Cobb County School District eyes IE2 system
by Emily Boorstein
August 14, 2014 04:00 AM | 6453 views | 7 7 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lindsey Tippins
Lindsey Tippins
MARIETTA — The Cobb School District won’t likely stay part of the “status quo” after this school year.

Under state law, all public school systems are required to choose if they are going to remain a traditional, “status quo” system or opt to become a charter system or an Investing in Educational Excellence system.

State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said the law was passed a few years ago to give districts more flexibility in how they run with the tradeoff of making them more accountable to meet education standards set by the state and federal governments.

Tippins said school districts must declare which route they choose by July 1, 2015.

Because Cobb would face losing $44 million in waivers if it stayed a status quo system, such as the one that allows it to increase class sizes beyond what is set by the state, Chief Academic Officer Mary Elizabeth Davis said at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting the district isn’t considering that an option.

Davis said a charter system takes a one-size-fits-all approach in its performance goals: “All schools try to do whatever innovative and creative techniques would be appropriate to try to meet that overall district goal in a charter system.”

Cobb’s large size makes IE2 the better route to go because it allows the district to set goals for individual schools, she said. Three districts in the state — Gwinnett, Forsyth and Rabun counties — are IE2 systems.

Board member Scott Sweeney called the potential move one of the most important decisions facing the school board.

Davis said the district plans on submitting its letter of intent in November.

Prior to that, interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale plans on calling a retreat for the school board to weigh its options, although he said the choice is obvious.

“After my staff analyzed the options, evaluated the input we received from stakeholders, and had conversations with policy-makers and leaders at the state level, the decision was very clear,” Ragsdale said. “IE2 will allow our district and our school communities to have local flexibility while providing a system of support. After all of the considerations have been taken into account, I am convinced that IE2 is the best option for the Cobb County School District.”

There is no cost to become an IE2 school, Davis said.

No to Banks

Also Wednesday, two proposals by member David Banks fell flat.

Banks proposed tapping into the district’s rainy day reserve — which he said has an excess of $100 million — to compensate teachers who oversee extracurricular clubs such as a chess team, as well as a plan to pay for eighth- and ninth-graders to take the preliminary SAT.

The state Board of Education pays for 10th-graders to take the test.

Banks said it makes sense to him to make the investment of $14 per student — a total nearing $300,000 — to take the PSAT more than once to better prepare them to take the SAT.

Vice Chairman Randy Scamihorn did not agree.

“I don’t believe I can support this; $300,000 would fund at least five or six new teachers, reducing class sizes for a year,” said Scamihorn.

Kathleen Angelucci, board chairwoman, voiced concern about missed classroom time and said she was very cautious about adding to the number of tests students are already required to take.

“Fifth grade is Iowa (Test of Basic Skills), seventh grade is Iowa, eighth grade is ReadiStep, 10th grade is PSAT or the ASVAB (a test to determine aptitude to join the military) … 11th grade is the SAT or the ACT,” Angelucci said, “We also have the EOCT, which is now the GMAP.

“When you consider $300,000, to me, that’s just astronomical,” she added, saying parents or students who want to take the PSAT in addition to the one the state pays for in 10th grade should pay the $14.

If that’s a hardship, Angelucci suggested appealing to the school board for the money for an individual student.

Member Tim Stultz suggested looking into tutoring to help students prepare, while Ragsdale hinted the PSAT could be losing its effectiveness since more colleges are moving to the ACT to assess potential students.

Ultimately, Banks did not get the three votes needed to put the PSAT funding on the agenda at the board’s next meeting.

On the issue of extracurricular clubs, Angelucci thought money would be better spent on restoring the pay cut teachers took during the recession.

The board also approved three promotions. Kennesaw Elementary School Assistant Principal Alison Broughton will now lead Baker Elementary as its principal. Kevin Kiger, who was a hiring supervisor for human resources, will now be the executive director of employment and software engineer Ryan Pynes will become the director of technology program management.

Broughton will see her pay increase from $78,443 to $96,419. Kiger’s salary is going from $77,817 to $86,085 and Pynes’ pay is going up by about $3,000 to $95,197.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Great idea
August 15, 2014
I think IE2 is an excellent solution also based on the diversity of the Cobb System. Charter schools allow schools to go beyond the curriculum as evidenced by Walton and maybe even help the lower performing schools to amp up a program that was probably dummied down to allow schools to look good on paper. I think the important thing is to also map the process once it starts. I think so many times teachers aren't allowed to teach as they have their hands tied by strict curriculum that is assigned to them on top of testing. Oh and thank you for not paying for more testing. Really Banks? 8th and 9th graders? How would that even help? Keep up the great work. I am really liking this "interim" superintendent and I really hope he becomes permanent. He is cleaning up and trying make some positive changes.
Eric Stein
August 14, 2014
Elizabeth Davis makes the assertion that a "charter system takes a one size fits all approach..". This is a misleading assertion as it implies that the IE2 approach will not require school systems to meet broad goals. In fact, in an IE2 system "student performance goals must meet or exceed state averages and exceed previous system performance" (from the GADOE powerpoint "School System Flexibility in Georgia")

So far as I can tell, the primary benefit of IE2 system classification seems to be that schools that fail to meet their identified standards will cease to be governed by the county. Among the options for the new governance, conveniently, is governance by a private (profit or non-profit) entity.

This seems like a very convenient means for Cobb County to set up a lot of schools to fail and then shuck off governance to a third party.

@ Eric Stein
August 14, 2014
Has any of what you described occurred in Gwinnett, Forsyth, or Rabun counties each of which has been under IE2 for some time?
Eric Stein
August 14, 2014
The 2013-2014 school year was the fifth year for Gwinnett, Forsyth and Rabun counties. According to the GADOE report for the 2012-2013 year, Gwinnett had 11 schools (out of 121 - nearly 10%, not great) in danger of being pulled out of Gwinnett Governance and Forsyth had 5 (out of 33 - that's 15%, not good). If any of those schools failed to hit their targets, they are subject to sanctions.

The report for the 2013-2014 school year CCRPI scores will not be delivered until May or June of 2015 and the disposition of those schools won't be determined until well past the deadline for Cobb to make their flexibility election.

I emailed David Banks about 3 weeks ago asking about this issue and he gave me a nice, anodyne response intended to make me feel happy (he copied, Ragsdale and others in the CCSD admin) saying something to the effect of "we're looking at it and we intend to start discussing it shortly".

Now, we find out that not only have they already discussed it, they have pretty much made the decision.

According to the county's Q A, there was a voluminous public discussion. Well, I am very active with the board and at my local school and I can tell you nobody discussed, polled or in any other manner approached me.

August 14, 2014
Glad to see the board vote against banks proposals. This man should get a clue that he is a lame duck. Can't wait to vote him out when his time is up.
August 14, 2014
Sounds like some more of the fuzz math coming from Washington.

Core values for Common Core.
300 teachers
August 14, 2014
What happened to the 300 teachers the county was adding? We are sitting at the end of the second week of school and have not received one teacher in our school. My children's classes are sitting at 32-34 students in 4th and 5th grade classrooms, and the principal told us that the county would let us know after Labor Day. Are you kidding me? She said we probably won't see any of those teachers in our building. Yet, some schools are under capacity and over staffed. I thought a new superintendent was going to be great but it appears the same old issues.
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