By Rebecca Gaunt
The Cobb County School District released a list of proposed projects Thursday to be considered for the November SPLOST VI referendum.
The special purpose local options sales tax (SPLOST) is a one-cent sales tax that must be approved by voters. The vote for SPLOST VI will occur Nov. 2, and if approved, collection will begin in January 2024 and run through December 2028. It is projected to bring in close to $900 million. The Cobb County Board of Education will finalize the list at the June 10 meeting.
One of the projects to make the list was Sprayberry High School, which has had a considerable lobbying effort recently by the community. Parents are asking for a full rebuild of the school, which has been located at the intersection of Sandy Plains and Piedmont Roads since 1973. However, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale clarified that this would not be a demo of the entire school because there are newer additions on the campus.
In 2010, new band, chorus and orchestra buildings were built and will remain. There are already plans for a new career, technical and agricultural education (CTAE) facility and a gymnasium to be built at Sprayberry from SPLOST V funds. Those projects are separate from this project to rebuild major portions of the main facility. There will also be design changes to make the campus flow together better.
Board member David Banks asked if it was possible to purchase additional land for Sprayberry High School. Board member Randy Scamihorn and Ragsdale were quick to shut down that line of discussion as land acquisition is typically discussed during closed sessions.
Also on the list: a commencement and special events center, a second career academy in north Cobb, a new elementary school in south Cobb, the Bells Ferry Elementary addition, North Cobb High and Tapp Middle upgrades, and annexes for several elementary schools.
“Kincaid, Mt. Bethel, Murdock, Sope Creek and Tritt Elementary School annexes need to be removed and improved upon. That was a SPLOST IV request from local schools. SPLOST IV had a shortfall in some funding so we need to make this a high priority now to take care of that,” James Wilson, a planning consultant, told the board during Thursday’s work session.
Infrastructure improvements are planned throughout the county, as are upgrades to athletic facilities and stadiums.
“We’re making major emphasis in this SPLOST VI with infrastructure improvements,” Wilson. said.
Board member Dr. Jaha Howard asked if classroom needs would be given higher priority than the special events center.
“Can I share with folks in south Cobb that the events center would be something that would not take precedence over classroom needs because of overcrowding?” Howard asked.
Ragsdale replied, “I’m not saying it takes priority over classrooms, but I’m also not saying it’s not a high priority because it is. We don’t necessarily have a top coming out of the gate project.”
Wilson also stressed to the board that undesignated classrooms may be the most important item on the list because it gives the county flexibility to build where it’s most needed years down the road as the population grows.
The complete list and timeline for SPLOST VI is on the CCSD website.
Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.