New members announced for Cobb County School Board cabinet
by Haisten Willis
May 30, 2014 04:00 AM | 10613 views | 32 32 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chris Ragsdale (MDJ/File)
Chris Ragsdale (MDJ/File)
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MARIETTA — Interim Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale named his top aides on the same night the Cobb school board passed the final budget for the 2014-15 school year.

Ragsdale kept two members of former Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s six-person cabinet, Brad Johnson and Angela Huff. But the other four positions will see new faces, and in some cases, Ragsdale shuffled titles and job roles around. Ragsdale’s cabinet will have seven members rather than six.

The cabinet, approved by the board 7-0 Thursday night, consists of Grant Rivera, chief leadership and learning officer; John Adams, chief human resources officer and interim chief operations officer; Huff, chief of staff; Johnson, chief financial officer; Angela Bacon, interim chief technology officer; Greg Ewing, chief accountability and research officer; and Mary Elizabeth Davis, chief academic officer.

“I needed to make sure we had a team in place that I felt could move the district forward,” Ragsdale said. “We’re all about moving onward and upward, and I expect nothing but the best for the district. I believe this team is going to provide the district with that success.”

Makeup of the cabinet

Three positions in the old cabinet already were open at the start of the meeting.

The board promoted Ragsdale from deputy superintendent of operational support to interim superintendent on April 10. His interim term runs from May 2014 to May 2015.

Cheryl Hungerford, former deputy superintendent of leadership and learning, announced her retirement the same day.

A third position came open May 16 when Amy Krause, chief academic officer of Cobb schools, announced her retirement via email.

Johnson and Huff retained their positions and titles, but Michael Shanahan, chief human resources officer, was not kept onboard. In his place will be Adams, who previously worked in CCSD as a teacher, assistant principal and as executive director of employee relations. He left in 2011 to found Educators First, a non-union teacher organization.

“He will basically be doing the same thing I was doing with operations and technology,” Ragsdale said. “I was doing the chief operations officer role and the chief technology officer role.”

Adams said his goal is to make the district even more employee-friendly.

“I want to have the best human resources department in the state,” he said.

Not long after the announcement, Shanahan walked out of the room and did not return. Because it relates to personnel, Ragsdale did not comment on whether Shanahan was offered a renewal of his contract.

The new title of chief technology officer, held by Bacon, fills the rest of the duties of Ragsdale’s old job.

“Previously, Bacon was the chief information officer for Clayton County schools,” Ragsdale said. “So she obviously has the experience needed to run a large IT department within a large district.”

Rivera fills the role left open by Hungerford’s retirement. He had previously been principal at Campbell High and South Cobb High, and most recently was principal of Westlake High in Fulton County.

“It’s a benefit that we’re able to bring people back into Cobb,” Ragsdale said.

Ewing moves over from a position within Cobb schools. He had been supervisor of the school district’s English as a Second Language and foreign language programs. Davis had been assistant superintendent of curriculum in Cobb schools.

“Ewing’s position is going to be very important because of the relationship with data and the decision we need to make based on empirical data,” Ragsdale said.

The new cabinet members assume their roles July 1.

Budget passed

The school board also voted on final approval of a $900.2 million general fund budget, a jump from the current year’s $856.3 million bugdet. The new budget is $43.9 million, or 5.1 percent, higher than last year’s budget.

“After the last five or six years, this is great news for our community,” board member Tim Stultz said about the budget.

Thanks to a jump in both state revenues and property taxes, the budget includes no furlough days, a 180-day school year, 1 percent raises for all employees and at least 300 new hires.

The board considered adding 400 new employees at the suggestion of school board member Scott Sweeney, but will stay at 300. However, Ragsdale said during the meeting additional hires can be made this fall, when the district gets a solid count on the number of students enrolled for the 2014-15 school year.

According to Johnson, the school district’s finance chief, 1,300 teacher positions have been eliminated from the Cobb budget over the last five years. The addition of 300 new teachers next year adds some of those positions back. In total, the number of what the district calls local school positions — essentially any non-central office staff jobs — will increase from 11,298 to 11,603.

