Mayor rips Cobb BoE: ‘We’re getting shortchanged in Smyrna,’ Bacon says
by Jon Gillooly
July 11, 2014 04:00 AM | 17063 views | 65 65 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon addresses the crowd at the annual State of the City address Thursday at the Smyrna Business Association monthly luncheon at the Smyrna Community Center. Standing before a packed room, which included 11th Congressional District hopeful Bob Barr, Bacon expressed his dismay with the Cobb Board of Education, and said the most important vote residents could make July 22 is in the Republican runoff between Cobb school board member Tim Stultz and challenger Susan Thayer. <br> Staff/Jeff Stanton
Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon addresses the crowd at the annual State of the City address Thursday at the Smyrna Business Association monthly luncheon at the Smyrna Community Center. Standing before a packed room, which included 11th Congressional District hopeful Bob Barr, Bacon expressed his dismay with the Cobb Board of Education, and said the most important vote residents could make July 22 is in the Republican runoff between Cobb school board member Tim Stultz and challenger Susan Thayer.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
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SMYRNA — Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon expressed his dismay with the Cobb Board of Education during his State of the City address on Thursday.

Standing before a packed room in the Smyrna Community Center, which included 11th Congressional District hopeful Bob Barr, Bacon said the most important vote residents could make July 22 is in the Republican runoff between Cobb school board member Tim Stultz and challenger Susan Thayer.

“All I will say to you is this: If you’re happy with the way things are going — and, by the way, that’s one position I would never run for, school board, because I don’t know how to figure it out, but that is very important to us in south Cobb County because it is my belief that every child in this county, wherever you live, whether it’s in the affluent areas of east Cobb and west Cobb as well as maybe the more deprived areas of south Cobb, they should have the same ability and opportunity to get the same education, and guess what? That ain’t happening in Cobb County and sometimes you have to jump up and down and hold your breath ... in order to get their attention.”

Bacon asked if there were any Cobb school board members present. As the audience remained silent, he let out a sigh.

Smyrna City Councilman Ron Fennel pointed to Thayer, who was seated at a nearby table, saying, “Help’s on the way.”

As the crowd turned to look at Thayer, who had previously introduced herself as the frontrunner in the race, Bacon said, “Let me repeat the question. Is anybody here from the school board?”

No one answered.

The MDJ followed up with Bacon about his comments after his talk.

“All you’ve got to do is just drive around to the different schools and it’s about how they look,” Bacon said. “It’s just a fact. You go from east Cobb to west Cobb, and you can tell once you have crossed the line when you get to south Cobb.”

By “south Cobb,” Bacon said he means such high schools as Osborne, Pebblebrook and Campbell.

“They just don’t have the same facilities, they don’t have the same opportunities, and that’s a shame that (the school board) can get up there and say ‘what a great school system we have,’ and we do have a great school system, I’m not knocking that, but I’m just saying I don’t think there’s the same opportunities for kids to play on the same playing field. There’s no question about it. If you think for a second that the children in south Cobb County get the same opportunities as those in east Cobb and west Cobb then you’re in denial, because it’s just not the same.”

This is why, the mayor said, he made the point that the most important vote anyone in Smyrna can make July 22 is the one for the Post 2 school board seat.

“If you’re happy with the way the schools are in south Cobb, then you should support who the incumbent is,” Bacon said.

Bacon said while Cobb school board members portrayed themselves as capable on camera, they failed to address the equity problem off screen.

“You see them on TV all the time, and they sound good, they sound well educated, but the bottom line is there’s still problems in the south Cobb portion of this county, and until somebody steps up and says ‘here’s what we need to do, then it will just be business as usual,” he said.

Bacon said he was encouraged by the recent actions of interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and his hiring of Grant Rivera, a former Campbell High School principal, to his executive cabinet.

Bacon also said school board members were under no obligation to attend his city address, but that wouldn’t keep him quiet about his disappointment.

