By the Numbers: Dunwoody vs. DeKalb School System

From the Dunwoody Patch:

During a presentation of the report at last Monday’s City Council meeting, Robert Wittenstein provided a brief picture of a Dunwoody school system compared to Dekalb.

Dunwoody is on the road to forming its own school system. The city recently released a feasibility report by the community group, Dunwoody Parents Concerned About Quality Education.

During a presentation of the report at last Monday’s City Council meeting, Robert Wittenstein provided a brief picture of a Dunwoody school system compared to DeKalb.

Read more >> By the Numbers: Dunwoody vs. DeKalb School System

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74 Responses to By the Numbers: Dunwoody vs. DeKalb School System

  1. ursokm16 says:

    ” Several hundred students who attended Hightower and went on to middle school or high school in Dunwoody would be placed in DeKalb County Schools.” hmmmm….

  2. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Students living inside Dunwoody but going to a school outside of Dunwoody would be placed in a school inside Dunwoody. The reverse would also be true.

  3. thairican says:

    Just out of curiosity, has any thought been give to the kids attending the Kitteridge/CMS/CCHS Magnet Program? Will they have to pay DeKalb to continue attending that program? Or is it assumed that they will return to Dunwoody City Schools?

  4. No worries ursokm. These students will probably be districted to Chamblee, Lakeside or Tucker. I would imagine Chamblee — they will have a brand new building with a natatorium and will have plenty of empty seats. Lakeside also has a natatorium. Tucker is pretty crowded, so I don’t imagine the Hightower students would go there. Unless DeKalb starts enforcing the residency issue.

  5. concerned citizen says:

    A very witty and welcome response, DSW – really awesome!

  6. Another comment says:

    We can only pray that this goes through. I know first hand what a blessing it is to attend one of these small one high school large districts. I can’t wait for this to get approved, so Sandy Spring where I live can quickly follow suit.

    There will quickly be an influx back into the Dunwoody public School system of Middle class students whose parent own the $300-400k houses and are struggling to pay the $23,000 private school tuitions. There are so many who love living close-in in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Vinings, Tucker, Buckhead, Lakeside, Brookhaven, etc…, yet these large 100,000 student districts are out of control. They lack control of discipline. Homeowners volunteer and donate time and money, until they are burned out. Then the line jumping, much of it actually sanctioned by these Palaces bring distributive students who are behind grades, and lack community values. They have parents who never volunteer, drop them off on the way to work at the perimeter office or hospital, and vice versa. They don’t pay the county taxes. These big county offices promote the fraudulent filling out of free lunch applications ( those who own homes don ‘t tend to qualify for long term, only if they have a catastrophic illness or layoff.) Just as the Homeowner class doesn’t have it figured out how to get you kids diagnosed and on an IEP for something that can be managed or dramatically improved with medication and therapy, instead of getting each of your 4 kids signed up for SSDI @$670+ a child plus Medicaid plus free lunch food stamps, section 8, so Mom can hit the clubs and have more babies. can’t name the father that would hurt the claim or they are incarcerated. We are responsible homeowners who delay having children until our late 20’s, 30’s and 40’s we are the old Mom’s club. We have our kids diagnosed with ADHD so we can have them treated, so they can succeed in school. They take their medication so they can learn, they can sit still, and not destroy the learning environment for everyone else. That with therapy they will outgrow it and they will be successful. My first question for college admissions offices, do you get hurt by admitting your child has ADHD, or are you better off just saying they graduated with honors.

    Sorry to go on and on, but It will be so wonderful to see these 100k districts fall in favor of one high school districts. I have let GLASS know I will help do what ever I can. The education you get is so superior. Just look at the Decatur graduation rate of 93%, Buford City 90 %; the city of Marietta with one of the worst Ghetto areas of the metro area still was over the metro area with 74%. Just think of what it will be in a couple of years when all the apartments that Marietta are torn down, Marietta’s graduation rate will start soaring.

