Should constitution be amended to allow Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs to create own school districts?

Could we someday have the city of Dunwoody or city of Brookhaven school district? Or city schools of Sandy Springs or Milton?

A resolution in the House would allow voters to decide whether to undo the constitutional prohibition on creating any new school districts in Georgia. .

House Resolution 486 adds this qualifier to the state constitution:

No independent school system shall hereafter be established; provided, however, that any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, may establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system.

The resolution proposes that this question be put before voters:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, to establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system

I am unsure why 2005 is the starting point, although it does enable both Sandy Springs and Milton to create school districts as they formed after January of 2005.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

129 comments Add your comment

Georgia

February 26th, 2013
4:41 pm

YES!! We don’t want those wonderful school districts to catch the Dekalb Disease of stupidity and arrogance. Set them free.

DunMoody

February 26th, 2013
4:43 pm

Yes. Though it would be better if the legislature unencumbered the state constitution from policy – the amendment banning new school systems is really not a constitution-worthy issue. But that’s what we’re stuck with and that’s what Tom Taylor has to navigate to get the local control we need.

living in an outdated ed system

February 26th, 2013
5:04 pm

@Maureen, you’ve been busy today. Six posts!

Maureen Downey

February 26th, 2013
5:07 pm

@living, A lot happening around DeKalb. That will likely be the case until the courts decide one way or the other on the board removals. The Superior Court hearing is Thursday and the federal court hearing is Friday. AJC is checking on whether the Thursday hearing is still on. Some question on that one.
Maureen

Mom of 3

February 26th, 2013
5:07 pm

Yes. To me this is simple. We live in the United States that was founded on freedom. If a group of people want to be “free” to start their own city or school district, why in the world should they not be allowed to? Think back to the Boston Tea Party. England did not want to lose their tax money in that situation either. I may be looking at this too simply- but I do not understand why anyone would fight it. (except from the tax angle) And DunMoody has a good point- I wonder if the City of Dunwoody sued, would the Ga. amendment stand up as being constitutional. (in a federal court) The logic behind it doesn’t stand up when you are looking a county like Dekalb.

skipper

February 26th, 2013
5:14 pm

How could anyone not see that what is going on is not working! Of course they should be able to have their own district. The present cluster is an insult to intelligence.

Chamblee Dad

February 26th, 2013
5:20 pm

So you have a fleet of boats, built by the same navy. For years a strong navy, recognized by many. But bad leadership, mismanagement, corruption & neglect they fall into severe disrepair, some worse than others. Yours is doing pretty good, could do better. But instead of trying to rebuild the whole fleet – yes I know it’s frustating beyond belief, but the lowly sailors joined the same navy your sailors did, even if their captains & admirals are mostly no good. But instead of trying help the whole navy, you pull away from the dock, pull up the ladders & wave good-bye, as the other sailors are bailing water as best they can, even if their captains are nowhere to be found. Or maybe playing cards on shore. Anchors away!

Father of 5

February 26th, 2013
5:21 pm

Add City of Lakeside to the list. If the board remains so arrogant and the county continues to prove its incompetence, . . .

concernedmom30329

February 26th, 2013
5:26 pm

Chamblee dad

I admire your optimism, but as someone who has been trying to right this ship for 15 years, I have to tell you that it is impossible to believe that it will be much better. And frankly, many of your neighbors would like to control their schools as well. (Look at the percentage of private school folks in Chamblee and Brookhaven.)

Add to the mess that is DeKalb, the fact that nationally the best school systems are those that are smaller. Yes, the sometimes have higher taxes but there is a value there.

Mom of 3

February 26th, 2013
5:50 pm

Chamblee Dad- This is America, the lowly sailors can move to another fleet whenever they feel like it. Or if they are so inclined can try to improve their fleet. Since it will be smaller- that should be a more manageable task. Or do it your way- and everyone drowns.

English Teacher

February 26th, 2013
5:58 pm

I have to say – yes. Thank goodness I don’t teach or live in DeKalb, but if I did, my child would not go to school in this district. If I were a taxpayer, you better believe I’d want a better system.

