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How Bloated is the Cobb County School District?

An East Cobb parent dug into some of the details, and says she didn't find much fat in the front office.

An East Cobb parent found that Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's salary package is far from being the highest in metro Atlanta. Patch File Photo
An East Cobb parent found that Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's salary package is far from being the highest in metro Atlanta. Patch File Photo
In her latest Town Square post on East Cobb Patch, Michelle Sollicito -- a parent in the Eastvalley Elementary School district -- writes that she recently went looking at some Cobb County School District numbers to find bloated spending, especially at the administrative level.

Initially she thought the salary package for Superintendent Michael Hinojosa was too high, but changed her mind on closer inspection.

"What I did find was a DIRE need for funds," she wrote, suggesting that more state funding be provided, and that changes in local taxing solutions also be considered.

Here's the full link to her article, and here's her previous commentary that she posted last month about the ongoing financial crisis within the Cobb school district.

Public meetings about the school funding issue are continuing in East Cobb as the Georgia legislature has convened; there's another scheduled for Jan. 23 at Lassiter High School. 

What do you think? Should administrative cuts be made at the Cobb County School District to help alleviate financial problems? Or should other funding sources be considered? Tell us in the comments.

your own luck January 15, 2014 at 09:47 AM
How about not building the Braves Stadium with any taxpayer money and using it for education instead. If the Atlanta Braves want to build a stadium in Cobb, let them use only their own money or go elsewhere. Our money needs to go toward more important things.
Brian January 15, 2014 at 04:42 PM
The stadium doesn't come from school funds. In fact, they can't legally inter-mingle those funds. As a Smyrna resident, I want the economic development and transportation improvements that the mixed-use development and stadium will bring (even if I have to suffer for a couple hours ever few days). Beyond school, which isn't from the general fund, if you have any other concerns about services, I recommend you approach Smyrna to annex you if you are within reach of Smyrna. Services are better in Smyrna than in unincorporated Cobb.
Jonquil Gardener January 15, 2014 at 08:25 PM
The School system is not at all "bloated" and the fact that this article is even titled this way is proof of the complete and utter misunderstanding of most people about where tax money is really wasted. The problem in Cobb lies largely in the Senior exemptions that Cobb offers and many other counties do not. In fact, this problem will only grow as the baby boomer peak over the next 10 years. Unless our elected officials can grow the backbone needed to get rid of this exemption or at least modify it, we will face a much bigger budget shortfall each year. Currently the budget is something like a 79 million dollar shortfall for next year. If you think this is not a big deal then you should know that suggestions being floated include eliminating pay for coaches, adding an entire week of furlough days, eliminating some sports and after school activities, and farming out all janitorial services. Its a huge shortfall and its going to only get worse. Property values returning will help some but not enough to offset the loss of senior taxes. http://www.eastcobber.com/cobb-county-schools-at-financial-crossroads http://www.cobbtax.org/property/exemptions
userbronco January 16, 2014 at 08:13 AM
What about that tajmahal high school they built a few years ago? I think school choice and vouchers would solve the problem
j kirtland January 16, 2014 at 06:30 PM
Interesting concept....one "loses" that which one has never had ("....but not enough to offset the loss of senior taxes.") Our kids have been to school and now you want us to pay for yours. How about ALL the parents who have kids in school pay the tab. Property owner or not...your kid, you pay. One thing never seems to end....those who rob Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul. Keep your hands out my pocket and pay for your own darn kids!
userbronco January 16, 2014 at 07:20 PM
That's a good idea Since my child attended a private school I'd like about $24K refund for the school tax I paid
Michelle Sollicito January 16, 2014 at 07:35 PM
I suggest that everyone under age 62 gets an exemption from paying for all senior care and elderly care - then the senior exemption will be fair.
j kirtland January 16, 2014 at 07:49 PM
If your reasoning was representative of the majority of Cobb voters, we would be Fulton Co. Senior/elder care and those under 62 paying or not makes no sense. By your reasoning, everyone under 62 would pay for gov't schools. I would have no problem with that, unfortunately, the only school taxpayers under age 62 are property owners. What you can't take for yourself, you have the gov't do for you. What's fair for one is fair for everyone....assuming your definition of fair, only those with kids in school pay for the schools.
Michelle January 17, 2014 at 12:08 AM
"Keep your hands out my pocket and pay for your own darn kids!" Hmmm...I wonder if this was the same attitude the taxpayers had when your kids were in school and required to pay for your children (unless of course you sent them to private). Seems like a full circle deal to me......just like everyone under 62 having to pay for everyone over 62 with the many services and amenities they have access to in this city/county. It seems to me that supporting our children through education would have a much larger impact for the communities we live in, the state we live in and the country we live in then to not support them through taxes. Imagine having poorly educated adults caring for and deciding the fate of our senior population. Just saying.... :)
Mike Holzknecht January 18, 2014 at 06:04 PM
