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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.

Fifth Grade Writing Scores Hold Steady


The Fifth Grade Writing Assessment was administered to 8,061 students in March 2014, requiring fifth graders to write a  composition on an assigned topic. Trained evaluators score each student paper based on the four domains of effective writing: Ideas, Organization, Style, and Conventions. The test results are designed to help students, teachers and parents understand specific areas where students may need to focus their efforts to improve writing skills during middle school. Student composition skills are  evaluated again during eighth grade and assessed prior to graduation with the Georgia High School Writing Test.

The scale score range for the Grade 5 Writing Assessment is 100 to 350, and scores are reported in the following performance levels: Does Not Meet (100-199), Meets (200-249), and Exceeds (250-350). Summary data for the Fifth Grade Writing Assessment by may be found on the Cobb School District’s website, The above chart displays the scores of East Cobb Schools.


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Mt. Bethel Christian Academy Opens Upper School


With the addition of a new Upper School campus, Mt. Bethel Christian Academy becomes the first and only faith-based, K-12  independent school in East Cobb. On April 30, 2014, Mt. Bethel finalized the acquisition of 32 acres near the corner of Post Oak Tritt  Road and Holly Springs Road. The site had been owned by the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, which had operated it as a preschool and athletic recreation facility for several decades.

Mt. Bethel Christian Academy was founded in 1998 by a church whose East Cobb roots go back well over a hundred years. Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church has been a mainstay of the community since 1840. In its first sixteen years, Mt. Bethel Christian Academy has grown from a starting class of twenty-five kindergartners to 540 students in grades K-8th. And now, with the addition of an Upper School campus serving grades 9-12, the school is poised to grow further still.

Enrollment growth at the Upper School is planned in two phases. Phase One allows for a total of 160-180 students. Phase Two, which will require the addition of new classroom space, will push enrollment to a maximum of 450 students – approximately 110 per grade level. Applications for the Class of 2018, Mt. Bethel’s founding class of freshmen, are being accepted now for enrollment this August. To accommodate families moving into the area or those who may be considering a school change, enrollment will continue into the fall as space permits.

College-preparatory in its approach, Mt. Bethel’s Upper School curriculum is designed to challenge students with honors and AP courses offered in all core subjects. Students will be guided through the rigorous curriculum by expert teachers. The founding faculty of the Upper School are deeply experienced, certified educators who welcome the opportunity to form deep, impactful relationships with students.

For students interested in athletics, the new Upper School campus abounds with opportunity. The expansive facilities include tennis courts, swimming pool, cross country course, indoor and outdoor gymnasiums, fully equipped fitness center, baseball field, and  activity field. In addition, the campus features a two-acre pond which will be used for recreation as well as experiential learning as it is incorporated into the science curriculum.

Over the course of a high school career, the typical student will spend nearly 5,000 hours in direct contact with his teachers and coaches. Outside of their parents, these relationships may well be the most important in a student’s life. Mt. Bethel faculty take seriously their responsibility to be Godly role models for students who are being prepared academically, physically and spiritually to leave home, move on to success in college, career and community.

To learn more about Mt. Bethel Christian Academy, visit or contact Jackie Grasty, Director of Admission at 770-971-0245.


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PTAs Welcome a New School Year

Anne Davidson

Photo by Julia Curran Photography

Welcome to the 2014-15 school year. This year the theme for the East Cobb County Council of PTAs (ECCC PTA) is “Together We Touch the Future.” As parents, as PTA volunteers, as teachers, as administrators and as a community, together we strive to help our children to grow and to learn.

There is nothing more important than our children. We want their education to prepare them to thrive – as individuals, at work, within their family and as part of their community. A high quality education is indispensable in an increasingly competitive world – and our efforts to support education are essential for our children’s success and critical to the vitality of our families, businesses and communities. With our efforts we will make a difference – and we will touch the future. The ECCC PTA is made up 35 local PTAs,  whose volunteers offer their time, energy and skill to support our teachers and principals – who do their best, every day, to give our children an excellent education. The ECCC PTA and our local PTAs provide programs that enrich the student learning experience. East Cobb PTAs contribute funding to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum, to expand the  offerings in media centers and to provide access to reading and math software that supplement academic progress. PTA family  engagement efforts reach out to involve parents in their children’s education. Our legislative teams educate our community about issues that impact education quality – and this fall, they will be actively providing nonpartisan voting information and reminders about the November election.

