MARIETTA — After three committee meetings in August and numerous conversations with the school district staff and community members, the Cobb County school board approved Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s calendar recommendationfor the 2013-14 school year.
The board also gave Hinojosa the green light to apply for a $20 million Race to the Top grant.
Hinojosa’s calendar recommendation, which included an amendment outlining when furlough days would be used, was approved 4-2, with members David Banks and Lynnda Eagle opposed.
The superintendent’s one-year calendar starts the school year on Aug. 7, 2013, and ends it on May 21, 2014. It includes a two-day break Oct. 7-8, 2013, a weeklong break for Thanksgiving, a two-week break for the winter holidays, a Jan. 20, 2014, holiday and a weeklong spring break the first week of April 2014.
“I don’t really care what calendar we have,” Hinojosa said when explaining his rationale behind the recommendation. “My idea was trying to get these very divergent thoughts, which people are very passionate and emotional about, and try to get back to you the board.
“There is not going to be a unanimous support for anything that anyone recommends. … I just ask you to decide so that we can move on.”
Alison Bartlett, who represents west-central Cobb, made the motion that the board approve his calendar with an amendment to use any furlough days proposed in the future during the October break or to push the school start date even further back.
Her amendment was approved 4-2, with Eagle and Banks opposed.
Bartlett said that whatever calendar was approved by the board Thursday night, she would be in full support of and would not try to change if re-elected in November.
Banks, who represents northeast Cobb, made a motion to modify Hinojosa’s suggestion to include weeklong breaks in September and February, but that was voted down 1-4, with Bartlett, Kathleen Angelucci, Tim Stultz and Board chair Scott Sweeney opposed and Eagle abstaining.
At the close of the hour-long discussion, Eagle made a brief statement about why she opposed Bartlett’s amendment and motion.
“I really wanted to be a team player, and I was prepared to vote for the superintendent’s calendar, but I feel like with all of those amendments and all of those changes, I could not do that,” she said.
A handful of Cobb Schools parents, all of whom served on the 21-member calendar committee, addressed the board during public comments at the start of the board meeting.
Lisa Miller, who was appointed by the Jessye Coleman Council in south Cobb, said “frequent breaks” were the group’s priority.
“Mr. Hinojosa disregarded the important factors in our calendar in which we presented to him, which were the breaks,” she said. “The committee did not come to a conclusion that a day was a break, and I do not feel that his calendar was a compromise.”
Rob Stanek, a member of the same Parent-Teacher Association, echoed Miller’s statements.
“I’m pretty frustrated with the end result (of the committee) because my understanding of what Dr. Hinojosa has proposed to you guys is not what the calendar committee actually consented to do,” he said. “I don’t consider a single day in the fall and a single day in the winter to actually be a break. That kind of really violated the priorities of the committee.”
He said the weeklong breaks were at the request of teachers, which in turn create “happy parents” and “happy students.”
However, Sarah Regitz, who was appointed to the committee by the East Cobb Council, said she didn’t have a problem with Hinojosa’s recommendation.
“Had the committee been able to develop a year-long calendar, I believe it would have looked much like the superintendent’s proposal,” she said. “Approval by the majority on the calendar is something I think we should look at in moving forward.”
In other business, the board approved Hinojosa’s recommendation to submit a Race to the Top grant application to the U.S. Department of Education, which is due by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
It passed 4-2 with Bartlett and Angelucci opposed. Both have previously said they are uncomfortable with any federal mandates that might be required by the grant and sustaining any implemented programs after the four years of funding runs out.
If Cobb wins the grant, which Chief Academic Officer Dr. Judi Jones is calling R.E.A.C.H., for rigor, excellence, attitude, challenge and hope, the money would be used at Griffin, Floyd, Lindley Sixth Grade and Lindley middle schools.
It would pay for professional development for teachers and administrators as well as for projects to improve students’ transitions into and out of middle school. The school day could also be restructured and individual graduation plans developed.
Cobb is competing against 222 other districts in their category and 900 overall for a portion of the $400 million grant, which is expected to be awarded to up to 25 districts, which will be notified by Dec. 31.
Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Hinojosa calendar approved