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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:

Reprinted from the August 2015 issue of EAST COBBER. Read our August issue HERE.

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Cobb Chamber offers chance to be principal for the day


The Cobb Chamber annually looks for business and civic leaders to participate in the Principal for a Day program. This year, Principal for a Day is scheduled for Tuesday, September 15 for both Cobb County and Marietta City Schools. The Cobb Chamber and Cobb’s public school systems invite you to participate in a unique, behind-the-scenes experience as a Principal for a Day to better understand one of Cobb County’s strongest assets.

The Chamber places volunteers in Cobb and Marietta City schools to experience a half day in the shoes of a principal. The day includes one-on-one time with the principal, meetings with the faculty, as well as time in the classroom with students.

As a Principal for a Day, you will have the chance to meet one-on-one with one of Cobb County’s outstanding principals to gain firsthand knowledge of the challenges and strengths local schools face on a daily basis. The program requires the commitment of a half workday, but will provide a greater understanding of the educational process and opportunities in Cobb County. Participants will shadow a local principal, meet with the faculty, as well as spend time in the classroom with students.

“We believe this program can be a very rewarding experience for members of the Cobb business community, Cobb’s educators and our students,” says Amy Goggins, coordinator, for the Cobb Chamber.

Applications for the 2015 program are now being accepted! Applications can be found online at, The application deadline is Monday, August 24.

For more information, contact Amy Goggins at 770-859-2335 or with questions.


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Cobb School Bus Ride Along Friday, July 31, 2015

All Cobb County Kindergarten students and NEW 1st grade students can do a practice ride on their bus on Friday, July 31, 2015. Parents are welcomed and encouraged to ride along however, we cannot include siblings on the ride. The busses will roll out Friday morning and arrive at the normal time at assigned bus stops. Students will be able to meet their bus driver and make a round trip to and from the school.

During the months of August and September, students may bring water in containers with a screw on lid to drink on the bus if temperatures reach 90 degrees or higher.

Click the following link to find your bus number, route and stop time: Bus Routes 2015-2016.


East Cobb school bus driver wins national safety award

Photo-CCSD Bus Driver Michael Graham


Congratulations to Michael Graham, Cobb Schools bus driver. He drives or has driven for Pope, Wheeler and Walton High Schools. Michael took 3rd place at the International Safety Skills Competition in Minneapolis on the weekend. He took 5th last year. Cobb Schools Transportation Director, Rick Grisham, says “Michael’s department and the entire district is very proud of him!”

The NSTA writes: “Each year, the National School Transportation Association hosts the School Bus Driver International Safety Competition. The best school bus drivers from the U.S. and Canada competing for top honors and recognition. The event begins with a written test, then contestants get behind the wheel of a bus to put their driving skills to the test. Compete in one of three categories (Conventional, Transit, or Small Bus). Drivers have the opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism, skill, and dedication to pupil transportation.” The event culminated with an Awards Banquet and Ceremony, at which Michael was honored.

The School Bus Driver International Safety Competition began in 1971 as the National School Bus Safety Road-e-o, and continues to take place on an annual basis. The competition provides positive media coverage for the safety and security of the school bus industry.


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Flexible Options For Earning HPE Credit in high school


Chief Academic Officer Mary Elizabeth Davis has issued an update on the flexible options for earning HPE credit in high school starting in the 2015-16 school year.

As a result of Cobb County’s IE2 contract with the state, the system is now able to provide flexible options in which students can earn their required HPE credit in high school. There are specific logistics still being finalized, therefore a public communication has not been pursued quite yet. In the meantime, please know that 9th – 11th grade students will have the option of counting either marching band, athletic team participation, dance courses, or weight training courses toward their required HPE credit. A student’s involvement will be coupled with supplemental digital modules to ensure that the state required standards for Health are still provided without adding that additional responsibility to band directors and athletic coaches.


(From the newsletter of School board member David Banks)


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Cobb County School District is giving our students Office for FREE


In order to help students prepare for success, Cobb County Schools is providing Microsoft Office 365 to every student free of charge. With Office 365, your child will now have access to the latest version of Word for writing;

Excel for spreadsheets; PowerPoint for presentations; OneNote for organization and note taking; and much more!

  • Install on up to 5 compatible PCs and Macs plus 5 mobile devices.
  • Gain valuable skills on the world’s most popular productivity software.
  • Office 365 subscription lasts for as long as your child is a student in Cobb County Schools and the program continues.

Your child will need his/her new Office 365 account information to sign in. You will receive your new account information via email after you accept the terms and conditions.

Parents of Cobb County students should have received an email with installation instructions. If you haven’t received this email or have questions, please contact your child’s school.

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Cobb County New Student Registration is July 14



Registration for students new to Cobb County Schools is July 14 for the 2015-16 school year. Students should register at their local schools. For more information visit


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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.

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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InVenture a Great Experience for Elementary Students

Source: Cobb County Schools


This year, the Georgia Tech InVenture Challenge was open to elementary students for the first time. Students from four elementary schools — Cheatham Hill Elementary School, Due West Elementary School, Mountain View Elementary School and Murdock Elementary School — competed and explained their innovative inventions on campus. Students created useful new products like the Cold To Go, which keeps ice cream cold in a portable container.

The InVenture Challenge introduces young students to the world of engineering and entrepreneurship, and pushes them to be creative, out of the box thinkers and problem solvers. Nancy Ernstes, a gifted teacher at Cheatham Hill Elementary says of the experience, “This process really relates well to all of our standards, and we like for students to collaborate and come up with real world ideas.” She says the challenge enables the young inventors to believe that their ideas are powerful and can change the world.

(See more at:


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