Marlow, rest of board riled up over agenda item policy proposal
by Megan Thornton
March 23, 2013 12:23 AM | 4671 views | 10 10 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Despite a dire financial situation presented during Thursday night’s work session, the Cherokee County School Board instead focused almost 40 minutes of discussion — the majority of the regular meeting — on a single policy change proposed by first-term member Kelly Marlow.

The sometimes-fiery disagreement pitted Marlow against Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo and Chair Janet Read, and focused on whether proposed agenda items should be required to list the financial impact of the proposed action or policy.

Marlow proposed changing School Board Policy BCBD to require a specified dollar amount in the financial impact portion of the agenda request form. In cases where there is no cost to the district, the dollar amount should be listed as 0, her proposed change states. It also states the project or action “shall not exceed (the stated) amount without prior approval of the board.”

Petruzielo’s alternate proposal, which he said provided the district with more flexibility, was approved 4-3 with Marlow, Rob Usher and Michael Geist in opposition.

The superintendent’s policy states that only when board funds are expended that a cost be noted. Otherwise, the financial impact will be noted as “not applicable.” Petruzielo said the subject has never been a problem in his 15 years as superintendent. “The issue here is how we are spending the taxpayer’s dollars and the budgeted amount that the board approved for each year and operating within those parameters,” Petruzielo said. “I just don’t see the point of having whatever research time would be necessary to figure out if something has fiscal impact, when in fact it’s not going to impact the budget.”

Marlow said the intent behind her agenda item specifically related to the approval of the Georgia School Board Association membership resolution, which was approved 6-1 at the Feb. 7 meeting with Marlow opposed.

She questioned whether it would be appropriate to notify the public of the expended funds — which in fact were approved under last year’s budget — since Cherokee residents “do not get a line-item budget.”

District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby clarified that last month’s GSBA resolution is required by a school board policy to continue membership and the funding is included in the previous year’s budget.

“When you vote on a budget this July, you’ll have the opportunity to include those funds for the coming year or not,” Jacoby said.

Board Chair Janet Read said another notification of the expenditure would be unnecessary.

“To me, it’s redundant and we’re asking people to do extra work,” Read said.

The district’s executive summary of the budget is available online, but Jacoby said anyone looking to view the full budget can make an appointment with the central office staff.

Petruzielo also noted the district has required budget hearings each year and Marlow might be “overestimating how much zeal” the public has for knowing budget specifics.

“For the last 15 years, we have never had more than one person come to one budget hearing, so the assumption that there’s people out there that just can’t wait to consume this information and figure out what we pay for dues to GSBA is a bad assumption,” Petruzielo said.

Marlow disagreed, saying she believed every dollar counts and took issue with taxpayers not having “easy online access” to the line item budget.

“If it’s such a simple request and such an easy piece of information to find, I’m sure Mr. (Assistant Superintendent of Financial Management Candler) Howell and the staff would be more than happy to include it on an agenda item,” she said.

She added that all state legislators are required to submit a financial impact with every bill they present in the Georgia General Assembly.

“I would just say to that, the budget is already approved,” Read said, noting when the budget is approved, those numbers are presented to the public.

Though Geist said he didn’t believe listing every expenditure on the agenda would be practical, he agreed with Marlow’s request.

“I don’t know that what Mrs. Marlow is asking is terribly unreasonable,” Geist said. “If there is a dollar amount … on a decision that we make then just write the dollar amount down.”

While Petruzielo said that it might be helpful to include the information going forward, he stuck by his recommendation.

“In my view, this is not broken and we are trying to fix it,” Petruzielo said.

Changing routes, Marlow then took issue with Petruzielo failing to submit his policy in advance of the meeting and suggested his recommendation be tabled until the next board meeting, but it was met with no second from board members.

Both Read and Attorney Tom Roach confirmed the superintendent is allowed to make his own recommendations regarding policy and is not required to do so in advance.

While Petruzielo attempted to explain his procedure, Marlow told him he was “out of order” for not making a motion to approve his own policy.

“I don’t make motions and I don’t vote,” Petruzielo said.

Roach then told Marlow, who often cites Robert’s Rules of Order, that she was out of order for making an ancillary motion to the previous motion.

Visibly irritated, Marlow asked who was responsible for compiling the agenda. Read said that per school board policy, the board each month considers the superintendent’s agenda.

“I’m not even sure what my role is anymore,” Marlow said.

Near the end of the squabble, Petruzielo reflected on the importance of the matter.

“I can’t imagine that we are spending really this much time on something so inconsequential, particularly with the kinds of issues that we just talked about in the work session that are so consequential to the future of this system,” Petruzielo said, which was followed with a round of applause from the audience.

Also at the meeting, the board approved a re-shuffling of principals and other personnel this coming year. Marsha Iler is resigning as administrator from the L. R. Tippens Educational Center. In July, her role will be taken over by Freedom Middle School Assistant Principal Sheryl Gould. Freedom Middle School Principal Karen Hawley, who has led the school since 2007, is retiring at the end of the school year with Shelia Grimes, assistant principal at Cherokee High School, taking over for Hawley for the 2013-14 school year.

Kelly Jo Page, who helped open Knox Elementary School in 2008, also is resigning this year. The new principal at Knox will be Mountain Road Elementary Principal Tammy Sandell.

