Parents want new building for Cobb performing arts school

Parents in southern Cobb County are calling on the school district to make improvements to Pebblebrook High School and other facilities. (John Spink/AJC)
Parents in southern Cobb County are calling on the school district to make improvements to Pebblebrook High School and other facilities. (John Spink/AJC)

Parents of students enrolled in a magnet program at Pebblebrook High School are calling on the Cobb County School Board to set aside funding to build a separate facility for their children.

Parents say the Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts is in dire need of a new building due to overcrowding at Pebblebrook, and a new building would allow the program to offer more areas of study.

The program opened at Pebblebrook High School in the mid-1980s as the district’s first magnet program, and accepts high school students enrolled in the Cobb County School District. It offers training in dance, drama, vocal music and technical theater.

Stacy Remaley, president of the Performing Arts Patron Association, which supports the magnet program, said Pebblebrook High School is overcapacity. As of Oct. 1, the school had 2,243 students, according to the Georgia Department of Education. The magnet program enrolls about 360 students.

“We do not have the physical space at Pebblebrook High School to fulfill what we currently have as far as programs,” she said.

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Remaley and another parent, Llilian Herrera, spoke to Cobb school board members at their Oct. 24 meeting about the need for more space. Herrera, who said she has a freshman enrolled in the magnet program, said additional space will allow teachers to provide the training students need to obtain coveted spots in competitive programs across the country. She also said a standalone building would accommodate growth and expansion of the program.

Remaley, who has two children enrolled in the magnet program, said it needs to expand its offerings to match the increased demand of Georgia’s growing film industry. A new building will allow the magnet program to offer study in areas such as commercial music, instrumental music, visual and graphic arts and film and television production.

Remaley said she and other parents would like the school district to build a new high school just for the magnet program or repurpose an existing building in the county. She also said she would support a temporary relocation of the program until a new facility is in the works.

“It’s really about getting the expanded content areas so that the students we have who want to go straight into the industry are prepared,” she said.

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The Cobb County School District’s current Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax program, which is projected to bring in $797 million over the next five years, went into effect this year and would fund a classroom addition, gym and 750-seat theater at Pebblebrook.

“Based on the way district funding works, there are no viable, short-term options for a standalone facility while district staff continues to review if long-term, Ed-SPLOST funded options are even a possibility,” a Cobb school district spokeswoman said.

Cobb school board member David Morgan said he’s been in touch with parents who have asked for a new building. Morgan said he would support a relocation if it’s something the school district can do within its current budget

“I just want to make sure everything works in a way that keeps us where we need to be financially as a school district,” he said.

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