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School Calendar Fight Heads for Finale

The Cobb Board of Education also plans to discuss a new elementary school and a ninth-grade center.

The heated issue of the calendar could be resolved, at least for the next two years, at tonight's meeting of the Cobb County Board of Education in the Central Office boardroom at 7.

Comments about the calendar are expected to fill the public-comment period, starting at 7 p.m., and communications director Jay Dillon later will reveal the community response to the district’s online calendar survey. Powder Springs-Lithia Springs Patch will be reporting live from the meeting beginning with the public comments; you can find the article on the home page just before 7 or go directly to http://patch.com/buRLo.

The survey, which was launched Friday and ended at 1 p.m. today, asked people to choose among three options for next year’s school calendar, with that choice carrying through to 2012-13. All three calendars would provide two weeks off during the Christmas/New Year's holidays.

The first choice is to use the current balanced calendar, with school starting Aug. 1 and four weeklong vacations throughout the 2011-12 school year. The first semester of 88 days would end in December, and the 92-day second semester would start when school resumed in January.

The other two options are variations on the traditional calendar. The Aug. 15 start choice provides two weeklong vacations, and the Aug. 17 start offers only one during the school year. The difference between them is that the Aug. 15 calendar provides a full week off for Thanksgiving.

This is the first year Cobb County has used the balanced calendar.

Board member David Banks, who told board members at their work session Feb. 9 that they should keep their “covenant” with the community and stick with the balanced calendar, questioned the issue’s relevance when he spoke to Patch this week.

“First of all, we should not even be talking about a calendar; that’s the last thing we should be talking about,” said Banks, whose district includes Pope, Sprayberry and Lassiter high schools. “I’ve got 1,000 e-mails so far, and it’s running about 75 percent for the balanced calendar. I’m trying to respond to all of them and responded to a good portion of them.”

Banks said the tone of the e-mailers got “madder and madder" after the Feb. 9 board meeting.

“They don’t want to lose the balanced calendar" and don't understand why the discussion is taking place, he said. “They put it in stronger terms than I do.”

Patch was unable to reach board Chairwoman Alison Bartlett and board member Tim Stultz for comment.

After the board discusses and possibly votes on the calendar, several other issues are on the agenda. Eight of the nine noncalendar discussion items involve construction projects using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money.

One of those projects is the new elementary school in Smyrna, which had a  announced last week.

The selection of for the West Cobb ninth-grade center could generate the most debate. The SPLOST referendum didn’t specify a school for the center, and the district revealed Feb. 9 that Harrison will house the $14.3 million facility because of its central location, high number of classroom trailers, age and upcoming renovation project. Kennesaw Mountain, Hillgrove and Allatoona high schools were the other options.

Bartlett has said the center should be built at Smyrna's Campbell High, based on its enrollment zone boasting 5,145 homes sold and leased from 2007 to 2010. Of the four west Cobb high schools considered, Kennesaw Mountain had the highest number of homes sold and leased in that period with 1,979, according to figures she presented to the board.

The Marietta Daily Journal reported Thursday that the school district's Facilities and Technology Committee voted 7-6 this week against putting the center at Harrison. That vote is advisory, not binding.

Early in the meeting, the board will recognize:

  • Lassiter High for winning the 2010 Georgia School of Excellence award, as well as its marching band's appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
  • Kell High’s wind symphony for its Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Convention recognition.
  • Barry Crocker for winning the 2011 National C.L.E.A.N. award.
  • The district’s school counselors of the year and counselor writer of the year.
  • Georgia Department of Education Title I Distinguished Schools. Cobb County has 26 of the 868 schools earning that designation in Georgia: Acworth Intermediate, , Austell Intermediate, , , , , , Clarkdale Elementary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

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