Cobb County school board divided on legislative priorities

The Cobb County Board of Education recently approved a short list of legislative priorities for next year focused on finances, staffing and accountability measures. But two outgoing board members wanted to see the list expanded to include more ways to help students with learning disabilities and low-income students.

Specifically, the list of priorities for state lawmakers includes maintaining funding for supports for students with disabilities, sustaining the teacher retirement system and changing some financial reporting requirements.

But board members Jaha Howard and Charisse Davis, whose terms on the board are ending this year, asked about more supports for literacy and funding for students at an economic disadvantage.

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“I’ve yet to see multiple parent town halls about the headaches of monthly financial reports, but I have sat through plenty of parent town halls about dyslexia,” Howard said.

The priorities outline what the district’s lobbyists will focus on doing during the legislative session. Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale emphasized that although the list is concise, the district’s team works on more than what’s listed.

“There’s not a year or session that goes by that we don’t have numerous conversations that aren’t on our priority list,” he said.

The board approved the list of priorities in a 5-2 vote, with Davis and Howard dissenting.