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Walton Meeting to Make Final School Funding Push

Thursday's event includes Cobb school officials and lawmakers days before a new Georgia legislative session begins.

Walton Meeting to Make Final School Funding Push
After a busy fall of conducting informational meetings about public school funding shortfalls in Cobb, parents in the Walton High School cluster will hold a final meeting Thursday night before the start of the Georgia General Assembly. 

Cobb school officials and local legislative leaders will serve as panelists at a meeting sponsored by the Walton PTSA that begins at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium. Walton is located at 1590 Bill Murdock Road. 

The guests include Cobb County School District superintendent Michael Hinojosa; Cobb school board members Scott Sweeney and David Banks; Walton principal Judy McNeill; and State Reps. Sharon Cooper (R-East Cobb) and Valarie Clark (R-Gwinnett).

The meeting takes place just as the legislature is set to convene its 2014 session next week. 

Cobb schools are already facing a preliminary fiscal year 2015 budget deficit of nearly $80 million. 

The Walton PTSA was one of several organizations that have tried to raise awareness of the financial issues, and held a meeting in the fall that spelled out those concerns

FACE It Cobb, organized by parents at nearby Dodgen Middle School, is part of what's being called a  "Shoestring Campaign"to lobby Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia legislature for Cobb's full share of funds under the Quality Basic Education Act. 

Cobb officials estimate the district has been deprived of more than $450 million in QBE funds over the last decade because of state austerity cuts. 

Those cuts have resulted in hundreds of teacher job losses, increased class sizes and furlough days, among other hardships funding advocates say are threatening the quality of public education in Cobb. 

At Walton, one of Cobb's biggest high schools with more than 2,600 students, 20 teaching positions have been eliminated since 2009. At the November meeting at Walton, McNeill said the issue has reached "a tipping point."

At a December meeting at East Side Elementary School, former Cobb school board chairman Randy Scamihorn said the 108,000-student district, the second-largest in Georgia, is "broke." Sweeney said Deal, who has pledged to increase school funding this session, should be denied another term if he doesn't come through. 

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