A revised project list of school construction and renovation projects for the proposed SPLOST IV one-cent sales tax extension calls for a replacement middle school in East Cobb.
In addition, $27 million in renovations for Walton High School, including a gym replacement and choral and orchestral modifications and additional improvements for its fine arts program, are incorporated into the revised list, which the Cobb Board of Education discussed at a special called meeting on Thursday.
The East Cobb replacement designation is one of the biggest changes to the $717 million proposed SPLOST IV list, which the Cobb school board is considering putting out to referendum in March.
The complete list of revisions will be posted soon on the Cobb County School district website.
The changes reflect some intense lobbying by parents and school organizations, especially in East Cobb.
Since the initial SPLOST IV list was revealed earlier this fall, parents have been flooding message boards and speaking out at public meetings. On a feedback link on the Cobb County School District website, parents from Walton, ECMS and Eastvalley Elementary School have been especially vocal in their calls for more comprehensive renovations.
The funding for the East Cobb middle school replacement, if SPLOST IV is approved by voters, would come at the expense of one of two career academies proposed by Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.
Although the SPLOST IV revisions don't specify the middle school to be replaced, substantial needs have been identified at East Cobb Middle School, which was in line for a variety of improvements in the original SPLOST IV list.
"East Cobb kind of popped up," said board member David Banks, whose district will include ECMS starting in January. "It wasn't on the radar to begin with, but the school is in bad condition."
School board chairman Scott Sweeney, who also represents the ECMS district, said at a townhall meeting earlier this month he "was saddened" when he toured the middle school to observe the state of disrepair.
Remaining on the SPLOST IV list are three unspecified replacements for elementary schools, at $23 million each, with the East Cobb area likely to get one of them. A possible reconstruction of Brumby Elementary School is among the considerations, as is the possibility of school consolidation involving a combination of Powers Ferry, Sedalia Park and Eastvalley.
Walton was earmarked for nearly $14 million in initial SPLOST funding, but at a town hall meeting last month parents and students in the school community requested the construction of a fine arts complex to replace cramped and outmoded space.
The East Cobb middle school situation is far from the only school in the Cobb County School District in which an overhaul is needed, and the school board discussions Thursday reflected the painful decisions that it must make by November, when it is expected to put the SPLOST IV out to referendum.
The board will have one more public meeting next month to discuss the SPLOST IV list, and Sweeney said the plan remains to schedule a referendum for March, since the current SPLOST III collection period ends at the end of 2013.
But Kim Euston, the school board's facilities and technology committee chairwoman and a Sweeney appointee, urged the board Thursday to delay the referendum until November 2013.
"This train needs to slow down so parents and taxpayers can examine the proposal before us," she said. "We need to take the time to get this right. Please slow down this process."