“If they think that by nobody coming I’m going to keep my mouth shut, that ain’t going to happen because I’ve just about had it with as good a school system as we have and the money we spend going toward education, and we’re getting shortchanged in Smyrna, Georgia,” he said.

Bacon said Campbell High School was in such a state of disrepair he took Stultz and area assistant superintendent Dale Gaddis on a tour to visit it. When that didn’t accomplish anything, Bacon said, “Finally I just sent them a note: ‘I haven’t heard back from anybody. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.’”

A few weeks later the school did receive funding for some paint, Bacon said.

“I think the problem is on the school board you’ve got Tim Stultz, I don’t know who else represents this district, but they’re up there, and it’s all about east Cobb, it’s all about Walton, and I don’t have any problem with that, I’m not knocking any of those communities, I’m just saying give me the same that you have in east Cobb and west Cobb, and give me the same thing in Smyrna,” Bacon said.

He called the baseball field at Campbell High School, named after Coach Joe Lattanzi, an embarrassment.

“There have been times when I was embarrassed to even have his name on that field because he was such a great person and impacted so many kids’ lives and the way that it looks,” Bacon said.

As for Stultz, Bacon said, “I’ve tried to get Tim to help out on some situations and I’m very frustrated. It ought not be this way for us to even get to the minimum standards that the schools ought to have.”

The argument board members tell him, Bacon said, is they don’t have enough money.

“The city gives back so much to the schools because we’re proud of them,” Bacon said. “We’re trying the best we can do to make our schools the best, but it is a struggle. It is a struggle every single day. It’s not fair.”

Bacon said his hopes are on Ragsdale and Rivera making major changes.

“I don’t want anything more than what the Walton schools get, the Lassiters, the Popes, all those east Cobb schools get, I don’t want any more than they get, but we are so far behind,” Bacon said. “Every child should have the same opportunities whether they live off Six Flags or off Johnson Ferry Road, they ought to have the same opportunities to have the same quality education that every child has in this county.”

On Thursday evening, Cobb school board Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci sent Bacon an email, copying Vice Chairman Randy Scamihorn, Ragsdale, Stultz and the MDJ on her message.

In her email, Angelucci told Bacon she “was very disappointed to hear about your negative comments concerning Tim Stultz today, who by the way, is your BOE representative — as an elected official and the Mayor of Smyrna, I would have expected you to be more respectful, at least publicly. Perhaps you will have the good grace to apologize to Mr. Stultz in the same public manner in which you besmirched him ... one can only hope.”

Comments
(65)
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Disappointed Parent
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July 17, 2014
We live in the Norton Park Elementary School zone and have a child about to start kindergarten. In 2014, Norton Park Elementary School ranked worse than 81.8% of elementary schools in Georgia. We cannot in good conscience send our child to this school. The facilities are desperately in need of renovation. We love our home, but sadly, if we cannot find a better alternative than Norton Park Elementary we may be forced to move.
tyler durden
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July 17, 2014
why doesn't the MDJ cover the Sam Olens scandal?

hmmmm I wonder
Smyrna Mom
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July 12, 2014
Mr. East Cobb,

Yes that is called diversity!! Many of us love Smyrna, because it represents real-world. Just because we do are choose to raise our kids in a "bubble" does not mean they do not deserve the same education!! Besides Mr. Bacon clearly states he wants to take nothing from you just a level playing field.
East Cobb
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July 13, 2014
Yeah, but it's a nice bubble.
East Cobb
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July 11, 2014
I live off Johnson's Ferry, and I am always amazed at how east cobb is the root of so many problems in the CCSS. Want to know why walton's fields are in good shape? We pay to make sure they are in good shape. For decades, the city of smyrna approved apartment complex after apartment complex, duplex after duplex and strip mall after strip mall. Now, they are surprised that theses places have turned into low income housing after all these years, thus brining down the schools. That city of smyrna can blame itself, not Shultz.
mom comment
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July 12, 2014
It was not Smyrna approving all these Apartments and strip shopping centers. No they are all in unincorporated Cobb County. That is right the Vinings and Cumberland area is unincorporated Cobb that feeds into CampbellComplex . Who was about to approve another Apartment with a big tax credit to the biggest developer of all. Then he stomped his feet when he didn't get his way at the hearing. It was in the Cumberland Area. We need two more cities, Vinings and Cumberland. Each City needs their own school District.

