On Wednesday, the board will consider approving a SPLOST IV resolution and contract with the Cobb County Board of Elections to host the special election March 19, 2013. Marietta City Schools is set to vote on their referendum and contract tonight.
If approved by each school board and Cobb voters in March, Cobb Schools anticipates collecting around $718 million between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2018. Marietta stands to get $55 million in the 1 percent sales tax.
An exact ticket price to hold the special election has not been given, but Cobb’s Director of Elections Janine Eveler said the March 2011 Cobb County SPLOST cost $295,725.
Cobb’s SPLOST IV notebook of projects includes spending around $175 million on new or replacement facilities, $10 million on land, $130 million on additions or modifications, $179 million on infrastructure and individual school needs, $97 million on safety and support and $125 million on curriculum, instruction and technology.
The big-ticket items include the career academy, an east Cobb area replacement middle school for $29 million, a new Osborne High School for $30 million, two replacement elementary schools for $23 million each and $40 million in improvements to Walton High School in east Cobb.
Board chair Scott Sweeney said he planned on voting in favor of the referendum Wednesday because the district has more than $2 billion in capital outlay needs.
“I’m pleased that the current notebook includes the top priority requested for each school,” he said. However, “desired project needs exceed projected revenues, therefore many deserving projects are not included.”
He doesn’t have any concerns about the March vote, pointing out that it was agreed upon during the board’s spring meetings, it is coordinated with Marietta’s timeline and because the notebook production has been “extensive.”
Additionally, he said, “a delay to November of 2013, may mean that no major facility construction projects will commence during the 2014 summer.”
Southeast Cobb’s Tim Stultz, who wants to postpone the countywide vote until November 2013, will not be at the meeting Wednesday to vote because he has an out-of-town business meeting.
“There were some discussions that the SPLOST vote may be able to take place later this month, but the powers that be will be moving forward on Wednesday,” he said. “I do support the proposals and there are real needs that will be addressed in the area I represent and the rest of the county.”
Kathleen Angelucci, who represents north Cobb, said she would like to see a few changes to the project list.
“Any items dealing with safety or bringing a facility up to code outweigh other items. I am in favor of implementing a Career Pathways program in existing schools in lieu of constructing any building that the District cannot afford to currently maintain. In the economic and financial situation we are currently in, I am deeply worried that we will not be able to afford or support what we have now.”
Additionally, Angelucci said she would be in “favor of holding (the countywide election) during a regular election cycle and not hold a special election.”
“In my opinion, special elections cost more and severely limit the opportunity for all voters in Cobb to participate,” she said.West-central Cobb’s representative Alison Bartlett said she too hasn’t made a decision about how she will vote tomorrow.
“I am happy with the overall list,” she said. “There are items I wish were on the list, such as a new school for Tapp (Middle School in Powder Springs), replace all roofs and HVAC units over 20 years old and renovations for Pebblebrook (High School in Mableton), but there is not enough income in SPLOST IV to cover all the needs.”
Bartlett said her concerns regarding the March versus November 2013 vote were the possibility of a low voter turnout for a special election.
“The TSPLOST failure is a concern, and March will be a budget discussion time for the school board,” she said.
She also said a November vote worries her because of “political gain.”
“The previous SPLOSTs were focused on building of new schools, and this SPLOST currently is focused on maintaining our structures,” she said. “The longer time it takes for it to come before the board for a vote, the more likely other interested parties will get involved in the decision-making.”
Lynnda Eagle, who represents northwest Cobb, said she supports the project list and the March special election.
“If SPLOST IV is approved in March, we would not see any increase in our current sales tax,” she said. “However, if a SPLOST is not brought forward, I believe every homeowner should prepare for an increase in property tax or, at the least, the district would be forced to consider floating a bond.”
She also said Cobb Schools is “very fortunate” to not have any debt.
“By having the funds through sales tax, our county and our school district can benefit from receiving revenue from people outside the county,” Eagle said. “This SPLOST notebook has been extremely transparent; there have been many opportunities for local schools and the school communities to offer input toward it. I am confident that we are ready to move forward, and, hopefully have a vote in March 2013.”
David Banks, who represents northwest Cobb, said he plans on voting in favor of the referendum Wednesday to maintain the quality of the district’s facilities for safety and to keep education at the level the public expects in Cobb.
He also said he’s comfortable with the referendum being voted on in March and with the project list, but there are some things he’d like to have seen on it.
“One, I’d love to have a magnet project for Sprayberry (High School in Marietta), which would mean acquiring some additional land, creating a facility and implementing a magnet program … Two, increase the size of the Wheeler magnet program,” he said.
The board’s oversight committee for SPLOST-related projects, Facilities and Technology, will meet and vote Tuesday night on their recommendation to the board regarding the notebook.
In other business, the board will work on their legislative wish list.
Sweeney said the board would spend a portion of its work session narrowing down priorities then vote to adopt which ones they’d like to present before the Cobb legislative delegation at the end of this month.
The board will also vote to accept Cobb Chief Academic Officer Judi Jones’ request for retirement and possibly appoint her replacement, along with a principal at both Addison and LaBelle elementary schools.
In other business, the board will talk about approving the following items at:
n A $9.8 million contract with Yancey Bus Sales and Service of Austell for 97 72-passenger school buses, three 72-passenger buses with lifts and 15 48-passenger buses with lifts. It would be funded through SPLOST III, state bonds and a Georgia Environmental Protection Division grant.
Yancey was one of three companies that submitted a bid for the Request for Proposal that was due Oct. 5. The company that scored second was Peachstate Bus Sales of Gainesville and third was Rush Bus Centers of Selma, Texas.
The state bond will help purchase 29 buses at the rate of $76,219.50 per bus, or about $2.2 million in all.
The grant, which gives pays $489,600 of the total cost, requires the district to remove 12 of its current fleet and submit them for scrap.
n A recommendation to extend an award for construction and materials to SouthCore Construction Inc. of Kennesaw and Triad Construction Company of Atlanta between Dec. 14 and Nov. 30, 2013. It would be paid for by SPLOST III and countywide building funds.
n A recommendation to extend an award for network data cabling and wireless infrastructure with NetPlanner Systems Inc. of Norcross between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013. It would be funded by SPLOST III.
The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. with public comments and held in the boardroom at 514 Glover St. in Marietta.
For more information or to see a copy of the SPLOST IV notebook, visit the district’s website at www.cobbk12.org.