Short list for school rebuilds revealed; all options would require relocation
by Hannah Morgan
October 25, 2013 12:17 AM | 4876 views | 7 7 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jordan Tisdale, right, a fourth-grade student at Mountain View Elementary School, urges Cobb Board of Education members to strongly consider building a new school after asking the board if they are aware of the severe problems at the facility, including what they say is mold that has caused illness among students and staff. Holding signs in support of Jordan and a new school are, from left, Jacob Schwartz, Jordan’s mother, Michelle Tisdale, Annie Siegel, and Jordan’s father, Neal Tisdale. <br> Staff/Jeff Stanton
Jordan Tisdale, right, a fourth-grade student at Mountain View Elementary School, urges Cobb Board of Education members to strongly consider building a new school after asking the board if they are aware of the severe problems at the facility, including what they say is mold that has caused illness among students and staff. Holding signs in support of Jordan and a new school are, from left, Jacob Schwartz, Jordan’s mother, Michelle Tisdale, Annie Siegel, and Jordan’s father, Neal Tisdale.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
slideshow
Tajei Witcher, a fifth-grader at Brumby Elementary School, is reassured by his mother, Amoni Witcher, as he addresses the Cobb Board of Education regarding the conditions at his school.
Tajei Witcher, a fifth-grader at Brumby Elementary School, is reassured by his mother, Amoni Witcher, as he addresses the Cobb Board of Education regarding the conditions at his school.
slideshow

Parents, community members and business owners packed the Cobb Board of Education meeting on Thursday, urging the board to pick their schools to be rebuilt.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa presented board members with a list of six options, which included 11 schools that will be in the running to be rebuilt or consolidated within the next two to three years.

The six options are:

  • Argyle Elementary to be rebuilt;
  • Belmont Hills/LaBelle Elementary to be consolidated and rebuilt;
  • Brumby Elementary to be rebuilt;
  • Clay/Harmony Leland/Riverside Intermediate/Riverside Primary to be consolidated and rebuilt;
  • Mountain View to be rebuilt;
  • Powers Ferry/Eastvalley Elementary to be consolidated and rebuilt.

All six options would require the schools to relocate.

If all goes as planned, board Chairman Randy Scamihorn says he hopes the board will select the two options to be paid for with special purpose local option sales tax dollars by its December 11 meeting.

Twenty-four students and parents spoke before the board, and reiterated their desires for new school buildings, listing mold growth, crammed classrooms, traffic and safety issues as reasons to have their school rebuilt.

Jordan Tisdale, a fourth-grader at Mountain View Elementary, stood on a pink stepstool, and said, “I love my school. The teachers are awesome … but why isn’t anybody fixing anything?”

Tisdale spoke of the school’s flooding and leaking problems.

Amoni Witcher, a parent and the PTA president at Brumby Elementary, told board members, “I need your help to make Brumby a better place.”

Board members listened patiently, and after public comment ended, Scamihorn said, “We hear you. We know you are out there. We want your participation. I’m available.”

Scamihorn urged parents to contact him and other board members as the process to pick two schools progressed.

There are 67 elementary schools in the county, and the schools on the list were selected because they met certain criteria, said Chris Ragsdale, deputy superintendent of operational support.

The criteria included the number of portable classrooms at the schools, the last construction the schools underwent, whether or not land would need to be purchased to build a new school, the current enrollment and the school’s capacity and the total amount of SPLOST I, II and III funds previously spent on the school, Ragsdale said.

Banks’ tax proposal rejected

In other business, board member David Banks reintroduced a revised draft of his letter he hoped to send to the Georgia School Boards Association, signifying the board’s support of his new tax initiative.

The board shut down his proposal in a 4-3 vote, with members David Morgan, Scamihorn, Tim Stultz and Kathleen Angelucci opposed. Banks, Scott Sweeney and Brad Wheeler were in favor of the initiative.

The initiative, called a Local Education Sales Tax, is an attempt to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow counties to tax themselves to raise funds for school improvements. The proposed tax is similar to a SPLOST.

When Banks introduced his idea at the last meeting Oct. 9, the board was split on its support, with members Angelucci and Stultz strongly opposing the idea, and Sweeney, Wheeler and Banks supporting the measure.

Hinojosa supported the tax idea at the last meeting, and said he thought it was a creative way to raise more money for schools.

The GSBA will not take a stance on the issue until it receives a document certifying the school board’s approval, Banks said.

Pleased with board attorney

The board also unanimously took a “vote of affirmation” to continue its legal services with Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun and Rogers, LLC.

The district pays $75,409.10 each month to the Marietta-based law firm, which has represented the district since 1989.

At the last board meeting, Angelucci asked the board to discuss it options to bid out the district’s legal services, only to be dismissed by other board members, who did not see the need to bid out what they said was a great business relationship with the firm. The board has never placed its legal services out for bid, according to the district.

 

Comments
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West Cobb
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October 26, 2013
If that's the criteria truly used to select schools for rebuilding then why wasn't Dowell Elementary chosen? There is mold, and odors in the building that can hardly be tolerated. It is older then a few of the schools on the list. The building is need of painting and new flooring. It's hard to believe the county is going to spend all that money on construction and ignore the many repairs other schools need. Maybe Dowell just hasn't been vocal enough. MDJ should do an investigation of the health hazards of other old Cobb County schools besides Mountain View. Mountain View is not that old.
Old East Marietta
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October 26, 2013
For many years Cobb County was on a new development and tax income rocket ship. There was plenty of money available for politicians to reward political cronies, friends, and family with jobs and contracts.

I always said that it was going to catch up with us someday and mused about how tough this would be on politicians and county managers when this ride was up and they were forced to do the right things.

I now see the folly of my thoughts. They evidently are not capable of doing what is right for Cobb County. They only desire to take care of themselves.
Jeff Jacoby
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October 25, 2013
I am saddened to note that three so-called Republicans seem so excited at the prospect of additional taxes — for whatever reason. Even the lone Democrat on the Board voted against the proposal.

Sweeney and Banks do not surprise me; they have already shown their willingness to increase the size and scope of government, but it is disappointing to see Wheeler being influenced by these two. Shame on you, Brad.

Finally, I would like to remind Banks, Sweeney and Wheeler that we do not need their permission or their prompting to raise taxes. If we wanted them to be higher, they would be.

Thank you.
Mike Towns
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October 28, 2013
I'm willing to bet you benefited from public schools. Move to the mountains if you don't want to pay taxes. This county is full of hypocrites that have used the system and then deny it for others. How about this...let's spend your taxes on what you want and spend mine on improving our schools.

JustRidiculous
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October 25, 2013
I cannot believe that Riverside Elementary and Riverside Primary would be consolidated with two other schools. This is the most ridiculous news I have heard living in this area. I am just flabbergasted.
if not now
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October 25, 2013
IF they don't think of another revenue source, Cobb schools will cease to function. You can only cut so much. Look at how many schools need to be reconstructed; imagine how many middle and high schools could use the same! But there is no way to fund ALL of those projects--SPLOST will fix two of them, but what about the rest? The district will be out of money again this year, which means another 300 teachers cut, bigger classes, fewer opportunities, run down facilities, etc. Cobb citiznes need to stand behind schoom improvement, which means finding new ways to fund the district. If you stick with the senior exemption (which is crazy), then you have to find another source. What we have is NOT working because they don't have enough money to run the district. And don't tell me "they need to do more with less." There can't be any less in the school my kids attend! If Banks' idea is bad, what else do you propose?
Billy Ray Dumphuc
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October 25, 2013
The two Riverside schools are less that 12 yrs old and were built in SPLOST 2 I believe. You want to tear them down??
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