MARIETTA — Prior to the Cobb school board’s unanimous vote to approve $2.1 million for eight more classrooms at the replacement King Springs Elementary School in Smyrna, board member Randy Scamihorn questioned the “big miss” in enrollment projections that led to board’s revisiting the $32 million construction contract approved in April.
The school replacement project will combine two campuses in Smyrna into one. Currently, kindergarteners and first graders attend the “Brown campus” at 3265 Brown Road, and second through fifth graders attend the King Springs campus at 1041 Reed Road. The new building will be at the Reed Road location and was initially slated to have 67 classrooms, seven more than the two campuses combined. With the board’s approval, the project will now include 75 classrooms.
John Adams, the district’s deputy superintendent over human resources and operations, said the newest enrollment projections, presented to the board a month after the replacement school’s contract approval, suggested that in the 2023-24 school year, the new King Springs Elementary School would enroll 1,259 students. That’s 159 more students than the district initially expected for that year, Adams said.
But, he said, “this is a good news story,” citing Superintendent Ragsdale’s recent request that enrollment studies be produced annually.
“We have more accurate, recent, actionable data, and we’re using that to adjust our path along the way,” Adams said.
Scamihorn was not moved.
“I’m not sure on your term, ‘This is a good news story,’” he said. “We missed eight classrooms. ... That’s a big miss.”
Adams said the 1,259 students in school year 2023-24 represents the school’s anticipated peak enrollment, and he said enrollment in the following years is expected to decrease. He added that in previous years, enrollment projections have been nearly spot on.
“We’re not perfect, and you have to continually do those annual updates so you get the most actionable data,” Adams said. “It’s like when I go to the doctor and they check my cholesterol every year. They have to do that to know if they (should) keep me on cholesterol medication or not.”
Scamihorn concluded his comments by saying it is expected that once the board votes on the scope of a project, “that’s where it is.”
Adams said the addition of the classrooms is not expected to affect the project’s expected completion date of May 2020.
Board member David Banks asked about the status of the existing Brown campus once students occupy the new King Springs campus in 2020. Adams, comparing the Brown campus to a talented closing pitcher who wins “key games,” said the campus has been a reliable facility in addressing student overflow in the past.
The campus took in two grade levels from Teasley Elementary School when construction was underway there five years ago, according to Ragsdale.
Adams added that he suggests the district “seriously consider” keeping it.
Brad Wheeler, the board’s vice chair, also questioned since the campus seems to get so much use, whether a rebuild of the school might be in order in the future.
But Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said the future of the Brown campus is “still up in the air,” and closed discussion saying “it’s too early to tell.”
New details on data center
The board approved a $4.5 million construction contract with Cooper and Company General Contractors, Inc. for a new backup data center that Ragsdale called a “disaster recovery facility.”
The facility is to be located at 484 Glover St., Marietta, where the district purchased 1.7 acres for $2.27 million in March. The property currently houses the 45,787-square-foot Jimco Stone Center building. Adams said that building will be leveled to make room for the new data center.
Ragsdale said the new data center will serve as an insurance policy so that “all our eggs are not in one basket.”
The district currently has a primary data center in Kennesaw and a backup at 440 Glover St. The new backup will replace that facility.
The project will be funded by a special 1% sales tax for education approved by voters in 2017 and is expected to be complete at March 5, 2020, according to Adams.
South Cobb gets a new principal
South Cobb High School will get a new principal, starting Friday, after the Cobb school board’s unanimous approval Thursday.
Tommy Perry will move from his role as assistant principal at Dickerson Middle School to take the reins at South Cobb. Perry’s annual salary will increase from $78,765.95 to $123,813.03 with the move.
Perry’s appointment comes a week after the board accepted former Principal Clint Terza’s resignation.