The reason for jobs in Cobb is a quality public school system. High property values are a result of our quality public.
Paul January 19, 2014 at 09:30 AM
I usually lean libertarian and when it comes to money I am conservative. But on the topic of government schools, when it comes to everyone paying taxes to contribute, I agree. Even if you don't have kids, even if you do and send them to private school, you and your property values will be better off the better we educate our local young people. Senior citizens... you have exemptions and those aren't going anywhere. Our population at large is aging and our politicians aren't stupid, at least when it comes to this issue. Now, I could get behind a tax structure where more is due based on the number of children actively using school resources versus having none, but I can't get behind the idea of only those households with students pay. My two cents.
Jonquil Gardener January 26, 2014 at 01:16 PM
The exceptional realestate values and quality of life in Cobb is inextricably linked to the quality of our school system as a whole. Let this school system go down and watch how fast our county looses value and quality residents. Stupid is, is stupid does...its time to rethink the senior tax break.
Jacque Cousteu February 09, 2014 at 02:39 PM
No fat in a 900 Million dollar school budget for Cobb county? What does our future hold a budget that easily exceeds 1 Billion dollars with a graduation rate in the 70%? We need to be reasonable the Governor is. He realizes that he has a budget for an entire state and can only tax his citizens so much so he allots so much funding to each school district. Michelle is part of a small group that has it in for senior citizens. If you read any of the blogs she is associated with you will see that her "Group" feels seniors over 62 should not receive the senior school tax exemption even though their children are attending schools we built! They also wonder why we need to live in certain size homes (which we paid for) or even if we should have a right to continue to live in Cobb county. At a recent school board meeting that I attended one person asked the school board if they were going to get a refund when seniors die. This kind of Un-American behavior needs, and will come to the attention of all seniors that continue to live and enjoy Cobb County.
Jacque Cousteu February 09, 2014 at 03:36 PM
Jonquil exceptional real estate values? Most people's homes have declined in value because many homebuyers bought homes they couldn't afford which fell into foreclosure and brought home values down. Michele wonders what my attitude was when my children attended Cobb schools. Unlike her I appreciated the fact that seniors before me had provided nice schools for my children. I gladly paid my school taxes for the next 30 years long after my children had left the system. I never wished any senior would move out of the county. I never had the slightest concern what size home they lived in, that was their business. I also never wished anyone would simply die so younger people would move into the county. I guess I was brought up differently, I always respected everyone's contribution to our society, not just my own age group.
Jacque Cousteu February 09, 2014 at 08:29 PM
Michelle if anyone reads "fund cobb schools" reference Cobb county school board meeting at Walton High. They will quickly understand the attitude displayed towards Seniors in Cobb County. This group seems to feel the Cobb School Budget amount approved by our governor is the fault of the senior school tax exemption. You will find comments discussing why seniors live in certain size houses, why they don't move out of the county an so forth. Seniors are given no credit for helping to build the very schools many of these complainers are now using. They say this is unfair yet they will qualify for the same tax benefits if they are still here in Cobb at age 62. They talk about equal treatment, once you have paid Cobb school tax for 30 years we can speak as equals. You cannot enter Cobb now, use schools I helped build and expect me to fund your children's education equally with you. As I stated earlier when I moved to Cobb I paid my school taxes and was happy to do so. I never gave one thought to anyone over 62 that had an exemption. More Seniors need to attend these local school board meetings, to get a sense of what many of these younger peoples views are towards seniors. You would be embarrassed for them, annoyed and as outraged as I am! All of these negative comments came off your Facebook page, I did not see any comments from you disagreeing. Tell us Michelle what is your position on the Cobb Senior School Tax Exemption?
JK February 09, 2014 at 09:46 PM
The answer from the politicians seemingly is always to raise taxes for shortfalls. In the case of school taxes, any raise in taxes will fall only to property owners. To continue to mandate those owners over the age of 62 would mean a tax increase, in my case, of close to 250%. Those who have responsibly planned their retirement to get slapped again because those who have kids in school can't pay their own way is appalling. ANY sports? Participants pay for everything...including the coaches. Band? Same thing. Your kid rides the school bus? You pay for your child and don't expect me to pay. Books? You pay for your kids books and stop expecting me to pay. Your kid eats lunch at school? Breakfast? You pay for your kid to eat and stop expecting me to pay. As a property owner, I've done my part and in three years I have planned for years to stop paying for other parents kids. For 20 years, I have paid for mine and yours. I doubt any parent of a child in a public/gov't school would go to the door of a property owner every year and demand he/she pay for his kid to go to school. But these same parents have no problem demanding the gov't come to my door and take it from me. Whether Tytler or de Tocqueville, the sage and prophetic quote certainly applies today: ""A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." Or better said.... a democracy is no more than three wolves and a lamb deciding what is for dinner.

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