Study for CCSD projects big growth for south Cobb
by Haisten Willis
June 12, 2014 04:00 AM | 4085 views | 4 4 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chris Ragsdale
Chris Ragsdale
MARIETTA — A demographic study predicts major population growth for south Cobb over the next 10 years, which could lead to a new high school in the area.

The study, commissioned by the Cobb School District and performed by Riverside, Calif.-based Davis Demographics and Planning at a cost of $77,400, is designed to predict population shifts in the county through 2023.

While overall student population is expected to grow from 108,315 in 2014 to 114,023 in 2023 — a change of 5,708, or 5.3 percent — the growth won’t be even across the county. South Cobb will have major growth, while the northwestern part of the county will lose population, according to the study.

Lorne Woods, regional office and project manager for Davis Demographics, presented results of the study to the Cobb school board during a day long meeting Wednesday.

“This changes a lot of our planning moving forward,” Interim Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said.

One takeaway from the findings is Ragsdale said a new high school “absolutely” will need to be built in south Cobb during the next 10 years.

The study looked at birth rates, transiency, apartment migration, housing sales and high school dropout rates in making its predictions.

A big factor in the growth projections is birth rates, which the study says will drop in Cobb in the next decade.

Elementary school enrollment is expected to shrink from 49,612 students in 2014 to 47,706 students in 2023, even though the school system will grow overall.

Elementary schools expecting the biggest population growth are Powder Springs Elementary, Riverside Primary, Smyrna Elementary and Brumby Elementary. Schools, including Ford Elementary, Frey Elementary, Kennesaw Primary and McCall Primary, will lose students.

Middle school enrollment sits at 24,972 in 2014. It’s expected to peak at 27,685 in 2020, before falling to 25,687 in 2023. South Cobb schools Griffin Middle School and Lindley Middle will grow, while northwest Cobb schools such as Durham Middle and Lost Mountain Middle will lose students.

High school enrollment will see the biggest growth, the study says, rising from 34,731 students in 2014 to 40,630 students in 2023. Osborne, Campbell and Pebblebrook will grow the most, while Allatoona, Harrison and North Cobb will lose students.

School board member Tim Stultz asked about the possibility of redistricting owing to the projected shifts.

“Redistricting, as a short-term option, might need to be looked at,” he said.

School board member Brad Wheeler also asked about the possibility of redistricting, including the planned $39.9 million renovation at Walton High School, but Ragsdale said it isn’t in the cards.

Ragsdale did say projections for the size of the Walton rebuild could increase by about 800, as the school’s attendance zone is expected to grow, but again said the school system is not looking to change attendance zones.

“We are not looking to redistrict Walton,” Ragsdale said.

Randy Scamihorn, the school board vice chair, said he wonders about the validity of the study’s findings about northwest Cobb losing population.

“I’m skeptical about it,” said Scamihorn, who represents the area. “That area is exploding right now.”

The district conducts demographic studies every five to seven years, but Ragsdale stressed the need to update the projections every couple of years.

Woods agreed, citing the 2008 recession as an event changing demographic projections.

“It was not a good year for demographers in 2007,” he said. “With these studies you need to revisit, revisit, revisit.”

The study was conducted between October 2013 and March 2014, Ragsdale said.

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June 12, 2014
How about a rebuild for Campbell High? Building a brand new high school is nice for the south cobb area, but parts of Campbell are so old. When we visit other schools for games and competitions, it's just sad to think about the condition of our school. People say a classroom is a classroom, but it's not. Walk into Hillgrove or the new parts of North Cobb or even South Cobb; then visit CHS. It's not equal, and since my own kids will be gone, I'm hopeful my grandkids will have a Campbell school they can be proud of.
Michelle Sollicito
June 12, 2014
I think we should be careful basing decisions on this study for a number of reasons. I was at the meeting yesterday and had so many questions I wanted to ask about this. For example, Lorne Woods made it very clear his study was made BEFORE the Braves move was announced, so this aspect is not taken into account in the figures. Also, I am pretty sure the study, which projected huge growth in Walton attendance area, does not take into account the fact that Mt Bethel is opening a new high school in that attendance zone, and there is a rumored new high school being considered by EastSide Baptist Church also at the other end of Walton's catchment area. These two together could actually REDUCE Walton's attendance figures over this time period. Also, Randy Scamihorn's figures for North West Cobb project very different trends than this study predicts, and most trends I have seen predict South Cobb becoming something of a ghost town as people quit South Cobb due to poor schools. This study was carried out before it was announced that Harmony Leland will not be rebuilt yet, and that could make a significant difference in the South Cobb area in my opinion.
June 12, 2014
And your "opinion" should out weigh facts and figures because..........
A Wasteful spending
June 12, 2014
Really? You need someone to forecast the future? Let me see, low income, black and Hispanic families have more children than whites. Bam, you will have more growth in South Cobb and less in white areas. You could have saved your money and had common sense. Why would we redistrict when we can just spend more money building schools and leaving others under capacity? How silly to redistrict. Oh Lord, someone give this board a brain!
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