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Call to Arms: The School Calendar

A plea for everyone to contact their school board representative about the upcoming school calendar vote.

Maybe I should have said a call to keyboards and cellphones.  

Yesterday, the Cobb County School Board voted to include a new calendar option on the agenda for the next meeting. This means that we, the community, have a new chance to let the school board representatives know how we feel.

Now, I believe in Albert Einstein's definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, if nothing had changed in the school board since February, I would not be writing this at all.

But several things have changed since February. School board members have been called in front of the grand jury to explain their actions. SACS asked for a review, then told them to get training. So the school board has gone through training, to help them not only learn their own policies better, but to help them learn how to function as a school board.

What does this mean to us?

It means we have a chance to work with the school board to get a calendar acceptable to everyone. It means that maybe, just maybe, the school board members will decide to represent the voters of Cobb County. But only if they know what the voters of Cobb County think.

So, please, I beg of you,  contact your school board member and let him or her know what you think about the new calendar option. You can call. You can email. You can send a letter through snail mail; use semaphore, telegraph, smoke signals. Just contact your representative with your opinion. After all, it is your right and responsibility to let your representative know your opinion on this matter.

To make it easier, here are the email addresses and phone number for all the school board members:

  • Post 1 - Lynnda Eage, lcrowder-eagle.boardmember@cobbk12.org, 404-697-9562
  • Post 2 - Tim Stulz, tstulz.boardmember@cobbk12.org,  678-773-1877
  • Post 3 - David Morgan, dmorgan.boardmember@cobbk12.org, 404-702-1857
  • Post 4 - Kathleen Angelucci, kangelucci.boardmember@cobbk12.org, 678-896-6399
  • Post 5 - David Banks, dbanks.boardmember@cobbk12.org, 404-725-3394
  • Post 6 - Scott Sweeney, ssweeney.boardmember@cobbk12.org, 678-646-2470
  • Post 7 - Alison Bartlett, abartlett.boardmember@cobbk12.org, 404-702-9291

For snail mail, semaphore, telegraphs, and smoke signals, use the district office:

