Cobb County School District proposes $1.85 billion budget with staff raises

Image from school district's budget presentation

by Rebecca Gaunt

The Cobb County Board of Education heard the proposed FY 2025 $1.85 billion budget presentation at Thursday’s work session, hours before the first public hearing to allow input from the community.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale thanked Gov. Brian Kemp for funding a teacher pay increase, but announced that the district will expand on that for non-temporary employees.

“We take the raise across the board to every category of employee,” he said. “The average raise that every employee is getting is 6%. The range of that raise, because it includes the steps and everybody’s pay scale, it goes from 4.4 to 9%.”

The budget also includes a line item for proof of concept math and science software. Prisms Founder and CEO Anarupa Ganguly presented the details of the program during the work session.

“I got out of the public system exactly four years ago to build the world’s first spatial learning platform where our children get to embody their problems with their bodies. And after they’ve gone through things, they get to ascribe meaning, language, and build mathematical and scientific models from a series of physical experiences,” she said.

One of the examples Ganguly presented had students learn mathematical rates of change by operating a high speed train braking system. Another allowed students to learn about treating burn victims using virtual reality.

“VR’s going to democratize access to experience because a lot of children haven’t been to a lot of the places that we’re taking them,” she said.

The program will be introduced at 10 middle schools and 10 high schools: Barber, Awtrey, Allatoona, North Cobb, Durham, Pearson, Osborne, Floyd, South Cobb, Daniell, Tapp, McEachern, Simpson, Sprayberry, Pope, Hightower Trail, Lovinggood, Hillgrove, Campbell Middle and Campbell High. Teachers will receive an introduction May 23 and 24 and additional training in August.

The second public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 16 at 6:30 p.m., the same day the board is expected to take the final vote.

Heather Tolley-Bauer, one of the founders of the parent-led financial watchdog Watching the Funds-Cobb, posted earlier in the week asking for more transparency in the process.

“Releasing the 2025 tentative budget documents to the public tomorrow would give us a few days, rather than a few hours, to review and understand the high volume of complex information before the public comment session,” she wrote on Monday.

By comparison, the Fulton County School District typically releases its proposed budget in April, with the two legally-required public hearings scheduled for May, and the final vote in June. Gwinnett County introduced its FY 2025 budget in March, with the two public hearings scheduled for May and June. Atlanta Public Schools also separates the release and final vote from the two public hearings.

Last year, the board approved a millage rate reduction for the first time in 15 years, lowering it from 18.9 to 18.7 mills.

View both presentations in their entirety on the Cobb County School District website. Budget information will be posted here.

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.