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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.

Cobb school bus driver wins state Road-E-O

East Cobb school bus driver advances to international Road-E-O competition in July in Minneapolis. Walton High School bus driver Michael Graham will compete in the international Road-E-O contest in Minneapolis on July 18-19 after winning the state competition in Warner Robins, Georgia. Drivers’ skills are tested in maneuvering the school bus through an obstacle course of serpentine turns, parallel parking and other challenging exercises.

Congratulations Michael and best of luck to you in the international competition.
To learn more, click here



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In Case You Missed It: Cobb teacher fired for putting child in trash can

Mary Katherine Pursley, a veteran Cobb County special education teacher accused of putting a second-grader with autism in a trash can and calling him Oscar the Grouch, went before a tribunal at the school system headquarters on June 22, 2015. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM


The Cobb County School Board Thursday voted to terminate the contract of an East Cobb special education teacher accused of putting a second-grader with autism in a trash can.

Mary Katherine Pursley, a teacher at Mt. Bethel Elementary, said at a tribunal hearing Monday at the Cobb school district office that she was trying to calm the child, not hurt him. She said the child was screaming and upset at an after-school program and she was attempting to get him to stop by holding him over a trash can to “shake out the grouchy,” comparing his behavior to Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street,

“My intention was not to put him all the way in the can,” Pursley told a panel of former educators at the hearing. “I was sort of shaking him over the trash can.”

The board voted to terminate the teacher’s contract for the 2015-16 school year.

Attorneys for the school system argued Pursley “engaged in inappropriate physical contact” with the student. Pursley has been with the school district for 21 years and has been on administrative leave with pay following the April 30 incident.

Pursley, 45, who was arrested and charged with cruelty to children in the first degree, is accused of talking with the “victim about Oscar the Grouch and his ‘trashy behavior’” during the after-school program, Pursley’s arrest warrant states. “The accused told the victim, ‘If he had trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go to the trash can.’”

Pursley then allegedly picked up the child by his legs, held him upside down and put him head-first into a trash can, according to police.

The boy was crying, screaming and yelling “stop” while Pursley held him, the arrest warrant states. She then set him down on the floor. The incident was witnessed by two paraprofessionals and the school’s after-school director. Other students in the classroom also witnessed Pursley’s actions, according to police.

Pursley, of Atlanta, was released from jail last month after posting $5,000 bond.

Pursley’s attorney Warren Fortson said her behavior was not inappropriate and she should not be fired. He said Pursley used characters like Oscar the Grouch to help calm special education students. He also noted that a recent evaluation of Pursley said she was proficient and doing her job well.

(Source: Click HERE for the original article.

Life University to Host ABCA’s 34th Annual Convention June 25-27


Life University is honored to be hosting the 34th Annual Convention of the American Black Chiropractic Association (ABCA) from June 25–27, 2015.

This event draws hundreds of African American chiropractors from across the nation. Current and future doctors of chiropractic will attend informative seminars, with more than 15 hours of clinical professional development/continuing education credits available.

“This is really your home,” said Dr. Guy Riekeman, President of Life University, in an official statement to welcome the visiting chiropractors. “A number of years ago the ABCA decided that it would house its historical documents at Life University. In the not too distant future, we’ll be talking about a museum where these documents will be displayed. Chiropractors can come back from around the world and participate not only in the history of Chiropractic but in the history of the American Black Chiropractic Association.”

The ABCA was founded in 1981 by Dr. Bobby Westbrooks, a practicing chiropractor in St. Louis, Missouri, who had a vision to empower African American doctors and students in Chiropractic. Dr. Westbrooks recognized that many African Americans were unfamiliar with the benefits of chiropractic care and that chiropractic colleges struggled to attract minority students into their programs. This caused schools to continually have significantly low enrollment of African American students. The result was a significantly low number of African American graduates, and ultimately communities of color underserved by the opportunities and benefit of Chiropractic. Recognizing this need, Dr. Westbrooks founded the American Black Chiropractic Association (ABCA) with just a handful of doctors of African American descent. For more details about ABCA, visit


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School Board approves FY2016 Budget: Highlights include no furloughs and 4% raise

The Cobb County Board of Education approved a $944 million budget for Fiscal Year 2016 during its May 28, 2015 meeting, funding a full 180-day school year. The new budget includes no furlough days, a 4 percent raise for all employees and also provides for full step pay increases for all eligible employees. Fiscal Year 2016 begins July 1, 2015 and runs through June 30, 2016.