Our membership teams have developed an impressive portfolio of business partners who offer useful discounts and benefits to PTA members. The PTA Reflections program presents students a chance to demonstrate talent in the arts – through writing, drawing, painting, photography, dance, music and other genres. Our PTAs celebrate and embrace the diversity in our communities, encourage community service, facilitate programs to enhance environmental education and share best practices on health and wellness.

East Cobb PTA organized activities – such as fall fairs, fun runs, class picnics, multicultural events, field days and school dances – cultivate a spirit of family and community. We invite you to join us – our local PTAs, the ECCC PTA, the 9th District PTA, the Georgia  and National PTAs – to support our schools, to strengthen our children’s educational success and to improve our children’s opportunities for a better future. Our PTA members are parents, grandparents, students, teachers, school administrators and community and business partners. We have a shared goal that our children receive a high quality education so that they may reach their fullest potential. Let’s work together to make that reality. Together we touch the future – for every child, for every family, for  every community. “Every Child. One Voice.”

Written by Anne Davidson, the 2014-15 president of the East Cobb County Council of PTAs (ECCC PTA). She lives in Sibley Forest with her husband, Matt Njaa, and her two boys, Matthew (10) and Nate (9), who attend Sope Creek Elementary School. Anne is a  volunteer for the ECCC PTA, the Sope Creek Elementary School PTA and in her community. 



Photo courtesy Walton Band

The 2014/2015 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association President, Richard Chinen and his wife, Kimberly, will visit the Walton Marching Raider Band at the Band’s annual Dress Rehearsal on August 16, 2014, 8pm, to formally welcome Walton as one of 20 marching bands chosen to make the historic 5-mile journey down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard on Thursday, January 1, 2015.

Walton’s Band, Directed by Mr. Mike Back and Assistant Director Jeff Pollock, will march into Raider Valley at this season’s premier Full Dress Rehearsal. Upon arrival into the stadium, the Marching Raider Band at 200 members strong, including the Color Guard/Dance Company, and led by Drum Majors – Katherine Roddy, Gina Kim, Elizabeth Frickey, and Rachel Cornell. The Band will perform this season’s marching program entitled “Compass Rose.”

On Saturday evening of his whirlwind August visit, Mr. Chinen will be welcomed to Walton’s “Raider Valley “ stadium by Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott, Cobb County School District (CCSD) Post 6 Board Member Scott Sweeney, Christopher Ferrell CCSD Supervisor of Instrumental Music, Walton High School Principal Judy McNeill and Walton High School Band Director Mike Back with Assistant Director Jeff Pollock.

The evening’s festivities will include Mr. Chinen’s presentation of the traditional Rose Parade flag to the Walton Marching Raider Band along with the Band’s personal invitation to march in the 2015 Tournament of Roses® Parade. The flag represents the band’s prestigious participation in the 126th Rose Parade. Another highlight of the evening will include the drawing of the winning raffle ticket for a 7-night cruise with Holland America Cruises which students sold tickets for throughout the summer in order to raise funds to pay for the trip to Pasadena.

Please plan to join the Walton Marching Raider Band as they welcome the Rose Parade President and local politicians and dignitaries at Walton’s Stadium, known as “Raider Valley”, located at 1590 Bill Murdock Road, Marietta at 8pm, on Saturday, August 16 as they perform this year’s show, entitled “Compass Rose.”

For additional information on Walton High School’s participation in this internationally famous event, please contact Michele Reale at or Lisa Frits at or visit the band’s web site


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School Board Approves Fiscal Year 2015 Budget

The Cobb County Board of Education approved a $900 million balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2015 during its May 29 meeting, funding a full 180-day school year and adding more than 300 teachers to reduce class sizes district-wide. The new budget includes no furlough days, a 1 percent partial salary restoration and provides for full step pay increases for eligible employees. A boost in both  state funding and additional local property tax revenue helped bolster a more positive financial outlook for the 2014-2015 school year.

