Understanding the Fiscal Year Budget
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Public Comment Wall

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Cherie
No new stadium with our tax dollars. Let's keep our cobb county schools safe and high quality for our children and generations to come.

High school student
Just buy text books hardback they work better than online textbooks.

Parent
Teachers are the single most important part of Cobb county students getting the BEST education possilbe. Second in importance are our adminastrators. We need to think aboout what are the most essential

Sandy Sykes
Has anyone done a cost comparison of having teachers oder a classroom set (for each class) of soft cover readers for K-2nd grade (and possibly more grade levels at high risk schools) vs using web sites to have and printout enough readers for student use (copiers frequently down). Using the copiers to printout primer reading books requires buying more copy paper, more ink for printers etc. Allowing teachers to purchase soft cover readers (Scholastic, Rigby pm) for each teacher (not to share as a grade level) might be less costly than purchasing entire sets of readers from the large publishing houses. Our county is so diverse that buying huge quantities of "one size fits all" reading materials is a dramatic and costly task. Also, teachers in the primary grade levels often have small reading groups that can approach 7 or 8 students. Often, there are not enough books for a group this size. If a teacher has 3 reading groups, dividing a group of 8 into two groups of 4 isn't ideal. it seems that some comparative cost studies, such as this, could provide valuable data for the county budget.

Cobb Resident
It's not feasible to keep raising taxes. That seems to be the solution for every crisis. It's time to rethink this entire system and decide what's next.

BLP
Cobb County Schools needs Emily Lembeck to continue the excellence in education, it has fought so hard to achieve. Give her the substantial pay increase she warrants (guality doesn't come cheap)listen to her, keep politics out of it and work as a TEAM, knowing she gets results and she will make the hard choices"fiscally", to keep the ship afloat. She is by far the BEST Superintendant in this state and Cobb children, parents, teachers and all personnel connected with this school system deserve the BEST. I.E. IF for some reason Ms. Lembeck remains with City of Marietta Schools once the offer is made,Counsel with her to get recommendations she has for the top 3 most qualified candidates within this state. Also, Betty Siegel former KSU President might serve as a consultant. Working with both these ladies, would be and asset for the county and would indicate to parents, the School Board is working with 2 of the finest minds in education today.

DS
With such an immense budget shortfall and all every avenue needing to be thoroughly investigated. I have two questions: 1) Which four board members declined to carry Mr. Bank's .01 tax increase proposal to the state for consideration? 2) Why?

Another Concerned Citizen
The recent ice days events were an excellent example of the dedication of the transportation staff, teachers and ancillary staff of the Cobb County school district. While the CCSD has undoubtedly been concerned about the safety of the students as a results of their lack of planning, the rest of the CCSD staff has been left with the aftermath of taking care of the children. At the end of the day ladies and gentlemen, no group of people in CC has worked harder to make sure that the school aged children of CC were cared for during this icy crisis than the underpaid, under-appreciated bus drivers, teachers and ancillary staff at our kids schools. So when the budget hits the proverbial fan, don't think for a minute that the front line staff should take furlough days because they don't have to work summers. Cut the fat. Cut out a school board member...or more. Suck it up senior citizens...pay $100-$150 a year for the excellent property values you enjoy by living in Cobb County (and yes, I am close to being a senior so don't even go there, and no, I'm not a teacher). If you wonder what will happen if we keep pushing our teachers, read all about the APS scandal. Be better than that...be excellent, and give our teachers the opportunity to help our kids be excellent instead of pushing them to the edge and burning them out. Teachers don't chose to be teachers for the money...but it does feel nice to be appreciated.

Cobb Parent
1. Raise taxes!! Those who might scream for lower taxes get what they pay for - in this case, a lower quality education for our children, resulting in a lower quality community over time. 2. Get rid of the senior tax exemption. a. I know of parents who qualify for and take the senior exemption even though they have children still attending Cobb County schools. That is just wrong and should not be allowed. b. Good schools create high property values. This benefits all property owners whether they have children attending Cobb schools or not. Seniors who are property owners should have to contribute to this investment in the value of our community, and their own property. Cobb County has done a good job wringing value out of the budget they have. Now they need more help. Let's give it to them. Let's pay for our fine schools.