  7. Fred in DeKalb says:

    It is interesting that the report did not mention the number of children in the proposed district that would qualify for free and reduced lunch. I wonder if Dunwoody would move forward with their previously proposed plan to tear down the apartments on Peachtree Industrial (for green space)? I’m sure that would have an impact on the school system also.

    No one debates that paying teachers more and lowering class sizes would have a positive impact on student performance. The question is always how would you pay for this. I said what follows in a previous blog yet don’t recall many responses, **DSW, many have said there is enough money but when it comes to specifics, no one can provide any. What program, service or positions should be cut so those dollars can be redirected to teacher/staff salaries? In making that cut, will it leave any holes in services that should be provided? This is tough money management. I’ve said that school maintenance costs could be saved by strategic redistricting and closing some schools but you are aware of the reactions to that. Again, this situation is not unique to DeKalb but faced by most school districts around the country, even traditional wealthy districts.**

    At the same time, I could say that eliminating poverty while ensuring all adults had access to a good paying job would also have a positive impact on student performance. If we address the problems in our communities, we can better take care of the problems in our schools. There is universal agreement of this also as evidenced by many publications and mentioned in the article in the AJC this weekend. I believe addressing unemployment could strengthen families, schools, communities, and ultimately the country. Unfortunately I don’t have a simple answer for this. I also don’t think carving our ‘resource rich’ areas to create new school systems will benefit the larger community.

  8. Stan Jester says:

    Does the DeKalb School District have enough money?

    * DeKalb Schools has the 2nd highest millage rate in Georgia out of 182 school districts.
    * DeKalb Schools millage rate is 23.98.
    * The Georgia Constitution states school taxes may not be higher than 20 mills except under special conditions.
    * DeKalb Schools received special permission to go over 20 mills to fund the local junior college.
    * DeKalb Schools no longer funds the junior college yet continues to collect over 20 mills.
    * A 2013 study by Georgia College’s Ben Scafidi, Ph.D., showed how the growth in administrators has far outpaced the growth of students. In Georgia, from 1992-2009, we saw a 41% increase in students but a 74% increase in administrators.

    Given those facts, I can safely say our class sizes are absolutely not acceptable. The number of furlough days we have for teachers is not acceptable. It is not our job to locate the bloat. The Superintendent has that job and he’s paid handsomely. It is not our job to hold him accountable, that’s the board’s job. I can safely say they are doing neither.

    Economically challenged schools stand to gain the most from smaller school districts. DeKalb has 70% Free or Reduced Lunch. Gainsville (78% F/R Lunch) and Valdosta (76% F/R Lunch) are more economically challenged, have much smaller districts and get better CRCT Scores.

    It’s not about the money
    All the states around Georgia are getting better results and are spending less per student than Georgia to do it.

  9. dsw2contributor says:

    The Reporter Newspapers have posted an article about this on their website:

  10. ursokm16 says:

    The news report show “demographics” by race or ethnicity, but not income. That is many times the case. But this goes to what Fred says about income being a performance factor. My guess is the income averages differenc between Dunwody and DeKalb tell an even more striking story than ethnicity.

    Also–its not clear when someone discusses “smaller districts” improving DEKALB schools on the whole whether he is including other forms of smaller systems like clusters or breaking up the county school system in two or three (another proposal-and one that hasn’t been studied by a wealthy proponent group). That’s important because there are no cities south of US 78 that would possibly form city systems.

