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Mountain View Makes Final Plea for New School

The Cobb school board could decide on two elementary replacement projects on Wednesday.

Mountain View Elementary parents and students lobby Cobb school board member David Banks, who represents the school community. Photo: Wendy Parker
Mountain View Elementary parents and students lobby Cobb school board member David Banks, who represents the school community. Photo: Wendy Parker
Students at Mountain View Elementary School have been busy during the holiday season composing hand-written notes not just to Santa Claus, but also to Cobb school board members.

The letters, which will be delivered Wednesday in "Miracle on 34th Street" fashion, are part of a last-ditch effort for a reconstruction project for the aging East Cobb school as board members face some difficult choices.

There's only enough funding for two elementary school replacement projects -- at $23 million each -- from forthcoming Cobb Education SPLOST IV funds

Two other school communities -- Brumby in East Cobb and Harmony Leland in Mableton -- have been just as vocal as Mountain View parents about their needs, and Cobb school officials have listed other possible options. 

"We would be happy for any of the schools that are being rebuilt," said Karin DeAmicis, an organizer of the "Rebuild Mountain View" campaign. "But clearly there's a need for more than what's on the SPLOST list."

The board may take action on Wednesday during its monthly meeting that begins at 8:30 a.m. in the board room at Cobb County School District headquarters, 514 Glover Street, Marietta. 

Shortly after the meeting begins, the board will go into executive session, then resume in public, with the replacement issue fairly high on the agenda. 

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Intense lobbying efforts began several months ago -- after Cobb voters in March extended the school SPLOST to continue through 2018 -- and have included repeated and often emotional comments at board meetings, some by students, and with proponents carrying signs. 

Last month, the "Rebuild Mountain View" drive included a town hall meeting at the school, with board representatives, Cobb commissioner JoAnn Birrell and state legislators present. 

There, parents and school staff repeated their main concerns about the Mountain View building on Sandy Plains Road that dates back to the 1960s: It's old, contains mold and poses safety problems for parents in carpool lines and students dodging traffic in the parking lot. 

While DeAmicis said that "we were able to communicate to the community as a whole" at the town hall meeting, she realizes the people who need to be persuaded the most are at least four members of the seven-member school board. 

Board chairman Randy Scamihorn said he was "hopeful" his colleagues will be ready to vote for both school replacements, but said some have asked for a delay.

He also acknowledged that the needs for new school facilities outstrip what was approved in the SPLOST extension.

Harmony Leland, built in the early 1950s, is the oldest school in the district, and is vastly overcrowded in a crumbling facility.

Brumby, located on a busy commercial corridor on Powers Ferry Road, has more than 1,000 students, many of whom attend classes in 17 trailers on a nine-acre tract with little room for expansion. 

Scamihorn has visited Mountain View and said that the water leakage problems that have led to the mold are "fixable."

But he said that for the school or schools left out of the equation "it doesn't lessen the issue" of their needs.

Last month, Mountain View parents presented data to school board's SPLOST oversight committee they say shows a doubling of maintenance spending at the school over the last three years (see attached PDF).

Continued piecemeal upkeep won't solve the larger problems of an older building that needs to be replaced, they say. 

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