“Today I make a plea for you all if you could consider our school, Harmony Leland, to be one of the rebuilds for SPLOST IV,” said Broderick Santiago of Mableton, whose two children attend the school.
Santiago’s congregation, Mosaic Church, also holds its Sunday services at the school each week.
“I don’t make this plea as a community activist,” Santiago said. “I don’t make this plea as a concerned clergy. I make this plea as a concerned parent. A parent who believes in the future, our children.”
In March, Cobb voters approved a fourth, five-year sales tax program for education. About $717.8 million is expected to be collected in SPLOST IV between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2018.
Some of SPLOST IV’s largest projects include rebuilds of Walton and Osborne high schools, East Cobb Middle School and two elementary schools, in addition to construction of a career academy.
There is also a SPLOST line item to replace two unnamed elementary schools at a cost of $23.3 million each.
Deputy Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said his staff hasn’t started talking about which elementary schools will be rebuilt, but it is up for discussion at the Oct. 9 work session at the request of northeast Cobb board member David Banks.
Banks was not at the Wednesday work session, but board member David Morgan, who represents Harmony Leland, said he supports Harmony Leland being rebuilt.
“I’ve gone to the school several times and have had meetings there and you can see that it’s a really small and old school,” Morgan said. “Simple repairs just put a band aid over a bullet wound and I am in total support of a replacement school through SPLOST IV.”
Board member Scott Sweeney, who represents Brumby in east Cobb off Powers Ferry Road, said he’s interested in a solution to address overcrowding at Brumby and looks forward to the district formulating recommendations for the board’s consideration.
He also has been speaking to members of the Brumby school community about how to resolve problems and has visited the school several times.
Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents southeast Cobb on the Board of Commissioners, says there has been interest from developers to possibly buy the land where Brumby is located or other properties along Powers Ferry.
“There is a lot of interest in the entire Powers Ferry Corridor, from Interstate 285 and just north of Delk Road,” Ott said.
He also said he is supportive of the school district trying to relocate and rebuild Brumby.
“It’s becoming an unsafe situation being located on a busy road like that,” Ott said. “Brumby
is a prime candidate to
An unending list of problems at both schools
Harmony Leland parent Sharie Bassett explained in detail to the board what problems they’ve discovered at her second-grade son’s school. The roof leaks when it rains, there are cracks in windows, suspected mold in the walls, the gym floor is carpeted and in very poor condition and the school is over capacity.
“The teachers and the administrators are doing their best … but the conditions that they are working with in the school are just making it really difficult to do their absolute best,” Bassett said.
Harmony Leland, at 5891 Dodgen Road in Mableton, was built in 1951.
The 62-year-old school serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade and, according to Ragsdale, the capacity is 478 and last year there were 676 students enrolled at the school, a difference of 198 students.
Amoni Witcher, Parent-Teacher Association president and mother of a first grader at Brumby Elementary in east Cobb off Powers Ferry Road, said they too are having a lot of the same issues.
“We need help,” she begged. “We need a new school building. There is just no way that we can fit the demands of the students in the building that we have currently.”
Brumby, which was built in 1966, is about 300 students over capacity. The school serves kindergarten through fifth-grade students and, according to Witcher, the enrollment on Wednesday was 1,053. The capacity is 751, Ragsdale said.
Witcher also complained about the heavy traffic that lines up along Powers Ferry each morning before school and how it can take up to 20 minutes to drop off students because there is only one entrance into the school.
“It’s a very dangerous situation for our kids,” she said, also inviting the board to attend Brumby’s Oct. 10 PTA meeting. “Parents would love to speak to you about it because they have a lot of concerns that I can’t even address.”
The owners of four Harmony Leland area preschools also addressed the board and told members that the overcrowding and look of the Mableton school is impacting their businesses.
“Currently, I have 200 students in my care who will all graduate and go onto that elementary school and it’s really tough for me to stand in support of the school based on current feedback and things that we hear,” said Sandi Douget.
She owns Kids R Kids Learning Academy at 20 Veterans Memorial Highway in Mableton.
“I’m here in support of the SPLOST money to rebuild Harmony Leland because the elementary schools around us are really impacting our business,” she said. “We have families that are moving by the droves.”
And when she asks parents why, they say it’s because of the schools.
“Our property values are being impacted and our businesses are being significantly impacted because of the elementary schools that are there,” she said.