Who are these dubious outside influences?
In voting against a list of proposed construction projects to be funded by a special five-year penny sales tax program, freshman school board member Nancy Jester said she didn’t have enough time to review the projects and she had questions about the influence of unspecified “outside” groups. She represents the Dunwoody area.
“There are very focused interest groups who have advocated for their projects, and we are benefiting groups that easily organize during the summer,” she said. “I can’t in good conscious vote for this plan.”
I think there are parent advocates in DeKalb, as in any school system. But I am curious about Jester’s mention of “outside” forces shaping the project list.
I also think that DeKalb may face a struggle this November prodding voters to extend the sales tax. Voters in Atlanta, Decatur and Fulton counties also vote on the sales tax, which by law sunsets in March, as there are overlapping school boundaries.
The AJC reports that the DeKalb construction wish list reflects a move toward what Gwinnett has long embraced: larger schools.
The story states: DeKalb’s long-term goal is to phase out smaller neighborhood schools in favor of 900-student elementary, 1,200-student middle and 1,600-student high schools. The plan approved Monday would bring the district closer to doing that, said Daniel Drake, director of planning and forecasting for the district.. “It’s more of an efficiency on the administrative costs for these schools, throughout the county,” he said.
Highlights of the plan include the construction of seven elementary schools for$144 million, an arts school at Avondale Middle and a $22.4 million renovation and addition at Redan High. The plans come after the board voted in March to close eight schools in a massive redistricting that takes effect this fall. School officials said some schools are closing so that larger schools can be built in their place.
Two private firms were hired by DeKalb to survey schools and consider the building conditions and technology needs. The scores of those surveys were meshed together and used to determine which schools would be first in line for improvements.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog