV sales tax, which the county won’t begin collecting until Jan. 1, 2014, will pay for these two contracts.

Chris Ragsdale, Cobb’s deputy superintendent of maintenance and operations, said he is asking for the go-ahead on the hiring of architects for these two projects because they are among the first construction projects that will be considered for approval in January.

“We need to get the architect hired so that we can get the design work done so that the bid package can be ready to go out as soon as the SPLOST IV window opens,” he said.

Ragsdale is recommending the board approve a $1.4 million contract with Chapman Griffin Lanier Sussenbach Architects Inc. to design Walton’s replacement facility. It includes a new classroom building, gym and an arts and theater facility.

The Atlanta firm is now wrapping up construction of Marietta High School’s $8.5 million, 750-seat auditorium. It was one of 12 companies that submitted a bid for the project.

The board will also consider an $855,277 contract with Croft and Associates Architects of Kennesaw to design a new gym and theater for Wheeler.

Ragsdale said the design for the Wheeler architect was not put out for bid because of the project’s smaller size.

This is based on a district policy that gives it the option to select an architect or engineer when the project is less than 80,000 square feet in size.

Construction of Wheeler’s new $21 million, two-story classroom building, which was built in front of the 49-year-old original building, is also finishing up right now and classes will begin there when school starts back on Aug. 7.

Scott Sweeney, east Cobb’s board member who represents Wheeler and Walton, said there has been excitement in his community about the ball starting to roll on both of these projects.

“The improvements at both schools are anticipated and needed,” he said.

Walton, which had 2,600 students enrolled last school year, is approximately 300 students over capacity.

Along the same lines as SPLOST IV, the board will consider approving the reimbursement of $277,596 to the Cobb County Board of Commissioners to conduct the special election on March 19.

It will be paid for out of the district’s general fund.

Board may spend more than half million on police cars

The board will also consider a $530,000 contract with Hardy Chevrolet Inc. of Dallas and Akin Ford Corp. of Winder to purchase 17 marked police cars for the school district’s 38 campus officers. SPLOST III is funding the purchase.

The board will consider a $3.2 million adjustment to the fiscal 2014 budget.

The board approved a budget in May with no growth in the property tax digest but according to the Cobb Tax Commissioner’s Office, there was a 1.28 percent net decline, or $5 million loss, in the digest between property and car tag tax collections.

In addition to these changes, the increased enrollment at Kennesaw Charter School and International Academy of Smyrna will reduce the district’s budget by $1.2 million.

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