PTSA PRES
If this angers you it's time to take a stand. CALL your Senators and Representatives. Ask them to explain the QBE Formula and the Equalization Grant and the 5MIL pot to you. Ask them to explain why Cobb Taxpayers have to contribute based on property tax rates as if all our taxpayers are paying the same full tax rate. Ask them if everything is so great in Cobb why are our teachers jumping ship to go work in Cherokee and Gwinnett for better pay? Better yet attend the town hall meeting at Palmer Middle on Feb 5th at 7 PM. Hear the State Superintendent speak about the issues facing ALL GA schools... don't just complain on a forum get out a DO SOMETHING!

Cobb Parent/Tax Payer
We're going to have to raise taxes. Cutting arts programs and half-day kindergarten are UNACCEPTABLE if we expect our schools to continue to be some of the best in the state. Property values will continue to decline if people no longer want to live in Cobb County for the schools.

Cobb Tax Payer
It is simply not feasible anymore to attempt to cut deeper. It is time to raise taxes so the quality of education remains high in Cobb. This may mean more each year for each homeowner, but if it is enough to save off larger classes, eliminating the arts, or the fleecing of quality teachers we should step up and pay. We can not longer afford the luxury of some of the lowest taxes and a senior exemption (unheard of in our neighboring counties.)

CT
If we exempt elementary kids from standardized testing and only keep what is absolutely necessary for middle and high students I bet we can save a few $$. We don't need to have scores each year telling us the same story...use the time and money for authentic learning and additional personnel.

Pat
I am extremely bewildered. The Thursday, January 16 edition of the "East Cobb Neighbor" offers a quote from Cobb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Lee, " All indications are that Cobb County has turned the corner and in 2014 we are on our way to very healthy levels for all revenue streams." Huh? This comment to the Chamber of Commerce at the same time the BoE is planning these insane measures to combat a major budget shortfall? So, who is out of touch with reality here? What is the truth? Apparently, there a several answers. However the future is dire - great teachers are moving to the counties that our tax dollars are being sent, our kids education will suffer, our property values will implode. Guess we should be thinned, however, as Mr. Lee tells us, "In addition to the Atlanta Braves, we brought in 16 new businesses announcements, more than 1087 new jobs and investments of $41 million just last year.' Will any of this matter if our schools are no longer viable?

Parent
Spending is a huge issue! How about more cuts with depts such as transportation. 40+ million? Really? And why is an ex- teacher in charge of this dept? Would UPS or FedEx have an ex teacher in charge of their transportation budget? No way!! Millions could be saved here. This board needs to be made up of business people who can run the system like a business and make the necessary budget cuts. Cuts are tough but our kids and teachers are paying the price.

Barbara
Some schools would rather tear town their school buildings in a heartbeat before their beloved football stadiums.

Bill
I attended a very informative meeting last night that addressed many of the issues raised by some of these posts. I was so encouraged to see that an overwhelming majority of those present (it was at Walton High School) raised their hands in favor of (a) increasing the mileage rate; and (b) repealing the tax exemption for senior citizens. But I was discouraged to learn that - in the current Tea Party/Grover Norquist Republican party, there is no political will to consider any type of revenue measure and, more to the point, it would be nearly impossible. The School Board can raise the millage rate from its current level to the maximum allowed by State law - 20 mills. But that would only raise about $36M in revenue. That is the ONLY revenue option available to the School Board. The Senior Exemption was enacted by the General Assembly in the 1980s as a local amendment to the constitution. To get it repealed, 9 members of the Cobb legislative delegation would have to bring it to the floor of the House and then 2/3 of the House and Senate would have to vote to repeal it (yes, I know - that means that Senators and Representatives with no interest at all in Cobb county get to vote on the law that applies in Cobb county) Finally, I think it would then have to put to the voters in Cobb. David Banks offered the best possible solution - Local Education Sales Tax (!$.01) a proposal he brought to the school board in November. FOUR members of the board voted against sending a simple request to the legislature that it be considered. Their rationale - typical knee jerk anti all tax increases of any kind - demonstrated that they did not understand the proposal at all. In effect, it would result in a TAX DECREASE for Cobb residents for two reasons; (1) a sales tax is paid by non-cobb county citizens who purchase products here (i.e. every beer in the new Braves stadium) and (2) under the proposal 30% of the revenue would go to reducing the millage rate by approximately 2 mills. The remaining 70% would bring approximately $80M in new revenue to the school system. If you care about education in Cobb County; If you don't want to become the next DeKalb or Clayton county; then call your State representative and Senator and tell them you want them to propose the LEST to the GA. Call your School Board member and tell them you want them to support it. If they don't, vote them out of office.

Kathy Brumm
As a grandparent of two grandsons who attend Cobb County schools, I am all for eliminating the senior exemption. All stakeholders must help to provide for all the children. Cobb County schools are outstanding! We need to support them.

