“We’ve looked at so many options, and we’ve tried to incorporate where we could but this is the best recommendation under the very difficult circumstances that we have,” he said Tuesday.
During Thursday night’s meeting, the board will consider approving the FY13 budget, authorization for Hinojosa to proceed with fundraising for Teach For America for FY14, a $75,000 contract with Educations Planners, LLC of Marietta to help the district create a SPLOST IV notebook of projects, and awarding a $699,000 contract to Northside Psychological services for mental health services, which will be paid for with grant funds.
According to Mike Addison, the district’s chief financial officer, the budget has not changed and he is recommending exactly what he has been recommending since January.
For FY13, Addison has determined that there will be approximately $820.8 million in revenue collected and about $841.9 million in expenditures.
Addison is recommending the board approve cutting 350 jobs; increasing class sizes by two students and the number of furlough days from two to five; reducing the number of work days from 180 to 175; delaying raises for half a year; eliminating 50 library positions; reducing, and eventually eliminating, funding for Project 2400; and taking $21.5 million from reserves.
He said he hoped none of the school board members would request any of the suggested alternates from last week, which include reducing the furlough and instructional days from five to three and keep elementary level media parapros, but he wouldn’t be surprised.
“I would be surprised if someone didn’t at least suggest it,” he said Tuesday.
If board members amended his recommendation and approved the alternatives it could add even more to the already $62 million deficit, $7.1 million in all to be exact. Funding for those alternatives would come from the reserves, which currently stands at $99 million but would drop to almost $71 million.
“I don’t think that we need to use anymore fund balance reserves than we are,” he said. “If we use more than that, I feel like we’re cutting too deep into our safety net. I certainly don’t want to make those cuts either but you have to do what you have to do.”
In other action, Hinojosa will also be seeking permission from the board to approve his planned fundraising for a Teach For America contract in FY14.
“I’m asking them to give me permission to go out and start raising money,” he said. “I have a majority who said it’s OK and if we get the money raised, then we’ll come back with the contract in August maybe.”
In his request for authorization, Hinojosa has outlined parameters of the fundraising which includes not hiring more than 25 Teach For America teachers, adding no additional cost to the General Fund, that current Cobb teachers won’t be displaced due to these hirings and that principals at designated campuses will have the purview to hire these individuals.
Hinojosa anticipates raising approximately $200,000 this time, as opposed to the nearly $400,000 he was going to have to raise when he brought Teach For America before the board in January.
When asked whom he would be talking to about donating funds, he said he hasn’t made any moves.
“I’ve decided to just chill out and wait for authorization,” he said. “I don’t want to create a firestorm … there are some people who have expressed a desire in the past though.”
Initially, Hinojosa has said that he doesn’t plan on pursuing any Cobb companies in asking for funds but will go through Teach For America and touch base with any companies or individuals who are known for donating to the organization in the metro Atlanta already.
He also said that he wouldn’t pursue fundraising efforts, if approved by the board Thursday, until after graduation ceremonies next week.
“Hopefully things will slow down in the summer,” he said. “There’s not an urgency. I’m going to get this year closed out first.”
Lastly, Hinojosa was asked why funding for the Model School Conference scheduled for late June in Orlando, about $300,000, couldn’t be used to pay for the Teach For America training costs.
“That money that we’re using (for the conference) is either coke machine money, foundation money or professional development money,” he said.
In regards to the creation of a SPLOST IV notebook of projects, Hinojosa is recommending the board approve a $75,000 contract with Education Planners, which was founded by former Cobb interim superintendent James Wilson.
The company, which is located in Marietta, has an 18-member team, and their contract will run between May 18 and April 30, 2013, if approved Thursday night by the board.
Chris Ragsdale, deputy superintendent of operations, said the group would be available for assistance through the referendum vote, which the district has scheduled for March 2013.
Additionally, Ragsdale told the Facilities and Technology Committee on Monday that Education Planners would not be facilitating the program management of the project, nor do they have the option to.
“It was actually in the RFP as a condition that whoever the winning proposal was … they would in no way shape or form, be allowed to program manage any projects in Ed-SPLOST IV,” Ragsdale said.
According to district spokesperson Jay Dillon, details of the RFP application cannot be made public until after the board has voted on by the board.
Ragsdale said on Tuesday that the district will also have no need to out-source or bid out the program management of SPLOST IV and that it will be maintained by the district’s SPLOST staff, like SPLOST III is currently being managed.
“We like the way we have it,” Hinojosa said about the district’s SPLOST department handling program management. “I don’t plan to change it but if SPLOST passes, we’ll need to staff (Shepard’s) old position but we won’t know that until the vote.”
The school board approved bringing the program in-house in December 2009. That is when they hired SPLOST Administrator Doug Shepard who resigned in early March. The acting executive director is Glen Brown, who added the role his current job as director of SPLOST program management and accountability.
If voters approve the 1 percent sales tax next March for a fourth SPLOST, Ragsdale said the district estimates they will collect approximately $600 million between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2018. The funds collected are similar to what is expected to be collected with SPLOST III, which began on Jan. 1, 2009, and will run through Dec. 31, 2013.
In other business, Deputy Superintendent of Leadership Alice Stouder is recommending the board approve a $699,054.95 contract with Northside Psychological Services between July 1 and June 30, 2013, to be paid for with a Success For All Students Grant.
The grant is contingent upon the district’s approval of a no-cost extension request that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, which is expected to be returned sometime in May.
The board will also consider approving 10 new principal hires at Cobb schools.
The vacancies, all made through the following retirements, will be filled at McClure Middle, Susan Wing; Pickett’s Mill Elementary, Sheila Chesser; Russell Elementary, Ann H. DiPetrillo; Bryant Elementary, Dr. Patrice Moore; Bullard Elementary, Sharon J. Hardin; Big Shanty Elementary, Lynne C. Hutnik; Kennesaw Elementary, Wanda Floyd; Powder Springs Elementary, Darlene Mitchell; Lovinggood Middle, Elizabeth W. Wilson; and Hollydale Elementary, Lynn McWhorter.
The names of these principal’s replacements have not been released by the district and will not be until after the board approves them, Hinojosa said.
“We don’t even have the names yet,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been doing this afternoon. We still have the research to do.”
There will also be a vacancy at Hightower Trail Middle, where Hilda Wilkins is currently the principal, but a replacement has not been named; and the principal at Sky View Elementary, which is closing at the end of this school year, Cynthia Cutler, is also retiring.
The board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the boardroom at 514 Glover St. in Marietta. Public comments will take place the first 30 minutes of the meeting.