School board scraps furlough day

The Cobb school board removed one of three furlough days for the current school year Thursday night, rejecting arguments from two members that the district should keep the money the day off would have saved for future budget deficits.

The board also allowed Allatoona’s principal to rescind his resignation, appointed two principals and fired a middle school teacher.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa asked the board to return one day off to teachers at a cost of $3 million after discovering the district ended the fiscal year with a surplus. Tim Stultz and Kathleen Angelucci opposed the recommendation but were overturned in the 5-2 vote.

Stultz, who represents southeast Cobb, said he wanted to keep the surplus to mitigate the expected deficit for Fiscal Year 2014.

“We are facing a very steep budget deficit next year, one that may result in the layoff of staff in order to balance the budget,” he said “Three million dollars is worth quite a few jobs if it comes to that point. I think it would be fiscally wise for us to hold onto those reserves that we’ve been able to accumulate with the surplus and use that to help with the budget problems that we’re facing next year.”

Angelucci, who represents north Cobb, echoed Stultz’ concerns.

“This is kind of a back and forth — give (a furlough day) and take it away — and I really think that this money, the surplus that we have, really does need to be considered for next year .”

Hinojosa said the deficit will be at least $40 million.

Alison Bartlett, who represents west-central Cobb, made a motion to give teachers a bonus instead of restoring the furlough day. When that motion failed, she voted for returning the day.

Hinojosa said he understood the budget concerns for FY14 but that he had been “very fiscally conservative” in all of his previous recommendations and wanted to give this back to the staff.

Hinojosa recommends the day be added back to the end of the school year, May 30.

The board also approved rescinding a letter of resignation from Allatoona High principal Scott Bursmith.

Bursmith said Tuesday that he rescinded his resignation because resigning this year would have hurt his retirement account. His original letter of resignation, which said his last day would be Dec. 1, was unanimously approved in July.

The board moved Kennesaw Mountain High assistant principal John Kelly to be principal at Sprayberry effective Friday. Kelly had been at Kennesaw Mountain since 2005.

Kelly has been an educator for 20 years, starting his career at Sprayberry in 1992 as a teacher. His salary will go from $80,864 to $105,225.

Former Sprayberry principal Ed Wagner was moved to Kell High School in mid-July, shortly after Kell principal Trudie Donovan retired and was later arrested on misdemeanor charges of failing to report child abuse within 24 hours.

Retired Cobb administrator Dr. Hilda Wilkins has been serving as the interim principal at Sprayberry.

The board made Angela Kay White principal at Green Acres Elementary in Smyrna, effective Friday. White has been serving as interim principal there since former principal Mike Bivens was moved to Lindley Middle in Mableton in August. She has been an educator since 1998 and has been the assistant principal at the school since 2003. White’s salary will remain at $96,856.

The vote to fire Garrett Middle School teacher Schonell Burroughs based on a tribunal’s recommendation was 4-3, with Lynnda Eagle, David Banks and David Morgan opposed.

The agenda indicates that Burroughs failed to report possible child abuse.

“This was a very, very difficult situation,” Eagle said. “A wrong was done, I think a discipline needs to follow, however, I believe the alternative of 45 days’ suspension without pay is an appropriate measure for progressive discipline and redirection.”

In other business, the board approved:

* A $900,000 contract with LMI Systems to purchase and install a security camera and surveillance system. The contract would run between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30, 2013, and be funded by SPLOST III.

* Naming a new school Smyrna Elementary School. The school is located off Fleming Street in Smyrna

* A Memorandum of Agreement between Cobb County Schools, the Georgia Department of Education and Brumby, Hayes, Riverside Intermediate and Sanders elementary and East Cobb Middle schools, which were identified by the state as “focus schools” last spring.

Bartlett opposed the agreement, stating that she didn’t think it was fair that the state was identifying these school and that it should be up to the local districts to identify what schools needs additional resources and support.

There is no cost associated with the contract, which will allow each school to “receive additional support from the state through the Metro Regional Educational Service Area as well as the local school district,” according to the agenda.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal, September 28, 2012. Written by Lindsay Field. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – School board scraps furlough day )

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