Residents blast Brumby Elementary site proposal at Cobb school board meeting
by Haisten Willis
March 28, 2014 04:00 AM | 11600 views | 20 20 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Atlanta attorney and Cobb resident Bennet D. Asher emphatically addresses the Cobb School Board with his opinions against its plans to rebuild Brumby Elementary School near Sope Creek Elementary School.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Atlanta attorney and Cobb resident Bennet D. Asher emphatically addresses the Cobb School Board with his opinions against its plans to rebuild Brumby Elementary School near Sope Creek Elementary School.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Cobb County resident Ron Mitchell displays his dislike of the proposal to relocate Brumby Elementary to a site off Terrell Mill Road during Thursday’s public input as part of the Cobb school board’s regular meeting.<br>Kelly J. Huff
Cobb County resident Ron Mitchell displays his dislike of the proposal to relocate Brumby Elementary to a site off Terrell Mill Road during Thursday’s public input as part of the Cobb school board’s regular meeting.
Kelly J. Huff
MARIETTA — It will be at least another week before the next superintendent of the Cobb County School District is announced, according to district spokesman Jay Dillon.

Board member David Banks’ Wednesday prediction that Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s replacement would be named Thursday night turned out to be false.

Following the meeting, Dillon said the board was unlikely to name a new superintendent during spring break, so at least 10 days will likely pass before an announcement.

Any suspense owing to Banks’ prediction had plenty of time to build before things got started at Thursday’s meeting. The meeting was supposed to begin at 7 p.m. but didn’t get moving until almost an hour later as the board deliberated behind closed doors.

After coming out in public to vote on the items listed on the evening’s agenda, the board returned to deliberate behind closed doors for about another hour before leaving for the night.

Banks confirmed the board was talking about the superintendent search for at least part of the first lengthy closed session of the night and said the matter would be discussed in the second one also.

“I think that’s the plan,” he said.

Hinojosa’s last day on the job is May 31. The school board is looking for an interim replacement, though no start date or term length has been established.

Residents upset over new Brumby site

With no news on the expected announcement, a large part of Thursday’s meeting was taken up by parents and residents upset about the planned relocation of Brumby Elementary School.

Of the 12 people who signed up for public comment, 11 mentioned Brumby at some point.

The speakers gave a host of reasons why Brumby shouldn’t be relocated to a site off Terrell Mill Road near Sope Creek Elementary, including traffic, the behavior of Brumby students, redistricting, the amount spent purchasing the land, the board’s discussion of the deal in a “smoke-filled room,” East Cobb Middle School’s chance of also being relocated to the site, and a possible Indian burial ground that may be located on the land.

“This is a travesty waiting to happen,” said resident Joe Ondras.

Most said they were not opposed to Brumby getting a new school, just the location itself.

“You can find another place for it,” said resident Arthur Fonzo. “Please do.”

The speakers received thunderous applause from the audience following their comments.

A few Mableton residents weighed in from another angle.

Three speakers brought up Harmony Leland Elementary, saying it is the oldest school in Cobb County and should have been rebuilt, possibly in consolidation with Clay Elementary, instead of Brumby.

One resident didn’t mince words with what he sees as a pure political move.

“They screwed south Cobb to help east Cobb,” said Knox Burns, who has lived in the county for more than 40 years.

Board member David Morgan represents the south Cobb area, including Harmony Leland. Morgan said he was disappointed the board decided to rebuild two schools “north of I-75” rather than Harmony Leland/Clay, but didn’t say whether he would favor the schools in his district being rebuilt over Brumby specifically.

The Brumby relocation may prove to be an issue during this year’s school board races. Kevin Nicholas is challenging board member Scott Sweeney, who represents the area. Because both are Republicans they will face off in the May 20 primary, with the winner taking the seat.

“I’m concerned about the lack of information,” Nicholas said, adding that Sweeney has been elusive about giving information to taxpayers. While he believes the decision to move Brumby to the 35-acre site has been decided, he said the process could have been handled better.

Nicholas did not say whether he opposed or supported East Cobb Middle being moved to the site.

Sweeney noted the board voted 7-0 on the land purchase for the Brumby relocation, the board chose that site specifically for the school and said he’s been to four different homeowner association meetings in the area in recent weeks. He stopped short of calling Brumby’s move a done deal.

“We’re still in a diligence period,” Sweeney said.

