Cobb school board to look at ’14 budget
by Lindsay Field
January 14, 2013 11:45 PM | 3480 views | 4 4 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Cobb County School Board will get its first in-depth look at next year’s budgeting process when it comes together for its meeting Wednesday.

Brad Johnson, who replaced retired schools’ chief financial officer Mike Addison in October, said he would present the fiscal year 2014 budget forecast, describing how the budget is developed and explaining how his department studies ways to get rid of any budget gaps.

“This will help new board members understand how the budget is constructed,” he said.

Randy Scamihorn and Brad Wheeler, the board’s newest members, were elected to the chair and vice chair positions Wednesday shortly after being sworn into office. The FY14 budget will be the first time both have participated in deciding what goes into an annual budget for Cobb Schools.

Like the FY2013 budget, Johnson said the FY14 budget will be a “challenge” to balance and that Cobb Schools is looking at another deficit. That figure will not be released until Wednesday.

“We won’t be talking about the solutions yet, but we’ll get the groundwork of what the budget gap is and the challenge of balancing it,” he said Monday.

In the spring, the board approved a budget with a $62.4 million deficit.

Possible solutions to resolve the deficit for the upcoming year include reducing the number of library paraprofessionals in middle and high schools, defunding the county’s SAT prep classes, drawing $28.2 million in funds from the district’s $99 million reserves, cutting 350 teaching positions through attrition, delaying a step increase, increasing class sizes by two students on average and instituting furlough days.

The board must approve the FY14 budget no later than June 30.

During Board Business, members will also talk about member David Banks’ request to tweak two board policies — one that would set the date to elect a board chair and vice chair each year and a second that would require board members to inform the board chair, vice chair and superintendent of information requested from the district’s department heads.

Board member David Morgan is also asking Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and his staff to consider including more student achievement data in the area assistant superintendents’ evaluations.

“Every instrument should have student achievement in it,” he said.

In the fall, Morgan’s request for a more extensive evaluation tool was developed and approved for the superintendent. He would like a similar evaluation in place for area assistant superintendents.

Morgan is also asking for the district to look at giving school principals more flexibility in determining how many classified employees they hire.

“It’s a good place for principals to start to truly become CEOs of their buildings,” Morgan said.

He brought the discussion up last spring when the board was considering approval of the FY13 budget and cut library staffs.

“In the conversations that I’ve had with principals, they have expressed wanting to have more autonomy and flexibility with the staff,” Morgan said.

In other business, the board will also talk about but not consider approval of the following agenda items until its Jan. 24 meeting:

n A $5.49 million contract with Swofford Construction Inc. of Austell to do mechanical and electrical upgrades at Blackwell, Ford and Garrison Mill elementary schools. The Request for Proposal will be funded by revenues from the third special purpose local option sales tax.

The second place RFP was submitted by Triad Construction of Atlanta with a $5.96 million bid.

The services will pay for an HVAC system in the kitchen at Blackwell; an HVAC, emergency generator, fire alarm and lighting at Ford; and an HVAC, plumbing, fire alarm, lighting and electrical system upgrade at Garrison Mill.

n A $3.6 million contract with Amacher Brothers Construction of Atlanta to renovate Tapp Middle School in Powder Springs.

The project will be funded from SPLOST III funds and will pay for an HVAC system, water heaters, fire sprinklers and theater lighting.

The second place RFP was Swofford Construction with a $3.5 million bid and the third was J.E. Dunn Construction of Atlanta with a $3.8 million bid.

n A $2.6 million contract with Possibility Construction Inc. of Johns Creek to renovate Birney Elementary School in Marietta.

The project will be paid for with SPLOST III funds and will pay to replace the playground equipment, sewer system, ceiling tiles in the kitchen, classroom marker boards, outdoor canopies, HVAC, water coolers and a fire alarm system, add a fire sprinkler system and hand dryers in student restrooms and retrofit lighting.

There were eight bids in all submitted for the project. The second lowest bid was submitted by SouthCore Construction of Kennesaw for $2.7 million and the third was Merit Construction of Doraville for $2.8 million.

n Accept a little over $1 million in Georgia Department of Education Capital Outlay Project Closeout funding for completed construction projects at Sprayberry, South Cobb, North Cobb and Pope high schools.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. with public comments and will be held in the district boardroom at 514 Glover St. in Marietta.

Comments
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No kidding?
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January 15, 2013
The superintendent and board approved to give employees one day pay on the Christmas check, even though employees stated they wanted to save that money for the shortfall.$33 million dollars that could have been applied to next years shortfall. There is a huge problem with this board and administration. Teachers have been suffering for years with low pay, increased in premiums on health insurance, furlough days, extra duties, more students, and being bashed by parents and the press.Yet, we have wasted positions in the county at the top of the ladder. Get rid of the cellphones, car allowances, vacation payouts, area superintendents, and show us you are serious about respecting teachers. The teachers should be the highest paid staff members. Last I checked, the superintendent and area superintendents had nothing to do with student success or achievement. Teachers don't need any of these people to do their jobs right. You could get rid of all the central office, with exception of the payroll and benefits dept., and the schools would run just as effectively! Close the whole district down from June 30th to July 18th and save a ton of money!
Lillian Kurtis
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January 17, 2013
Amen. There are people at the county level who have never worked in a public school and are paid $100,000 to run programs that in no way need such high salaried people running them.
Just Sayin'....
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January 15, 2013
No repair issues need to be approved until it is determined which schools are being replaced....and since that will not be known until after the SPLOST vote in March, these issues should be tabled until atleast March.
Budgetguy
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January 15, 2013
There are plenty of ways to reduce variable costs, they just don't want to look at it becasue it may reduce budget lines and no one wants to take money from a Principal.
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