MARIETTA — The Cobb School District unveiled how it proposes to spend the first $104 million of an expected $160 million in federal aid to come to the district during Thursday’s board meeting.

Of the first $104 million in new federal aid to be provided to the Cobb School District for pandemic relief, about $39.5 million will be used to address COVID-19-driven “learning loss,” district officials say.

Chief Academic Officer Jennifer Lawson presented the breakdown of how the district proposes the money to be spent.

The $104 million is the first phase of federal money slated to come to the school district, and the district has two years to spend the money. Lawson said Cobb Schools will spend $39.5 million, or 40%, of the first phase to address pandemic-driven learning loss.

Lawson said the $39.5 million will be spent on targeted instruction for students identified as needing extra help in certain areas; shrinking class sizes; summer learning programs; reading and math tutoring programs; and learning academies to be held over fall, winter and spring breaks.

Expenses outside of that, include:

♦ $28.3 million to be used to offset the state of Georgia’s austerity cuts to the Quality Basic Education formula;

♦ $4.4 million for sanitation and cleaning of facilities to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission;

♦ $6 million for food and nutrition services;

♦ $100,000 for employee training;

♦ $1 million for additional Cobb Virtual Academy teachers to accommodate a growth in enrollment; and

♦ $25 million in technology purchases to assist in classroom instruction.

Work could also soon begin on a $13.1 million performing arts center at Osborne High School and a $300,000 renovation for a robotics lab at Walton High School, after unanimous approval from the school board on Thursday.

Both projects would be paid for under the current cycle of the county’s 1% sales tax for education.

Osborne and Walton

The new 23,731-square-foot Osborne High School Performing Arts Center is the last piece of an overall campus “refresh,” which included a new, four-story, $30 million main school building and new gym that have already been completed. The main school building opened in August.

The new 750-seat theater is expected to be complete in July 2022, according to district officials. Carroll Daniel Construction, of Gainesville, will be in charge of its construction.

The project also covers the renovation of Osborne’s existing 5,530-square-foot auditorium into a “black box theater” and two additional classrooms, district officials said.

Walton High School’s new robotics lab will be born out of a renovation of the 7,579-square-foot practice gymnasium at the school and will include a practice field and associated shop areas, the district said.

The Walton robotics team’s practices and workspaces had to be moved to the old East Cobb Middle School during the construction phase of Walton.

Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale previously told the MDJ the renovation will give the robotics team at the high school its home back.

Walton’s $307,007 robotics lab renovation will be completed by Prime Contractors, Inc., of Powder Springs, and is expected to be finished in November, according to the school district.

In other business, the board:

♦ Discussed the upcoming reapportionment of U.S. Congressional, state House and Senate and local school board and commission lines. Every 10 years following the federal decennial census, all federal, state and local election district boundaries must be redrawn or revised. District attorneys said the school board would work with demographers to find out how to appropriately draw a map for the board reapportionment. That map, once approved by the board, would be passed to the Cobb Legislative Delegation before heading to the General Assembly and governor for final approval. With delayed census data expected to come in in August, Board Chair Randy Scamihorn said he wanted to introduce the subject to the board and is seeking more information and an expected timeline on local reapportionment from the state.

♦ Approved an $887,050 track resurfacing at McEachern High School, to be paid for with money from the McEachern Endowment Fund;

♦ Approved a contract with the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration for Ed-SPLOST VI election services. The district would pay for the costs attributed to its Ed-SPLOST election, which the agenda lists as “to be determined”; and

♦ Adopted a resolution establishing the same millage rate as last fiscal year, at 18.9 mills. The adoption of that millage would increase the district’s property tax revenues by about $32.2 million over last fiscal year.

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