Constituents of the high-performing east Cobb school think so. They voiced their concerns to county school board chairman Scott Sweeney at a town hall session last week. They’re not happy with the school district plan allotting Walton about $5 million less than Pope and Harrison high schools.
Here are the figures from the SPLOST project list on the school district website: $19.3 million for a theater and gymnasium at Pope, $19.5 million for a theater and gymnasium at Harrison, and $13.9 million for a gymnasium, choral and orchestra room reconfiguration at Walton. Also $19.2 million is allocated for a new gym and theater at Wheeler High.
Athletics and arts come in for lots of money in the next proposed round of Cobb’s SPLOST-in-perpetuity. In addition to the projects above, the list on the school district website includes $12.5 million for a new replacement main gymnasium at Campbell High and $8.1 million each for theaters at North Cobb and South Cobb high schools.
Coming in behind some other Cobb high schools in the SPLOST derby doesn’t set well with the folks at Walton, which has high rankings in the widely accepted U.S. News & World Report’s “Best High Schools.” Walton ranks third in Georgia and 191st nationally in the 2012 list. Incidentally, first place is held by Savannah Arts Academy, a small charter school in Savannah. Ranked second is Davidson Fine Arts, a small Augusta public magnet school for the arts. So you could say Walton ranks first among its peers in Georgia.
Walton is not the only Cobb high school receiving high marks from U.S. News. Lassiter High ranks 7th in Georgia and 311 nationally; Wheeler is 13th in the state and 686th nationally; Campbell High, 27 and 1606, respectively; and Marietta High, 28 and 1611. In Newsweek’s listing of best high schools, Pope ranked 331 and Harrison 665 out of 1,000 schools. These rankings should serve as a reminder that Cobb schools are among the best in the country — even without the new gyms and theaters now proposed.
Chairman Sweeney promised the unhappy Walton parents that he got the message — including a warning that they won’t vote for the next SPLOST unless there is a change in the allocation of funds. Sweeney said he had “made those specific concerns” to Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa and Deputy Superintendent Chris Ragsdale. “I will continue to make those things known, and I encourage you to do the same thing,” he told the Walton folks.
In answer to a question, Sweeney said he didn’t know what the school district staff considers in deciding how much to allocate each school. He said he would discuss this question with the staff. But as he pointed out, the project list is only a draft, and the Walton parents should review the project list and make their feelings known.
So should the parents and constituents of all the other schools.