The options coming from the secondary (middle and high school) facility planning and feasibility study have evolved from round to round. I asked the school district to help us understand how the options have evolved into what we are looking at now in round 3.
Dan Drake is the Director of Planning and SPLOST Programming for the DeKalb County School District.
The Planning Department is responsible for the estimates of future enrollment for all schools within the school system. Planning also coordinates with local governments on the future housing development and its impact on the current and planned school facilities. Additionally, Planning provides support to Transportation Department (for bus routing), Plant Services (portable classroom placement), public safety (crossing guards), and other departments, as requested. Finally, the Planning Department provides support to the schools in their work on Safe Routes to Schools programs, including mapping and analysis of location of children relative to the schools.
Joshua Williams is the Chief Operating Officer for DeKalb Schools.
He is responsible for the day-to-day operational management of fleet, transportation, facilities management, school nutrition, and business service operations. Additionally, he oversees and directs the District’s $1+ billion E-SPLOST capital improvement program to include establishing and managing capital planning and budgets, technical design guidelines, contractor/vendor pre-qualification, selection and contract administration, construction operations, and administrative management.
Mr. Drake and Mr. Williams help us understand the evolution from Round 2 options to Round 3 options of the Secondary School Facility Planning & Feasibility Study.
Round 2 of the study had estimated costs for the various options ranging from $96M to $173M. Round 3 options range from $163M to $247M. Can you tell us about the evolution from Round 2 options to Round 3 options?
The primary differences in the cost of options between the options presented to the Regional Steering Committees for comment (in June 2016) and the options presented at the Round 3 public meetings (August 23 and 25) are:
1. Enhanced estimates of costs for additions and land purchase. The options presented to the Regional Steering Committees did not factor in the high estimated cost of purchasing land in the area around Sequoyah MS. Additionally, professional architects evaluated the schools at which additions were being proposed to determine an estimated cost for additions that included the need to expand core spaces such as cafeterias and media centers. This more accurate estimation of costs for additions was incorporated in the options presented at the Round 3 public meetings.
2. Better accounting for student movement when maintaining 1-to-1 feeder patterns. The options presented to the Regional Steering Committees did not as meticulously take into account the need to always move middle and high school students in direct proportion to each other in order to maintain strict 1-to-1 feeder patterns. As this was corrected in the development of the options presented at the Round 3 public meetings, we recognized a need for more capacity to allow for the inefficient balancing of middle and high school students in a cluster due to maintaining 1-to-1 feeder patterns.
3. Every option involves building at least one new facility. New facilities cost more than additions, and two of the four options presented to the Regional Steering Committees did not include building any new facilities, only additions. One of the primary pieces of feedback from the Regional Steering Committees, as well as previous rounds of public engagement, was the desire of the community to “not put a band-aid on the problem” (by only building additions) and to use all available properties in the overcrowded areas to re-lieve capacity. Based on this, all options presented at the Round 3 public meetings include building at least one new facility on DCSD property.
4. Better understanding of attendance area constraints in the Clarkston cluster. Upon further review, it was determined that none of the options presented to the Regional Steering Committees presented a realistic solution for projected overcrowding in the Clarkston cluster while maintaining a 1-to-1 feeder pattern. Much of the population in the Clarkston cluster is located close to the high school facili-ty. Adjusting attendance areas to relieve Clarkston HS (assumed within the previous options) would result in the feeder MS, Freedom MS, being located outside the cluster. To correct for this, large additions to Clarkston HS and Freedom MS had to be added in Option A and Option C in the options presented at the Round 3 public meetings, raising the estimated cost of those options.
5. Reduction of the future District-wide redistricting necessary for the lowest cost option presented to the Re-gional Steering Committees. That option would have required redistricting efforts that would have disrupt-ed every cluster in the District, and would have completely abandoned a 1-to-1 feeder pattern. This option was soundly rejected by the Regional Steering Committees due to the disruption it would cause.
The Projects (Referendum Focus Area) estimated $170M for New Facilities and Additions + $60M for 2 new elementary schools. Will these new options take us over budget? Can we pay for all of this plus the other referendum focus areas with SPLOST V monies?
Options A and C presented at the Round 3 public meetings will cost more than the $170 million available from the 2017-2022 E-SPLOST funds. Option B would leave only an estimated $7 million for all other new facility and additions projects for elementary, middle, and high schools. Any recommendations from the Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study would need to be prioritized along with all other new facility and additions needs at all schools in the District under the Building SPACES Initiative’s development of the E-SPLOST project list. If all recommendations from the Second-ary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study are to begin implementation within the E-SPLOST 2017-22 timeframe, additional revenue sources (beyond E-SPLOST V) would need to be found.
By the way, the online public survey allows multiple votes from the same person/computer. We just voted 3 times in a row from the same laptop, and each vote was separately tallied in the results. So…..I would venture to say this survey is pretty much invalid. The County might want to look into this.
This study has become a farce! There are individuals now paying for ads on social media to ask people to vote for a particular option. I certainly hope the county sees through the unseemly tactics that some are taking to unduly influence this process. What a shame!