North Cobb School Board Member Kathleen Angelucci requested the censure issue be placed on Wednesday’s agenda for public discussion. David Banks is the target, and if the board does censure him, it could be a first. Two former longtime board members say they don’t recall ever censuring a board member.
“It is a matter of the board as a whole agreeing to abide by the Board Protocols, Code of Ethics and Board Policies and holding ourselves accountable if we do not,” Angelucci responded via email Monday afternoon when asked about the issue. “It is appropriate and necessary that we, as a board, discuss this in the boardroom, in public.”
The consequences of any censure, though not exactly clear, are not thought to be severe. Most officials likened it to a scolding, or slap on the hand.
Also Wednesday, the board is to hear an update on the SPLOST IV notebook and review requested construction change orders for Mableton Elementary and Wheeler High schools. The board will also review a presentation by Chief Academic Officer Dr. Judi Jones about End-of-Course Test scores and learn more about the most recent revisions to the Strategic Plan. The only action the board is expected to take tomorrow is replacing principals at Lindley Middle School in Mableton and Chalker Elementary School in Kennesaw.
Angelucci’s request to add a discussion about censuring Banks to the Aug. 8 agenda came after she made a speech during the July 19 night meeting about how Banks admitted in his weekly newsletter called the Grapevine to contacting school district employees about one of his opponents in the July 31 primaries, has previously attended a school’s staff meeting uninvited, visited schools without 24-hour notice and printed “untruths” in the Grapevine about board members.
Alison Bartlett, who represents west-central Cobb, also spoke to Banks’ previous actions.
Board Chair Scott Sweeney said Board Attorney Clem Doyle will explain the process of censuring a member during the meeting.
“Everybody needs to understand what the process is and decide if it is the route that the board can take. No individual board member can censure a board member,” he said. “The board needs to hear more about the process from our counsel to determine what the next steps will be, if any are taken.”
Sweeney declined further comment.
Board vice chair David Morgan, who won a three-person primary last week to hang on to his seat and has no opposition in November, refused to say if he would vote to censure Banks.
“I will listen to the information that’s presented and make a decision based on that,” he said. “(Angelucci and Banks) both deserve that.”
Banks denied Angelucci’s statements at the last meeting, but did not return phone calls Monday. In last week’s Republican primary, he bested two challengers. Without opposition in November, it is likely he will retain his northeast Cobb seat for four more years.
Betty Gray, who served on the school board for 16 years and has nearly 50 years of experience working with the Cobb district, said she couldn’t recall a board member ever being censured.
“There has been some discontent over the years, but never anyone censured, not formally,” she said.
State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, who served on the board for many years with Gray, also did not recall such action.
“We could have, but I don’t recall it,” he said.
In other business, the board will also hear from Deputy Superintendent Chris Ragsdale about the SPLOST IV project list, or notebook that is being created by former Cobb interim superintendent James Wilson and his staff at Education Planners.
“Myself and James Wilson will be presenting the overall categories and the amount for each category … kind of an executive summary,” Ragsdale said.
The presentation Wednesday will serve as the first step toward the board agreeing this fall to put the SPLOST IV referendum to voters next spring, he said.
“Once we make the presentation, then that will allow the process to start with the schools to be able to meet with their PTAs and school councils and staff for additional input into specific projects and prioritization,” he said.
If voters approve renewing the SPLOST next March, collections would likely run for five years, from Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2018.
Ragsdale has said the sales tax could bring in roughly $600 million, but on Monday he said the figure could be higher — but would not say how much more.
“(Wilson) has multiple resources that he’s communicating with,” he said, including a state economist and growth data provided by the Atlanta Regional Commission. “He’s taken all those into account.”
He also said he’s still confident in the timeline to get the project list prepared for board consideration.
“The process is different than we’ve had in the past because we are doing all the SPLOST management in-house. Anytime the process changes, there’s a few hiccups that you have to overcome, but I feel good about the process,” he said.
In other news, Ragsdale will recommend the board approve $90,171 in change orders for construction at Mableton Elementary and Wheeler High. The board will take the vote on Aug. 23.
“Both are alternates that were not included in the original bid,” Ragsdale said, adding that he wasn’t sure why they weren’t. He was not managing the project bids at that time; rather SPLOST Administrator Doug Shepard, who has since left the district, handled that, Ragsdale said.
At Mableton, Ragsdale is urging the board to approve that $107,968 be used from the SPLOST III contingency fund to pay for a student drop-off canopy.
At Wheeler, he recommends building a bus canopy valued at $410,250 and culinary arts classroom valued at $633,953 and cut out annex modifications and practice gym, which will save $1 million.
Dr. Jones, the district’s academics chief, will give another presentation on the End of course tests. School-level scores were released by the state last week.
At that time, Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said he was happy with improvements specifically at Pebblebrook, South Cobb and Osborne high schools, which all had double-digit growth in some areas.
Jones will also update the board on the Strategic Plan, which staff and the board have been rewriting for the last several months. The original plan was on tap to run through 2014.
“(It) will be an opportunity for board members to have dialog about the goals and what actions need to be taken to achieve them and how we will know measurements,” she said.
The only agenda item the board will consider approving Wednesday is the resignation of Principal Ervin from Lindley Middle, her appointed replacement and the hiring of Chalker Elementary’s new principal.
Details regarding Ervin’s resignation were not released by the district on Monday, nor were the names of the individuals Hinojosa is recommending to her and retired Chalker Elementary School Principal JoAnn Sappington.
The board meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday with public comments.