School calendar debate returns
by Lindsay Field
October 09, 2012 01:30 AM | 6992 views | 29 29 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb School Board member David Banks<br> MDJ File Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
Cobb School Board member David Banks
MDJ File Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
slideshow
Cobb superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa <br> File photo
Cobb superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa
File photo
slideshow

MARIETTA — Cobb School Board Member David Banks will again be proposing his own school calendar during Wednesday’s work session despite Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa recommending one for 2013-2014.'

Calendar proposal by Dr. Hinojosa



Calendar proposal by board member David Banks 

The board will also talk about approving the superintendent’s evaluation instrument, which is set to cost $15,000, applying for a $20 million Race to the Top grant and a Request for Proposal (RFP) to award a new employee benefits contract to ShawHankins LLC of Cartersville.

In business that won’t be voted on this month but will be up for discussion, the board will talk with Cobb Deputy Superintendent of Operations Chris Ragsdale about preparing the SPLOST IV referendum.

Shortly after joining the Cobb schools staff in July 2011, Hinojosa proposed that the board create a 21-member committee to help come up with a recommendation to deal with the never-ending calendar debacle that was ignited the spring before.

The 21-member group, which consisted of parents, school employees and district staff, met three times in August and while they couldn’t come to a consensus, they did make a recommendation to Hinojosa.

The group was split on a school start date of Aug. 1 or Aug. 5 and a Jan. 3 or Jan. 6 return date for teachers the second semester for the 2013-14 school year.

The superintendent’s proposed calendar for Wednesday’s work session is for school to start Aug. 7, 2013, with a week long break for Thanksgiving Nov. 25, two weeks beginning Dec. 23 and another week starting March 31, and the last day of school to be May 21, 2014.

The additional days off for students are Sept. 2, Oct. 7 and Nov. 5, 2013, and Jan. 20 and Feb. 17, 2014.

Originally the group was tasked with preparing calendars for the next two school years but Hinojosa said Monday that he decided to “change gears” and only recommend one year out because he doesn’t want the cycle to coincide with school board elections.

“This time next year we would then do a two-year calendar,” he said. “Then it gets off the board election cycle and people can focus on the calendar issue without it being a board issue.”

Hinojosa also said his recommendation, which doesn’t include week long breaks in both September and February that have previously been a hot topic, is “identical” to the committee’s recommendation.

“(The group) was kind of an even split on a couple of things,” he said. “I feel like we honored a lot of their work … most of their work, with maybe a 5 to 10 percent adjustment.”

Hinojosa said he will meet with the group again Wednesday morning before the work session to thank them for their work, advise them of the modifications he made and invite them to the board meeting.

“They were so committed. They were intense, and it was pretty emotional but I was very proud of their work,” he said.

Hinojosa said he is willing to listen to Banks’ calendar recommendation during the meeting tomorrow.

Banks said he doesn’t like Hinojosa’s calendar because he doesn’t believe it resembles what the committee wanted.

“There aren’t any breaks,” he said. “It’s important to give (teachers, parents and students) a time to kind of relax and re-energize.”

His calendar, which was released in his weekly newsletter “David’s Grapevine,” included a week-long break in September, for Thanksgiving, in February and in April, with school starting Aug. 5, 2013, and ending May 30, 2014.

Banks argued that giving the Cobb schools staff and his constituents a calendar they like also cuts down on absenteeism, illness and discipline problems.

In other news, the board will also talk about the superintendent’s evaluation instrument. It will be up for approval later this month.

Hinojosa said the $15,000 cost associated with the tool is to hire a polling company to get feedback from stakeholders in the community such as staff, students and parents about district performance.

“I’m very pleased with (the evaluation) because it is now no longer subjective, it’s objective,” Hinojosa said. “The board still has some subjectivity to it so they can get their opinions in there, but it mostly transparent.”

He is also pleased with the fact that the document is similar to the Strategic Plan, which the district is currently revising.

“It’s really going to be able to measure how we are moving the district forward, and I don’t mind being held accountable for that,” Hinojosa said.

Two items on the agenda that Hinojosa said will be detailed on Wednesday deal with outsourcing an employee benefits insurance broker and consulting services and submitting the Race to the Top grant application.

In the past, employee benefits have always been handled in-house, he said.

