Banks Not Giving Up School Calendar Fight
East Cobb board member makes parliamentary challenge to decision to table matter.
But that isn't stopping East Cobb board member David Banks from trying to revisit a familiar topic that a majority of his colleagues seemingly put to rest the last time they got together.
Banks, who represents the Pope, Lassiter and Sprayberry high school districts, once again wants to discuss the switch from this year's balanced calendar to a more traditional calendar in August.
The board voted 4-3 in February to push the school start date back to Aug. 15 from the previously approved Aug. 1 for the 2011-12 school year. Banks asked to rescind that vote at the March 9 meeting, but the same 4-3 majority passed fellow East Cobb board member Scott Sweeney’s motion to table the issue "indefinitely."
Banks, however, told Patch that based on Robert’s Rules of Order, which the board follows, “indefinitely” means only during that particular meeting. Banks disagrees with the board's attorney, Clem Doyle, who interpreted the motion as banning discussion of that issue at any meeting until a majority of the board wants to place it back on the agenda.
According to RobertRules.org, Banks’ interpretation is correct. The website states: “(To) postpone indefinitely: kills the question/resolution for this session.”
“I know he really wants it back on there, and I know it’s not on there, so I don’t anticipate it being something that will be discussed,” said South Cobb board member David Morgan, who has joined Banks and West Cobb board member Lynnda Crowder-Eagle in the minority on every calendar vote this year. “The biggest thing is not where people fall on the issue; what I want is the conversation to be civil and professional.”
Chairwoman Alison Bartlett reminded board members at the end of their March 9 meeting that they needed to follow the board’s Code of Ethics Policy. The seventh “Board Meetings” policy in that section reads, “Express opinions before votes are cast, but after the board vote, abide by and support all majority decisions of the board.”
Bartlett and new board members Sweeney, who represents the Wheeler and Walton districts, Tim Stultz of Smyrna and Kathleen Angelucci of North Cobb have formed the majority on all of the calendar votes.
Leading the full slate of agenda items is a likely vote to award a contract to rebuild Clarkdale Elementary School in South Cobb.
One item would extend the request for proposals to install artificial turf fields at Allatoona, North Cobb, Lassiter, Harrison and Hillgrove high schools after completing the work at 11 other schools for an average of $650,514 each. The projected final cost is $1.25 million more than the initial $9.3 million approved under the school system's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
“My concern is not the synthetic turf, but how we allow the expenditure of the difference of the funds remaining … because we have a disparity in our schools,” Bartlett said. “We have schools whose athletic facilities are below an acceptable standard in this county. We have schools that don’t have visitor stands (Allatoona and Hillgrove). When you don’t have visitor stands, it impacts the revenue the athletics can generate. I think we shouldn’t spend any funds until we can come up for a standard for our athletic facilities.”
For the third time, the board also will look at a memorandum of understanding between the Cobb County and Fulton County school districts regarding Cobb students attending charter schools in Fulton.
The charters for schools such as Riverwood International Charter School and North Springs Charter High School in Sandy Springs allow students from outside Fulton to enroll as long as space is available.
The memorandum up for discussion, which involves the state's per-student funding following the students, has been amended to apply only to students currently attending a Fulton charter school.
“The first thing, kids were going to this school before the issue came up,” Morgan said. “We don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken. The state dollars follow the child, but the local dollars stay with us. I think it’s in our best interest to be in the people-serving business. These families have come forth to say, 'This is something we like, and it’s in the best interest of our children,' so I think we ought to do it.”
Morgan also said the board shouldn’t limit the memorandum to current students. He said the opportunity to attend an out-of-county charter school should be open to future students as well.
Tonight's meeting can be seen live online at http://www.cobbk12.org/board/video/ or on the school system's cable TV channel, Channel 24 on Comcast and Channel 97 on Charter.