514 Glover Street
Marietta, GA 30060

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jack S June 09, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Katheryne, I am beginning to think you are in love with David Banks. How about some equal time with the rest of the Board? Your posts have been so one sided it's ridiculous. He is not a Saint and I grow tired of hearing how great he is when he clearly is not. The Patch is supposed to report items of interest and keep Cobb informed, not be a grand stand for David Banks. Put this on your own blog.
kathy turner June 09, 2011 at 03:44 PM
I agree with Jack S. All I hear is about Banks and how the rest of the board is crooked. Let us hear from all sides, not just Mr. Banks. I for one am for leaving the calendar this year. His new calendar is not a compromise. He has merely started the balance calendar earlier. Other businesses are affected by the calendar . Preschools and daycares just to name a few. Any change we make now needs to be for school year 2012-2013. Please Mr. Banks stop the madness. Lets just move forward and work together now.
Susan Tranter June 09, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Mr. Banks flip-flopping after he was elected helped cause this problem. His continued negative comments about his fellow board members is helping to keep everything stirred up. He was fine with a 3-4 split on the board when he was one of the four. Not so happy now that he's in the minority.
Jim June 09, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Jack, I kind of doubt you read this article before posting, or maybe you did, but you felt like ranting anyway... Aside from the list of board members (all of them in post number order), this article does not even mention any of the board members. Reading the article, it looks like exactly what you claim to want to see. It informs you that you have yet another chance to voice your opinion before the next meeting, and asks that you do just that. Voice your support for your preferred vote to your representative. In what way is that one sided, or even for that matter, any sided?
Jack S June 09, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Jim, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see what's going on: Bank's mug shot and the calendar issue (Banks' pet project). To issue a call to arms is a alarmist for a dead issue and this article does nothing than to add distraction and prevents the board from moving on to more important issues. I read the article and regardless to the last paragraph's plea to contact your representative board, it's still a pro-Banks. We can go back and forth on this all day, but I don't think the Patch was designed for that purpose. One more thing. last week when Sweeney sided with Bank to passed the Budget 4:3, you didn't hear a bunch of whining coming from the other three. That's what I thought.
Debra E June 09, 2011 at 10:00 PM
If this calendar option he is now pushing is all that...why wasn't this on the survey? Instead theey gave us two very similar calendars. He just needs to finally concede. He is my rep, he knows how I feel but yet never admits some are happy with the traditional calendar. He refuses to poll working parents during ASP pickups at his schools. He just can't fathom the idea that not everyone is on his side.
Gerald Williams June 09, 2011 at 10:25 PM
I'm going to thank you for the article Kathryn. I'll be contacting the board to let my voice be heard. I have seen the data and surprise, it actually shows that the balanced calendar helped Cobb County schools. Money was saved, absences were done, grades were up and morale was high. Sounds like a place where my kids can get a great education. And before some of those reading this resort to name calling and attacking me, do your homework. I did and oh yeah, sticks and stones. You know the rest.
Mic I June 09, 2011 at 10:38 PM
Debra, this option was not on the survey for the simple reason that, as chair, Bartlett CHOSE Scott Sweeney and Kathleen Angelucci to come up with 2 calendars in addition to the balanced calendar. She did not ask (nor allow) anyone else to contribute...why? Well, we all know that answer, it is because they were hoping that the survey would go their way, and when it didn't (duh!), it wasn't even mentioned by Bartlett at the meeting. Stultz actually was going to present a calendar similar to the one that Banks is proposing now at the Feb 17th meeting, but he was silenced by Bartlett, Sweeney, and Angelucci (the proof and calendar is on the wsb website). By the way, for all those conspiracy theorists that say the survey was fixed, Bartlett is the one who chose to use Survey Monkey...watch the video of the meeting, it's all there. In addition, I am a working parent, and I love the balanced calendar, it was great for my 3 children...gave them time to breathe in a very rigorous school schedule. Plus, EVERYONE, working parents included, could have voted in the survey. Kathryn Patterson, I'm already composing my emails as we speak. Thanks for the coverage. Love The Patch!!
Debra E June 09, 2011 at 11:18 PM
@ Whereisthetrust... I did my homework. I'm well aware of all the things that went down. Mr. Banks is no angel himself in this. He has been nothing more than a bully and unprofessional. By acting this way, he has proven to be nothing better than everyone else.
Robb June 09, 2011 at 11:19 PM
While I have a preference for a balanced calendar, it's really about empirical data, and making an infomred decision based on numbers and not the "popular vote". If anyone could produce actual data that would clearly show how the traditional calendar is good for the system and our kids, I'd happily sit down and be quiet and do what's best for my kid. The board made a decision without any raw data, and that's the issue at hand. So, the invitation is open...share the empirical data that supports a traditional calendar, and I'll happily devour it and weigh it against the wealth of data that has already been accumulated by the citizens of Cobb County.
Mic I June 10, 2011 at 01:35 AM
Debra E, you asked why this calendar option wasn't on the survey, and I simply answered that question for you. You sound offended and defensive, and that's not what I meant to do at all, simply answering a question that you asked, and replying that not all stay at home or work away from home parents feel the same way. Mr. Banks has been vocal about what he believes in, he is not the one that is putting hands in front of anyone's face (as Bartlett has done several times). He also has not raised his voice (as Bartlett has done numerous times). He is also not the one that has called another board member a 5 letter word that starts with a b...(Again, that was Bartlett at yesterday's meeting right before the cameras went on, but citizens and news crews heard it). Just sayin'...
Jeremiah L June 10, 2011 at 05:20 AM