“There are companies that help with benefits and there are ways to provide services that are more user friendly for our employees,” he said. “(Human Resources Director Dr. Michael Shanahan’s) idea was to help us do this better.”

Hinojosa said outsourcing this service will not require them to fire anyone, and that Shanahan’s presentation will include information about why this will not cost the district any additional money.

The Race to the Top application is due Oct. 30 and according to the agenda item will benefit 11 middle schools in Cobb.

Hinojosa could not recall which middle schools were outline in the application but said Cobb Chief Academic Officer Judi Jones would outline that during Wednesday’s meeting.

“You have to be very cautious to warn people that these are competitive grants,” he said. “I don’t want people to get their hopes up too high.”

If Cobb earns the $20 million grant, funds would be dispersed over a five-year time period starting in January 2013 and would serve approximately 9,000 students.

“Sustainability after the grant period expires will be addressed through the development of teacher leaders, local school administrators as instructional leaders, extension of professional development for future use and replication of the innovation at other Cobb schools throughout the life of the grant,” the agenda states.

With the help of Educations Planners Inc. of Marietta, Cobb Schools have been working with board members, principals and other district employees to prepare a SPLOST IV referendum that will be voted on by the school board in November and Cobb voters in March 2013.

If approved, the $717 million one penny sales tax that is schedule to be collected between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2018, could help the district build two new career academies, a new Osborne High School, three replacement elementary schools, permanent buildings at a number of schools and multiple high school theater and gym modifications.

“The board requested that we have a discussion about the SPLOST notebook,” Ragsdale said. “I anticipate fielding questions based on their posts.”

He said many of the board members have been meeting with principals and constituents to determine what needs are at each school.

“I’ve also been communicating with principals and have asked them to make sure they have sent me their prioritized schools list,” he said.

In other business, the board will talk considering approval of the following items at the Oct. 27 board meeting:

* Awarding a $900,000 Request for Proposal (RFP) for information technology staffing services and a $475,000 RFP for electrical time and materials to be used between Nov. 1 and Oct. 31, 2013.

Ragsdale said both RFPs are an extension of contracts the district already has and a portion of these costs will be funded by SPLOST III, contract services or maintenance accounts.

This recommendation will allow the district to hire short-term IT professional staff services during peak service request times for support of district technology essential to daily operations and to allow various schools and departments in the district to access qualified electrical time and materials services on an as-needed basis.

* Extending a $389,948.44 performance contract for the Cobb County School District’s Success for All Students project. The funding comes from an $8.6 million grant awarded to the district in 2008. This is the last year grand funding will be available to the program that helps provide support for Areas 5 and 6.

* Authorization to take $280,750 from the General Fund Reserves to pay for 400 students’ tuition for online courses through the Georgia Virtual School for FY13.

Senate Bill 289 requires the school district to pay for online courses as of May 2012. The district will be reimbursed to the district through Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) funding next fiscal year.

* Approval of the McEachern Endowment Fund Inc. to advertise and receive bids to replace the turf on Stadium Field, existing scoreboards and the stadium sound system at the high school in Powder Springs. The McEachern Endowment Fund will pay for these projects.

Ragsdale said that due to board policy and the cost, which is unknown to him, being over Hinojosa’s spending threshold, the request must come before the group for approval.

* Recommendation to accept a request of retirement from LaBelle Elementary School Principal Lisa Hogan

* Method of compensating employees for reduction of one furlough day approved by board last month. Hinojosa previously said he would like for employees to see that refund sometime in December.

* Renewal of an existing cell tower contract with Spectrasite Communications LLC of Boston, Mass., at Mabry Middle School in Marietta. The contract states that over a 15-year time period the district would receive $891,672 in revenue for allowing this use.

In addition to these payments, Cobb Schools will receive 50 percent of Spectrasite Communications’ revenue for any additional “tenants” that place their equipment on the tower in the future.