We need to change the constitution so we can all have a chance at top performing local school districts like Marietta has.
East Cobb
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July 11, 2014
Better schools and better facilities are the result of a LOT of parent involvement and fundraising. Applauding a fool who thinks South / Central Cobb is being shortchanged will get you nothing.

bird35
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July 11, 2014
The sports fields are paid for and maintained by the parents not Cobb County School District. The West and East Cobb schools have nice baseball fields because the parents of the players either help maintain the field or pay to have the fields maintained. Sounds like the South Cobb parents need to have a few field workdays.
Smyrna Patriot
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July 11, 2014
Interesting read. I like the article and maybe the mayor is genuine, but lack of funds is not the problem for south Cobb/Smyrna schools. Check around folks, find out which council members send their kids to Smyrna/Cobb public schools. Some have already decided they do not want their kids to attend Cobb public schools. Oh, and wasn't Thayer part of the education bureaucracy previously? I believe she was. Status quo likes status quo. Home schooling, charter schools, private schools, vouchers to let children go to any school regardless of their zip code. Take the government monopoly away from schooling and watch what happens. But status quo and teachers unions don't like that idea. Take the federal government out of schooling. The U.S. Dept. of Education did not exist until the late 70s (I believe). Lots of problems affecting education...social fabric, courts, parenting, it is a long list.
Bacon Boo Boo
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July 11, 2014
Mr. Mayor, it is quite funny that your use of the word "ain't" came in a diatribe against the school board. If you would like to endorse Thayer for the post then do so, but do not use this as another one of your soapbox rants.

YES, the schools in your area have issues. No one disagrees with this statement. However, even if the county threw another 500 million your way, the schools in your area would still have issues. Until you rally more parents to get behind your individual schools things are not going to change.

Ms. Cash could not change that, Mr. Stultz can not change that, and Ms. Thayer would not be able to change that. It will take the community to change that...and quite frankly that is not happening in many of your schools. By his own admission, Mayor Bacon can't figure it out.

Here's an idea....form a Smyrna School District, secede from Cobb County School District and see if you can do any better.

Post 2 Dad
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July 11, 2014
Nobody likes to hear the truth, do they? That's why Stultz has to go. He won't even send his own kids to Cobb Schools. Time for some new cheese.
Rusty Ruus
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July 11, 2014
Kathleen Angelucci had to hear about Mayor Bacon's comments 2nd hand because she (nor any of the other BoE members), couldn't be bothered to attend the meeting. Therefore she shouldn't chime in. I am endlessly proud of the way Mayor Bacon has continually stepped up for the little guys in our community. It is very par-for-the-course that Ms. Angelucci would choose to denigrate Mayor Bacon & his concerns rather than stand by him and try to achieve equality for the children of Cobb County.

She should probably be run out of town on a rail, as well... I wonder where her children are educated? It definitely affects her credibility regarding this matter.
Watcher...
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July 11, 2014
We're all Members of Smyrna's City Council in attendance?