  11. @Fred: We completely agree that poverty issues have much to do with educational outcomes. However, poverty and poor parenting cannot become the ‘excuse’ for not getting the job done. We were very excited when Dr. Atkinson promised bottom-up (classroom-up) budgeting. Although it never came to fruition (we suspect due to the power plays exercised by many highly-paid administrators), this kind of budgeting is what needs to happen. It’s simple. Place a well-trained, well-paid teacher in every classroom, limiting the size of the classroom to 24. That’s approximately a $100,000 investment in a teacher (including base pay of $75,000 plus benefits) per classroom, paid for by the average class funding of $204,000 for those 24 students at $8500 each (the average in the general operations budget – there is much more money when you use the consolidated budget numbers.) That leaves about $104,000 per classroom to fund everything else. This is where you make cuts. Prioritize ‘everything else’ and fund them as you can. For example, certainly most important would be parapros, support teachers, librarians, counselors, etc.) Then we have maintenance, bus drivers, etc. As far as we understand, the school lunch program funds itself so it isn’t really part of this formula. The same is true for special education, as these students generate more per pupil funding and therefore can afford classes of far fewer students per teacher. It’s all simple formulaic mathematics. We just don’t have staff looking at it this way.

    The biggest idea is to consolidate services — we simply can’t afford so many very tiny specialty schools with their own admin staff (principals, APs, etc) and support staff (cafeteria, bus routes, etc.) This is where a lot of savings can occur. Note that the start-up charter schools do not offer transportation — there’s a reason for that. They can’t afford it. Transportation is very expensive – especially in DeKalb where we bus students hither and yon. There are SO many areas where savings can still be found. In our opinion, these necessary cuts are effecting the squeakiest of wheels, therefore they never get cut. It will take a money manager with thick skin to right our financial ship. We can only fix what ails this system by placing our entire focus on the students and their teachers first. All else follows, just as in architecture, form follows function.

    It’s not rocket science. We just need leadership with a bit more moxie.

  12. ps – Fred, ” carving our ‘resource rich’ areas to create new school systems” might not benefit the larger community, but it won’t harm it. And it will certainly benefit the newly formed school system to have newfound autonomy. However, as we have always said, we personally think it would benefit the rest of the system, as all of those very squeaky wheels would no longer be squeaking in the DCSS superintendent’s ear. He or she could now focus more on the rest of the schools — the ones who have often had their voices drowned out in the past. (Or maybe that’s the problem: The super is afraid to listen to those who have historically been ignored?)

  13. Stan Jester says:

    I’m comparing autonomous school districts. I’m aware of a number of South DeKalb groups looking into forming cities.

    The Stonecrest City Alliance is a grassroots group of South DeKalb neighbors working to understand how a new city may benefit the citizens and businesses of our community.

    * 2013 CRCT Metro Atlanta Scores
    * 2013 CRCT City School Districts In Georgia

    The first link is DeKalb’s status relative to the other metro districts. Out of the eight metro districts (APS, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Decatur City, and Marietta City), DeKalb has the last or next to last achievement scores in 28 out of 30 categories.

    The 2nd link are the results of the 21 city school districts in Georgia. Compare their results with the state averages, the averages of the 8 metro districts and DeKalb’s averages. In every category, the city districts’ averages outperformed the state averages, the metro averages and DeKalb’s averages.

  14. thedeal2 says:

    Preach it, Stan. Thank you for the constant, succinct reminders of the facts.

  15. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @DSW, without question, Dunwoody is currently a *sending* region with respect to property tax dollars to the school district. I would put the Emory/Lavista corridor and Brookhaven in that same category. There are probably more Fortune 500 companies with a presence in the Perimeter Mall area than any other area in metro Atlanta. These areas are the results of years of investments by all of DeKalb to make them commercially viable and livable areas. As a result, much of the remainder of DeKalb became the *bedroom* to these employment centers. I’m sure many remember when much of South DeKalb was farmland until the 60’s/70’s.

    I believe if we begin to allow ‘resource rich’ areas to carve themselves up and create independent school districts by leveraging the assets in those area, it would have a devastating impact on the remainder of the county and set a bad precedent. At a larger level, there are many states that *send* tax dollars to other states in the name of making this a better country. It should be noted that Georgia is a receiving state, like many in the south. What if those sending states demanded to keep their tax dollars for use in their borders? I’m sure they could make a justification for that. Do you think that would have an impact on current receiving states? Would other areas around the state try to do this also if a precedent was set here? I believe this would be the guiding principle legislators would consider along with the possible impact to areas they represent.