@ Whereisthetrust... As suggested, I watched the video... Yes, it's all there including Eagle's request quoted here: “What kind of survey are we going to make available to our community?” It's apparent from the video that Bartlett was honoring Eagle's request to conduct a survey. It's also clear Bartlett knows the district has survey monkey as an available tool (hardly a fix). She and Dillon then had a discussion about the available survey tools and the feedback timing. And yes, EVERYONE could have voted in the survey and it appears too many did. It was reported that more than 14,000 teachers responded when there are about 8,000 teachers in the district. It seems that the school district needs to improve its survey methods.
Fran Neumeister June 10, 2011 at 10:59 AM
I would like to see the empirical data that supports a balanced calendar! I would also like to see a break down of schools districts calendar start dates from across the US. The schools in the Northeast operate on a calendar the begins AFTER Labor Day and ends in the middle of June. I would much rather have the kids out of school during the hottest month of the year.
Debra E June 10, 2011 at 11:20 AM
It was just a sarcastic question. Cobb schools have always had above average both state & nationally in test scores - all on a traditional calendar in the past. You will find data to support both sides of the issue here. It will be presented in a way for the side who is disucssing the issue. It's not up to ME to provide data. I think the Cobb reputation has spoke on its own for quite some time now. Look across the United States, many school systems are on a traditional calendar and their scores are above ours even. At the same token, you will find the opposite to be true as well somewhere out there. I really don't believe the balanced calendar prepares any High School student for the real world. Will they be looking for a break 5 weeks into a Semester at college? They graduate and go out to a job, will their employer give them a week off every 5-6 weeks? No. There are so many issues that can be thrown up for debate. My 10 year has never felt overwhelmed & felt the breaks to be disruptive in his learning. Teachers at our school never came in prepared after having a week off. My son never had homework the first day back. I also found it offensive as a working parent that Mr. Banks quoted in his Grapevine support by cheaper Ski vacations. It's all in his presentation of anything making folks upset, his inability to listen to any feedback that doesn't surrport his. He is no better than many of the other board members in how they handle themselves.
Mic I June 10, 2011 at 11:33 AM
Exactly, Eagle asked what kind of survey are we going to make available to our community, because until that point, the four board members had not shared the fact that they were voting on this to the community, only with the special interest groups that were supporting them (and with the few people that showed up at the board meetings). Eagle wanted to make sure that everyone knew what was going on and had a chance to give input...after all, a portion of my property taxes goes to support the schools, so I should have the right to have my opinion heard. She was concerned that there was not enough time to get the word out as to what was going on. And, yes, whoever created the survey needed to have made it more secure/transparent (not sure what the correct word is here), but it should have required a name to sign in, or email, or some way to track to make sure that the voter is a Cobb County citizen, and that each person only voted once (the idea that you could only vote once per computer was ridiculous...my husband and I are both Cobb County voters, if I didn't have a work and a home computer, we would not have both been able to vote). However, when they took out the duplicate IP addresses, the majority for the balanced calendar was still well over 7o%, so the survey can't be completely discounted.
Mic I June 10, 2011 at 11:47 AM
I re-read your original comment, and I can see no sarcasm at all in your question. I'm just going to address my 2 biggest pet peeves about people who support the traditional calendar.....Your comment "I really don't believe the balanced calendar prepares any High School student for the real world. Will they be looking for a break 5 weeks into a Semester at college? They graduate and go out to a job, will their employer give them a week off every 5-6 weeks? No.". So what kind of job can they get where they will get 12 straight weeks off in the summer? NOWHERE. Sorry, but statements like that irk me. There is no job out there where you only work 180 days a year (even teachers work more than that, not including the extra hours that they put in during the school year-and, no, I'm not a teacher, just have much respect for them), no matter how the weeks are divided up, so that is a ridiculously invalid argument for either calendar. The second thing that bothers me is the comment "all on a traditional calendar in the past." Just because it has been done one way in the past, doesn't mean we shouldn't look for new ways to make things better...I didn't have a car seat as an infant, but thank goodness people were looking for ways to make people safer, and I used one for my children..same with bike helmets, etc...anything that "worked in the past", but I am so glad people decided that wasn't good enough and looked for ways to improve.
Mic I June 10, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Fran, I am attaching two links...one is the Citizen's Report with a lot of details, and the other is a report done by Thom Gray with data supplied to him by Cobb County. I hope you can open the links, if not, report back here, and I will have someone else with more technical expertise repost them (doesn't take much to have more than me). http://bit.ly/mCOCuH is a direct link to a downloadable copy of the preliminary Citizens Report May 2011. Also, http://bit.ly/iwz0UF is a link to a downloadable copy of the report on YTD Academic Achievement May 2011. As far as having kids out of school in the hottest month of the year...that seems to vary from year to year nowadays...have you walked outside in the past few weeks? Probably as hot as last August, and some kids are still in school in other parts of the country (where it is just as hot if not hotter). Our weather is going crazy, so I don't know that we can count on average temperatures anymore. Also, there is an issue with testing and what the State mandates as far as going to school in June. I also wondered why we didn't just start later and go into June until someone explained it to me. My kids are in elementary, so I don't know the exact details, but in high school, the tests have to be finished by a certain date, which mandates when the school year can end...plus some kids start early college classes in June, I've been told. If someone with older kids can chime in with the details on this, that would be helpful!