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Pro Terrell Mill
April 03, 2014
Build the school. Terrell Mill is the right location. As stated by others. WHERE else not by a bar or commercial area? Traffic is a non issue. Brumby is currently on a busy street and it is fine. There is at least a dozen plus schools across the county that are on main roads that are just fine. Brumby's current location can be sold as a commercial property which will decrease the expense needed to rebuild Brumby. The board is doing the right thing for Brumby and the kids there. The boards responsibility is to those kids. This is the right thing.
Ellen James 2
April 01, 2014
Oh, and by the way... I was at the OPM meeting (along with several others). Nicholas wasn't there just to listen to residents concerns. I heard him encouraging people to add their names and email addresses to a list of people who would actively oppose the new school, at any cost. All the while talking out of the other side of his mouth to Brumby people, telling them that the deal was pretty much done and that he would take care of them. Ridiculous man. At least Sweeney isn't changing his story to match whatever audience he's speaking with.
Ellen James
April 01, 2014
Kevin Nicholas is a fool who is only running because he doesn't like Sweeney's position on Brumby. This has been made abundantly clear with his sneaky attempts to get the neighborhoods surrounding Brumby to hire legal counsel to oppose it, all the while telling Brumby supporters that he wants what's best for them. Yeah, right. He is NOT working for what's best for Post 6. He is working for what he thinks is best for his neighborhood only.
@ Concerned Resident
March 30, 2014
You're trying to dismiss Kevin Nicholas involvement in fighting the relocation is laughable at best.

You stated that "In fairness to Mr. Nicholas, at the OPM (Old Paper Mill) meeting, he was there to listen to the residents concerns."

Meanwhile Mrs. Nicholas posts on a facebook blog that "Michelle Ansley, John Dolan and Kevin Nicholas have held two separate Town Hall Meetings."

The meeting purpose orchestrated by Mr. Nicholas has been in opposition to Brumby. The road show was held to gain support to have legal counsel retained to fight the school location choice.

Guess what - Nicholas' idea was rejected by the HOA's.
Cobb School Advocate
March 28, 2014
This Board is terrible and can't make a tough or even bright decision. There is plenty of distressed property around the current Brumby site - buy it and expand the core and classroom space for Brumby. Moving from one high traffic area to another high traffic area is just nuts. Just how much SPLOSH money has been spenT on Brumby last 10-12 ?

This Board should be reviewing resumes for the new and permanant superintendent - just advertise the opening in education professional journals and the candidates/applications will fall form the skies. Get the person hired and on board this summer - pretty simple order and the major job of the Board of Eduation.
Cobb resident
March 28, 2014
Why did the Board not name a new superintendent? Atlanta Public Schools named a new Super and yet Cobb can't, won't, doesn't, ? As one speaker in the audience said last night during public comment, "at best the Board looks unorganized and at worst dishonest". This was in reference to the Brumby relocation fiasco but now I wonder if they are taking "kick backs / power grabs" from the new Super and holding out for the highest bidder / giver.

MDJ - please tell us who they have interviewed and give us names and info on each candidate. I will bet we know something about each person within our communities.

Buzzy Creplock Jr.
March 28, 2014
Sounds a lot like "Keep those on the other side of the tracks. They don't belong on OUR side of Powers Ferry".
Just Wait
March 28, 2014
So the real reason that the Soap Creek parents are so upset is that they fear their upscale children may have to associate with poor kids from Brumby. Everything else they say is just window dressing.
Thank you Board!
March 28, 2014
Kudos to the board for the Brumby location - they got this one right, and contrary to the opinion of some, many in the community actually applaud the board's wisdom in getting this done.

"if it ain't broke"
March 28, 2014
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, were a famous president's words. So let me get this straight : here you have an excellent school, low transiency, high test scores, and here you have a struggling school, high transiency rates and lower test scores, so you want to change the excellent school and submerge it into the other school?? How stupid can you get?
April 01, 2014
What are you talking about? Nobody is submerging anything.
March 28, 2014
I was an interesting meeting but will someone please give Tim Stultz a hair make-over. Please that bowl cut is awful to look at without laughing.
Love a Scrum
March 28, 2014
Mr. Nicholas - Did you, or did you not, appear at a HOA meeting recruiting homeowners to retain an attorney to oppose Brumby's relocation - No need to reply - You did.

The Brumby community doesn't appreciate your failing support for our school.

Mr. Nicholas - while appearing with the Brumby PTA, did you, or did you not, even know who the Brumby principal was? - You didn't.

Tip - know your audience next time.

Mr. Sweeney has been the most supportive board member within the community. I don't know how you could call him elusive when he's appeared, often on very short notice, at recent HOA meetings and a PTA town hall at Brumby to address questions about the Brumby relocation. He's appeared, spoken and handled tough Q&A sessions, particularly about the budget, during more public meetings than any other board member.

Mr. Sweeney has also produced and shared two very informative letters about Brumby's relocation that dispel many of the rumors your Amberley Park neighbors have spread, such as:

* Eminent Domain - No

* Redraw Sope Creek attendance zone - No

* Redraw Brumby attendance zone - No

* Zoning - No zoning required

* Access from two streets required - Actually recommended

* Alternate locations - considered

* Rebuild at current location - not recommended, site is too small, can't operate current school while constructing new facility and getting school out of commercial zone

While not always favoring the board's decisions, you have to ask yourself - why does the board unanimously (i.e. 7-0 vote) support this move to this site? They've likely done their homework and the Terrell Mill site was the best location.