Diane

February 26th, 2013
6:16 pm

To Chamblee Dad,
I find your analogy naive, not optimistic. You are also delusional. This has been decades in the making and it is going to take more than that to fix it, if it ever can be fixed.
Concernedmom30329: I believe you have a very good point. I grew up in Atlanta and am back in Atlanta, but lived in Abington PA, township outside of Philadelphia. Abington has its own schools, property taxes are higher, but the schools were good. The only private schools are parochial; religious affiliations are the only reason one would want their children to go to a private school. That is not the case here in Atlanta. We need a choice other than Dekalb County or private schools. I am sick and tired of my tax dollars going into this black hole of corruption.

Why 2005?

February 26th, 2013
6:18 pm

Until the 2005 limitation is removed, I say “no”. Why shouldn’t a city like Avondale be excluded from establishing a school system?

bu2

February 26th, 2013
6:31 pm

I dislike this bill for 2 reasons. The biggest is that it allows cities to group together. This is a totally new way of setting up districts and it is simply allowing groups who disagree to pull out. The second is the sinking ship analogy. The state of Texas has had major problems with inequality in funding because they don’t use a county based system. Allowing areas with big tax bases to pull out severely hurts the rest.

Unless we are going to full state funding or a statewide property tax, this creates more problems than it solves. Imagine North, Central and Eastern Dekalb pulling out and leaving a district with McNair, Towers and Columbia HS (basically unicorporated Dekalb south of Memorial inside 285). It simply wouldn’t be viable financially.

I think the cities formed after 2005 rule is so that it only applies to metro Atlanta so they don’t get opposition from the rest of the state.

Bernie

February 26th, 2013
6:35 pm

Why not just make SEGREGATION the Law of the Land again? or Why not all of the residents of Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Brookhaven move to Cobb County, where they all will certainly be much happier and content with the School System, Shopping Centers, Grocery Stores, Communities & Neighborhoods. It all has been done before…most recently in the late 1970’s.

Mom of 3

February 26th, 2013
6:41 pm

The sky is not falling. bu2 and Chamblee Dad- why are you so afraid of change? Change is good. The system is not working now. If I lived in South Dekalb I would be insulted by your complete lack of faith in that community. There are smart people who live there and are willing to work for their children’s educations. If they were in a smaller district it would help them also. They too could focus on the specific needs of their students. And FYI- there are black people in Dunwoody. There are no barriers. If you actually went to the schools you would see that. They are welcome here. Housing costs vary through out the city. Not everyone drives a fancy car. Talk about stereotyping…

The Momster

February 26th, 2013
6:46 pm

I’m a parent of 3 Dunwoody HS graduates. Never thought I’d see the day when my property values decline because of the stupidity of the Dekalb School Board. So….YES. I didn’t vote for the City of Dunwoody, but I’m a fan now. We have sidewalks, newly paved roads, a plan to upgrade all of our parks, and more. And Bernie, have you looked at the census data lately?? Dunwoody is most definitely not the mono-culture that you are implying. White persons are currently 70% of the population, which means 30% are minorities. 48% of the housing is in multi-unit structures, meaning we’ve got lots of “apartment kids”. They deserve the same first-rate education as the children in owned homes. We’ve got involved parents across the board….let us manage our own schools. Dekalb has shown that it is incapable of doing that for us.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
6:46 pm

And a few more, too! Yes, DeKalb school system is too big and the area would benefit from the diversity of smaller systems.

DunMoody

February 26th, 2013
6:50 pm

Bernie, Dunwoody (and other cities) are far more diverse than the rest of DeKalb. That argument is a kneejerk reaction, not reality. Segregation is repugnant. So is treating children differently because of where they live, how much their parents are involved, and socioeconomic issues out of their control. A strong, locally controlled, school system provides QUALITY education to each and every child. Period.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
6:55 pm

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
6:58 pm

Make smaller systems. Equalise funding. Play fair. Allow for downsizing and diversity of management.

bu2

February 26th, 2013
7:06 pm

@Mom of 3
Dunwoody with Perimter Mall and the surrounding business district has a disproportionate share of the property wealth of Dekalb County.

South Dekalb with little business and very low home values has very little tax base.

