Just the Facts: Money

Just the Facts Money

In one of those kitchen table conversations we have all probably had, I recently heard my wife, Deborah Scamihorn, say, “You know, the way we spend money (at home) shows what we really care about.” 

She’s right, of course, and if you saw the Scamihorn family checkbook, you’d probably say we REALLY care about our children and grandchildren, and apparently, we share a lot of meals with family and friends at various restaurants. 

The same could be said of the 2024-2025 budget for all Cobb schools, including your child’s. As I have read through Superintendent Ragsdale’s proposed budget (which the Board will vote on in a couple of weeks), you can see what he and the majority of our school board value. And, like many other things these days, budgets are now targets for political fodder from the same few voices who are interested in turning over the Board and Superintendent - not keeping your children’s school safe, academically successful, at one of the lowest costs in the state. 

For those of you who don’t have the time to review the largest employer in Cobb County’s budget, I thought you might appreciate hearing a few of those observations with just the facts

  • 94% of this budget is spent on educators, with almost the entire budget being spent directly in the classroom. The Superintendent follows the Board’s lead in prioritizing the most important part of a child’s education: access to a high-quality teacher with modern teaching tools - not programs and fads, no matter how loudly some lobby for them. 
  • The 2024-2025 Cobb County budget is built on one of the lowest per-student costs in the metropolitan area. In fact, Cobb’s per pupil cost, to the taxpayer, is lower than that of Atlanta, DeKalb, Fulton, Marietta, and any private school, which gives Cobb County the best value in education. 
  • Cobb is the only school district in the country to be AAA rated by all three of the major credit rating agencies and has ZERO debt, another extremely rare accomplishment for school systems! This is only possible through the commitment our Superintendent and the majority of our Board have made to you for the last ten years of stable leadership: to educate Cobb’s next generation while aggressively protecting your taxpayer dollars. 
  • Data supports the fact that the children in Cobb succeed more often than their peers across the metropolitan area in almost every academic measure. Thanks to the stable leadership in Cobb and the best educators in the business, you have seen the results both in the classroom and now in another budget, which is more efficient than any other district. 
  • The 2024-2025 budget includes another significant raise for all non-temporary permanent Cobb educators. The budget feedback our Finance staff received from 113 schools said the same thing: our teachers have incredibly hard jobs and want to feel valued. I hope you will agree with me that the highest pay scale in the state, in this year’s budget, recommended by the Superintendent, does exactly that. 
  • A larger percentage of Cobb’s funding goes to students and schools with more needs than other areas. Factually, schools in Mr. Hutchins’ post receive the most money per student, followed by Ms. Sayler’s, Ms. Davis’s, Mr. Scamihorn’s, Mr. Chastain’s, Mr. Wheeler’s, and Mr. Banks’s. Some try to score political points by saying otherwise, but facts really do matter. In Cobb, every child has the same opportunity to succeed. 
  • Like the captain of a ship, Superintendent Ragsdale has assessed the needs of students, teachers, and the entire community while guiding one of the state’s largest organizations, safely steering our students’ success for another year. As is abundantly clear in this budget and previous budgets led by this Board and Superintendent over the last ten years, the proposed budget balances the highest compensation for Cobb’s educators while offering taxpayers the best product for years to come. 
  • Superintendent Ragsdale builds a budget based on input from every department and accounts for what Cobb needs today and will need in the future. The best results for students, value for taxpayers, and highest compensation for teachers have been achieved, year after year, and will continue to be, as this budget balances all three priorities. 

In summary, Cobb’s budgets show what we value: students, staff, and the best value for Cobb’s taxpayers. It also shows the benefit of stability in leadership, from Superintendent Ragsdale on down. It is by design that Cobb County is one of the most attractive places to live and raise a family as a direct result of the stability of the school system. Any honest reviewer of this budget would say the same. 

Many of you have privately asked me how some folks try to rationalize attacking the Superintendent, his staff, and members of the Board of Education while also crediting the budget and educators in general. I reassure them that you can’t have the best schools in the state without the best leadership to guide them, and I believe this budget is yet another example. 

As chair of the Board, I proudly support this budget, the Superintendent who directed it, the staff who guided it, and most importantly, the value this budget and our schools bring to every parent, grandparent, homeowner, and taxpayer in Cobb County. And if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, maybe they have values that are not in line with the parents of Cobb County, the best place to live and learn.

Board Chair Randy Scamihorn