Comments
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Been There Done That
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June 06, 2014
Grant Rivera is the worse educational leader I have ever known. He will lie on anyone to make himself look better. Pray for the teachers and school administrators in Cobb County. Brace yourselves for the games he plays. Fulton County eagerly passed him back!
anonymous
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June 02, 2014
This has been a long fight, not only involving education, but crime also in Cobb County. Face it people that facts do not deny. East Cobb has more alluent educated people than there are in South Cobb. Get over it. South Cobb is the toilet of Cobb County.
anonymous
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June 02, 2014
What Cobb County and Marietta need is to get rid of the whiny baby, incompetent teachers that are not speaking out here in volumes because they are on their extended vacations. That would do it.
Roger DeFarge
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June 01, 2014
What happened to Mr Gaddis? Was he passed over for Grant?
shockedbutnot
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June 03, 2014
Yes, Mr. Gaddis was passed over for Grant Rivera, who left CCSD on less than expected performance issues. But, John Adams???What a joke. This will go down as the weakest superintendent and cabinet EVER in Cobb School history.
Amnesic?!
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May 31, 2014
Rivera?!?! Didn't Cobb learn its lesson the first time?!?!

Stories of misery abound from his time in Cobb at McEachern, South Cobb and Campbell. From his move into administration after only 18 months as a "teacher" (with never more than 8-10 kids in a class)** because he didn't "like the classroom" to the tyrant he became once he was in charge, he represents the worst to be found in a career that is supposed to be about children. Then he went elsewhere and the process was repeated.

http://westlakessinkingship.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/grant-rivera-whs/

This is how Chris Ragsdale shows us he's the man up to the challenges of Cobb?! What a disaster. Grant Rivera has always and WILL always only care about one thing; himself. And he will destroy anyone who challenges his ascent.

**18 months... which, mind you, was not long enough to be an administrator, so they "cooked the books" at McEachern to get him on the admin team to the detriment of the Special Needs population he was SUPPOSED to be serving.
How is it?
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May 31, 2014
How can a man who has taken money from teachers for the last three years to defend and protect them from the "big bad" Cobb County School District, now going to serve the school district as Director Human Resources? Can't imagine the conversation in the room when Educator's First teacher says to Director of Human Resources, "wait a second, I paid you for three years to protect me from my administrator and now you want me to do as my administrator asks?" How is it that not one Board Member even considered that his appointment might be a conflict of interest to the district? How is it not one Board member saw a potential for possible problems down the road on this? How is it that not one Board member did not ask if the position was posted, interviews were conducted and the best candidate selected? How is it that the Board is ignoring best practices in fair and equitable hiring for such a large district on this one? Smh on this one...
Please . . .
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May 31, 2014
Take a powder.
unbelievableincompet
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June 03, 2014
Check into Adams attendance record before he left CCSD. Quality....oh yeah. What is Ragsdale doing?
Dear Please
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June 04, 2014
You sound like one of those pompous know it all kind of people who has never spent one day of your life working in a public school. When presented with a valid concern you have no rational reply backed by evidence, so you resort to a stupid, trying to sound condescending reply. Do us all a favor and save the one liners for your stand up routine and let the rest of us focus on the issues at hand.
Bill Clements
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May 30, 2014
Very bold and solid beginning ! Quite a first night on the job ? The Cobb School District needs a change in direction and this is a splendid beginning with some proven hires - hopefully a little more sweeping will be done at Glover Street.
kickly kin
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June 01, 2014
OH No! If Bill Clements is for it, it has to be a bad idea!
South Cobb Parent
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May 30, 2014
Great first round of picks by Ragsdale! So glad to see Grant Rivera coming back to Cobb.
Just Wait
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May 30, 2014
And let the parent whining begin.
AmericanMale
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May 30, 2014
Haisten, you wrote that the budget "...1 percent raises for all employees..." Did you mean restoration of 1 of the 2% cut years ago or that EVERYBODY gets another 1% in their paycheck?
anonymous
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May 30, 2014
if it's more than last year, it is a raise.
Wackford Squeers
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May 30, 2014
Haisten knows exactly what she wrote and intended it for the low information crowd. She knows very well that district employees have not had raises in nearly six years and that this 1% only restores part of what has been taken from employees over the last several years.
same old stuff
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May 30, 2014
These appointments reek of cronyism. Half these people are completely unqualified for their positions but Ragsdale knows they will be good puppets. I guess that is what you get when you promote someone who is unqualified to Super who wants to protect himself first. Keep Huff but fire Shanahan? Add an additional position for a friend? Yep, same old stuff.
vivienne1932
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May 31, 2014
HELLO!!! Cobb County...good old boys...where you been all your life?! Must be a Yankee!
Tallahatchee Bridge
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May 30, 2014
What a disaster.
kidndle
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May 30, 2014
Disappointed he Huff. Maybe he needs to verify the resume.
noguts
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June 03, 2014
Afraid to let Huff go. What kind of superintendent needs a chief of staff? What IS a COS?

