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.