The Cobb County Board of Education unanimously approved a 2.6 percent raise for 15,000 employees Thursday. Previously, the board had approved a 1.1 percent raise for teachers, in addition to a one-time 1.1 percent bonus. Then the county received an unexpected $38 million from the increased value of taxable property. Teachers will still receive the December bonus as well.
The board had approved the FY 2019 general fund budget with an estimated 6 percent net increase in the property value digest. After the budget was approved, the district received the actual property value digest from the Cobb County Tax Commissioner’s Office showing the final growth was 8.21 percent.
The addition of substitutes to the list of employees who will receive raises was a welcome surprise to Connie Jackson since they were not included when the first raise was approved. Cobb County substitutes are some of the lowest paid in the metro area, and teachers have complained that it can be hard to get their classrooms covered.
Jackson, who is president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, addressed the board to thank them.
“Covering classes during your planning, or having to split classes and have extra kids in all rooms, has been a real downer for a lot of educators. While it’s not a huge raise for the substitutes, anything is a great gesture,” Jackson said. “We wouldn’t make it without substitutes.”
Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said, “With the new revenue that we are realizing with the additional digest growth we are able to afford that raise now. So when we can and are presented with the opportunity, we certainly take advantage to take care of our employees.”
The board also voted to keep the 2019 millage rate at 18.9 mills, which has remained steady since 2007.
Donna Rowe of the Cobb Association of Realtors raised concerns about the raise at the tax digest public hearing earlier in the day.
“I would suggest you be very conservative in your budget regarding the increase in the assessed values of properties. I remind you of 2007, 2008 and 2009, what happened to our values of property. And that could very likely happen again,” Rowe said. “The projections are that we will stay on course at least for the next 18 months, however, things happen. And when things happen, housing goes down. So if you’re basing raises or bonuses, or anything like that, on the present assessed value of property, I warn you to err on the side of conservative values of property because that is a fluctuating thing and it is dictated by the market.”
According to Ragsdale, the county is welcoming 850 new teachers this fall.