Cobb schools’ wish list includes Sprayberry update, graduation venue

Students, teachers and community members demonstrate in front of Sprayberry High School during on Sunday, April 18, 2021, in Marietta, Georgia. Parents and community members held the rally to encourage Cobb County school board members to allocate funds to renovate the school. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Caption
Students, teachers and community members demonstrate in front of Sprayberry High School during on Sunday, April 18, 2021, in Marietta, Georgia. Parents and community members held the rally to encourage Cobb County school board members to allocate funds to renovate the school. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Nearly $1 billion will be generated for Cobb County schools if voters approve renewing the one-cent education sales tax later this year.

That’s according to the county’s school district officials, who recently unveiled the proposed project list for the sixth Education Special-Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

If approved, the five-year sales tax is expected to generate $900 million, which the district can use for construction and renovation projects and technology purchases, the district projects. By law, E-SPLOST revenue cannot be used towards school district personnel and operations costs.

Some of the projects on the list include a rebuild of some parts of Sprayberry High School; a new graduation and special events center; improvements and modifications at North Cobb high and Bells Ferry Elementary schools; as well as a new elementary school in south Cobb.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said he hopes the SPLOST is approved by voters so the Sprayberry project can be incorporated into the district’s plan to reconstruct the school’s gym. The design for the new gym is complete, so board members in September will consider a request to approve the construction project, Ragsdale said.

“I’m sure there’s at least a couple of people who would be pleased to hear that,” said board member David Chastain, whose post includes Sprayberry.

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Dozens of Cobb County parents last month held a rally to encourage the district to rebuild the school, which opened at the intersection of Sandy Plains and Piedmont roads in 1973.

Ragsdale said a new commencement and events center would allow the district to have its own place to host graduation ceremonies instead of using Kennesaw State University’s Convocation Center.

Other proposed projects include building the district’s second career academy in the north Cobb area; upgrades at Tapp Middle School; new annexes at Kincaid, Mt. Bethel, Murdock, Sope Creek and Tritt elementary schools; as well as athletic and stadium facility upgrades.

Money will also be used for technology upgrades as well as safety and security enhancements. The proposed list can be viewed on the district’s website.

James Wilson, the school district’s planning consultant, said the upcoming Ed-SPLOST would set aside funding for “undesignated classrooms,” which would be applied to schools where growth is not anticipated.

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Wilson said the district included the Bells Ferry Elementary School project “is a high priority” and on the list due to its use of multiple portable classrooms and since more growth is anticipated for the area.

While North Cobb High School has experienced some modifications, the school still needs continued attention, Wilson said.

“In some of the areas that are used now, you can tell that it was built in the 1950s and 60s and they just need some modification and upgrades,” he said.

Cobb County school board members are expected to approve the final list in June and the ballot language in August. If approved by voters, the tax would be collected for five years beginning in 2024. The current SPLOST started in 2019 and ends in 2023.

“We have awesome facilities and it’s because of SPLOST and because the citizens’ support of that,” Ragsdale said.

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