Replacing Sandell at Mountain Road is Jennifer Landry, assistant principal at Johnston Elementary.

With the new E. T. Booth Middle School opening in the next year, Chapman Intermediate School will be incorporated into Etowah High School’s campus and no longer serve fifth- and sixth-grade students. Chapman Principal Susan McCarthy will move to the central office to become the director of school improvements
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Joe Schmo
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March 25, 2013
Way to go Ms Marlow!

It's terribly sad that people are angry that you're asking for some fiscal accountability. What's worse is that most seem happy to let the dictator superintendent run the show and continue spending this county into oblivion, no questions DARED asked.

Why do we have a BOE? To just rubber-stamp what some fat bureaucrat says? If so, let's just disband it, fire the bloated super, and hire someone who'll do nothing for cheaper.

Sounds like some teachers need to be fired as well. Time to find a real job...one that doesn't pay for 4 months of vacation. These entitled people have no idea how good they have it. Time for a reality check! Fire 'em!
Cherokee Guy
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March 26, 2013
I agree 100% with Joe Schmo. Way to Go Ms Marlow! Dr. P needs to retire with such an arrogant attitude. His role is just to "suggest" and Ms Marlows job is to cast a vote. Dr P has NO vote and should be held accountable for every single dime spent. Ask him why he has so many Assistants yet continues to cut teachers and other first line staff. Not a dime cut the FAT in his office. THANK YOU MS MARLOW THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!
Reality Check
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March 26, 2013
Joe,

Learn the facts. Teachers are only paid for 180 work days per year when the funds are there. In the current economy they are only paid for 172. It will probably be less next year. The number of days is then multiplied by the daily rate for their teaching certificate and divided by 12. They are not paid for four months of vacation. They are not even paid for holidays.

lovesun
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March 26, 2013
Joe Schmo, obviously you are living up to your name and are totally uninformed as to how employees are paid. Teachers, clerical, cafeteria, as well as all other employees are not paid for those "vacation breaks". We do not get paid for any day that we are not 'on contract'. If your work days are 190 (teachers) your pay is for 190 days of class time. They take your pay for those 190 days and break it into 12 months. Therefore being paid less each month than with a regular 12 month job. We are not paid for days during the summer, fall break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter Break nor Spring Break. We are paid ONLY the days we are in the office or classroom. They are forced days off WITHOUT pay. Most teachers have two jobs to make ends meet. I challenge you to spend one day in a classroom and see how hard a teacher works with little graditude. You should be thanking God that we still have people willing to sacrifice personal time and energy to do this thankless job. Check out your facts before mouthing off about something you obviously don't know anything about.
Jospehine Schmo
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March 27, 2013
Teachers are paid for the entire year. Your avg. salary is greater than the avg. private sector salary. You get TONS of time off and you know you're getting paid next month. It's irrelevant whether you're paid for all that time off or not - you're paid WELL for the entire year. The fact you may have to -GASP!- budget that money at times is also irrelevant.

I challenge you to spend one year working in the private sector, where days don't end at 3:30pm, deadlines must be met, there are no 1-week vacations every other month, and, if your performance is poor, you lose your job rather than get a step-raise courtesy of the already-strapped taxpayer. You should thank God the taxpayers aren't revolting over our half-billion $$ budget and demanding more of you be terminated.

Why some of you attack the only board member working to actually restore the 180-day school year is absolute insanity and shows how deeply many of you worship the superintendent. It's pathetic.
Entitled?
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March 27, 2013
Joe, teachers are not entitled, they're contracted.

And if you think it's such a good gig, why aren't you putting in your application? Don't be mad because you can't keep a job.
Susan L.
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March 23, 2013
Ms. Marlow's thinly veiled attempt to divert the Board's attention away from the real issues -- student achievement, funding woes, etc. -- to spend valuable time on "important" issues like making sure the Board's policy states that the "newly revised" Robert's Rules of Order must be used was simply disgraceful. In reference to Ms. Marlow's comment, "I'm not even sure what my role is," it appeared to those in attendance that her sole purpose was to disrupt the meeting and waste time on trivial matters when the school system is facing some of its biggest challenges in recent history.
CC voter
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March 23, 2013
If these antics are truly occuring at the school board meetings as reported here, then some one has misplaced priorities. While Ms. Marlow was elected and is responsible to the voters, she should not use her position to further her own misguided disdain for the local school superintendent. That is not why I voted for her. I want her to focus on what is important - teaching and learning. The superintendent and his staff are her employees and deserve to be treated with respect, not made to do her bidding. She needs to learn to disagree without being disagreeable. I need to attend the next board meeting and see for myself. If she is truly acting in this manner, I regret voting for her.
Cherokee Parent
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March 23, 2013
I think it has become incredibly obvious that, contrary to her words when she was sworn in, Ms. Marlow has no intention of becoming a fence mender during her term. Indeed, she's building barbed wire fences and daring anyone to cross them. She needs to revisit the dark days of CCSD's SACS probation of a decade or so ago. Those in her post who voted for her are surely regretting their vote. We need to make her a one-term board member and keep her out of any other public office.
Cherokee mom
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March 25, 2013
I have a feeling most of those that voted for her didn't live her during those days....
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