    To the point, this is all about money and who controls it. In fairness, mine is the perspective of someone living in a receiving state and a receiving part of the county.

  16. I don’t know, Fred. It appears that the net ‘loss’ to the overall county budget is about $30 million (over and above what they currently spend but will no longer have to spend on educating the Dunwoody cluster — or as we learned via the Druid Hills proposal – what they ‘should’ be spending on the cluster). That’s what – 2 or 3% of the total operating budget? Much less when you consider the total consolidated $1.1 billion budget. Yes, adjustments will have to be made, but “devastating” may be too large a word.

    On the flip side of your ‘equalization’ argument on a state level at least — did you know DeKalb PAYS in about $100 million to this fund every year? Did you know that Gwinnett is a receiver of these funds? In fact, Gwinnett ‘receives’ almost HALF the total ‘equalization’ funds redistributed throughout the state. Are you good with that one?

    BTW — We wonder if DeKalb would be a ‘sending’ school district or a ‘receiving’ district without Dunwoody and Lakeside (and Druid Hills…)

  17. On point of the report in particular is the issue of a second language in the home. Certainly Dunwoody schools will do a better job of including and communicating with these parents. DeKalb actually fired all of the interpreters when Atkinson was at the helm! Thurmond has reinstated them, but the program is very weak – as always. DeKalb is a fully integrated, international county. One of the most diverse in the U.S. It’s not just black and white anymore. The black/white issue must be less a focus in order to include everyone of every race and culture in the discussion.

  18. Interesting — this article is posted in an Indiana blog –
    DeKalb County school district now offering wireless Internet on all campuses

    STONE MOUNTAIN, Georgia — DeKalb County schools officials say the district has met one of four major goals and has reached a technological milestone.

    Superintendent Michael Thurmond says classrooms on all of the school district’s campuses are now covered by wireless Internet.

    District officials say they spent $4.5 million to expand Internet service, and the effort to offer coverage to every school began earlier this year.

    Thurmond says wireless Internet access will improve productivity of teachers and administrators and bolster classroom learning.

  19. Stan Jester says:

    It’s Not About The Money
    Economically challenged areas will benefit the most from smaller districts and more local control.

    Gainsville and Valdosta are prime examples. DeKalb has 70% Free or Reduced Lunch. Gainsville (78% F/R Lunch) and Valdosta (76% F/R Lunch) spend less per student, have much smaller districts, have more local control and get better results.

    DeKalb has one of the highest millage rates in the state and yet we get some of the worst results. We can’t buy our way out of the bottom of the barrel. It’s not about the money.

  20. concernedmome30329 says:


    Only half the interpreters positions were reinstated. Most schools are lucky to have a translator once a week…

  21. Stan Jester says:

    Local Control strikes again
    Limited-English-Proficient (ESOL) Students get 2.5 times the state funding as traditional students. That money should follow the child to the school and the community or principal should decide what their community needs and the best way to deliver those services. Maybe these schools need more math and reading teachers, or interpreters, or coaches, or whatever. If they were motivated to source interpreters some other way, the principal and/or school council could use that money for anything else they wanted.

  22. thedeal2 says:

    Fred, while I understand and sympathize with your points (I myself live in what would probably be a borderline “receiving” area), the fact remains that both county government and county school officials have been given many years to right this ship, and they steadfastly refuse to even admit there is a problem, much less come up with a workable solution.

    I think most of your point about the economics was in the cityhood movement, not the schools specifically. Yes, obviously the entire county (and other counties) played and continue to play a part in the success of the business sector of Dunwoody and, more specifically, Perimeter. However our own school board and administration showed us just last month how they feel about local control within our existing system. The fault for adding fuel to the cityhood fire lies completely with Michael Thurmond, Morcease Beasley, and their cronies on the board. Had they even shown an inkling of respect or consideration for a compromise, I am sure there was a reasonable path. However, they showed complete disrespect for parents who are trying to work within the system and improve the lives of a large, diverse section of our county. Thus, unable to work within the system, those parents must go outside the system in the form of hoping to have school systems within separate cities.

