Cobb County School Board to Vote on $1.85 Billion Budget

The Cobb County Board of Education is set to vote on a proposed $1.85 billion budget on Thursday. This follows tentative approval in April, which included teacher raises, 20 new positions, and a $2 million experimental math and science program.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale announced that all district staff would receive raises between 4.4% and 9%, with an average increase of 6%. “My intent is to bring an employee-centric budget,” Ragsdale stated. The tentative budget approval passed unanimously after a public forum.

Legally, the district must hold two public meetings for community input before finalizing the budget. However, criticism arose due to the scheduling of these forums close to the April and May board meetings. Jeff Hubbard, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, requested a third forum for more comprehensive stakeholder feedback, but the district did not schedule an additional meeting.

In response, the activist group Watching the Funds Cobb hosted a Zoom meeting featuring Democratic board members Becky Sayler and Nichelle Davis. They discussed the budget, millage rates, and the $50 million event center approved in March 2023. Sayler clarified that the event center is not included in this year’s budget, as its funding comes from capital outlay reimbursements and land sales.

Sayler and Davis emphasized the importance of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) in funding school renovations and maintenance. With 94% of the general budget allocated to staff salaries and fringe benefits, SPLOST is crucial for district operations. They also highlighted the impact of dwindling federal CARES Act funds, noting that summer school programs have shifted to the general fund, adding $2.5 million to the budget.

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Board chair Randy Scamihorn acknowledged the community’s support for SPLOST, attributing it to the district’s fiscal responsibility. The board will hold its final budget public forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by a voting session at 7 p.m. at 50 Glover Street in Marietta.

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