I believe that the correct answer is NO! I believe that it's correct to say that only three of the seven Council Members showed up.
Yet Again
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July 11, 2014
Why don't you look directly at Principal Magee for the condition of the fields and school at Campbell. Just as she did with the football coach, a few years ago she got rid of the baseball coach. Having graduated from Campbell and having kids go through the baseball program I can tell you first hand that this coach worked tirelessly to raise money and maintain the fields. Almost entirely by himself. Parents who weren't happy with a 45% win/loss ratio complained, got the coach removed and have had to deal with 2 wins last year and I think 4 wins this year. The condition of the facilities and the team reflect the great job Magee did in bringing in a new coach. The football program will likely follow along the same path. You reap what you sow Campbell. Parents who don't work for the programs or even show up for events can't hope to compete with the private funds and hard work of the parents at schools in other parts of the county.
Baseball parent
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July 12, 2014
Actually that baseball coach that got fired had no where near a 45% win ratio. In his tenure they never won more than two region games. And in 3 of his years they were mercy ruled in over 3/4 of the games. The team the last two years while not having the wins they wanted played better than in recent memory, the product on the field was a solid one. Also bringing a renewed since of discipline to the program. Also the previous coach had let the field get in to such bad shape the Perfect Game organization was not going to use the field. The new coach committed large amounts of the budget to improve the playing surface. Unfortunately we lost this new coach who came to us with the football coach that was fired. Mayor Bacon when referring to the facilities talks about the falling apart buildings and stands. Which he could do something about because the city owns Ward Park.
Yet Again
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July 13, 2014
Baseball Parent needs to get the facts straight. The field was impeccable condition when the prior coach left. He was replaced before perfect game that last year. No one to take care of the fields and work 16 hour days at Perfect Game is what hurt. Try going with the facts from those of us who have been involved with this program for more than a dozen years.A large part of the problem is parent fantasy with the level of ability at this school. Most of your players wouldn't make the first day of cuts at the schools in other parts of the county. Harsh but true. Just because they were on the team doesn't mean they can play at this level. Of course this year should be better with the new "subregion" created for teams that couldn't compete in their real regions. Get out there and work and give the money like parents do in the rest of the county. And that means real effort not once a season.Other parents across the county work and still make time to meet the obligations to work for the team and school. It's a requirement if they want to play.
South Cobb Parent
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July 11, 2014
Bacon is right on the money - Stultz has been a terrible board representative. Angelucci is again way off the mark defending her gang. A step in the right direction is to get out and VOTE for Thayer on July 22nd.
Watcher...
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July 11, 2014
Is Mayor Max Smyrna's answer to Harry Reid?
@watchingwatcher
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July 11, 2014
Are you the MDJ's answer to Fox News? Who's watching the watcher?
watcher...
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July 11, 2014
Bacon has a very, very short memory.

CCSD just built a NEW Elementary School in Smyrna and has initiated an $ 18,000,000

addition/renovation of Teasley Elementary.



True Ture
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July 11, 2014
Yes, Watcher, you are correct. Those two projects have been completed recently, and they are greatly appreciated. But, remember that Teasley has been over-populated for years, multiple schools closed as the new elementary school opened (which will be a net savings over time), and the enrollment projections are higher for this area than just about any other. So, these improvements at the elementary level are fantastic, but this needs to trickle up hill to the middle and high schools so we can appropriately house the high number of students at those levels. Did you know Campbell doesn't have a gym that can hold it's whole student body? Talk about an impediment to school spirit and logistical operations!
Say what
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July 11, 2014
Meanwhile the high school is embarrassingly falling apart. Community has offered help but the principal seems to have it covered.
Another Perspective
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July 13, 2014
It is apparent that many of the schools on this side of the county are older. What has been forgotten is the years that other schools in the rest of the county have been in trailers. It's a fact of growth. Also, I don't know that there are any or too many gyms in the county that can hold the entire student body.

This part of the county has often gotten new technology that the rest of the county has had to wait years to get. So while facilities could be improved I don't think that is as unfair as many believe. We tend to only look at our own situation and believe others have it better.

Mr. King
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July 11, 2014
Another Voice for Change

These comments cast a brighter light on the state of our schools in South Cobb. The habitual treatment of students attending schools in this section of Cobb should be an embarrassment to the Board of Education.

Factionalism, mis-placed politics, refusal to respond to change, and in some instances just plain ineptness now have a new voice for change and responsible leadership in the person of Mayor Bacon.