Jennifer
Even with the recurrent budget deficits that Cobb has been facing, Cobb students and teachers have somehow continued to outperform surrounding counties. But they will reach a tipping point. Cobb county and the State of GA has a revenue problem, plain and simple. We all know that we need to max out the millage rate and bring the senior exemption in line with other metro Atlanta counties. No reason why seniors should be able to opt out of contributing to education, which is the primary contibutor to their stable prooperty values. If a senior cannot afford it, they can appeal for a deduction, but we shouldn't make it a giveaway. This is political pandering because Cobb County knows who turns out rain or shine on Election day - seniors. The education system is already cut to the bone. Anybody who says that we have to learn to do more with less hasn't stepped foot in a classroom in the West part of Cobb county. East Cobb is not an accurate snapshot of the state of education. My kids go to an East Cobb elementary school and I mentor in a West Cobb school and I have to say I am shocked at the disparity between the two schools. My discussions with my children's teachers centers on the ridiculous amount of time that they spend on paperwork. Not on grading, but on filling out assessments and in keeping the online gradebooks. All in the name of data sharing. This is what takes away from instructional time, not the addition of a couple of extra students. This year they have both lamented the fact that they feel like they cannot adequately delve into the material because of time constraints due to the assessments. How about letting them teach? It's time for County and the Board to start listening to what the teachers have to say about how to educate our children - the people in the trenches. The people who see every day what works and what doesn't work.

JH
How about we get rid of the private school tax credit? $200,000,000 diverted from the general tax fund already...and counting.

Building an exit strategy
My children have had phenomenal teachers, and I hate how they are being furloughed and having to teach larger and larger classes with less support. They may go elsewhere, and the families will leave as well. Seniors--say goodbye to your property values. I understand that overturning the senior exemption would require amending the constitution (unlikely), but can we put in a grandfather clause so that it does not apply to new senior residents of the county? Also, I would like to opt out of my "Braves Stadium" taxes because my discretionary income won't go to Braves tickets but to my schools' foundations that keep the schools afloat. 1/10/2014

Parent
As a parent, I am willing to pay more to help raise money for the school system because we cannot keep cutting and cutting and adding students to classrooms!!! Sell bus passes, raise the mileage rate, eliminate the senior tax break, have a huge county county bake sale...Whatever it takes to raise revenue!!!!!

Parent
I think we could make huge cuts in the transportation area. $48 million for this is WAY too much!!!!

Anne
I am horrified by these changes. We chose to return to East Cobb so that our children would receive the same quality Education that my husband and I received. There has to be another solution.

parent
It's interesting that most of the comments posted here are against more cuts to student education and are for alternate revenue streams. Well, with the possible exception of the three posts at the bottom. Personally, I think those are planted comments from CCSD school board and admin. Glad to see that at least the citizens of the county are supporting students and teachers, even when the actual school district board and administrative personnel are not. 1/9/14

Teacher
Instead of cutting the arts, cut the standardized tests which do nothing but demonstrate that students can rote memorize content. Some corporation is getting rich off these tests -- keep that money in the schools where it can actually benefit the students.

Mike C
Didn't follow my own request. 1/8/2013

Mike C
Would you please consider adding the date to all postings to the CCSD website. The information appears to be old and stale. Definitely on the Financial Services section of the website. Gives the appearance of hiding.

Alexis
The senior school tax exemption has to go. It is a necessity that all citizens of this county contribute to education. I understand that seniors feel they have earned the right to tap out; however, if you remain a resident here, you are benefiting from the area schools and you should WANT to contribute to the continued success of students in this county. I think it's horrible that there is a exemption ...why isn't this on the table? We would rather see Cobb schools go down in flames?

band kid
Band didn't buy a multi-million dollar stadium.

Amy
I have to say, being in the CCSD for 4 years has been eye opening. Coming from a private school environment to public I see so many disappointments. Cuts every year, deficeits, teachers doing with less each year and more students per class each year. The class sizes are unmanageable, I ask my child and he says some classes are a waste of time. If a teacher cannot control the class, then everyone suffers. For gods sake, these kids are our future. I paid for private school and had no problem paying my share of public school taxes at the same time, that was a choice. Perhaps Cobb should look at the Senior tax and decrease the tax paid by Seniors vs allowing it to not be paid be paid by Senior. Find other ways to raise money for our schools, sales tax increase?? Our future depends on each school district doing their share to make education a priority and parents, get involved, be heard so your kids see that you care and talk to them about this problem. It's a country, state, county and community issue, our childrens educations should not be a business issue decided on what is important by those who are not on the front line. Cobb, get to work and fix this. No more public school after this year but as a Cobb resident, I care immensely on what happens here.

