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School Funding Meetings Continue in East Cobb

There's another meeting on Jan. 23 at Lassiter High School.

Photo: Julia Curran Photography
Photo: Julia Curran Photography

Thanks to Anne Davidson, legislation chair of the East Cobb County Council of PTAs (ECCC PTA), for the following information from last Thursday's education funding meeting at Walton High School. 

She says more than 250 parents turned out to hear from Cobb school officials and state lawmakers on the severe funding shortfalls (the projected Cobb deficit for fiscal year 2015 is already $79 million).  

The panelists included: State Representatives Sharon Cooper and Valerie Clark, Cobb County School District Superintendent, Michael Hinojosa, Cobb County Board of Education members, Scott Sweeney and David Banks, and Walton High School Principal Judy McNeill.

The photos were taken by Julia Curran Villareal of Julia Curran Photography

There's another school funding meeting next Thursday, Jan. 23, at 7:15 p.m. at Lassiter High School. 

Here's what Anne had to say about Thursday's meeting at Walton: 

Two observations were apparent from the meeting.  

  • First, our state and county officials are trying to be responsive to parent concern about the school budget crisis. They believe education is important. They were also candid that even though the economic climate is improving, they do not expect sufficient tax revenues to close the budget gap.  
  • Second, finding a solution to the school budget deficit is an extremely high priority to the audience members -- who expressed this quite clearly (and some quite insistently) to the panel members – as well as a willingness to look at alternative revenue options to resolve the budget shortfall. 
    • For instance, when asked whether the audience would support an increase in the property tax millage rate to help close the budget gap, an estimated 90% of the audience put their hands up.  
      • Other tax revenue options discussed were a potential education special local option tax (SPLOST) that could be voted upon at the county level, a change to the SPLOST law that would allow more flexibility in the use of SPLOST revenues, and a phased-in revision to the senior tax exemption -- starting the tax exemption at a more advanced age.   

      As a parent, I believe that the school budget crisis is a problem for all residents of Cobb County. First, it is critical for our children that they receive a high quality education -- when they will be competing nationally and internationally for jobs. Apart from that, our home values and quality of life are tied to the quality of our schools, and the strength of our county and state economies are dependent upon a highly educated workforce.  I believe it is an issue on which we must all work TOGETHER to find a solution – our elected officials at the State and County levels, as well as parents and the community. 

      Paul January 19, 2014 at 09:46 AM
      I attended the earlier meeting at Walton High School. This was not really about looking for solutions. In fact no solutions or budget cuts were discussed at all other than raising taxes. This meeting series is all about floating a trial balloon on raising our millage rate to 20%. I hope the presenters understand that getting a 90% show of hands in favor of the increase in such as setting is not representative of success at the voting poll. First, the room is mostly full of concerned parents that just want to ensure that their children receive a good education and that property values at least keep up with inflation. However there are certainly plenty of voters without children who think that no additional money need come from them towards education. Just read the various blogs related to this issue. Second, there are those of us like my spouse and me with kids that expect to see how money is being spent today and where cuts will be made before we agree to a tax increase. Cuts must be made somewhere even if some budget categories increase. People in government in general must be more responsible with resources and not look to tax increases every time tax revenues dip as the way to balance the budget. As responsible individuals do, government bodies need to put aside money in prosperous times so that it can be used in lean times. Levying more taxes in lean times to balance the budget negatively affects the economy.


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