At Issue: Is South Cobb overlooked for public school construction?


A shooting outside an Atlanta high school football game earlier this month brought to light an issue that some parents face just about every Friday night: What can be done to keep my kid safe?

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says the larger issue is a failure to give students hope.

Carstarphen says Atlanta can change the circumstances that led to the shooting—and a similar shooting last year during the Mays-Carver football game—but it will take concerted action by people and institutions throughout the city.

If you’ve been to a high school football game in the last few years, you’ll see a lot of people milling about outside the facility. Whether they are fans or trouble-makers is hard to determine. Even though it’s a school event, it is open to the public.

We asked readers for their suggestions. Here’s what some had to say:

Maybe it is time to resurrect Saturday afternoon football games. That was the tradition before expensive lights and huge scoreboards became the norm. Fights can still happen but are a lot less likely. Of course, adolescents don't really attend for the football, so someone else besides the schools would have to handle the inevitable bored, excitement-seeking behavior on a weekend night. — Kathy Annis, retired educator

I grew up in the Philadelphia, Pa. metro area over 50 years ago. Because high school football on Friday night in the city was the stage for shootings and other sorts of mayhem, drastic changes were made. All game schedules were changed to weekday afternoons at neutral fields with no fan attendance. You probably think that's terrible but is it more terrible than one person getting shot or mauled in a gang fight? I don't know when or where Philadelphia city high school games are played today but people getting shot at football games cannot be ignored as collateral damage. — Harry Waterbor, Canton

School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen was short on any actions she will take in her position to improve safety at Atlanta high school games, but long with a rambling, double-speak discourse about the ills of local society and the need

for "hope" to correct the situation. With a million-dollar contract under her belt, Carstarphen needs to do her job and list specifics that will "help" the people at these games by stopping the criminal element at the stadiums. Atlanta has lots of "hope" to offer people caught up in low-income areas of the city, but tough crime prevention is the only thing that will work. Of course the superintendent dropped the need for more "resources" to solve the problem for city schools. — James Hightower

Now is the time for Cobb residents to let the Cobb County Board of Education know what they want included in the Ed-SPLOST V Notebook of school construction projects, infrastructure improvements and instructional resources.

If approved by Cobb voters possibly next year, the renewal of the education special purpose local option sales tax would add an extra one percent to the county’s tax for five more years when the current Ed-SPLOST IV expires at the end of 2018.

Preparing this notebook may take a year, according to Cobb school officials, which is why Cobb School Superintendent Chris Ragsdale recommended the commencement of that planning during Thursday’s board meeting.

As expressed during several public comment portions before the board, many Mableton residents have been concerned about the lack of funding to rebuild Harmony Leland and Clay Elementary Schools which face overcrowding and deteriorating conditions.

“In SPLOST, the community felt the rebuild was going to happen and it did not happen. We need to take extraordinary steps to make sure that we fulfill that commitment,” David Morgan, a school board member and a Harmony Leland parent, said said during the May work session.

In May, the board tabled a decision on Morgan’s motion to designate $5 million from the unassigned fund balance to begin accumulating the $30 million needed for rebuilding these schools.

Then in June, the school board members voted unanimously to add $5 million to the $5 million already in the rebuild fund, leaving $20 million more needed.

Do you think South Cobb is overlooked when it comes to new school construction? What do you think should be included in the new Ed-SPLOST V Notebook? Send comments to