For too long the board has hidden behind the budget, socio-economic issues, and transiency for low test scores, low graduation rates, and unsafe and over crowded school buildings. these excuses can no longer carry the day.
Full Disclosure
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July 11, 2014
Ask Ms. Thayer about Ron Galloway . . .
Catherine Welch
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July 11, 2014
Way to go Mr. Mayor!!
Elaine Isley
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July 11, 2014
First let me say that I am a South Cobb county resident and have been my entire life, I graduated from Campbell High School and will have a freshman and senior at CHS this fall. While I am proud of my local schools we definitely have some issues and I hope a change to our school board will help. I agree with everything said in the above article. I have spent the last three weeks attending Perfect Game baseball games at other Cobb County Schools, 4 of which were East Cobb schools, and have also spent many hours at Campbell High School, hosting the same. The facilities at CHS are to say the least embarrassing and I can say the same for South Cobb after attending games there. I know booster funds can help with the extras that a school gets but the basic requirements for our students and student athletes should be the same for all Cobb County Schools.
@thanksmrsisley
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July 11, 2014
Thanks for your insight, Mrs. Isley. You are a true supporter of our school, and we appreciate all that you do for the students and teachers there. Please keep the attention on our school as we try to get a level playing field for everyone!
Put in the Effort
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July 13, 2014
The schools in the county receive the same amount of funds for each sport. The parents and booster clubs make up the difference. The condition of the fields at Campbell have greatly deteriorated over the last 2 to 3 years. New coaches and still little parent involvement. When you are at these other schools look at how many parents are working both during and after the game. These parents are also paying hundreds of dollars for their child to play and in addition must participate in continuing fundraising and donations to raise money for the program. For some reason parents at Campbell seem to think that someone else should be paying for the Campbell facilities and putting in the work it takes to keep the field up.Obviously the last coach didn't and who knows if the new coach has any idea of the situation he is stepping into. The effort to just keep the program going is enormous much less trying to play with players who haven't had the same background, lessons and training as players in other parts of the county.
Spartan Mom
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July 11, 2014
Mayor Bacon has first hand knowledge about all the issues with Campbell, and to widen that umbrella to the schools under the "leadership" (and I use that term loosely) of Area Supt. Dale Gaddis. Mayor Bacon brings the City's support and his own personal support to Campbell routinely. He truly cares deeply about this school. There have been so many issues/problems with the current principal, Dr. Denise Magee, that Bacon has tried to convey to the CCSB after having no luck getting resolution with Dr. Magee. The CCSB and the CCSD hide behind "we can't discuss those issues with you" even they even bother to reply. I'm not surprised that Bacon said he had contacted Stultz and gotten no response. Tim Stultz does not care about Campbell, its students or its staff. It's no skin off his back. His kids are in private school!

To "anonymous", I don't believe Bacon said that East Cobb takes all the education money. I have already had 2 children graduate from Campbell who received great educations. However, there is no way that a principal of the caliber of Dr. Magee would remain in that role in an East Cobb/West Cobb school. There were at least 60 teachers who left at the end of this year -- because of her. She has run off great administrators! She bullies her staff. When there is that much animosity inside the building, it impacts everything else.

We have begged the CCSD/CCSB to put the right principal in place at CHS. Stability and quality leadership is sorely needed. Campbell CAN be a quality school of learning again, it just takes the right leadership. Additionally, Dale Gaddis and Tim Stultz do nothing to make things better at CHS (or other schools in their district that we can tell). If you bring any issues to their attention, they only seem to be concerned with the fact that a parent knows information about staff, etc. instead of trying to correct what is wrong.

With a turn around in leadership, hopefully CHS will again see enrollment of former private school families come back to CHS. That will certainly help the issue with parental support. It is true that East Cobb/West Cobb schools have a larger parental support base. Sadly, a large percentage of CHS students live in homes with 1 parent, and that parent works multiple jobs sometimes to pay the bills. But please know that there are many parents & community members who routinely volunteer at Campbell.

