School board gets earful from parents, staff
by Hannah Morgan
September 28, 2013 01:20 AM | 3548 views | 5 5 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — More than 100 parents, teachers, principals and community members flooded the school board room Thursday night to plead with their representatives to fix their leaking, mold-infested schools.

But board members say little can be fixed anytime soon.

When money from the education SPLOST IV, approved by voters in March, begins coming in this January, the school system hopes to gather enough funding to rebuild two elementary schools.

In the meantime, board members said little can be done to alleviate the major problems inside the schools, and even when the funding comes through, construction for a new school won’t start until 2016, said Chris Ragsdale, the district’s deputy superintendent of operational support.

In turn, more than 20 people stood at the lectern in their school colors Thursday night, yellow for Harmony Leland Elementary, red for Brumby Elementary and yellow for Mountain View Elementary.

They stood with their children, who were long past their bedtimes, and recounted stories of leaky roofs, mold-infested classrooms and students marching through crowded parking lots to get to classroom trailers.

Taking steroids ‘to get through day’

Karin DeAmicis, who has a daughter at Mountain View Elementary, said on the seventh day of the school year, her daughter had severe problems breathing. Her daughter now takes multiple medications every day, and DeAmicis asked the board, “Why (does) my first-grader has to take steroids just to get through a school day?”

People came forward with similar stories for almost an hour, many were followed by cheering and applause, but only two of the three elementary schools represented by people at the meeting will be rebuilt.

The board listened patiently, but it has been hearing about these buildings for months, parents said.

Susan Tucker, who has a fifth- grader at Mountain View Elementary, said requests her principal made in March went unanswered, and a group of parents rallied around her to petition the board.

“We understand it’s going to be a long time, but the Band-Aids aren’t working anymore. Do something,” she said.

Board members Kathleen Angelucci, Brad Wheeler and David Banks went out to visit Mountain View last week, Tucker said, and were very understanding and supportive of the school’s needs, according to Tucker.

A lengthy list of emergency fixes

Board member David Morgan said he had the administration and parents at Harmony Leland Elementary put together a list of projects that needed immediate attention and sent it to the superintendent’s office.

Morgan said it was a list of, “whatever can be fixed in the interim to stave off complete implosion.”

He said he passed it on on to the superintendent’s office, and that maintenance had been working to make the repairs.

Ragsdale confirmed that projects, such as installing new carpeting throughout the building, fixing broken sinks on the kindergarten hallway and working to remove a “damp musty odor throughout the building,” were in progress, but no timeline had been set for completion.

An air-quality test done on the building recommended that a new HVAC system be installed, and Ragsdale said that would be done this summer, regardless of what elementary school the board chooses to rebuild.

Board Chair Randy Scamihorn said, “there’s no tangible plan yet, but we will start discussions next month.”

First, they will look at the needs of the schools, then choose what their goals are, and then set a timeline for achieving their goals, he said.

The decision is many months away, he said.

While new school buildings will not be constructed for at least two years, if the estimated SPLOST collections bring in enough funding, parents and students are still adamant about fixing up these buildings in the meantime.

The SPLOST is expected to bring in another $717 million for Cobb County schools.

Ten-year-old Alexis Jones, a fifth-grader at Harmony Leland, brought in letters from her classmates and gave her own speech to the board. She asked for a commitment to fix her elementary school, even though she graduates this year.

Scamihorn said he doesn’t think the district needs to hire more maintenance workers, but that he will make sure that they “give attention to the needs as they happen.”

Parents vowed to continue to show up at board meetings until the board selected the schools that would be rebuilt.

Comments
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An earful
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September 28, 2013
I will gladly give another earful! The new calendar is horrible! Teachers start on July 28th and students on August 4th which is the middle of summer. The board has cut down the last two days of school to half days. That gives teachers plenty of time to wrap up the school year because we don't have kids the second half of the day. Yet, they give us 4 more work days to attend workshops that are irrelevant to anything. What a waste! How about taking those four four days and add them to the end of the first quarter and third quarters to complete report cards. We should have a long weekend at the end of the grading periods but we don't need breaks at the 6 week mark! Ridiculous that the board makes the calendar but receives no input from the teachers. Anything but wasted time at the end of the year!
AmyLL
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September 28, 2013
Why did I have to read almost all the way through this article to figure out whether this article was about Cobb County Schools or Marietta City Schools? I'm looking at moving into the area so was interested to learn what was going on, but that very basic information needs to be added instead of forcing me to figure it out myself (especially since I'm not familiar enough with the area to know off the top of my head based on the names of the schools).
Cobb Taxpayer
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September 28, 2013
The problems with the leaking, mold infested schools will be taken into consideration after the new Lassiter Performance Hall, new turf on the football fields and landscaping projects are completed. I'm sure there are other higher priorities than fixing leaks and mold in our schools. Maybe the Central Office staff, especially Ragsdale, should be made to work in the leaking/mold infested schools. I bet the situation would be cleaned up immediately or the employees would file a workers compensation claim. I hope the parents from these schools band together and make the board step up to fix the problems. Let's see, didn't we recently pay for a survey regarding school calendars that was never published?
Cheryl Wisecup
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September 28, 2013
Mold can cause serious health problems. For accurate information about the health effects of mold, go to http://truthaboutmold.info and check out the Global Indoor Health Network at http://globalindoorhealthnetwork.com. Be sure to read GIHN's position statement that discusses the diagnosis and treatment of illness caused by mold.
Same Old Board
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September 28, 2013
Given the usual ineffectiveness of the school board, the local PTAs need to be proactive and solicit local contractors to donate time (tax deductible) for the smaller projects that the county never seems to have time for, with the county furnishing materials when available. There are hurdles of course, but it seems something could be worked out to make it happen.
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