Rare school budget gridlock in Cobb County

5:39 PM, May 18, 2012   |    comments
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  • Retired Assistant Cobb County School Superintendent Dr. Stanley Wrinkle
  • Cobb County Association of Educators President Connie Jackson
  • File photo of Cobb County school children
  • Cobb County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa
    

MARIETTA, Ga. -- Gridlock, impasse, even dysfunctional.

Some or all of those words are being used to describe the Cobb County School Board after failure to agree on a 2013 budget Thursday night.

Some even consider their inaction a slap in the face for new Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa.

Facing a $62.6 million deficit, he began preparing his painful first Cobb County school budget last October, knowing it would be a tough sell.

But he says he's never had such a rejection in his 18-year career as a school superintendent.

To close the multi-million dollar hole, he proposed eliminating 350 positions, making class sizes larger, going to a shorter school year and adding more employee furlough days.

Not only did the school board reject his plan, they couldn't even agree on several different proposals of their own, some more severe, some less so.

"I cannot remember a time, as long as I've been in Cobb County and that's about 40 years, when we've ever had a situation where the board could not come to an agreement," said retired Cobb County Assistant School Superintendent Dr. Stanley Wrinkle.

"It's not just a 4-3 split," he told 11Alive News, "it's a 4-1-1-1 split."

Although most teachers have contracts for next year, one group that represents them said many don't know what to expect or how to plan their lives.

"One of the board members last night was talking about cutting another 350 positions," said Connie Jackson, President of the Cobb County Association of Educators.

"That made teachers pretty shaky, I mean, there're a lot of people worrying today about their positions for next year," she added.

By law Cobb County's School Board must come up with a balanced budget by June 30.

That leaves about six weeks in a process that began seven months ago.

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