    The “sending” areas within our gargantuan county cannot keep throwing good money after bad. Thurmond’s Bridge Initiative is a formalized version of “everyone send your money to District 5” and recreate the costly parent centers that were deemed unsuccessful and ineffective years ago. They/we have been giving a drunk a drink for tens of years. Hopefully the drunk ones will soon have a nasty hangover because their source has been eliminated. Then they can begin to deal with the consequences of their “alcoholic” behavior. It won’t be pretty, but, ultimately, it will be fair, much more fair than a subset of the county funding the trough for a small set of fat pigs. If the “receiving” parts of the county were really concerned about overall management, they wouldn’t keep electing some of the most egregious pigs year after year.

  23. Augustus says:

    Sure the schools are wireless but it does not mean much if the schools do not have the devices to utilize it. The article was designed to make the system look good and that we are technologically advanced. We are not. There is a huge gap between many of the schools.

  24. Dekalbite2 says:


    In DeKalb Schools the network takes precedence over the devices to access it. So what we have had for many years is an enormous monetary investment in the network while students have little access. Why build a hard wired and wireless network when you provide little to no access for students? Sooner or later parents/taxpayers were bound to ask this question.

  25. howdy1942 says:

    Stan Jester makes a compelling case for smaller school districts. One number that strikes me is the 93% graduation rate in the Decatur City Schools as compared to the 57.8% rate in Dekalb County. I think that the demographics are very similar. Wonder why that is the case?

    From my perspective, the key issue is not poverty nor is it free lunches or anything other than the management of our school system. The issue is that the Dekalb County School System has been going downhill for at least 10 years and this school board as well as this superintendent remain convinced that no changes are needed – keep on keeping on and things will get better. Dunwoody doesn’t believe nor do I. I think Dunwoody cares more about providing a good education for its kids than about preserving the status quo in Dekalb.

    We have now seen the cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven formed. The Lakeside City Alliance and Tucker 2014 have now funded feasibility studies to form cities and those results have now come back in the affirmative. Legislation has now been introduced that would allow the creation of new school districts and Dunwoody’s feasibility study results show that forming its own school district would not only be viable, but would save the city over $25 million per year. Yet the DCSS is oblivious to this building tidal wave. It ought to listen to the people, to their concerns, to their proposals, and take action. The DCSS ought to seriously consider charter clusters not just in Druid Hills but throughout Dekalb. It ought to consider embracing local governance and provide its support of them. It ought to sharply reduce its central administration and redirect those funds to the classroom. It ought to consider reducing the length of bus routes as would be the case in charter clusters and redirect the savings to the classroom. It ought to “sell” that palace where they hold forth on elevated platforms “above” the people and seek space in local churches or meeting halls where they would be closer to the people.

    I had hoped that Mr. Thurmond and this school board would listen and not just “hear”. I had hoped that they would read the AJC, I had hoped for major changes. I’ve given up on them. I think that the biggest impetus for new city formation in Dekalb has been the failed actions and recalcitrance of the Dekalb County School System. Many people see these new cities see as a means to an end – a better school system.

  26. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @DSW, I glad you reminded everyone that DeKalb is a *sending* county with respect to the equalization formula. I’m sure that frustrates many as DeKalb citizens, especially given the demographic and income shifts that have occurred since this formula was put in place. I ask this somewhat philosophically, what do you think is the likelihood a legislator from a *receiving* county would look to restructure the formula? I’ll say it is highly unlikely because it could set a precedent to change other *revenue redistribution* formulas that many currently benefit from.

