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Share your opinions, read the latest news, debate the issues facing Cobb County School District, with special focus on public schools located in East Cobb.

Making walking safer: New sidewalks on Ebenezer Road to improve connectivity near elementary school


Students who walk to class at Addison Elementary School in Marietta will soon have a safer commute thanks to SPLOST-funded sidewalks.

Commissioners voted this week to approve a $1.1 million contract for the construction of sidewalks along Ebenezer Road, which connects Sandy Plains and Blackwell roads.

Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, who represents the northeast Cobb area in which Addison Elementary is located, said the sidewalks will run from the Oak Creek subdivision to Sandy Plains.

“I’ve walked with the students and the principal up Ebenezer from the subdivisions there up to the school, and there’s a huge gap where there are no sidewalks on either side of the street,” Birrell said. “There are a lot of children who could walk to school, and would walk to school, if there were sidewalks.”

Birrell said people in the area had been requesting sidewalks since before she joined the Board of Commissioners in 2011.

The county looked at a variety of factors when deciding to make the Ebenezer sidewalks a priority on the 2011 SPLOST list, she said.

“Connectivity, especially around schools, is a major factor we look at,” Birrell said.

She said the county submitted an application to receive grant funds from a state-run program called Safe Routes to School in an effort to make the path more walkable, but were denied.

The project later ended up on the county’s SPLOST list.

Laraine Vance, strategic planning and grant administrator for Cobb’s transportation department, said she applied to the Safe Routes to School program in 2009, after spending about a year surveying the area.

The federal government originally created the program to encourage elementary school students to walk and bike to school rather than get rides from their parents, Vance said, adding that the Georgia Department of Education manages the program.

“We were looking at safety, reducing congestion in the area, improving the air quality, those were the primary things,” Vance said of the factors Cobb DOT considered when applying for the state funds.

She said education is an important element of the Safe Routes program.

“In addition to working with that, as a component, you would educate kids about walking to school and help parents to know they don’t have to drive their kids to school,” Vance said. “There’s also a health component as well. They’re getting more physical activity.”

Earl Smith, former commission chairman, said he has “mixed feelings” about the number of sidewalk construction projects the county pursues.

“I know I have a problem with so much money for sidewalks,” Smith said. “Each district commissioner wants to demonstrate they want to do something for their district.”

He said sidewalk proposals find their way onto the SPLOST list for “political reasons.”

Smith noted there are some areas where sidewalks are necessary additions to the sides of heavily-walked roads.

“Most of the areas we’re talking about don’t fall into that category,” he said. “It’s very evident, if you live in these areas where the sidewalks are out in, all they do is cut the grass.”

Birrell said the “notice to proceed” allowing construction to begin should go out by the end of August or first of September.

She said the sidewalks should be completed after nine months.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Sarah Westwood,July 26, 2014. View the original article HERE.) 

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act standards in effect for new school year


New standards resulting from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are in effect starting July 1, 2014. These standards will apply to all areas of the school property under the jurisdiction of the school that are accessible to students during the day from the period of time starting at midnight through 30 minutes after the end of the official school day (4pm). The aforementioned Act provided the USDA with the authority to establish nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold outside of the Federal child nutrition breakfast and lunch programs in school.

The law specifies that the nutrition standards shall apply to all competitive foods sold: outside the school meal programs; on the school campus; and at any time during the school day. Further applicability includes: à la carte in the cafeteria, in school stores, snack bars, vending machines, and other venues.

Examples of items sold in the cafeteria that will be banned from campus during the confines of the “defined” school day starting July 1, 2014 will include donuts, Chick fil-A biscuits, pizza, candy, cake, ice cream and soft drinks with sugar. The standards would not apply to items sold outside of the defined school day, weekends, or off-campus fundraising events.

Georgia’s State Board of Education has proposed up to 30 exemption days per school year for fundraising. For information on the Cobb County School District Food and Nutrition Services visit:

(Reprinted from the Pope High School E-newsletter.)



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One Team. One Goal. Student Success.

Retired educator Betty Gray fires up an auditorium full of current principals and assistant principals as one of several guest speakers Tuesday morning at Kennesaw Mountain High School at the 2014 Cobb County School District Leadership Kickoff. Staff/Kelly J. Huff


In his first opportunity to appear before about 600 principals and other administrators since being appointed interim superintendent, Chris Ragsdale unveiled his slogan for the coming year: “One Team. One Goal. Student Success.”

