A proposed budget released Wednesday shows that the Cobb County School District wants to use $759 million of SPLOST money for everything from building a new middle school in Smyrna to buying new kilns for art students.
The wish list was released after Superintendent Chris Ragsdale explained to the school board during its Wednesday meeting the plans for this SPLOST, which would be the fifth Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for the county school system. If approved by voters, the one-cent sales tax would be collected for five years, beginning in 2019. Cobb's current education SPLOST expires in 2018.
Ragsdale and the district want $165 million to replace Eastvalley Elementary School on the current East Cobb Middle School site, replace the long-awaited Harmony Leland Elementary on the Factory Shoals Road site and King Springs Elementary on its current property. The only outright new school proposal is for a new middle school in the Smyrna area.
The following middle schools will get new classrooms: Dickerson, Dodgen and Lovinggood.
Here's how that wish list breaks down:
- New and replacement facilities: $165,000,000
- Addition and modification: $206,000,000
- Infrastructure and individual school needs: $103,000,000
- Safety, security and support: $112,000,000
- Academic and technological: $173,000.000.00
Marietta City Schools recently went through this process and proposed a $67 million E-SPLOST list.
By law, E-SPLOST monies can only be used for capital outlay projects for educational purposes or to make payments on bonds, meaning the funds can't be used for salaries.
Cobb says it will improve security by ensuring that entrances are up to snuff. All this amid an increase of school shootings across the country.
"Increased security needs require that staff members be confident that all the doors, windows and locks can completely control access to each facility," the proposal says. There will also be funds spent on improving communication technology between staff members.
With an emphasis on STEM programs, the district also proposes the establishment of a robotics program in high schools but gives no details of scale.
Cobb’s district enrollment is expected to reach 114,346 students by the 2019-2020 school year, compared to an enrollment of 111,751 students during the 2014-2015 school year.
As for freshening up high schools, here's the plan:
- Adding a classroom and replacing a theater at Campbell High School
- Adding a classroom at Hillgrove High School
- Renovating and modifying the theater at Lassiter High School
- Renovating and modifying the Career Tech center at North Cobb High School
- Replacing the theater at Osborne High School
- Adding a classroom and replacing the gym along with the theater at Pebblebrook High School
- Replacing the gym at South Cobb High School
- Renovating and modifying the Career Tech center along with replacing the gym at Sprayberry High School
- Returning the tennis courts and softball field to Walton High School
- Upgrading and renovating the Wheeler High School magnet program