The board also approved $90,000 in change orders to Mableton Elementary and Wheeler High schools, hired Dr. Shannon McGill as Vaughan Elementary’s new principal and accepted the resignation of Dowell Elementary’s principal.
After hearing from parents of Boys and Girls Club members over the summer about the importance of the district-provided transportation to the clubs, the board unanimously approved funding the $180,000 expense.
Board Member Alison Bartlett, who brought up the discussion, said she did so because the district identified nearly 400 “at-risk” students who rode the bus each day after school to either the Grant Club off Six Flags Road in Austell or Matthews Club off Fontaine Road in Mableton.
“When I realized we had some additional funding that we didn’t realize we had at the budget meetings, we knew we needed to bring this back,” Bartlett said after the meeting.
Deputy Superintendent of Operations Chris Ragsdale said the funds will come out of surplus left over at the end of Fiscal Year 2012. It will pay for two bus drivers to take students from their schools to the clubs.
During the hour-long meeting, vice chair David Morgan asked Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa if there is anything the district could do to be proactive about the need.
“We will study this with more diligence, but this is the nature of the situation that we’re getting into with these budgets, and this next budget is not going to be much better than the last budget, so there are going to be some very difficult decisions,” Hinojosa said.
“We understand that latch-key students in these communities are not the right thing to do, but the district has numerous challenges,” he said. “We will look for alternate solutions, but we’re going to need a lot of cooperation and support to try and resolve this.”
Kathleen Angelucci, who represents north Cobb, said that she hopes the district can look to the community for corporate sponsors to help fund the buses because it will be a “tough budget year” coming up.
Bartlett was not sure when the district will start providing the transportation again but hopes it will be by Monday.
Kelshia Keys, whose 12-year-old daughter, Sydni, has been riding the bus from Lindley Middle to the Grant Club for two years, said she was surprised by the district’s move to cut that funding originally but was pleased with Thursday’s vote to bring it back.
“The activities (the Boys and Girls Clubs) do with the children, Sydni having some place safe and structured after school, that’s why I chose it,” she said. “I know she’s doing something constructive until I’m able to pick her up after work.”
Parents received a letter about the transportation cuts the last day of school last year.
Since school started back almost two weeks ago, Keys was having to pay the Boys and Girls Club for a van service. The entire year would have cost her $180, which she said could be paid in increments. So far, she’s paid $20 for the service.
As for the change orders, the board also unanimously approved $90,171 for work at Mableton and Wheeler.
At Mableton, they approved a $107,968 student drop-off canopy that would be paid for with money from the SPLOST III contingency fund.
At Wheeler, they agreed to build a bus canopy valued at $410,250 and culinary arts classroom valued at $633,953, and cut out annex modifications and a practice gym, which will save $1 million and create a credit of about $17,000, for a net cost of about $90,000 between the two schools.
These projects were alternates that were not included in the original bid, Ragsdale has said.
Board Chair Scott Sweeney asked that student or bus drop-off canopies be requirements for future projects.
In other business, the board approved a number of personnel requests, including Dowell Elementary Principal Janis Komara’s resignation and the appointment of Dr. McGill at Vaughan.
District spokesman Jay Dillon said only that Komara’s resignation is a “personnel matter.” Former Cobb Schools Deputy Superintendent Alice Stouder will be the interim principal.
McGill, who has been the assistant principal at Powers Ferry Elementary since 2011, will replace Dr. Barbara Sweeney at Vaughan. Sweeney was promoted to Area 1 assistant superintendent in July.
She joined the Cobb County School District as a supply teacher in 1995 and has been at Ford, Vaughan, Mt. Bethel, Cheatham Hill and Timber Ridge elementary schools, working her way up to assistant principal.
McGill will take over at Vaughan today. Her salary will increase to $100,324.80 from $82,698.
A third high-level hire, which was narrowly approved in a 4-3 vote, with Angelucci, Bartlett and Stultz opposing, was the appointment of Joseph Sharp as the new assistant principal at Sprayberry High. Details regarding his background and salary were not immediately available.