The Cobb educators gathered at Kennesaw Mountain High School on Tuesday as part of the leadership kickoff for the new school year, which begins Aug. 4.

The program featured a pre-taped interview with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, in which Ragsdale asked the senator about topics such as leadership. Isakson discussed each topic before introducing a speaker to take the stage and also share thoughts on the issue.

Veteran educator Betty Gray, who was former Gov. Roy Barnes’ teacher at South Cobb High School and who served on the Cobb Board of Education from 1993 to 2008, talked about how students should be the top priority.

State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, addressed leadership.

Retired Dickerson Middle School principal Carole Kell, mother of Cobb Superior Court Judge Tain Kell, spoke of teamwork, and Marietta Daily Journal publisher Otis Brumby touched on community engagement.

“This was the first chance that I had to get in front of all these 600 people and let them know what is going to be different for our school district,” Ragsdale said after the event. “The theme is teamwork, being part of the team, and taking that a step further is customer service, having that laser focus for what’s going on in the classroom.”

Ragsdale told the group there are two types of positions in the district: teachers and those who serve them.

“We have a new vision,” Ragsdale said. “We’re going to be one team with student success as the goal, and we’re starting a new day for the Cobb County School District.”

Gray, who chaired the school board when Ragsdale was the district’s technology chief, said she is pleased to see him in the superintendent’s role.

“I think Chris, No. 1, he’s youthful and his vision is clear,’ she said. “He’s not clouded, and I think he knows from his own educational experience that education is important and it’s essential and therefore it needs to be provided for everybody, for all of our students.”

Gray is optimistic about the future of the school district.

“As I talked to young people there today — I don’t know why I’m saying young people, but when you’re 81 you can call anybody young — I’ve seen so many of these people grow, and I know how they feel about kids. They think the focus is on kids, and that’s as it should be. That’s the focus on the team as outlined by the superintendent, and Johnny Isakson tied all of this together: that it’s a collective kind of enterprise, that public education is too critical for us not to give it our best shot.”

If the test scores from schools in south Cobb are not as high as other parts of the county then the resources need to be brought to bear to help those students improve their performance, said Gray, who lives down the road from Pebblebrook High School.

“Opportunity ought to be available to all regardless of the zip code,” Gray said.

Leadership, said Tippins, who served on the school board with Gray before his election to the Georgia Senate, is all about people.

“You can have ideas and plans and theories, but it’s people that you’re leading, and that’s where the focus in leadership ought to be is on the personal side of it,” Tippins said.

Tippins said he is pleased with what he’s seen from Ragsdale.

“I think he’s trying to build consensus, he’s listening to people,” Tippins said. “He already knew what the status of the school district was because he didn’t have to come from the outside, but I think he’s doing a great job, and his emphasis on building a team and working together with people, listening has an awful lot to do with that, and I think that’s one thing about it. He’s a good listener and he gets a lot of good input from a lot of different people.”

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Jon Gillooly, July 22, 2014. Read the original MDJ article HERE.) 

Southeast Homeschool Expo is July 24-26

The 2014 Southeast Homeschool Expo is July 24-26 at Cobb Galleria Center.
An expo devoted entirely to the display, sale and discussion of educational materials with entire exhibit hall displays of materials by the best Christian, secular and specialty publishers. New homeschoolers, classical homeschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers – everyone will find something for them at the 2014 Southeast Homeschool Expo.
Expo hours are Thursday: 10am-4pm; Friday: 10am-9pm; Saturday: 10am-5pm. Admission is $20 online; $30 at the door. Located at Cobb Galleria Centre, Two Galleria Parkway Atlanta. More Info: 770-594-1266 or 


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MBCA Now Enrolling for Ninth Grade

MBCA Mt Bethel Christian Academy logo

Registration is open for Mt. Bethel Christian Academy’s Upper School, ninth grade only. Now enrolling for August 2014. Visit them online at or call 770-971-0245 to schedule a tour.

The Upper School will be located at 2509 Post Oak Tritt Road in East Cobb.

Thank you for advertising with EAST COBBER. 

