That comes to mind after the Cobb school board’s 4-3 vote to separate a planned ninth grade center from maintenance and renovation projects at Harrison High School, followed by a 4-3 vote to proceed with only the maintenance and renovations, mainly a choral room and cafeteria — even though $460,000 had already been paid for design work for the center, the choral room and cafeteria.
That money has now gone down the drain, according to architect Danny Jones, formerly with the firm that designed the project, as the Journal reported Tuesday. “You have to redesign the whole facility,” he said. “You will have to start from square one.”
Let’s start from square one on this project’s history, going back to February 2011 when the school board’s Facilities and Technology Committee by a 7-6 vote recommended that the board indefinitely hold off on plans for a ninth grade center in west Cobb. The $18.3 million project was approved by voters in the SPLOST III with no location specified, but the school district staff recommended the center be built at Harrison High.
The F&T Committee vote reflected the sentiments of school board members who appointed the committee members. Two examples: John Williams, appointed by school board member Alison Bartlett, argued against building the center until there were more accurate estimates of future enrollment in west Cobb high schools. Morten Blante, appointed by Lynnda Eagle, favored the center and Harrison High as the site.
Despite the recommendation of its own committee, the school board in February 2011 approved spending up to $686,700 for design of the center plus the renovations including the choral room and cafeteria at Harrison. As usual, Bartlett and Eagle were on opposing sides in another bare majority 4-3 vote authorizing the spending. Opposed were Bartlett, Kathleen Angelucci and Tim Stultz. In favor: Eagle, Scott Sweeney, David Banks and David Morgan.
Fast forward to last week’s 4-3 votes to separate the projects and move ahead with the maintenance and renovation at Harrison. Opposed were Sweeney, Eagle and Banks. Morgan was the swing vote in favor of the decision that costs the district nearly half a million already spent for design — plus what will be spent on redesign for the choral room and cafeteria. Morgan has been asked via e-mail why he changed his position, and his reply is awaited.
Why in the name of reading, writing and arithmetic did the board majority ignore the recommendation of its committee and vote to pay an architect to design the combined projects? Why not wait for more information as the committee recommended?
Instead, a majority of the board decided to do exactly what the F&T committee recommended in the first place — put on hold plans for the ninth grade center in west Cobb — and as a result let $460,000 of taxpayers’ money go down the drain.
Don’t tell me we’re having deja vu all over again at the school board.