Cobb County School Board member Alison Bartlett held a town hall at Harrison High School this past Saturday night. In an attempt to defend her opposition to the 9th Grade Center as well as voter approved SPLOST 3 projects, Mrs. Bartlett made herself available to the Harrison High School “Hoyas.”
Principal Griggers moderated, and as usual for all Mrs. Bartlett Town Halls, questions were submitted on note cards, and verbal questions were not permitted. Principal Griggers received the questions, and asked them aloud for Mrs. Bartlett to answer.
At the very heart of this dispute is the construction of a 9th Grade Center at Harrison High School as well as a great number of severely needed maintenance projects. These projects were approved by voters as part of SPLOST 3, (http://www.cobbk12.org/aboutccsd/splost/SPLOSTIIIProgramPlan.pdf P.64), and include Track Resurfacing (the Track is currently a safety hazard), Cafeteria Addition, and Theater and Music renovations, etc.
The Hoyas maintain that these projects were approved and funded by SPLOST 3 and that the money for these projects was provided to the County by the voter and tax payer. For the Hoyas, this isn’t a matter of feeling entitled. The big area of contention is that that the parents of Harrison High School were promised enhancements to their school, in return for voting in favor of SPLOST 3. The parents of Harrison High School have lived up to their end of the bargain, and have suffered through higher taxes. Now, the County is reneging on their end of the bargain, and the parents of Harrison High School are left holding the bag.
Alison Bartlett, who is in opposition to these projects, claims that completing these projects would not make sense for the Cobb County School System. Mrs. Bartlett made the case that most of the growth in Cobb County was occurring in South Cobb, and that attendance for Harrison High School was declining. Mrs. Bartlett also claims that there are many more projects that are taking a higher priority, such as installing sprinkler systems throughout the county, and upgrading the CCSD computer systems to Windows 7. She also pointed out that the total budget for Cobb County was being drastically reduced as part of austerity measures being implemented at the state level. When you combine the money leaving Cobb County due to QBE, with the austerity cuts, the county is losing more than 200 million in revenue for schools in one year.
Harrison High School parents seem to be very disturbed that the money for these projects has vanished. One of the parents at the meeting asked: “Why should we vote for SPLOST 4, when the current SPLOST projects aren’t being completed and the SPLOST money is being used to buy down our maxed out Mill Rate?” Mrs. Bartlett tried to respond, but never actually answered the question.
The Hoyas do not intend to take this sitting down. One very involved parent said, “We intend to fill the CCSD Board Room at the next Board Meeting. All Hoyas are called to action. Meet at 514 Glover St. in Marietta on Wednesday May 9th at 8:30 a.m.” Other parents made it clear that if the County is going to renege on a SPLOST promise, then they better prepare for SPLOST 4 to fail.