K
I have many ideas about the budget, but my main is this: Instead of cutting, cutting, cutting, why doesn't the county look into ways of CREATING revenue?

Concerned Citizen
Ridiculous. How you expect kids to be prepared for the future by extending their day and leaving no arts programs is beyond me. Kids already catch the bus before sunrise! And a half day kindergarten? Seriously? How exactly are these children supposed to be prepared for first grade when you cut the program to a 1/2 day? And, I guess you plan to just eliminate that age group from the bus routes altogether? Because there is no way running buses just for kindergarten in the middle of the day makes fiscal sense. Think things through. Think outside the box. I, for one, have no problem contributing to my child's education. I'd be happy to pay a small tax if it would mean allowing some of these programs to stay. Obviously, I'm probably in the minority in a world of people who want something for nothing. But, this simply cannot be the only answer.

Disappointed in the system
WOW! Are there not any other solutions?? Cut this program, cut that program. What does this really say about COBB COUNTY EDUCATION? I realize that there has been issues with the economy but come on!! We are supposed to be educating future leaders, but how can that happen if you continue to add students, cut class sizes, cut quality programs?

Elaine
The video had it correct, teachers are doing more with less. BUT for how much longer? They are exhausted! Let's see some of the county administration go back into the classroom to see how well they will handle the larger class sizes, limited resources, and lack of support. We have to stop driving our quality teachers out of Cobb! We'll take our tax dollars to Paulding!

Sharon
I see no mention of eliminating a top heavy Central office or of eliminating top heavy administrive positions in schools. I see no mention of cutting sports and their mammoth budget requirements. No, all I see are cuts to the arts which, believe it or not, are truly vital to educating the complete person. One of the strengths of the county schools is Fine Arts. So let's be logical and cut some or most of it out. You want to maintain the integrity of the education but think making a longer day/4-day week is better. Don't see the educational value in that. Nor do I see adding 1-2 more students to already bursting classes to be educationally sound. How about starting LATE in august and saving money on utilities? How about going to school from late august through May without 4 weeks of vacation? Use the facilities that you have for a shorter time period. Keep the utilities costs down. Keep fuel prices down. How about cutting turf fields and jumbo-trons? Perhaps I'm naive but after teaching for 32 years I've seen enough. Stop taking the "easy route" by cutting the Arts and other areas of needed value and trim back the pork.

Katie
Can we please think of something that doesn't make us have a four day school week? Or cut music programs? Or furlough days? Or additional students in every classroom? Or full day kindergarten? As a student, I benefit, or have benefitted, from all of these things and I think that education should be a priority in our county. Investing in a student may not cause an immediate change in the economy, but leaving us with a poor quality education will hurt the economy in the future. Education is the reason so many parents choose to move to Cobb county, but with all of these budget cuts, how will our school system look in twenty years? I want to be prepared for life beyond high school and not feel like I received a substandard education. The four day school week would leave students like myself more stressed out and it would make it infinitely harder to get into a quality college. Music programs are one of the best things at schools in Cobb county and I personally participate in marching band and orchestra at my high school and both programs teach lessons that are learned outside of a traditional classroom, like teamwork and the feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself. The school year already leaves teachers with so much pressure to finish in a timely manner, so how do you expect students to continue to outperform other districts when we have less time than them to prepare for exams, especially for high schools on block schedule. Also, kindergarten lays the foundation for the rest of our lives and determines later academic success. Some of the most important lessons are learned in the crucial first year, especially reading. Reading is important in becoming an educated person and having later academic success, so if there is half the time to teach to read, then they will be half as prepared for later academic rigors. Thank you for your consideration and I hope that our county can continue its tradition of academic excellence by limiting budget cuts, perhaps by raising taxes because even if you don't have a child in the school system, you still benefit by having an educated society and people that have stable foundations that help them create innovative products that improve our daily lives.

Jennifer
Fantastic!

Ted
Great!

Angus Peabody
A very well run school system that faces economic "calamity" if its' fiscal ship is not righted. You cannot run any "business" (and you are in the business of educa-ting children) with year in and year out deficit spending. The board must make some harsh decisions regarding everything from personel cuts to a major reduction in everyday expenses. YOU ARE GOING TO RUN OUT OF REVENUE, PEOPLE! Good Luck!

Bill
Good !

CCSD
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