The FY2016 General Fund Budget includes $924,876,857 in revenue and $944,876,857 in expenditures. The budget is based on a predicted enrollment of 111,751 students. The district’s careful implementation of significant budget reductions over the past years, along with prudent financial management, has left the district in a better financial position than many had anticipated. As a result, the district plans to use $20.0 million in revenue reserve to offset the shortfall in revenue. The Cobb County School District has remained debt free since the last principle and interest payment was made on January 31, 2007.

After several years of economic downturn, CCSD is starting to experience a rebound in our two primary revenue streams – state funding and local property tax collections. State of Georgia Quality Basic Education (QBE) revenue provides approximately 50.44% of Cobb’s revenue from predetermined formulas. The revenue related to these formulas is calculated based on the total number of students. Local Property Tax Revenue generates approximately 49.08% of Cobb’s revenue. The value of property in Cobb is taxed using a tax rate called millage. The Board of Education is responsible for setting the millage tax rate each year. Taxpayers in Cobb have enjoyed some of the lowest taxes in Metro Atlanta during this time period.

“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we have carefully and responsibly prepared the FY2016 Budget.” says CCSD Superintendent Chris Ragsdale. “This budget reflects the mission of the Cobb County School District to provide teaching and other appropriate educational services. The mandates for improving education services coupled with the large student population place significant challenges upon the budget to maintain spending controls. The Budget is a prudent plan that balances the many needs of our students with the economic realities of our community.”

Detailed information and documentation about the approved Fiscal Year 2016 Budget and development process are available under the Finance and Budget section of the Cobb County School District website:


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Calling all Sprayberry grads and history buffs


The EAST COBBER is working on an article about the history behind the names of the high schools located in East Cobb. We have been able to get info on all but Sprayberry HS’s name. If you have any information to about how Sprayberry High School got its name, please email or call the EAST COBBER at 770-640-7070 or you can post below. Thank you for your help!

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Cobb County Schools Summer Office Hours



Beginning the week of Monday, June 1, 2015 and ending Friday, July 25, all Cobb County School District Central and School Offices will be open Monday through Thursday from 7:30am to 5pm; all offices will be closed on Friday.


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No Child Left Inside: Why an integral approach to environmental education is critical to student success

File photo

Experiencing nature firsthand has always been an intrinsic part of childhood. Whether observing tadpoles transforming into frogs, watching an army of ants working together to relocate a  loveable feast or witnessing the instant when a caterpillar becomes a chrysalis, the opportunities for authentic environmental education are limitless in the outdoor classroom setting. But it is exactly these real-life experiences that our “wired generation” children are more likely to miss as they become more connected and co-dependent on technology, and as their “devices” increasingly hijack both study time and downtime. Environmental education – or “EE” – makes learning real to children in ways that  smartboards, e-books and video screens simply cannot.

Biology and physical science remain abstract concepts to children until they have had the chance to observe and participate in nature up close. Recently I was thrilled to learn that my son’s class spent a good portion of the day outside doing their assignments because their classroom smart-board wasn’t working. By visiting natural environments, such as a school pond habitat, students can see firsthand the various elements of an ecological system working together in context while concurrently observing, investigating, and experimenting.

In his best selling book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe the negative effects of the digital age on our children. Louv asserts that direct exposure to nature is absolutely essential for healthy childhood development, and for the physical and emotional health of both children and adults.

Exposure to nature may also help kids with (and without) attention disorders focus better in school. A recent University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study showed that children with ADHD who spent more time outdoors enjoyed significant reduction in symptoms. Rather than depriving students of recess time for disciplinary purposes we should perhaps be increasing the time they are able to engage in
the outdoor classroom whether through free play or directed instruction.

A defining goal of environmental education is to prepare students to make well-informed decisions in regard to the environment. Successful integration of EE programs in the classroom provides a  well-rounded mode of education – developing emotional intelligence and creative capacity in addition to
cultivating intellectual ability. We are fortunate in East Cobb to have educators at all levels who value EE. Sponsored by the Cobb County Water System, the Cobb Green Schools Initiative recognizes those schools and individual teachers who are committed to incorporating EE into their classrooms on a regular basis. The ECCC PTA member schools who have been granted Green status for the 2014-2015 academic year include Addison, Bells Ferry, Blackwell, Davis, Keheley, Mt Bethel, Murdock, Rocky
Mount, and Tritt Elementary Schools, Hightower Trail Middle School and Lassiter High School.