DunMoody

February 26th, 2013
7:14 pm

bu2 … you’re assuming Dunwoody wouldn’t “share” the property wealth. Why do you assume a new school system wouldn’t have a heart?

mountain man

February 26th, 2013
7:14 pm

“Should constitution be amended to allow Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs to create own school districts?”

DANG RIGHT! This would give parents more options for getting their children out of failing systems. I don’t think they should have the 2005 limit in there, though, I think ANY city that wants to create a school system should be able to.

BTW, I graduated from a GREAT city school system.

mountain man

February 26th, 2013
7:16 pm

“South Dekalb with little business and very low home values has very little tax base”

And why does South Dekalb have very low home values? Bad school system and bad neighborhoods?

bu2

February 26th, 2013
7:18 pm

Dunwoody has approximately 15% of the school district’s tax basis ($2.546 billion in Dunwoody) with only about 7% of the total population.

Another comment

February 26th, 2013
7:23 pm

It should be simplified to just take out the limit on 180 School Districts, it is arbitrary and coptitious. It makes no sense that a state that has grown to be the 9th most populous state in just the last 30 years should be limited by wording that was inserted in the 1950’s. Any School District over $8-10,000 students is just too large to manage.

Look at the facts, the best school districts in the consistantly best performing States. The top 10 states are largely made up of Districts that are no larger than 1-2 high school large districts with their feeder schools. These States were set up based on local control, not County control. Why on earth do we have county control in counties that have 750,000 to 1,000,000 in population. This is crazy. These other States were set up on local control, villages, inside towns, or township, then larger towns were cities. Within Villages you would find elemenary schools that were neighborhood schools, that would be walk able and part of the towns unified town school district. Children from the villages that make up towns would go to the Unified Town School districts. Elementary Schools would be loctated in the smaller villages so they are neighborhood. Then the middle and High school are located on one campus to cut down on bussing and sports fields. These schools, have volunteer elected boards of local Professionals, all BS and above. They receive a stipend per meeting. They have long term Superintend, who receive salary’s of about $150K in upstate NY as of 2 years ago. They stay in place 10, 15, 20 years until retirement. They are the direct supervisor of the Principals. Their are no huge Palaces.

These districts work. I was blessed to graduate from one 35 years ago. My nieces and nephews have been graduating from two of them, over the past 10 years. One has graduated as the Valdictorian, and received an Ivy League full Scholarship. My niece graduated 3rd in her class, she grew up living in a Mobile home, yet she was on par with her cousin the doctors son. No one sends their kids to Private school, because the schools are so good.

mountain man

February 26th, 2013
7:23 pm

“South Dekalb with little business and very low home values has very little tax base. ”

And why don’t businesses go to South Dekalb? There must be SOME reason?

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

February 26th, 2013
7:42 pm

Try to remember those of us out here in the nether-regions as well. Someone commented that the 2005 was probably there to get it passed – probably true. Wish it were otherwise. Certainly the best school systems in the NW part of the state are city school systems (Calhoun, Trion, Chickamauga, maybe Dalton) that were grandfathered into this constitution. Wish we could create more of those here too…

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

February 26th, 2013
7:48 pm

It would be nice but unfortunately the federal Equity & Excellence Commission report ” For Each and Every Child” that I wrote about and linked to here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/will-your-schools-be-used-as-an-information-age-experiment-for-economic-democracy/ is looking to consolidate school districts. In fact it sees diversity as important to equal opportunity and wants something comparable to metrowide districts and no more small districts. One per rural county.

I suspect when the Sandy Springs and Johns Creek residents finally get around to reading Fulton’s charter and understand they have agreed to make school largely non-academic, about using computers and doing projects, social and emotional learning under the euphemism “soft skills,” and those Life Skills of Psychosocial Competence I have already described they will be running to the legislator to complain how such language could have gotten by so many people. Everyone seems ti have just assumed it could not happen to nice kids and nice families in nice neighborhoods. When targeting suburbia was always why Dekalb and APS have been kept so weak.

bu2

February 26th, 2013
7:51 pm

@Another comment

But who are considered the best school districts in Georgia? Probably some of the largest-Gwinnett, Cobb, Forsyth. Its not Pelham.