Jack S June 10, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Wow. this is more entertaining than late night TV. All the Patch has to do is bring up Banks or the calendar and all hell breaks loose with the old and worn out arguments. I guess it's good for readership. I agree that there is no perfect calendar for school that will prepare young minds for the "real world" and that they probably should go year-round with limited breaks. It would definitely keep the hoodlums off the streets and relieves parents from parenting, but that is not the point. The point is, the Balanced calender was a Sanderson project conceived behind closed doors and initially approved by teachers and administrators; some under duress. It served no one but the teachers and administrators. The new board members, campaigning to the return to the traditional calendar,(sorry, Cash) reversed the decision and received NOTHING but grief and resentment from those that lost and squeaked, so throw them to SACS (corrupt organization) and to the Grand Jury (filled with present and past CCSD people) for upholding a campaign promise. Where were you when Banks flipped on his anti balance calendar stand to being the biggest noise maker and abusing his newsletter? I think that very few have any real idea what this is about and only repeat what they heard or were told to say. Summer heat was only one point, but this goes way way beyond angry parents not getting vacation. It has to do with corruption of former board member's and the outgoing superintendent.
Judy Morris June 10, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Can anyone tell me what the calendar options are? I've looked on the Cobb website and can't seem to locate any informtion. I would like to send my feedback, but am not sure what the "new" calendar option is! Thanks so much.
Kathryn A. Patterson June 10, 2011 at 04:46 PM
Judy, As far as I can tell, there is only one new option available. I couldn't find information on the Cobb website either, but the option is explained here: http://community.icontact.com/p/davidbanks/newsletters/grapevine/posts/davids-grapevine-vol-49 The board will vote at their next meeting, June 23rd, on whether to accept this calendar option or remain with the Feb. 17th calendar. Kathryn
Michael Jacobs June 10, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Kathryn's right. The school board will vote on whether to change from the traditional calendar with the Aug. 15 to Banks' proposed Aug. 8 start. He explains his plan in an email to Bartlett posted with this article, http://patch.com/A-jkGr: "I move to adopt a modified calendar for the school year 2011-2012 that will have a school start date of August 8th, one week later than the Balanced Calendar and one week earlier than the calendar adopted on February 17th. This can be easily accomplished by extending the school day by only 10 minutes, which will buy three school days, and applying the budgeted two furlough days to the first week for a total of five school days. The September, Thanksgiving, Christmas, February, and Spring breaks would remain as designated in the November 2009 adopted calendar for the school year 2011-2012."
M Zeller June 10, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Seriously? On June 23 the school board will consider changing calendar dates LESS THAN 6 WEEKS AWAY? Fortunately (I think it's fortunate) I believe that even the CCSB has more sense than that. But that my representative on the school board would be the one to seriously suggest such a thing? Ridiculous and embarrassing. Mr. Banks, give it up and address the issue (again) at the appropriate time. Give the community some time to restore just a little bit of trust in the CCSB organization and function before you go screwing with it again.
lisa56 June 15, 2011 at 04:52 AM
I just returned from a wonderful visit to an elementary school in Southport, ME. When I asked about their start date one teacher stated that it was the Tuesday after Labor Day. She then told me that parents were forever complaining that they should start earlier. Their schools are not air conditioned and within the last few years there have been a number of days in August when the temperatures there reached the high 80s and low 90s and yet people complain that school should start earlier. When children lose as much as two years of reading ability over a two month summer break and as much as a year and a half in math shorter breaks certainly seem to be a reasonable remedy to that loss. Mr. Banks is not my school board representative but I do receive his newsletter. There are times I agree with him and times that I do not. I appreciate that he is willing to make the antics of the school board more transparent. The Cobb County School Board has been reprimanded on numerous occasions for holding closed session meetings when the meetings should have been open to the public. I believe that Mr. Banks is the only board member willing to share information that the other board members would prefer the stakeholders not know. Thank you Mr. Banks.
lisa56 June 15, 2011 at 05:13 AM
All Cobb County School System employees were asked to participate in the original balanced calendar survey. It was not limited to administrators and teachers. I was an employee of the system at the time and was not a teacher or an administrator. I was not pressured by an administrator to answer a certain way nor would I have allowed myself to be. I answered the survey questions based on what I believed to be best for the students, the parents, the employees, and the community. I also wrote to SACS because I believed that the Cobb County School Board members had lost sight of their duties as representatives of their communities and instead were consumed with their personal agendas. If there was "corruption" among former board members and the outgoing superintendent it would have been appropriate at the time of those infractions for anyone who knew about it to report it to SACS and the media. Please share your evidence of SACS being a "corrupt organization" and the Grand Jury jurists being past and present CCSS "people".
lisa56 June 15, 2011 at 05:30 AM
The important part of working together now is to prove that after numerous admonitions and the possibility of losing accreditation the Cobb County School Board members have learned how to make decisions based on data presented rather than personal opinion. The effect on businesses should be of no importance to the seven board members. Their job is to aid the school system in making decisions that will provide the best education possible to the children of Cobb County and provide the best work environment for its employees. The madness was started by one current and three newly elected school board members who upon joining the board proceeded to shove their agenda down the throats of their constituents. Seventy percent of those people who responded to the survey, which was agreed to by the school board, supported the balanced calendar. Mr. Banks and Ms. Eagle-Crowder are the only two of the seven board members who have ever responded to my emails. Is there something the others fear?

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