by Lauren Townsend for The Aha! Connection
I attended my first DeKalb County School Board of Education monthly meeting last night. It started roughly 50 minutes behind schedule making it both frustrating and a relief for those who had trouble getting to Stone Mountain at 5:30 pm on a weeknight. The room was packed with people representing specific areas of DeKalb county or that had grievances. Now, before you continue, please remember that this is not my arena or area of expertise.
Dressed in yellow, the Sexton Woods neighborhood rallied A LOT of people from Montgomery elementary school to address their redistricting. The focus was primarily protecting one neighborhood from being redistricted out, not unlike the conversations happening in Dunwoody. There was also mention of alternative locations for Kittridge and reopening Nancy Creek Elementary.
Henderson Mill also made a strong showing and seemed to want to emphasize that they wanted to be left alone and intact with the DCSD redistricting efforts.
There were other strong voices asking for better scheduling for teachers and a demand for Dr. Green’s resignation and recent financial information. Apparently DCSD hasn’t had an audit that lined up for years with no corrective action. The financial information required to conduct the 2017 audit was 649 days late and as of December, the 2018 data will be a year late.
Finally, the Dunwoody community had a strong showing in all blue. As a Dunwoody resident, I was happy to see so much blue and at least 4 Dunwoody speakers on the docket. As a DES parent, I saw what was 95% Austin parents and assumed their speaking would focus on our elementary school redistricting. I was wrong, as everyone from Dunwoody stayed focused on Dunwoody and DeKalb big picture problems. Callie Parker eloquently demanded that DCSD get their financial house in order and set up significant controls on procurement and that they immediately address the current state of many of the county’s run-down facilities. Leigh Anne Collins asked DCSD to address the gross overcrowding in region 1 when there are over 11,000 open seats in DeKalb county schools. She explained that even if the fire marshal let you attend a game at Mercedes Benz stadium that was 135% over capacity, would you feel safe doing so?
And if our current situation isn’t bad enough, Michelle Fincher highlighted DCSD plans to move Cross Keys High School to Region 2, leaving only Dunwoody and Chamblee High Schools in our area. The only plan to alleviate growth at DHS is to cut down more trees and replace them with more “temporary” portables. Michelle reminded the board that McNair HS was completely renovated in 2006 and currently sits at 38% capacity where it could house enough kids to fit 2 DeKalb Schools for the Arts. She ask why more creative thinking (portables are not a creative solution) isn’t being used like moving DSA to this space, converting Avondale to a regular attendance zone and balancing enrollment in regions 1 and 2. Michelle demanded that DCSD “use existing taxpayer-owned resources wisely to address these issues.”
The time is now to get involved in this situation and the term “situation” is putting it mildly. You can speak at a monthly Board of Education meeting by emailing Gybria_Brown@dekalbschoolsga.org to get on the list for public comment.