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Cobb School Board Approves Calendar

By a 4-2 vote, the board adopted Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's recommendation to begin the 2013-14 school year on Aug. 7.

The Cobb Board of Education adopted an academic year 2013-14 calendar Thursday night that left some members of a specially-appointed calendar committee disappointed.

By a 4-2 vote, the board approved a recommendation by Superintendent Michael Hinojosa for a 190-day instructional calendar that would begin on Aug. 7, 2013 and conclude on May 21, 2013.

Included in the vote was an amendment by board member Alison Bartlett to use fall semester instructional days for possible furlough days that may come up during future budget deliberations.

Hinojosa's recommendation was a modification of various proposals considered by the calendar committee, which was made up of parents and school system teachers and staff.

While that panel could not come to an agreement on starting dates, it expressed a general desire for more and longer breaks than what was approved, which has no full-week break in the fall before the Thanksgiving holiday (see attached PDF).

In a public comment session before the meeting, three calendar committee members said Hinojosa ignored their wishes.

"We came to a consensus with frequent breaks," said Smyrna parent Lisa Miler. "Dr. Hinojosa disregarded some important factors," upsetting her and others for not presenting his recommendation to the committee before making it public earlier this month.

While Hinojosa apologized to the calendar committee for that "mistake," he said that there were "a myriad of opinions on the topic" that prompted him to develop what he has termed a compromise.

"There was no clear consensus on the committee," Hinojosa said. "It was all over the place, no matter what they discussed.

"I did honor the intent of the committee. I don't really care what calendar we have, but a lot of people are wanting for us to make a decision."

Hinojosa proposed the creation of the committee to avoid future situations over the calendar that embroiled the board a year ago.

School board member David Banks, at the center of that calendar controversy, proposed at Thursday's meeting for a calendar to start on Aug. 5 and end on May 30, incorporating the longer breaks preferred by the calendar committee.

It was the same calendar he offered at this month's work session, but Banks was the only vote in favor of his amendment. He and outgoing board member Lynnda Eagle voted against final approval, with the latter objecting because of "all of the changes and all the amendments" that she said went against the board's intention of supporting whatever Hinojosa recommended.

In addition to Bartlett, board members Scott Sweeney, Tim Stultz and Kathleen Angelucci voted in favor of the Hinojosa calendar.

Board member David Morgan was absent from the meeting on family business.

Miller and other calendar committee members favoring the longer breaks wanted a school starting date of Aug. 1. But Sweeney pointed out that busy summer schedules for school construction projects, family vacations, student jobs and extracurricular activities like band camps would make that timeframe untenable.

Unlike last year, however, the disagreements were brief and the rhetoric wasn't nearly as sharp.

"Part of our own policy says that we respect what the public wants," Banks said right before the final vote. "And if we don't do that, we're not fulfilling our duty."

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