Board member Morgan seeks academic audit of Cobb district
by Hannah Morgan
November 15, 2013 01:30 AM | 2579 views | 7 7 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
David Morgan (MDJ/Special)
David Morgan (MDJ/Special)
slideshow
MARIETTA — Cobb school board member David Morgan wants another set of eyes to look at the district’s academics and policies, especially at some of the most underperforming schools.

His colleagues on the board disagree, saying an audit would be repetitive and that they would be paying for a service the superintendent is supposed to be doing.

“I don’t know what I am buying yet, I need more specifics,” said Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn.

At Morgan’s request, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and his staff brought to Wednesday’s work session a list of around six companies that would be able to academically audit the district.

Amy Krause, the chief academic officer for the district, said the company they found, Evergreen Solutions LLC, of Tallahassee, Fla., would likely cost the district between $109,000 to $770,000 for an audit, which Morgan has requested to be done every three years.

However, Morgan’s fellow board members were not eager to pay for an outside source to point out what they already knew was going on in schools, they said.

System already in place

“I think it’s costly and a little redundant,” said board member Tim Stultz, “I think we already know what our weak spots are.”

Stultz suspected the district would already be aware of any issues an audit would reveal. These are issues, he said, the district is paying the superintendent to find and fix.

“The superintendent is hired by the board to address any problems that are brought forward, and if board members do not agree that it is being accomplished, then the superintendent is held responsible for that,” said Stultz.

Hinojosa said he had been in school districts in Texas, including Dallas and Austin, that had benefited from academic audits.

Although they were expensive, Hinojosa said the audits did reveal some areas for improvement for the school districts, although the changes then took “time to implement.”

Those improvements might not be worth the extra price, Stultz said.

Since Hinojosa has been in office, Stultz has seen some positive change in the test scores at schools within his district, and didn’t necessarily think Hinojosa wasn’t aware of or not working to fix the district’s problems.

“I’m not against new ideas, but I don’t know what I am buying” and at what cost, said Scamihorn.

He and fellow board member Kathleen Angelucci argued they wanted to be “wise” with the public’s money, only spending it on services that were worth their value.

“We have a central staff that is analyzing our data,” and determining where the district needs improvements, and implementing necessary changes, Scamihorn said.

If a board member was upset with the progress being made, they should hold the superintendent responsible, board members said.

Morgan argued that not pursuing an audit would keep the district at the status-quo, unable to change any of its detrimental policies and procedures, he said.

“Somebody else gotta help us, y’all,” Morgan said.

Policies questioned

Morgan asked his fellow board members, “Why do we continue with certain procedures?” such as forced teacher placements.

When a school drops in enrollment, Morgan said, teachers are usually taken from their schools and placed in other schools that need teachers, even if the principals at the new schools don’t think the new teachers will “be a good fit.”

Morgan would like to see this practice eliminated, as he said he believes it could reduce teacher turnover rates in school, and boost test scores.

“The school board is tasked with bringing the sense of urgency to change the district,” and its policies, Morgan said.

Instead of shuffling teachers around, Morgan said, the district should just let teachers re-apply for new jobs within the county, and leave the hiring decisions up to the principals.

Stultz agreed with Morgan, but didn’t believe that paying for an outside audit was the only way to change the current policy.

The board asked Hinojosa to present them with more specifics, including costs and benefits.

He is expected to present the information at the board’s Jan. 15 meeting, Scamihorn said.

Comments
(7)
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That's Enough
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November 15, 2013
OK - time to totally clean house starting with Morgan and Hinojosa. Morgan has his eye on the Board Chair so he has to make some statements that will gain exposure in the MDJ. I have totally had it. Our low performing schools are that way because of the family/home lives these kids have. Nothing we can do in our schools will change that or improve that. These low performing schools have loads of federal and state money funneled into them each year and they are STILL low performing. What more can we do????
anonymous
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November 15, 2013
Morgan may win the award for being dumbest school board member in the state of Georgia. He might want to look at employment laws before he opens his mouth again.
anonymous
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November 15, 2013
How many of these companies are tied to Mr Morgan or his wife in some manner? And can he stick around if his wife somehow gets elected to the state?
Listen Closely...
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November 15, 2013
No.
necobbmom
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November 15, 2013
Thank you Kathy,and Randy for being fiscally responsible with our tax dollars. Why Morgan has come up with this idea, who knows why(maybe getting a kick back of some sort from any company who gets the contract. Time for the school board to quit spending money. Time for Banks to retire (as he comes up with as many idiotic ideas as Morgan does). Time for a new Superintendant (wonder why he doesn't release his evaluation??? cause it isn't pretty.
anonymous
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November 15, 2013
Good idea- let teachers reapply. Just make sure that the ones let go are the low performing so no one will hire them and we cut the dead wood!
Morgan should go
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November 15, 2013
The superintendent and all of those $ 100,000 per jobs are suppose to be fixing the issues at low performing schools. Of course, the problems are the parents or lack their of. If the superintendent can't do his job, then get rid of him. We have the top heavy executives at the county level and no one can fix failing schools? Really? None of those people have suggestions? Sad
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