Fiscal Year 2015 begins July 1, 2014 and runs through June 30, 2015. The FY2015 General Fund budget anticipates $862,429,012 in revenue and $900,243,511 in expenditures, based on an anticipated student enrollment of 111,459
(including two charter schools, the Devereux Ackerman Academy and Pre-Kindergarten). Following several years of declining state and local revenue that resulted in cuts in personnel, salary reductions and furlough days, the FY2015 budget represents a much brighter fiscal outlook as revenues have returned to the positive. The General Fund budget includes significant boosts to the district’s two main sources of revenue – an additional $20.1 million from the state and $21.3 million in local property taxes – both a product of an improving economy.

The budget also includes more than $13 million in carryover “lapse” funds that were budgeted for the current fiscal year but were not spent due to frugal management. Finally, to balance the budget the school board approved using at least $24.6 million in reserve funds, which still leaves the district with more than $95 million in fund balance, safely above the recommended one-month’s operating reserve.

The additional teachers that will be hired will help reduce class sizes by approximately one student on average across the district. With no furlough days, the 2014-2015 school year will be the first complete 180-day school year since 2009-2010. The newly approved budget includes funds to hire additional administrators at 15 schools, as well as additional police officers to enhance school safety. Detailed information and documentation about the approved Fiscal Year 2015 budget and development process are available under the Finance and Budget section of the Cobb County School District website:


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Heightened security: Cobb middle, elementary schools locking public out

Cobb County School Campus Police Officer Chris Ayers chats with sixth-grader Bo Benincosa during a classroom change Tuesday. Ayers is making his first week on the job at the school a pleasant one for students as he reassures them he is present for their safety. Staff/Kelly J. Huff


Elementary and middle schools in the Cobb School District will now be locked to the public at all times.

This year, anyone wanting to go inside a school will need to state their name and reason for entering in front of a camera and intercom monitored by front desk staff, said Ron Storey, the system’s public safety director.

The front desk staff at each school monitors the camera and can choose to press a button to unlock the doors of the school to let the public in. Anyone who works at the schools has a keycard that allows them access during work hours.

“It’s an added level of security,” Storey said.

A total of 93 elementary and middle schools had the cameras installed, which cost $279,000, said Jay Dillon, district spokesman.

He added high schools don’t have these cameras because students go in and out of buildings many times during the day to go to different classes.

Storey said the cameras were put in place to stop intruders from entering school buildings unnoticed.

“There’s no fool-proof system out there,” Storey said. “There’s always the possibility of someone intruding, but this cuts down on that possibility.”

John Adams, the chief of human resources for Cobb schools, said he thinks parents are happy with the security measure.

“We’ve had really good feedback from parents on that, so they did not mind that at all,” Adams said.

Another new addition will be more campus police officers.

Cobb will now station one police officer at every middle and high school after hiring 11 new campus police officers this year, Storey said.

Those 11 officers were hired using $402,000 from the school board’s general fund on May 29, Dillon said.

The campus police force that patrols the school district’s 114 schools is made up of 52 officers and four supervisors, Storey said. Middle and high schools have dedicated officers, and elementary schools are covered by middle school officers.

The officers patrol the schools for potential danger and respond to calls from faculty, Storey said.

“Most of (the calls) are anything a student does that disrupts class, whether it be fighting or drugs or if they try to skip a class,” Storey said.

Storey said three officers are assigned to work the evening shift from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and respond to alarms in schools or problems on campus after school ends.

Every officer will have a police car in the next month. The department had 16 fully-equipped police vehicles, but this year, another 37 were ordered and are expected to arrive by the end of the month.

“If you weren’t looking, you’d think it was a Cobb County police car,” Adams said.

At its May meeting, the board approved purchasing the marked police vehicles for $1.1 million using special purpose local option sales tax funds.

