Cobb County voters approve education sales tax


A proposal to continue a 1 percent sales tax to pay for hundreds of new school projects in the Cobb County and Marietta school districts passed by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio Tuesday, unofficial results showed.

Officials in the two school districts want to collect about $860 million from the tax during a five-year period that begins in 2019. Cobb, the state’s second-largest public school district, would get about $797 million from the sales tax while Marietta’s school district would get about $62.5 million.

“I am so excited,” said Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators. “This will allow us to expand and rebuild our schools…It is a testament to how much people believe in public schools.”

In another education-related vote Tuesday, Kerry Minervini edged past Patricia Echols in a Marietta school board race, unofficial results showed.

In other parts of metro Atlanta, voters were casting ballots for the first mayors and city council members of the new cities of South Fulton and Stonecrest.

Referendum supporters pushed for approval, saying much of the money from the tax would be collected from non Cobb County residents visiting popular attractions such as Six Flags and the new Atlanta Braves ballpark. They cited statistics that only about 10 percent of Cobb’s budget goes to things such as school maintenance and school buses.

The Cobb Taxpayers Association criticized the plan after school board members added $40 million to the cost estimate. Opponents said that was included without proper vetting. Cobb officials say they added the $40 million in case they need more classrooms.

Each Cobb school is in line for some improvements under the proposed SPLOST, special purpose local option sales tax. The majority of the major improvements are in Mableton, Smyrna and south Cobb, where officials say they’re now seeing the fastest population growth.

Selling south Cobb residents on SPLOST wasn’t easy. Many south Cobb parents and community leaders have been frustrated that several major SPLOST projects are under construction in more affluent parts of the county. A 2016 Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found nearly two-thirds of the schools built with sales tax funds in the past 20 years in Cobb opened to student bodies with affluent majorities.

Here are some key numbers about the referendum:

$859.5 million - the amount of money officials hope to collect from the tax.

$797 million - how much money would go to Cobb from the tax.

$62.5 million - how much money would go to Marietta from the tax.

$40 million - the amount of money Cobb school board members added to the proposed total to fund potential additional classroom space.

210 - the number of new classrooms that would be built in Cobb’s school district.

$4 million - how much Marietta proposes to spend on school buses.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Emory, Georgia Tech students selected as Rhodes scholars
Emory, Georgia Tech students selected as Rhodes scholars

Two students at Georgia universities have been selected for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, the Rhodes Trust announced this weekend. An Emory University student from Lithonia was selected, the university announced Saturday evening. Chelsea Jackson, a double-major in political science and African-American studies, will study at the University...
This Life with Gracie: Druid Hills Fulbright scholar headed to Greece
This Life with Gracie: Druid Hills Fulbright scholar headed to Greece

At the end of another school day early this month, I met Vincent Gray again in the teacher’s lounge at Druid Hills High School. It was the second time in just two years. The first time, a parent had reached out to tell me what a great teacher Gray is, the kind that not only teaches students facts, but how to think critically. After just six years...
17 Atlanta school police admit test cheating, investigator finds
17 Atlanta school police admit test cheating, investigator finds

Atlanta Public Schools is dealing with another cheating investigation. A quarter of the police officers in the district’s recently sworn-in force admitted receiving answers on a state-administered test. Disciplinary proceedings are coming for at least 18 employees. One dispatcher allegedly fed answers to 17 officers while they took the open-book...
Emory University to offer free tuition to some students from Puerto Rico
Emory University to offer free tuition to some students from Puerto Rico

Emory University announced Friday it will allow nearly three dozen eligible students who’ve had their studies interrupted by last summer’s hurricane damage to Puerto Rico to study here for free next semester. The 32 students will also receive application fee waivers and expedited processing. Those accepted will be able to enroll in credit-bearing...
Who got into University of Georgia today?
Who got into University of Georgia today?

From UGA: Nearly 15,000 students applied for early action admission to the University of Georgia’s Class of 2022, bringing record academic qualifications to the birthplace of public higher education. This year more than 8,000 students are being offered early action admission to UGA, and their average GPA of 4.11 reflects ...
More Stories