Banks Revives Cobb School Calendar Issue
Northeast Cobb school board member gets matter back on June 23 agenda.
The school calendar debate is back.
The issue that won’t die in Cobb County will return to the Board of Education’s agenda June 23.
Board member David Banks of Post 5, covering Northeast and East Cobb, took control of the board’s Wednesday work session to demand a public discussion on his compromise calendar proposal, which would start the school year Aug. 8.
Banks, West Cobb board member Lynnda Crowder-Eagle and South Cobb member David Morgan were on the losing end of a series of 4-3 votes in the winter that resulted in the Cobb County School District’s switch from this year’s balanced calendar, with an Aug. 1 start, to a more traditional calendar starting Aug. 15.
After Banks tried to reverse the Feb. 17 change at a meeting March 9, the same four-member majority of Chairwoman Alison Bartlett of Post 1 south and west of Marietta, Vice Chairman Scott Sweeney of Post 6 in East Cobb, Tim Stultz of Post 2 in Smyrna and Kathleen Angelucci of Post 4 in North Cobb voted to table the calendar debate indefinitely.
While Crowder-Eagle and Morgan publicly dropped the fight, Banks battled through parliamentary procedure, meeting minutes, and his own newsletter, The Grapevine. He recently carried on a sometimes-heated email exchange with Bartlett (see the attached PDF).
Banks took more than 20 minutes to read through those email messages and a lengthy case history involving the Randolph County Board of Education and a member’s inability to get items on the agenda in 2009.
When he was done, he asked Bartlett whether she would relent.
“I was thinking you were about to hand me a court order,” she said, adding what she has said several times: If the majority wants the issue back, she’ll put it on the agenda.
“Are you going to conduct malfeasance in office?” Banks asked as the two began talking and shouting over each other.
“I am not Randolph County, thank you,” she said.
Board attorney Clem Doyle explained that board policy allows a majority of the board to overrule the chair and for any item to be added to the agenda at the request of three board members.
Banks eventually went that route, but first the board members took turns quoting and questioning one another.
Banks quoted Bartlett as saying the issue was dead until there were new facts, and he said the data from test scores, student and teacher attendance, and utility savings provide those new facts.
Sweeney quoted Banks as saying he backs the findings of the Cobb grand jury regarding the school board, then pointed out that the grand jury said calendar changes should be done at least a year in advance. A change June 23 would give families and teachers 46 days’ notice.
Crowder-Eagle said a change would interfere with people’s summer plans, but “out of respect to Mr. Banks, I have no problem putting it on. I don’t see anything changing from this.”
Bartlett acknowledged meeting with Sweeney, Doyle, Superintendent Fred Sanderson and other Central Office staffers about Banks’ proposed calendar and whether she could legally refuse to add it to the agenda.
“Let’s say this item was put on the agenda,” Morgan said. “Regardless of how the vote turned out, would you then be at peace?”
After such a vote, “that issue’s over,” Banks said. “But that issue hasn’t been discussed yet.”
Crowder-Eagle and Morgan joined him in a request to put his calendar on the agenda, and so it will be.
There was one more problem: Banks has outlined his calendar plan but hasn’t formed it into a day-by-day calendar. That task has fallen to Sanderson and his staff.
Regardless of the outcome June 23, this won’t be the last of the calendar talk.
Bartlett announced that Morgan and Crowder-Eagle will work with new Superintendent Michael Hinojosa next month to revamp the policy on creating and enacting the school calendar