By the way Mr. Nicholas, how many flat, 15 acre land parcels are there with willing sellers and for sale within the East Cobb Brumby attendance zone, outside of a commercial area, not adjacent to a bar that are inexpensive from an acquisition and development cost perspective, AND from a legal cost and procedural perspective as well if it is Mr. Nicholas solution to exercise eminent domain?

Mr. Sweeney has steadfastly stated that he knows of no board member, including himself, that would support an eminent domain action to relocate Brumby, yet Mr. Nicholas supporters make that suggestion openly on a facebook blog.

Lastly; don't know who the man was who spoke at the board meeting last evening and said that he "didn't want the school located at Terrell Mill Road because of the way that THOSE Brumby children behave." This is an incredulous statement supported by Mr. Nicholas' neighbor.

J.P. Mike
March 28, 2014
I was at the meeting in which a speaker referred to some of the students as "THOSE CHILDREN". I was totally flabbergasted when Kevin Nicholas did not object to this characterization or step in. After all, it was clear that Nicholas was only there trying to round up some votes. Exactly what did he mean by the statement, 'Don't worry, we will take care of you'.

Mr. Nicholas needs to learn that leadership means BEING A LEADER even when it is not popular. Please do not pander to the lowest common denominator.

Shame on this group and their social media page. It is one of the first times that I have been ashamed to call myself from east Cobb. We are better than that….

March 28, 2014
Well said!
Community Lynn
March 28, 2014
Cobber, I agree with everything you said above. One thing you left out though is the school board had to put a contract on the entire property for sale as the family did not want to subdivide.

Scott Sweeney has done a great job working to get Brumby a new that will be state of the art and will make the Brumby community proud. Hoping it can be a place for the community to gather besides a place of wonderful education.

To Watcher...what possible money could Sweeney or other school board members make off of purchasing the only large, residential property in the area?

The selection of the two new elementary schools to be built with the recent educational SPLOSTS had been in the paper, the Patch, in newsletters since at least November. Those of us who educated ourselves to what was going on...the selection of Brumby was hard fought and not knowing the Terrell Mill property wasn't a consideration for our area just means people were not paying attention. The site wasn't a surprise to those who were.

If you have never been to Brumby to see the children...please don't comment on them as they are the most well behaved and polite children I have seen. Plus they have a very active PTA.

As a homeowner, I can't wait for the purchase to be final and the planning stage to begin. There are a lot more of us in the Brumby area that are excited about the move than you think and support the efforts of Scott Sweeney and the rest of the school board to give the Brumby children a new school. (I certainly wouldn't support someone who didn't support Brumby kids and our area.)

Concerned Resident
March 28, 2014
I wish Mr. Sweeney had been as emphatic with his answers to residents as his supporters seem to be. Only when Mr. Sweeney decided to run again and was on campaign mode did he attend HOA meetings. His answers however, left a lot to be desired hiding behind due diligence or "there is no plan..." which in political speaks means "at this moment", but who knows 6 months from now. Many of thr "rumor" have turned out to be true. At first, we were told Brumby would relocate there, but we wondered why they would buy so much land? then DOT disclosed that the study was for TWO schools. (It would have been nice if the study was not done during the winter storm or Winter Break.) No one has ever said that Brumby doesn't need a new building, but for those of us familiar with Terrell Mill traffic, it will be a nightmare. All I can think of is - Friday afternoon on a Braves game day with commuters trying to get home and add all those parents who would be coming from the south joining the lockjam to pick up their children. Traffic has to be a consideration. I wish our board would think outside the box and do what Fulton did with North Atlanta High School. They repurposed the old IBM building on Northside!! In fairness to Mr. Nicholas, at the OPM meeting, he was there to listen to the residents concerns. We had a blizzard of residents emailing each other worried about the unknown. We are still trying to get definite answers.
March 28, 2014
“We’re still in a diligence period,” Sweeney said.

MDJ, please get to the bottom of Sweeney's involvement with the Brumby relocation.

Get the whole story exposed! What are the REAL plans for the Brumby site? Who is involved with Sweeney? What are Sweeney's goals for the Kids and Teachers of CCSD?

There is an awful lot of money involved in the new Brumby site! FOLLOW the MONEY to wherever it leads.!
Hello Watcher
March 28, 2014
What part about a unanimous decision don't you understand?

Remove Sweeney from the discussion and you still have a 6-0 result.
March 28, 2014
This rebuild was 'board voted 7-0 on the land purchase for the Brumby relocation, the board chose that site specifically for the school'. Why so many busting Sweeney's chops? Sounds like Sweeney's challenger, Kevin Nichols, is grasping at straws and supported by conspiracy theorists. DOES Mr. Nichols have any viable solutions he would like to share?!?!

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