  27. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @thedeal2, I appreciate your comments. I believe you recognize that the comments I expressed are not solely mine but of many throughout the county, especially those that do not participate in blogs. Someone said to me in frustration that they did not believe it was *fair* that after Dunwoody got two new schools (Dunwoody Elementary and Peachtree Middle) with a new one planned from the recent SPLOST (Austin Elementary) along with significant renovations to Dunwoody High that they could *take* this infrastructure and have their own school system. While I disagree with a new school systems for other reasons, I can understand and empathize with that line of reasoning.

    Not to beat a dead horse but I’ve said many times that DeKalb’s slippery slope was magnified in how it responded to the Pitts v. Cherry case. It is easy to look at past decisions made and question the rationale behind them. A LOT of that is done here. We do not have the information past superintendents, staffs and Boards had in making their decisions. We *trusted* they made the best decisions based on the information on hand at that time. Hindsight is 20/20.

    If social media existed back then the way it does now, I believe the frustration level would have been equally as high. If we had some of the data from that time as we do now, I think we would be shocked. Our opinions and perceptions of schools were more than likely shaped by our exposures and experiences within our own communities. Now we have visibility to every school, the *good, bad and ugly*. We usually only heard about the good in years past.

    DSW paraphrased another comment I have made several times, leaders have been apprehensive to make tough decisions, partly because of strong advocacy efforts in many communities. Many schools were closed or repurposed in the mid to late eighties. Though met with many complaints, it was the right thing to do at that time. The publicity of those actions pale in what would happen in today’s climate. I still point to Dr. Brown as someone who thought citizens wanted to right the ship however when he began making tough decisions, he was shown the door. I’ve read he has had success in his current school district. Perhaps those citizens were more willing to work with him?

    Citizens bear as much responsibility for the school system we have as those in leadership positions. There is truly enough blame to go around…..

  28. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    “It is not fair that Dunwoody can take their new schools and have their own school system”. I don’t understand or empathize with that reasoning. North DeKalb pays taxes … they paid for those schools. Breaking up these school districts is the best thing for everybody.

  29. Nail on the head, Fred! Gwinnett rakes in about half the total state budget for equalization. Does anyone think they will see the unfairness to DeKalb and do the right thing by advocating for a new formula?

    This equalization grant system is a microcosm of how politics work in Georgia. We dribble out little ‘grants’ and monies to those in need so that we can pat ourselves on the backs while the vast majority of these budgets actually go to people with a great deal of power. It’s as if there is a cake and we give a sliver to each of 24 people, using up half the cake, and then the one with the knife takes the entire other half of the cake.

  30. @ Fred: Here’s my standard analogy to your statement about paying for school buildings: Imagine you go out for pizza with your friends. There are six of you so you split the bill six ways and you each get one slice of a six-slice pizza. Then you decide you want to go home and eat your slice of pizza so you wrap it to go. The other five are outraged, as they see this as somehow unfair and they demand that you pay for your slice again – giving the second payment to the five to split.

  31. Refugee from DCSS says:

    If Dunwoody is the “sending”,, “resource rich” section of the county, how can the rest of DeKalb claim that “they” paid for Dunwoody-area school buildings? Dunwoody isn’t planning to “take” resources the rest of the county paid for. Dunwoody is willing to let the rest of the county keep what Dunwoody paid for!

  32. Leo says:

    To the commenter talking about all of the Fortune 500 companies near the Perimeter, you should note that most of those actually sit in Sandy Springs/Fulton County. I’m not trying to diminish the tax revenue of the Perimeter area. It’s certainly significant, but many of the companies you refer to us that way are on the Fulton side.

  33. Oh. Right Refugee. I’ll amend my pizza analogy. When you divide the cost of the six slices, you actually pay 25% more than everyone else because you have more money in your pocket. Then when you want to take your slice home to eat, the rest squawk and demand even more money from you and start claiming that you stole your slice of pizza.

  34. Via Email:

    School Choice Rally

    Join us for the 2014 School Choice Celebration and Rally on Tuesday, January 28 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm at the Georgia State Capitol. The annual rally serves as an important display of the growing support for school choice options here in Georgia.

    Click on the link below to register. Feel free to invite others and contact the Georgia Center for Opportunity at 770-242-0001 if there are questions or to volunteer.

    See you next year at the rally!


    Danielle LeSure, Ph.D.

    Director of Education Policy

  35. Gregory Walker says:

    I’d like to preface my comment by stating that, like many of you, I do support smaller, more localized systems than we currently have in DeKalb. With that in mind, what I have yet to see in all of these discussions is a detailed analysis of the HOW behind splitting up the current DCSS. Meaning: how would DCSS be split up into smaller districts WITHOUT adversely affecting any portions of the county? How would this happen legislatively, how would it happen financially, how would it happen logistically?
    Legislatively: is there simply a new law that decrees DeKalb is hereafter split up into sub-districts according to some map (with some corresponding financial formula attached)? Is legislation introduced to allow new cities to form their own school districts (using, presumably, some form of the same pattern that these cities used when parsing up County/City held assets inside the new city boundaries)? What happens to those parts of the County which are not part of a formal city? Are they left inside a highly fractured, presumably “poorer” school system? Can anyone say for sure that DCSS has the authority to create sub-districts on their own and simply allocate the money to those entities (ie, the central office simply collects the money and passes it through to the sub-districts)?
    Financially – is the new model to simply have all tax revenue “stay home” for school funding? Or is there some method of centralized collection and distribution back out? Are the cities inside DeKalb simply collecting within their own boundaries and not contributing to a county system (presumably yes)? If the northern half of DeKalb becomes largely ‘citified’, will the southern half of DeKalb become a ‘receiving area’ once again? How do federal and other grant programs work within a non-city driven but sub-districted County system?
    Logistically – there’s simply way too many questions here, but the overall thrust is this: what’s a credible sequence of actions based on the following 2 assumptions: 1 – the Legislature allows newly created cities to form their own independent school systems (and the presumption is that Brookhaven and Dunwoody jump at the chance). 2 – the Legislature punts on allowing new school districts for the time being.

    These are, mostly, pretty real questions that need an actual plan. It’s getting kind of tiring to simply belabor the statistics over and over (and over) again about how great it is, simply whine about why we should let Dunwoody go tomorrow, etc. Where’s some actual, credible plan to break this up, without causing half of the current district’s kids and teachers to become collateral damage. (and, no, I’m not buying the ‘well, Dunwoody’s funds won’t have enough of an effect argument on face value. The reality is, it’s more than if they alone jump. It’s if Lakeside/Tucker/Stonecrest all get to jump. What happens then?)

    Lastly, the pizza metaphor is incomplete: right now, there’s 9 people at the table and only 6 slices. Everyone’s already chipped their money in. Instead of eating, 3 people are still waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for the promised next pizza to be served and one person wants to take the biggest slice home since it just came out of the oven. If I lived in some other parts of the county, I’d be pretty ticked off about the idea of just ‘handing over’ a bunch of new facilities too, especially since “mine” haven’t been constructed for well over a decade. Just food for thought.

  36. Interesting points Gregory. All in all, there are several ways to skin this cat. Our legislators and school and city leaders will certainly work out the details. It’s their job. As citizens, we just need to ensure they know where we stand.

    As far as those ‘waiting for the pizza’ — exactly which schools would those be? We are certainly aware that Cross Keys has been shortchanged on the SPLOST construction. Which others are still waiting?

  37. BTW — we have just uploaded some brand new PDF publications from EDWEEK — they are very interesting and FREE!

    Check them out on our Resources for Teachers & Parents page under our RESOURCES tab:

  38. Stan Jester says:

    You mentioned one possible option where the county would have central control. The Druid Hills Charter Petition went down that path. You can view their petition to see how that would have worked.

    Independent School Districts
    HR 486 is a decentralized plan giving local communities control. I recommend you read it for the specifics. Generally speaking, we already have models for how Independent School Districts would be formed, take control of services and operate.

    HR 486 allows for the creation of independent school districts. The boundaries are not limited to cities and can cross county lines. It is ultimately up to the local community and not a higher power dictating boundaries.

    New cities are good examples of how services are transferred from the county to a local autonomous municipality. The county still provides some services to the municipality which are negotiated between the county and municipality.

    In Georgia, there are already 21 independent city school districts operating within the borders of existing county school districts. Independent school districts would operate in the same manner and would be subject to the same laws and standards.

    Equalization Grants
    Once an independent school district is formed, everything will be recalculated for each system including equalization grants. The state has a formula, for what it’s worth, to determine who is a net payer or receiver of equalization grants. If an independent school district is formed inside DeKalb, the equalization grant for DeKalb Schools will be recalculated. DeKalb Schools could start receiving equalization money.

    You mentioned adversely affecting portions of the county and collateral damage. Please explain. Gainsville (78% F/R Lunch) and Valdosta (76% F/R Lunch) spend less per student than DeKalb, have higher “Free or Reduced Lunch” numbers, have much smaller districts, have more local control and get better results. Socioeconomically challenged communities stand to benefit the most from making school districts smaller.

    I’m happy to answer any questions.


  39. hopespringseternal says:

    Socioeconomically challenged communities DO NOT stand to benefit the most from making school districts smaller. At least not here and at least not now. I appreciate data analysis and facts as much as anyone, but conveniently you’re leaving out the X-factor — and I can’t say I blame you because you won’t have to worry about it when the breakups occur. The “left-out” segment will have a leadership vacuum and because our middle class is decimated, there won’t be enough parents to compensate for the masses of lower socioeconomic segments. You know, the ones who don’t raise their kids properly and then cry buckets of tears at their funerals when somebody shoots them dead in the street. There will be Survival Pockets– like Arabia Mountain and Stephenson. But South DeKalb proper? Not for a long while. Unless, of course, the re-gentrification effort picks up steam. Then no one will have to worry about them until spats of break-ins occur, such as in Kirkwood. There is a segment of caring parents and community members who see this writing on the wall and who are unsure of their response. They don’t want to kill the breakup movement, because if they had the option themselves they’d take it. But they resent being left behind. And spare me with the boutique school choices around here. There aren’t enough of them and there are too many impediments for many kids to get to them. This is the perspective of those who live here, and admittedly not your perspective.

  40. ursokm16 says:

    Wow–who knew being a poor smaller district was such an advantage? I’m sure everyone in the unincorporated Decatur area, Atlanta-in-DeKalb and Lithonia will embrace this law. At some point, you have to realize how silly it is for wealthy, advantaged, educated and connected people to assume they have any credibility advocating to the poor–for the poor. BTW–you cannot compare a city school system in a viable city managing under difficult circumstances to unincorporated areas or small DeKalb cities starting their own independent school districts.

    Beyond that, there is the implementation of the law itself to consider and whether it is “good legislation”. Its not enough to desire a “product”–how you get there is even more important. How exactly do you think this will roll out beyond North Atlanta’s new city areas? This is something that was never considered in dealing with cityhood law–as it has turned into a “march” and will indeed stop at communities that “have” (have organization, have Republicans, have history, have clear boundaries and most importantly never talked about–have clearly identified and long-standing gripes).

    Stan–Its obvious that Dunwoody will be successful in EVERY endeavor, it is “smarter” after all. The people practically put on the Olympics single handedly. Pride and singleness of purpose (and body type) is very powerful. However, to become the center of gravity for statewide law stretches credulity. Credibility in making your case to the rest of the state is extremely important. You guys better find some advocates that haven’t spawned this for their own reasons.

    Legislators would be wise (and they haven’t been to date) to very carefully review the applicability of Dunwoody’s various circumstances (including the unique calculus of what fomented DeKalb’s separatist movement) to the rest of the state. At some point in the future it will become clear what the flaws have been in adapting general legislative procedure to highly localized law-making (as Sandy Springs is in cityhood).

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