The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. with public comments in the district boardroom at 514 Glover St. in Marietta.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - News, Sports, Classifieds, Businesses in Marietta, GA

Comments
(29)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Fed Up
|
October 14, 2012
Sick of the back and forth. Sick of the board changing its mind. Stop holding the parents of Cobb county hostage with the calendar. We liked the balanced calendar, and that was supposed to have been in place for 3 years. However, the Board changed the calendar mind-stream AFTER AN ELECTION (i.e. new board members were elected and they joined together to change it). Now, Hinojosa and Sweeney are saying that the Board is going to make a ONE year calendar... to get it off the election cycle! Well I have a newsflash - it wasn't on an election cycle and the new Board members changed it anyway. The Board needs to work harder to have community faith restored. Ignoring mountains of emails, impaneling a committee that works hard for months only to have its recommendations ignored, and then announce that we are only doing this dance for ONE year, only to look forward to doing it again next year is NOT good. Get it on track, Hinojosa - or get out!!! All of the calendars have pluses and minuses, but at this point I am so very fed up: GIVE US A 3 YEAR CALENDAR AND STICK WITH IT!!!
I've Had It
|
October 10, 2012
Guess what? I'm never voting for SPLOST again until you give us our calendar back. For the first time in my career, I wish I worked for Pauling County. And I also hope Brad Wheeler sends Bartlett packing.
necobbmom
|
October 15, 2012
Sorry but Brad Wheeler is nothing to be excited about... I know, as I heard his comments firsthand at the Cobb Co Republican Womens Forum... Bartlett knows the issues, she asks good questions... If people vote Wheeler over her, just because he is a Republican then they are misinformed. As an avid Republican, I can say that I vote for the candidate FIRST. People, be informed..Wheeler is not qualified, doesn't know the issues, and will not lead like Allison Bartlett does.
Not shocked that
|
October 10, 2012
the calendar being recommended by the superintendent is NOTHING like the committee suggested...committee, step up and protest this!
acworthy
|
October 10, 2012
no, do not protest this. Forget the stupid calendar and protest low SAT scores, graduation rate, or something that matters.
retiredteacher2006
|
October 09, 2012
So sad that a once wonderful school system is headed for the pits. What are they thinking starting school the first week of August????? Insane in my opinion. Too many arguments about the calendar and not enough concern for the curriculum and kids. Cobb was once upon a time a great place to teach and an even better place to send your children to school. Not so anymore. If I had school age kids...I'd opt for private schools. Isn't that sad?
ldlldl
|
October 09, 2012
Nice picture of Banks... he looks like a pleasant person don't he?
No brains at all
|
October 09, 2012
You're all a bunch of plastic soldiers in a miniature dirt war. Nothing you say matters. No one at the top is listening. They do what they want, and you cannot stop them. The end.
sooverccsdcrap
|
October 09, 2012
Well, it just doesn't ever surprise me that the calendar continues to side track this school district. How sad that our students and employees will suffer in the long run. Shouldn't we be more focused on curriculum, dangers of Race to the Top, funding? I am so amazed that the calendar crazies who are so hell bent on a calendar they like have lost sight (or actually never had the foresight) to see what is most important. I think at this point SACS needs to get involved and put a stop to all this calendar mess and the politics with it.
grrr!!!
|
October 09, 2012
The Cobb County school board and superintendent are a joke! Cobb County schools are going to end up like Atlanta Public school system if they don't get it together. The Superintendent is just trying to appease everybody. His calendar is not anywhere close to a balanced calendar. It is bascially a bank holiday calendar. And to spend $15,000 on a polling system?!? Seriously! They don't listen to the taxpayers anyway. It's all about politics and money not the people or the teachers. It's the reason why this country's education system is in the toliet. And why do we start school in August anyway? What happened to starting after Labor Day and getting out in mid June? Northern state schools still do that and have a winter break in February.

What they need to focus on is these overcrowded schools and burned out teachers.
acworthy
|
October 09, 2012
FORGET!!!! The Calendar! (FTC!) All the time you bums waste micro-managing tengential issues that do not lead to MASTERY OF SUBJECT MATTER is time that you are derelict in your duties. F the calendar. Find ways to: Hold teachers accountable. Add math tutoring. Add languages. Improve college admission test scores. Reduce dropout rates. DO SOMETHING! But F the calendar.