People on here claim Dekalb was the best school district in the state in the 80s and there may have been more students then. I know there were more students in the north and inside 285 than there are now. South of Memorial there are about 50% of the number of students they used to have. Druid Hills HS has students that would have attended 3 closed high schools in addition to its original zone.

living in an outdated ed system

February 26th, 2013
7:59 pm

@Maureen, I would hope that the support of Leader Abrams showing bi-partisanship should put sufficient pressure on the board to stand down. I think we would all agree we need to resolve this quickly and ensure accreditation is preserved.

bootney farnsworth

February 26th, 2013
9:06 pm

yup.

especially in light of DeKalb’s implosion

KIM

February 26th, 2013
9:20 pm

Why not? All the critics of our school systems will then see how good they have had it. Gwinnett is criticized by a pot full of naysayers continuously in the Gwinnett Daily Post (and I do mean a pot full–it;s the largest district in state with 160,000+ students and a low, low number of loud mouths, thank the good Lord). Let’s see how everyone likes the enormous growth of administrative costs, thus diverting money from the % of state/local dollars spent on direct instruction. Up north they have always had school districts the size of our school clusters. Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, etc. will be about the size of those northern districts. Go for it.

oscar

February 26th, 2013
9:27 pm

So from the comments I’m assuming that it’s really not about ALL of the children. Just the white ones in North Dekalb with a few passable Hispanics thrown in.

mountain man

February 26th, 2013
9:31 pm

“So from the comments I’m assuming that it’s really not about ALL of the children. ”

We have been TRYING to help ALL the children by getting rid of the BOE, but everyone insists on fighting that. So lets break up the county, Dunwoody can elect BOE members they want and S. Dekalb can elect who they want. Then if S. Dekalb goes down the toilet, they chose it themselves. Right now S. Dekalb is dragging down ALL of Dekalb students.

DunMoody

February 26th, 2013
9:37 pm

Oscar, have you seen the demographics for North Dekalb schools? We have no “token” students of any background. We have students.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
10:22 pm

Point is, wherever there is energy to be efficient and excellent, by all means allow it to be achieved. It’s like if I want to fix my yard and I am told I have to wait on my neighbor, and trust me, my neighbors have the civic instinct of a dried turd.

Mountain Man, Can you be serious, about, “Welll, Why isn’t South Dekalb wealthy, too?” Seriously, dude, by an airplane ticket and go visit India and ask them about wealth distribution and poverty. There’s rich and there is poor and that is a fact of life and it is called caste system. What makes for civilization is when we share resources so that the people who hold the broom and do the service jobs – which are very important and make it so the wealthy people can do their work, when we equalise services, this is the stepping stone to a rich country, something the USA has not figured out yet with this “every man for themselves” mentality. Hey Mountain Man, I’m really super rich and keep a private jet at the airport. Why do you just have that crappy 2013 Ford truck in the driveway of your crappy little brick split level home? In other words, it is a matter of perspective. Pardon me, but who the hell are you to be calling anyone else poor or less-than? In the humanities, we call this “othering people,” treating them as “other” and that is what you are doing. It is basically a form of bigotry. Allow me to summon a definition for you.

Actually, the more relevant term for your perspective is “bourgeois” : “marked by a concern for material interests and respectability”

Slang term adjective (you grammarian, you) is “bhoozie.” ‘Hope you understand.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
10:32 pm

Why isn’t South DeKalb wealthy? It ain’t Aspen, my friend, where the billionaires threw out the millionaires. ( Estimated median house or condo value in 2009: $873,592 )

Mandella1099

February 26th, 2013
10:33 pm

While I support these cities in their drive to start their own school system, their hypocrisy would be comical if it wasn’t so sad…

…these same parents and communities that have complained about the DeKalb central office, calling it the Palace and everyone in it “educrats” (thank you Saint Nancy the Jester – still looking for your noble resignation) want to create a whole new set of central offices for their systems.

In the words of the “gnostic” genius John Trotter – Ha!