I applaud Mayor Bacon for being so honest. He knows first hand the issues surrounding the school and speaks with knowledge. He has done so much during his tenure to improve the city of Smyrna and wants the same for our schools. What is wrong with that??
canIgetanamen
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July 11, 2014
THANK YOU for speaking the truth about the real problems in our area schools. We sorely need new, energizing, transformational leadership that can bring our schools to the level we know they can reach. There is so much momentum in the elementary schools thanks to involved parents, and we can build on that at the middle and high levels IF we have the right people in place (and the right person hiring them).
Just Sayin'....
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July 12, 2014
Mr. Bacon is not necessarily being honest. Ask him about the extra funds schools in his part of the county receive from Federal programs. Ask him why the teachers at some of his schools are paid more to teach there. Ask him how many PTSA meetings he has attended at the schools in his city. Ask him what the previous board members from his post did that Mr. Stultz has not done. Ask him why he has not made this an issue before now?

Schools are the number one reflection on the overall health and desirability of any community, and if he thought they were so darn important before now, where has HE been at Board of Education meetings? (They are open to the public you know.)

Look, Stultz is not the guy who is going to change this, and I really don't think Thayer is going to do much either....where has SHE been all this time? Get yourselves someone who wants to see change and not build a resume of elected offices, then you may see change.
Concerned Citizen
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July 11, 2014
If Ms. Angelucci wants to off handily endorse Mr. Stultz, using her position as Chair of the Cobb County School Board, by sending an email to the MDJ, it is totally inappropriate. Her email to Mayor Bacon defending Stultz, who is in a tight primary run-off election, and then copying certain other "selected" members of the Board is a direct violation of Board policies. Board policy requires any member, when sending an email to another member and acting in their capacity as a Board Member shall copy ALL Board members. The Board's Legal Advisor should investigate this blatant political maneuver to determine if policy was violated and if Ms. Angelucci has inserted herself, as Chair of the School Board, into Mr. Stultz re-election campaign. Ms. Angelucci was present when a representative of the Attorney General's office lectured the Board about communications, both spoken and written and she was warned about such conduct.

As for Mayor Bacon, he is the Chief Executive of his municipality and is fully aware of the shortcomings within that community. He has not only the right but an obligation to express his concerns when he sees circumstances that negatively impact the citizens of his city. Contrary to Ms. Angelucci's political rant in defense of Stulz, Mayor Bacon stated that he had personally contacted Stultz about the condition of South Cobb schools with little or no response or action from Stultz. It should be noted that Mr. Stultz has "publicly" stated that he doesn't care what his constituents want or think, that "he will vote the way He thinks". Mr. Stultz has also stated in recorded board meetings that the school system has to learn to do much more with much less. Tell that to the 1400 teachers that have been let go over the last 4 years resulting in larger class sizes. This attitude was also very obvious when he recently voted NO to the purchase of textbooks which could have deprived South Cobb students of those needed textbooks. Mayor Bacon was right on in his critique and owes no apology to Mr. Stultz.

Post 2 Dad
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July 11, 2014
Apparently the Grand Jury investigation and State District Attorney's office dd not make a great impression on Angelucci. Glad to see her go, and hopefully taking Stultz with her.
Real Leadership
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July 12, 2014
Could not agree more with your comment ‘concerned citizen’. I am asking the MDJ to post Ms. Angelucci’s email to Mayor Bacon so that the readership can read her comments and note who she included in her email response. If Angelucci replied with an email to ‘certain’ board members and not the entire board, that could be a violation if it relates to board business OR if she is actively campaigning for Tim Stultz and using her position to do that. THAT would be informative and possibly entertaining. An open records request for her emails since 2014 would answer those questions......

Kudos to Mayor Bacon for displaying real leadership and telling the public not what they want to hear, but rather the truth.

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