School board mulls plan to grow Teasley
by Lindsay Field
August 21, 2013 12:27 AM | 2100 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — The Cobb School Board on Thursday will consider expanding Teasley Elementary School to ease overcrowding, and whether to spend $4 million to hire any part-time teachers if classes are too large in other schools.

During last week’s meeting, east Cobb board member Scott Sweeney advised expanding Teasley from the 10 classrooms outlined in the special purpose local option sales tax program to 20 classrooms, as well as enlarging the school’s cafeteria and gym to help with overcrowding. The new expansion plan would increase the cost from $3.1 million to $13.4 million.

The elementary school, located near Atlanta and Paces Ferry roads off Spring Hill Road in southeast Cobb, serves about 750 students and is almost 300 students over capacity.

Teasley Parent-Teacher Association President Shannon Ottinger and Teasley School Council President Susanne Saad are excited about the plan.

“We are thankful that the district has come up with a solution to solve the over-crowding problem at Teasley,” Saad said. “We sincerely appreciate the school board’s support of this plan.”

Chris Ragsdale, the district’s deputy superintendent of operational support, said the cost almost triples with the addition of 10 more classrooms because the expansion also calls for size adjustments to the school’s cafeteria and gym.

Ragsdale said because of the school property’s small acreage and hilly topography on the backside, the building would be three stories.

Money to ease classroom sizes

Although Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said last week it’s unnecessary, the board will also decide whether to spend $4 million to pay salaries for part-time teachers to help decrease class sizes.

Northeast Cobb Board member David Banks introduced the idea last week.

“After eliminating 182 teaching positions (with approval of the fiscal 2014 budget in May), I want to use $4 million for hiring some 49-percenters,” Banks said. “I’m not saying we have to spend it, but just wanted to give the superintendent that option to spend it where you need.”

Hinojosa said he was appreciative of Banks’ request but didn’t believe it was needed.

“We aren’t hearing the cries and signs for requests like we did last year,” Hinojosa said.

Last fall, the board hired 30 more teachers for a total of 8,130 educators because the district enrolled 1,000 students more than projected. This year, the district is expected to hire about 8,070 teachers.

Cobb Deputy Superintendent Cheryl Hungerford said class size problems experienced last year aren’t haunting them this school year.

“We are very close to our projections,” she said Friday. “Last year, we were about 1,300 students above our projection.”

At the end of last week, 106,488 students were enrolled in Cobb Schools and the projected enrollment was 106,645.

Using projected enrollment figures over the summer Hungerford determined the number of teachers needed to be hired at each of the district’s 112 schools.

“When we are figuring out how many teachers to allot to a school, we base that on the number of students we will have in a class, which is four over the state max,” Hungerford said.

The Georgia Department of Education sets the maximum number of students per teacher per grade level, but in spring the Cobb School Board submitted a waiver to the state that would allow classes to have up to eight more students in a class.

For example, the state maximum for students in a kindergarten class is 20. Cobb’s waiver would allow for 28 students, but Hungerford said Cobb’s allotment formula strives not to allow more than 24 kindergarten students in a class.

“We are looking at every classroom in the district and if they are above the allotted number, we will keep an eye on it,” she said. “We are really committed to staying as close as we can to our formula … our intent is not at all to have large classes.”

If parents or guardians are concerned about the number of students in their child’s classroom, Hungerford recommends they first speak to their school principal.

In other business, the board will also consider appointing two new principals, one at Timber Ridge Elementary and another at Dodgen Middle, both in east Cobb.

Timber Ridge Principal Tracie Doe and Dodgen Principal Robin Lattizori were promoted in July as the district’s two newest area assistant superintendents.

Doe will represent west Cobb schools and Lattizori east Cobb.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. with public comments and will be in the central office boardroom at 514 Glover St. in Marietta.

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