SSG
|
October 09, 2012
So, what was the outcome of the meeting?
East Cobb Parent
|
October 09, 2012
Hey, All I care about is more message boards, beautiul sports complexs, and fancy landscaping and entrances - who cares how you keep my kid in school, just keep him there long enough so I can go to the spa and limit my time with them for reprogramming - Cobb Schools Rock, baby!
Cobb School Advocate
|
October 09, 2012
Just more mismanagement and misdirection by the superintendent and Board - focus on real issues, like academic achievement, class sizes, funding for operations and maintenance, passing a SPLOST, etc etc. There are an abundance of issues that need to be addressed and solutioned NOW -
Cobb Parent
|
October 09, 2012
The superintendent is correct in saying that his recommendations are very close to the committee's -- his spring semester is exactly the same as one of the committee recommendations. As someone who attended the meetings, the members were anything but political appointees. There are many elements in the superintendent's calendar that reflect what was discussed by the committee, such as a midweek start date, ending the first semester in December, the placement of the teacher workday in January, a midweek end of school. While the committee agreed on fall & winter breaks in principle, the failure of consensus was really over the length of the breaks. Without a clear consensus from the committee, I don't fault the superintendent for choosing a slightly different fall semester.
Heather Triscik
|
October 09, 2012
I was optimistic the calendar issue would be resolved during this round when Dr. Hinojosa commissioned a committee of parents, teachers and school staff to recommend a calendar. While the committee couldn't come to a single consensus, they did recommend a couple of options, ALL OF WHICH INCLUDED FALL AND WINTER BREAKS. His proposed calendar ignores the voice of the committee, providing just single day breaks on public holidays. This is very sad and disappointing.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - School calendar debate returns
Watcher...
|
October 09, 2012
In other news, the board will also talk about the superintendent’s evaluation instrument. It will be up for approval later this month.

Hinojosa said the $15,000 cost associated with the tool is to hire a polling company to get feedback from stakeholders in the community such as staff, students and parents about district performance.

Hinojosa failed to include the largest stakeholder group, Cobb Taxpayers!
Just Sayin'....
|
October 09, 2012
Just PICK one and let's move on!!! I am so over this being an issue. Whichever one you pick, half of the people are going to hate it. Just do it already, listen to the carping for awhile, and move on.
Once Again
|
October 09, 2012
Why have a committee, survey or anything else if you are going to ignore all preferences and recommendations. The Superintendent's proposed calendar is not all like the committee's recommendations. The breaks are needed and welcomed by students, teachers and parents. What is it going to take to get someone to listen and offer a calendar that many other district use successfully?
this is ridiculous
|
October 09, 2012
Why does school have to end in mid May? If the breaks are SO important why not start later in August and end in early June? If the breaks truly help the kids learn then apparently having the first semester end after Christmas break should have the kids all refreshed for their finals. However, every teacher I have spoken with does NOT like the breaks. Granted this is at the elementary school level.
Lindsey Lickmiller
|
October 09, 2012
I DEMAND MY BREAKS FROM SCHOOL AND FROM MY CHILDREN'S HOMEWORK! I am tired of doing their homework and want to go to DisneyWorld in September. I plan to take them out of school and go to Disney, even if it falls the same week as the COGAT testing! I demand to have my breaks back.

what? how old am I? Well, I'm a 35 year old mom, that's how old I am. And I must go to Disney at least a half dozen times before my kids hit high school age, or they will not be spoiled enough! They are getting full ride athletic scholarships to college anyway, so school does not matter!
Lisa Legacy
|
October 09, 2012
I totally agree with you.
Voter with kids
|
October 09, 2012
Just curious - what about the fall and winter breaks does the Cobb County School system not understand? When it came up as a hotly debated issue last time, they open up a survey which resoundingly supported the breaks (even after the operator removed duplicates). THis year, Hinojosa commissioned a committee to recommend a calendar. That committee couldn't come to a single consensus, but did recommend a couple of options, ALL OF WHICH INCLUDED FALL AND WINTER BREAKS. He's chosing to ignore those, in favor of his own calendar which only provides single day breaks on public holidays - the minimum he can offer.

WHAT DOES CC SCHOOL SYSTEM NOT GET?

Oh - and let's not forget that he is intentionally attempting to remove the School Board from voter accountability on this topic.

He's a wheeler and a dealer - we knew that from looking at his reputation from Texas. I have to wonder - what concessions did he get for these political 'favors'?
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides