Maureen Downey is hosting an essay on her blog today written by Jeffrey Dorfman, a professor of applied economics at the University of Georgia. The essay focuses on the economics of Dunwoody breaking away from DeKalb and forming its own school system. (Such a move would require a statewide referendum to change the state constitution.)
It’s an interesting perspective, and for what it’s worth, not the perspective most Dunwoody residents are focused on. They really are focused on simply gaining local control of their schools. Dunwoody has suffered punitive poor decisions made by our school system leadership for a very long time and they’ve simply had enough. The economics outlined by Jeffrey Dorfman will certainly add fuel to their fire. It’s astounding to think that they could quite literally cut their millage rate in half and still raise the per student funding necessary to educate the residents of Dunwoody’s children. However, for now they remain under the control of the countywide system and their Board rep, Nancy Jester has been thrown under the bus and dismissed from duty by the Governor, leaving them with double-taxation yet no locally elected representation on the Board. How’s that for irony?
By Jeffrey H. Dorfman
…There is no public data on the number of students within the DeKalb County School District who live in Dunwoody, but census data suggests there are probably about 7,200. The school district has over 97,000 students, so Dunwoody makes up only between 7 and 8 percent of the children in the district.
According to the county property tax digests Dunwoody is a high-value region of the county, containing about 15 percent of the property value within the county school district. That is, Dunwoody is paying about twice the share of school property taxes as the share of students that they send to those schools.
DeKalb County Schools levy a property tax at the rate of 23.98 mills (dollars per thousand of assessed property) to cover their spending of almost $4,400 per student of local dollars (out of $9,400 total spending per student).
To raise the same $4,400, a Dunwoody school district would only need a millage rate of 12.5. It appears that Dunwoody could form their own school district and save a lot on school property taxes. In fact, the owner of a $200,000 house might save over $800 per year in property taxes.
Click here to read the entire essay.