I read with interest the article by Thomas Hartwell, “How will cuts affect schools?” (MDJ, 5/6).
Anything close to a 14% reduction in the funding provided by the state will be a crushing loss to Cobb County School District. Even with the expected $14-16 million to come from a $411 million federal funding package, Cobb Schools will be looking at a huge deficit from previous years.
Contrasted against that was the recent meeting by the Cobb Board of Commissioners, along with their newly employed consultant, to discuss how to use the estimated $132 million county government will receive from the CARES Act. That money is restricted to specific conditions focused on actual expenses incurred by the county in dealing with the COVID-19 panic.
I found on the website of the Treasury Department several resource documents that clarify how the CARES funds can be used. It is permissible for the county to share this funding with the school district. The school district is still bound to the requirements of the law in that the money cannot be used to simply replace lost revenue. It must be used to replace funding that has been used in dealing with the COVID-19 panic and that was not in the regular operating budget. The money can be used to buy teaching aids and technology systems that facilitate the transition to online learning. There’s more, but I’ll let the $11,200 per month professional explain the rest.
Clearly, Cobb government can share this funding with the school district. Considering the magnitude of the need for the school district, county government should plan to go the extra mile in making sure every possible legitimate use for CARES funds by the school district is identified and funded.
It would be disgraceful for Cobb government to run through this money on frivolous projects, even if they are technically permissible, if there are more valuable ways to deploy the funds in the school district and help relieve the funding crisis CCSD will face.
One other idea comes to mind to help CCSD through this funding crisis. The Development Authority of Cobb County, Home Depot and the other clients who have enjoyed generous tax abatements in recent years could voluntarily surrender their special deals and start paying normal taxes to the school district.
Cobb County School District is the one thing we all share that must be protected at all costs.