Good decision making Ragsdale....oh, that's right, you donnt' really know what they hell you're doing,but someone (?) is guiding you. could it reak of Scamihorn? It's really pretty hilarious.
Because I'm Happy
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May 30, 2014
Bummed to see Angela Huff still on the cabinet... she's a waste. VERY Happy though to see Grant Rivera back! He's a TRUE asset to our district and it was a shame that we lost him in the 1st place! And EXTREMELY Happy to see Shanahan gone! As we're scrambling to get positions filled by the district goal of June 12th - Shanahan and his department left EARLY last Friday when the school personnel NEEDED them there to help accomplish this goal. Score 1 for Ragsdale.
@happy
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May 30, 2014
The Super told all central office staff to leave early last week. They do that before every holiday if you did not know that, even with kids in school. Just leave someone to aswer the phone. Been going on for years
yhni
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June 01, 2014
You have no idea how bad this is going to be. The sheer lack of experience is STAGGERING!!
Very Surprised
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May 30, 2014
Extremely surprised he would keep Angela Huff and very disappointed. That is not a good sign. It will be interesting watching the role Greg Ewing who comes from the Foreign Language and ESL department into data. The county just cut a huge amount of ESL teachers and have waived numbers for those teachers to 16-18 students. In addition, the county has cut special education positions, yet they complain about the achievement gaps. You will not close the achievement gaps with less staff! Should be an interesting year! Extremely happy to have Grant Rivera back though!
Omar the Begger
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May 30, 2014
And the Purge is well under way, who’s next, I don’t know. But what I do know is that something has to get done with this school system and if a few heads roll so be it. As you all know I have no head so I am safe but the Cobb County School System needs to move on up into the 21st century and if this is what it takes then (LET’S DO IT).
headsroll
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June 03, 2014
A few heads rolled alright, but, unfortuanately, the heads that rolled are the wrong ones. The heads left at CCSD are undereducated and inexperienced. Go figure.
Great Hires
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May 30, 2014
Great hires for Ragsdale. Cobb is back on track!
Cobb Teacher
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May 30, 2014
Ragsdale is starting to shake things up. Good for him and good for the district. He named some good people tonight who have been around for a while and hopefully they will remember that the students and teachers should come first. I have taken a class with Dr. Ewing and he tells it like it is in story fashion like only he can do. John Adams has been on the other side of the table defending teachers with Shannahan. No wonder he walked out of the meeting. Mr. Adams is a good man and maybe folks will start receiving better treatment, especially from some of the power-hungry principals. I only know two of the new cabinet members but based on those two alone, the Glover Street clowns won't know how to react to these new folks.
Ol' Dawg
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May 31, 2014
Have known John Adams for a while, both as a HR investigator and as Educator's First co-founder. Disheartening to learn he's gone back to the Dark Side, but he's a class act and has integrity. Hope he doesn't lose perspective gained in the last 3 years.
the bet is ....
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June 01, 2014
6 months and all h**l will break loose. Las Vegas odds say GR will tick off the principals in the first month of school and the morale will dip to a point where APS and Fulton will reap the benefits.....
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