Safety in Marietta Schools

The Marietta Police Department dedicates three officers to schools in the Marietta School District,

said Officer David Baldwin, police spokesman.

There are two officers who patrol Marietta High School full time, and there is one officer at Marietta Middle School, Baldwin said.

“They work hand in hand with the school administrators to find out if there’s any problem with anything and respond to it,” Baldwin said.

Marietta High School has over 100 security cameras police have access to at all times, Baldwin said.

“Every camera is recorded. So if an incident occurs, it’s there on the record,” Baldwin said.

Dayton Hibbs, Marietta’s associate superintendent, said every school has security cameras installed throughout the hallways.

Marietta High School was particularly designed to be safe. The building was designed to be “flat,” Baldwin said, with no corners for anyone to hide in.

“Marietta High School is designed with flat hallways so you can’t hide behind lockers. It was designed like that after the shooting at Columbine,” Baldwin said.

Each school also has panic buttons faculty members can use to alert police to an emergency at a school, Hibbs said.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Hilary Butschek, August 06, 2014. Read the original MDJ article HERE.) 

Learn how to conduct business with county and school district

Register now for the “How to do Business with Cobb” seminar scheduled for 5-7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 20. Participants will learn how to become a vendor with Cobb County Government and Cobb County Schools, about business opportunities and network with other business owners and government personnel who make purchasing decisions. The seminar will be held in the BOC Room on the second floor of 100 Cherokee St., Marietta.

Space is limited. To RSVP send an email to or call 770-528-3317.

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Four days down, 176 to go. Start the year off right with our Back to School Guide!


Click HERE for our complete Back to School section from the August 2014 issue of EAST COBBER!

The reputation of East Cobb’s public schools’ top test scores and quality learning environments draws people to East Cobb. Even if you don’t have a child in school we all have a stake in our community’s educational system—from our property values to future leaders to future employees. Our Back to School Guide pulls together those education stats, school by (East Cobb) school- which provides evidence for East Cobb’s great academic reputation.

While the test scores offer a quick take that helps parents and teachers measure a school’s success, it is important to note that beyond the rankings, each school needs to be assessed for other qualities, such as: strong school leadership, parental and community support, creating an environment where students can learn and grow, access to up-to-date textbooks and technology.

Read our Back to School Guide for facts and figures you need as your students hit the books!


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On our August cover: Chris Ragsdale, Interim Superintendent Cobb County Schools

Flip Through August2014

We thought a great way to kick off the school year would be to feature Mr. Chris Ragsdale, recently named interim Superintendent of Cobb County Schools, on our cover this month. Mr. Ragsdale previously served the District as Deputy Superintendent for Operations from 2011-2014 and Chief Technology Officer from 2006-2014, managing plant operations, safety, transportation, maintenance, and overseeing technology integration. He has also been responsible for planning and execution of capital projects approved by Cobb voters and funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

As interim superintendent of the second-largest school system in Georgia, Mr. Ragsdale states, “I will have a laser focus on work going on in the classroom. The success of the district rests on the shoulders of our teachers. The great work our teachers are doing has allowed our district to be successful and will continue to make it successful.”

Mr. Ragsdale’s term will run from May 2014 to May 2015.

Front cover photograph taken by East Cobb resident, Greg Mooney, Atlanta Photographers.


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Check out this Back to School Poem written by an EAST COBBER reader


Thanks to EAST COBBER reader and Facebook fan Doy Jack Pope for this oh-so-catchy poem in response to our “finish this sentence” query:

 Twas the first day of school and all through East Cobb…..

Parents of new students started to sob.

They can’t believe the school year is here.

Just smile and wave as you fight back the tears.

Kids all dressed in their new clothes and backpacks.

Carrying little brown bags with love notes and snack packs.

Old friends and new classmates shuffle to rooms.

Starting to learn and not a moment too soon.

Excited to start til their energy’s zapped.

Can’t wait to go home to steal a quick nap.

Now learn all you can is what they all hear.

Let’s have a great start to the East Cobb school year!


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