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School Board Trips on Calendar Process

Also on Wednesday, David Banks’ proposed 1 percent bonus for all district employees dies without a vote.

The school calendar stirred emotions again Wednesday as Cobb County Board of Education members and Superintendent Michael Hinojosa debated the process of how to make a rule to create the calendar.

Early in the 17-minute discussion at the board’s monthly work session, Hinojosa said he didn’t want one person to stand in the way of recommended rules.

“It appears that one board member may have veto power over a rule, and I don’t want to revisit that every month. That’s why I’ve decided to do what I’m going to do,” he said.

Board Vice Chairman Scott Sweeney of East Cobb’s Post 6 exercised that power last month. Facing  to draft calendar recommendations starting with the 2013-14 school year, Sweeney proposed instead an  appointed without board input.

Hinojosa withdrew his proposal, and the board voted 6-1 anyway to reject it.

Still, Sweeney agreed with Hinojosa on Wednesday.

“What we need to do is systemically look at modifying the policy under which these administrative rules are passed,” Sweeney said. “One person, essentially, basically in my case, I was able to put the brakes on this. Frankly, that’s too much power for one board member to have.”

Board member Tim Stultz of Smyrna’s Post 2 said the board’s job is to vote on administrative recommendations.

“One person having an objection to an administrative rule, how does that veto if it automatically moves toward an entire board voting situation at the next meeting?” Stultz asked.

Board Attorney Clem Doyle confirmed that one person can’t prevent the whole board from voting on a recommendation.

Board member Kathleen Angelucci of North Cobb’s Post 4 said board approval of administrative recommendations is “not automatic, and it never should be automatic."

"It should be something we all look at," she said, "and if there are objections, then if they’re stated, it would seem that it would go back to the superintendent.”

She added that if Hinojosa wanted to stick with the 29-member proposal, “end of story, then we have to have another discussion.”

Hinojosa said he’s willing to bring another proposed calendar rule to the board for discussion and possible approval at its night meeting on Dec. 8. He said the proposal won’t be much different from what he offered in October.

“If I’m going to have a committee, I would like to be able to structure that, and I thought I was doing that,” he said. “But when things get brought up at the table that I’ve had no input on, then there’s no way for me to be able analyze the feasibility of those things.”

Hinojosa told Patch after the meeting: “I want the majority of the board to rule on this.”

 School Council sparked the calendar rule discussion when it filed a recommendation letter (attached to this article) about the calendar committee on Oct. 7.

The Kennesaw school’s council wants the board to use a reliable, accurate survey of students, district employees and other stakeholders when it evaluates calendars for 2012-13 and 2013-14.

The board ran an unscientific Survey Monkey online survey about the calendar in early 2011, then  from a balanced calendar to a more traditional one even though 75 percent of survey respondents backed the balanced calendar.

Doyle drafted a letter in response to the Chalker council, and the board voted 6-1 to send an amended version of the letter (attached to this article).

Board member David Banks of East and Northeast Cobb’s Post 5 voted against the response letter because he said it lacks specificity and it doesn’t adequately respond to the school council’s recommendation.

Banks later made a motion to give all  employees a  no later than Dec. 15. But his motion died because no other board member seconded it.

District Chief Financial Officer Mike Addison said the last raise employees received was in fiscal 2009. Banks noted that employees took a 2 percent pay cut in 2009 to avoid layoffs.

“David, I respect want you want to do,” board member Lynnda Crowder-Eagle of West Cobb’s Post 1 said. “We have many fine teachers, educators and support personnel. I wish we could give them 5 percent—we all do. But we know we had the budget explained to us, and I respectfully disagree with you that the money is there. I wish that it were there.”

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