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Banks Pushes Quick Calendar Change

The Cobb County Board of Education instead is looking at creating a 29-member committee to present proposed school calendars next fall.

A  in the school calendar process reopened the divisions on the Cobb County Board of Education and the possibility of more changes.

After the  chief of staff, Cheryl Hungerford, presented Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s proposal at the board’s monthly work session Wednesday, Post 5 board member David Banks of East and Northeast Cobb pushed to implement the plan immediately.

That would allow the school board to consider again changing the 2012-13 schedule, which the board in February .

“Knowing how the public, the teachers feel and a lot of the students feel about this issue, why don’t we do it this year and have it ready to be presented to the board in January or February?” Banks said.

It’s time for stability, replied South Cobb’s David Morgan of Post 3, who was with Banks on the losing side of the February calendar vote but joined the majority against his . “I think we have adopted a calendar, and it needs to run its course.”

Banks complained that the board didn’t care earlier this year about allowing the three-year balanced calendar to run its course. “Would you rather the community stay enraged for the next two years, or get this issue settled right now?”

Morgan said the community has endured enough calendar upheaval.

“Changing midstream again … I don’t think that would be a good message for the board to send,” he said.

It was the second time Banks was blocked during the 34-minute calendar discussion.

Banks earlier read a statement criticizing board Chairwoman Alison Bartlett and members Scott Sweeney of East Cobb’s Post 6, Kathleen Angelucci of North Cobb’s Post 4 and Tim Stultz of Smyrna’s Post 2 for undoing six months of staff work and community input that led to enacting the balanced calendar in 2009.

He said the 4-3 vote in February to switch to a traditional calendar set a precedent that makes the talk of a new community-focused process irrelevant: Whatever the board adopts in fall 2012 could be undone in early 2013 after four newly elected board members are sworn in.

“They don’t like it, they change it,” Banks said. “They don’t like the calendar, they change it.”

Bartlett stopped his statement after 79 seconds, ruling it not germane to the discussion of the proposed rule for the calendar process.

“I don’t want us shooting arrows at each other,” she said. “I want us working as a team.”

The third person on the losing side of the February vote, Lynnda Crowder-Eagle of West Cobb’s Post 1, had verified with Board Attorney Clem Doyle that the next school board could undo the policy change.

“I really want a policy,” she said, “but that policy can be changed, just like the calendar was changed.”

Sweeney proposed changing the calendar cycle to reduce the effect of the elections every two years.

He suggested adopting only the 2013-14 calendar in fall 2012, then having the next school board in fall 2013 adopt a two-year calendar for 2014-15 and 2015-16. The cycle then would continue with two-year calendars.

Crowder-Eagle said the calendar has become too political to go through the process of a 29-member committee and repeat the effort a year later. “I feel that we owe it to our school community to give them two years for planning.”

The size of the committee concerned Bartlett, who said groups of fewer than 12 members are usually most effective.

“We felt that for this process it was more important that we had a representative from all the different stakeholders within our community and have a diversity of thought,” Hungerford said. “So we feel very comfortable that we can bring this to a consensus.”

“And this is such a high-profile issue, you need adequate feedback,” Hinojosa said, adding that it would be an ad hoc committee meeting for less than two months.

The committee would be composed of:

  • One representative appointed by each of the seven board members.
  • One parent and one staffer appointed by each of the district’s six area superintendents.
  • One staff member representing each of eight district departments and areas—curriculum, instruction and assessment; budget; human resources; transportation; athletics; graduation; construction/SPLOST; and music. Stultz suggested the SPLOST representative; Bartlett recommended having a music staffer.
  • Two people chosen by Hinojosa, one from higher education and the other from the business community.

Morgan asked about adding student representatives.

“I want to include them, but at the same time we’re at 29,” Bartlett said. “I can’t think of anything that our students encounter that we haven’t already covered in this community of people.”

“And we do have parents,” Stultz said.

Hinojosa plans to incorporate the board’s feedback into his proposal, which the board intends to vote on Oct. 27.

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