Opportunities for EE are facilitated in a variety of modalities whether by individual educators in outdoor classroom spaces on our school campuses, or by taking local field trips. For field trips or family visits, the Wright Environmental Education Center, Sibley Pond, and the Chattahoochee Nature Center are all fantastic resources within the immediate vicinity. Participating in outreach programs through the Cobb Watershed Stewardship Program, Keep Cobb Beautiful, and the Clean Air Campaign also brings EE right to our students.

Outdoor classroom amenities on school campuses can include amphitheatres, pond habitats, compost bins, learning gardens, bat houses, green houses, pollinator gardens, and woodland hiking  trails.

Schools can also implement campus-wide EE awareness programs such as waste-free lunch days,
participating in the Keep America Beautiful Recycle Bowl competition, hosting electronics recycling events as fundraisers, establishing idle free carpool zones, and holding walk-to-school days.
How do schools actually start EE programs and build outdoor classrooms? Many school garden projects, outdoor classroom space, picnic tables, garden bridges and pond habitats have been funded by local PTA’s and built by Boy Scouts pursuing their Eagle Awards. Keep Cobb Beautiful awards “Dig’n the dirt” school garden grants annually. Project Learning Garden is a Captain Planet Foundation program which helps establish new school gardens, assists with summer garden maintenance and provides a multi-grade garden curriculum linking to all disciplines from language arts, social studies, to science and math.

The Cobb Schools Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation have grants that can directly fund EE programs. The EE Alliance also maintains a database of grant opportunities with application information and rolling submission deadlines at the website. If you are interested in getting involved with environmental education in our schools contact your school’s PTA President or email:


(Written by Stephanie Ives, Environmental Chair, East Cobb County Council of PTAs. Ives and her husband, Russell, have been residents of East Cobb since 1999. The Ives have three children: Robert, a 4th grader; Rebekah, a 2nd grader; both attend Addison Elementary School, and 2-year-old Elizabeth. They regularly enjoy hiking and camping as a family.)


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MBCA to offer Pre-K Class


Mt. Bethel Christian Academy is pleased to announce the opening of a pre-kindergarten class this fall. Qualifying students must be 5 years old on or before September 1. Applications are now being accepted through their website at

Please contact Jackie Grasty, Director of Admission, at or 770-971-0245 for details. Mt. Bethel Christian Academy is located at 4385 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30068.

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New school administrators announced



Sedalia Park and Norton Park elementary schools, Dodgen Middle School, and Wheeler and North Cobb high schools have new leaders appointed by the Cobb County School Board.

Here are the new positions to be announced tonight:

Sedalia Park Principal Jennifer Lawson, who has been principal since 2011, has been appointed as assistant superintendent of teaching and learning effective June 1. Lawson will see her salary increase from $92,926 to $109,835.

Norton Park Principal Doug Daugherty, who has been at Norton Park since 2007 and with Cobb schools since 1998, was appointed principal of Sope Creek Elementary on April 30. His salary of $101,328 remains the same.

Dodgen Middle School Principal Phil Wilkes is retiring after working in the district since 1986. His outgoing salary is $92,720.

Wheeler High Principal David Chiprany has been with Wheeler since 2009 and with Cobb schools since 1994. He is taking a position as assistant superintendent of middle schools in the leadership and learning division effective June 1. His existing salary of $115,087 will remain the same.

(Sourced from The Marietta Daily Journal)

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Presentations mark Kell sports achievements


The Cobb County Board of Commissioners honored student athletes and coaches at Kell High School for recent achievements in their sports.

Pictured above, the Kell High School Girls’ Lacrosse Team was recognized for winning back-to-back. Class A-AAAAA state championships.

Pictured below are Kell High School Boys and Girls Track and Field athletes Logan Poteet, who won back-to-back championships in the 2015 Georgia High School Association AAAAA 1,600 meter and 3,200 meter runs,and Marielle Lewis, who won the 2015 Georgia High School Association AAAAA 1,600 meter state championship.



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