When Cobb voters head to the polls in July’s primary and November’s general election, Post 7 school board member Alison Bartlett says she recognizes her recent push to postpone construction on the West Cobb Ninth Grade Center at Harrison High could negatively impact her totals.
“Apparently it will because that’s what everybody’s telling me,” she said. “I’ve always done what I think is right (even if it’s) not popular.”
Under the school board reapportionment map, approved by the General Assembly in late March, Bartlett would go from representing Osborne High to the three high schools in West Cobb Patch: Harrison, Hillgrove and McEachern. The first two are currently represented by board member Lynnda Eagle, while McEachern falls in David Morgan’s district.
Expected to be discussed at Wednesday’s Board of Education work session, the map must still go through the legislative review process, Bartlett said. “That’s when you can expect people who are upset. That’s typically the time lawsuits begin to show up.”
Bartlett said the board focused on centering the posts around high schools to reflect communities, but when the map came back from the General Assembly, she was “really sad” because of its “partisan focus.”
The map proposed by the board is attached, as is the one from the General Assembly, sent out by board member David Banks in his David’s Grapevine email newsletter.
One specific thing Bartlett noted was Osborne, which under the map will have representation divided by four board members; currently, she holds full representation of the vastly minority school.
“I have a lot of concerns about the Osborne community,” she said, describing how Osborne has been “coming together as a community” in recent years.
Bartlett, a Democrat who was first elected in November 2008, said she believes school board elections shouldn’t be partisan, and that since the presidential election coincides with school board and other elections, her party status could hurt her.
The mother of four children in Cobb schools said she doesn’t let elections compromise her beliefs or how she votes.
“I just have to do what’s right,” she said. “I do and vote what I think is right for the overall of the Cobb County community, not making popular decisions, but doing what’s right for this community.”
The ESPLOST project was part of a $14.5 million bid package for Harrison that included track repair and resurfacing, theater renovations, emergency generator replacement and more.
At the March 22 meeting, Bartlett suggested to the board pulling the center from the package, focusing on the renovation projects for now, and carrying out the center at the end of the current ESPLOST. The motion passed 4-3.
She said county-wide ESPLOST projects like fire protection, security and air conditioners should be finished first, and explained how construction of a new building will hurt the district’s declining general fund budget through upkeep costs.
“I respect and listen to other people, but the bottom line is, when ESPLOST was put together, Cobb had more money than it knew what to do with,” she said. “Our classroom sizes are way too big. It angers me how large they’ve gotten, and we continue to have to make drastic cuts.
“And yet we’re continuing to slam ourselves. We are doing it right now by building square footage that we don’t need.”
Banks, Eagle and Morgan are the other three board members up for reelection this year. The complete field of challengers won’t be known until the final primary filing date in May.