With enrollment in the higher than anticipated, the Cobb Board of Education voted Wednesday to hire 30 additional teachers to ease large class sizes in some schools.
The 7-0 vote at the board's monthly work session came after a brief discussion, with comments stressing the urgency of getting the new teachers in place as soon as possible.
"They're extremely necessary," said Post 1 board member Lynnda Eagle, who represents west and north Cobb.
The cost for the new positions is $2.2 million, with the money to come from the district's fund balance.
The district's actual enrollment is 105,757, a total of 1,364 more students than the projected 104,393. The class size issue is most acute at the middle school level, where more than half of the 25 Cobb middle schools have classes with far more students than the district's recommended student-teacher ratio of 32-1.
"We have completely exhausted our contingency allotment," said Dr. Cheryl Hungerford, the district's deputy superintendent for leadership and learning.
The specifics of where the new teachers will be assigned are to be announced; Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the enrollment growth has occurred across the county.
"This is the right thing to do," he said, "despite the disruptions it is causing."
Furlough talks to continue
Also on Wednesday, the board agreed to continue to its Sept. 27 business meeting discussions on a proposed reduction in staff furlough days from three to two.
Hinojosa is recommending the cut as "a good gesture to send to our employees," but at least two board members, Tim Stultz and Alison Bartlett, don't support the move, which would cost an estimated $3 million.
"It's too early in the [school] year," Bartlett said. "We don't know how the budget is going to shake out.
Getting the book thrown at them
The school board also received a heaving binder of material with detailed project lists and requests for a possible SPLOST IV referendum that may take place in March 2013 (see attached PDF document).
The one-cent sales tax, if approved by voters, would be collected from 2014 to 2018 and would net an estimated $717 million for school construction and maintenance projects.
The "SPLOST IV notebook" was prepared by Marietta-based Education Planners, founded by former Cobb school administrator James Wilson.
The board is tentatively planning for public hearings later this fall to gauge public reaction before making any decision on calling for a referendum.
Patch will have more coverage of this topic on Thursday.