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
10:38 pm

mountain man, I have an assignment for you. Watch this movie and then report back. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyttFaK-XSM

note: the movie is considered culturally significant enough that they allow it be featured for no fee.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
10:47 pm

Mandella, I attended a meeting in that building one time and it was one of the more unfriendly experiences I can recall. The person running the meeting was very much full of themselves and gave the impression of having great power for a long time and every one attending was dirt to them. It was not a race thing either, not at at. For reasons I do not comprehend, there can be something toxic about centralised power. The term “educrat” is not unique to Georgia. There’s even an article on the term in San Francisco, 3500 miles from here. http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/saunders/article/DEBRA-J-SAUNDERS-What-Is-an-Educrat-3318078.php

However, this is an interesting discovery, “educrat” and “Decatur” are anagrams, sharing the same letters.
!

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
10:49 pm

And the San Francisco “What is an Educrat?” article is dated 1998, fifteen years ago.

Chamblee Dad

February 26th, 2013
10:50 pm

@concerned & diane. Is it naive or dilusional if my kids go to a Title 1 school that has met AYP for several years in a row & produces kids that go on to do well at Chamblee Middle & High. Class pictures almost look contrived like a PR firm producing a PC rainbow, except it’s real. And it works at our school level, DCSS used to work alot better too, why can’t it work again?

Private schools in my area? Yep. Also turns out many of the parents in our school went to Marist, St. Pius, etc. & could afford to send their kids there. Are they dilusional/naive? Or are they convinced they’ve got a pretty good thing, are working to make it better.

@concerned I appreciate your frustration, I share it too, I’ve only got 8 years fighting to improve DCSS, you’ve got me by 7. It seems to get harder every year. The budget in particular. As someone coming behind you, thank you for all your efforts, whatever they have been. I’d like to move from fighting to simple vigilance, maybe I won’t get there, but I’m not giving up.

Edugator

February 26th, 2013
10:52 pm

Thanks Chamblee Dad- I’m on board with you. This Balkanization of America is ultimately going to be destructive and divisive. The thought of more school boards and more superintendents and more administrators ought to be enough to convince anyone that creating more systems is a short sighted idea.

Private Citizen

February 26th, 2013
10:54 pm

It’s even in the Oxford dictionary! “an education administrator.” Any one up for a game of Educrat Bingo?! (from Illinois) http://www.illinoisloop.org/educrat_bingo.pdf

Chamblee Dad

February 26th, 2013
11:15 pm

Mom of 3 “change is good” Yes it can, depends on the change. “This is America, the lowly sailors can move to another fleet whenever they feel like it.” Really? I think a significant # of the 99K DCSS kids – the sailors in my post, would find that move you offer as a solution a little difficult to pull off.

“And FYI- there are black people in Dunwoody. There are no barriers. If you actually went to the schools you would see that. They are welcome here. Housing costs vary through out the city.” I thought the next thing you would say was “heck, some of my best friends are black.” And yes, I’ve been to a few DCPC meetings in schools outside 285, you do have black people.

But I don’t think my navy/sailor post even mentioned race. Yep, checked again, not there. No barriers? If you say so. I do know housing costs vary. I also know that when Dunwoody was faced with redistricting last time, all hell broke lose. Neighbor against neighbor. So depending on what side of Womack you live, or on what side of the Vanderlyn attendance line you fall, expecially after they were carefully redrawn. You might feel there are some barriers. I think some of those variable housing costs you tout were accounted for when those lines were drawn. Dunwoody speak was “multi-family housing units” if I remember the papers then.

concernedmom30329

February 27th, 2013
6:44 am

ChambleeDad

I am thrilled that you are pleased with your schools, but as you know many of your neighbors are not. They might want new options, such as a city system,

The culture of DeKalb is so incredibly messed up, that I don’t really see much hope for improvement. You worry about balkanization, but the system, with its myriad of choice programs that were/are funded more than neighborhood schools has provided a separate and unequal education for years. Equity issues in DeKalb haven’t been about geography for a long time, but whether your child’s name was drawn out of a hat.

Pardon My Blog

February 27th, 2013
6:50 am

I have said it before, but adding more cities to DeKalb is NOT the answer but I believe splitting the DeKalb system into two separate districts is or let the communities form Charter Clusters.

Starik

February 27th, 2013
6:55 am

What we have isn’t working, and can’t be fixed.