Cobb Board Approves 2020-21 Budget

The Cobb Schools Board of Education met virtually on August 20, 2020, for their stated monthly meeting. All seven members were present, joining Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and Cobb Schools’ leadership chiefs.

Preceding the board meeting, a virtual Public Forum was hosted giving community members the opportunity to make comments regarding the 2020-21 proposed budget. Chief Financial Officer Brad Johnson presented a quick overview of the budget as it was presented at the July meeting.

After a 30-minute break, the online board meeting began with the Superintendent’s remarks. He began by publicly announcing the District’s Teachers of the Year (TOTY) winners from last school year. Dr. Darline Douangvilay (Elementary TOTY), Michelle Gottenberg (Middle School TOTY), and Beth Foster (High School TOTY) were each recognized as the 2019-2020 recipients of this prestigious award (read more here).

Mr. Ragsdale continued his report with a COVID-19 update and the school district’s response to the worldwide virus pandemic. He reiterated his commitment and desire to get back to face-to-face classroom learning while repeating his rationale and reasoning for deciding to keep the district learning remotely until further notice.

He said that his decision was based on three main parameters: 1) community spread, 2) effective contact tracing protocols, and 3) testing timeliness. Following these three parameters, he continued, in addition to Governor Kemp’s recommendations about keeping positive cases in the population to less than 1 per thousand are what will inform any discussion of implementing Cobb’s phased return-to-classrooms plan (read more here).

The Superintendent also highlighted that 30,314 devices were given out by the District in response to 38,657 requests. He mentioned that 6000 of those requests came in the weekend before school began on August 17 and that requests were being fulfilled as quickly as possible. “Every student that needs a device will receive one,” he assured the board.

Mr. Ragsdale said he was encouraged by the first week of school, despite some early technical issues with the District’s online learning platform, CTLS. “It was a perfect storm,” he said, “but we found the issues and fixed them quickly.”

He took the opportunity to recognize and praise District staff for their efforts. “I want to thank all Cobb Schools’ staff and teachers for making back-to-school such a success,” he said gratefully.

After a short break, the board reconvened to discuss agenda items. Before voting to approve the 2020-21 budget, Mr. Johnson reminded the board that it had already approved the tentative budget at the previous meeting. The revised budget included a $15 million addition for COVID-19 related expenditures but was otherwise the same.

Despite a tumultuous financial year, the proposed budget was balanced. It required no millage increases, no teacher furloughs, and no pay reduction for staff. It also had provisions for step increases and funding for two early learning centers in the District. After a short discussion, the 2020-21 budget was officially approved by all.

For more information on the 2020-21 budget, please click here.

For more information on Cobb Schools’ reopening plan, click here.