Cobb Retired Educators will meet in August

Cobb Marietta Retired Educators will meet Thursday, August 14, at 11:30 at the First United Methodist Church located on Whitlock Avenue in Marietta.  The featured speaker will be Mike Zarem from Teachers Retirement System.  Lunch will be served for $15. 

RSVP to Debby Overstreet  More information can be found at  

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New principals named at Cobb schools

Three new principals were named recently by the Cobb School Board, with each starting July 1.

  • Patricia Alford was appointed to principal of Durham Middle School from assistant principal at Dickerson Middle School;
  • Liss Maynard was named principal at Clarkdale Elementary School from assistant principal at Mableton Elementary School;
  • Tricia Patterson was named principal at Tritt Elementary School from assistant principal at the same school; and

Gail Johnson resigned as principal at Campbell Middle School, effective June 26.

(Excerpted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Read the entire article HERE.) 


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State Releases School-Level CRCT Data

Cobb County Schools

Click here for an analysis of Cobb County School District CRCT data for 2014, along with school-by-school scores.


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Board petitions for new math test


The Cobb school board recently voted 6-0 to sign a petition asking for a new option in Georgia’s standardized math tests.

Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said there are two different methods to teaching math in the state. Discreet math is the traditional method, where there are separate courses for subjects such as algebra, geometry and trigonometry. The other method is integrated math, which combines elements of each subject.

Right now, Georgia’s standardized test, which starting in the upcoming school year will be known as the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, is geared toward integrated math. The petition asks the state to give school districts the second option of a test geared toward discreet math.

Angelucci said Georgia is one of only four states in the nation to use the integrated math model. She hopes the petition can help change that.

“You have to lead by example,” she said.

Mary Elizabeth Davis, Cobb’s chief academic officer, said Cobb currently uses the integrated math model. 

(Excerpted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Read the entire article HERE.) 

BoE takes stand against federal food rules

Randy Scamihorn


The Cobb Board of Education finds the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 hard to swallow.

School board members have long complained about food standards contained in the act, which is related to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative.

But following a 6-0 vote with David Morgan absent Thursday, those complaints are now documented in a resolution.

“Over 50 pages of federal regulations outlining nutritional standards and requirements for all foods sold in schools is excessively burdensome on local school districts and unnecessary for the purposes of reducing childhood obesity,” the board’s resolution states.

“Families should be empowered and enabled to make food choices for children with support of their local school districts.”

School board members, such as Randy Scamihorn, have said the federal government is going too far with the regulations.

“This is an effort by people who want to get into other people’s lives,” said Scamihorn, the board’s vice chair. “It’s overreach.”

Though the school board doesn’t have the authority to change the new lunch rules, Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci said the size of the Cobb School District might get people’s attention.

“We’re the second largest school district in Georgia,” she said. “Maybe (Michelle Obama) will notice.”

In 2012, school lunches were overhauled to meet the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act’s regulations, which include calorie limits and mandatory whole grain breads. On July 1, similar standards will apply to snack foods sold in school vending machines.

Angelucci said students often throw away their lunch food because they don’t want it, and the lunches don’t have enough calories to support students who have sports team practices after school.

The regulations would also ban foods not meeting the new standards from being sold on campus during school hours. This could rule out doughnuts or Chick-fil-A biscuit fundraisers, which provide sizable revenue to schools.

According to Zach Thomas, owner of the Chick-fil-A on Macland Crossing Circle in Marietta, biscuit sales raised $182,680 for Cobb schools last year.

The school board envisions having other school systems join to create a wider effort that will be noticed nationally.

Scamihorn also predicted the regulations won’t always be followed.

“People will quietly ignore it,” he said. “Americans resent being told what to do from on high.”

A one-page letter outlines the Cobb school board’s opposition to the rules, including a host of grievances. These include the fundraising impact, lower participation in school meal programs, the lack of federal funding to go along with the new regulations and the possibility of more rules in the future.

Schools not complying with the regulations could see a financial penalty of up to $20,000, according to Unless the law is changed, schools do not have the choice of opting out or delaying the implementation of the standards.

The school board’s resolution came the same day a proposed ban on large sodas in New York City was struck down by the New York State Court of Appeals. The court ruled the city’s board of health “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority” in enacting the proposal, according to the New York Times.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal, June 27, 2014. Click HERE to read the original article)

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