DeKalb E-SPLOST Program Budget and GO Bonds

The DeKalb Schools administration presented 3 options to address E‐SPLOST budget issues. DeKalb Schools will be promoting a GO bond. Everybody gets a carrot except for Chamblee, they apparently get the stick.

I have 20+ articles I need to write. Most of them fall under this umbrella, so let’s start here.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

Presentation – OPTIONS TO ADDRESS E‐SPLOST BUDGET ISSUES
Summary of 3‐Step Process
E‐SPLOST and GO Bond Options
Budget and Scope Adjustments

E‐SPLOST BUDGET ISSUES
E‐SPLOST V projects are projected to cost approximately $95 million more than the current budget

RECOMMENDATION TO ADDRESS E‐SPLOST BUDGET ISSUES

Step 1: Balance E‐SPLOST V Budget to $561 M (October 2019)

Step 2: Approve GO Bond for March 2020 Referendum to fund additional projects, including some of those projects removed in step 1 (November 2019)

Step 3: E‐SPLOST V Adjustments after GO Bond Passes to restore projects to E‐SPLOST V, if GO Bond referendum passes in March 2020 (April 2020)

Step 1: Balance E‐SPLOST V Budget to $561 M (October 2019)

Option 1
No – Arts School
No – Peachtree MS Addition
No – Lakeside HS Addition
Yes – Chamblee Charter HS Addition

Option2
No – Chamblee Charter HS Addition
No – Lakeside HS Addition
Yes – Arts School
Yes – Peachtree MS Addition

Step 2: Approve GO Bond
With the GO (General Obligation) Bond, we can have all the projects removed from option 1 and 2 above plus 5 new elementary schools.

GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS

• General obligation (GO) bonds are bonds backed by a debt service property tax.
• GO Bonds require voter approval by referendum (March 2020)
• Bond would be sold Summer 2020 and paid back over 15 years
• The debt service property tax is separate from school operations property tax and is not factored in the 25 mill maximum rate for school operations

STEP 3: REBUILD ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS INSTEAD OF RENOVATING
• Henderson Mill ES
• Toney ES
• Stoneview ES

IMPACT OF NO GO BOND
• No turf installation at the high schools
• No arts school
• Cut many major projects
• Chamblee MS consolidates with Sequoyah MS

OPTION – No Chamblee Addition
• Move the Chamblee Charter HS magnet to new Cross Keys HS to avoid any building additions

Chamblee Middle School

Chamblee Middle School Splost Option

MOVE CHAMBLEE HS MAGNET ALTERNATIVE

Chamblee is being told they don’t have to have the building additions. They could avoid building additions by moving the high achievers magnet program to the new Cross Keys HS.

• Move High Achievers Magnet program (600 seats) from Chamblee Charter HS to New Cross Keys HS in Step 1
• Add 21 classrooms to New Cross Keys HS (98 IU → 119 IU)

Step 1 Adjustments

• Remove Chamblee Charter HS Addition
• Restore Fairington ES and Hawthorne ES
• Add $8 M ‐ $14.6 M to New Cross Keys HS for 21 additional classrooms
• Use any remaining savings ($0 ‐ $6.6 M) for other projects as decided
by the Board


RELATED POSTS

Options To Address E-SPLOST Budget Issues
May 13, 2019 – In earlier posts, I discussed E-SPLOST Budget Overruns and Projects on Hold. What’s the plan? Here are the options we are currently looking at.

27 responses to “DeKalb E-SPLOST Program Budget and GO Bonds

  1. Ben Greenwald

    It seems to me that the State is telling Dekalb County exactly what needs to happen – redistricting.
    One of the reasons for the budget issue is the shortfall in state funding. It appears that shortfall is due to the county not qualifying for assistance to add new capacity because new capacity is not needed. There needs to be a serious discussion of what redistricting would be needed in order to minimize the number of new classrooms that are needed.

  2. Kirk Lunde

    This is absolutely insane. Why are there new projects if the the bond passes? Why not just enough bond to cover the budget shortfall?

    Also, why was there a discussion about building a venue for graduation? This administration can’t get SPLOST V right, what makes them think they can add five elementary schools and a venue?

  3. Stan Jester

    Kirk, I think they are using the elementary schools as a carrot to entice the public to vote for the GO bond. Gevertz mentioned during the E-SPLOST discussion that we need to “Go big or go home”.

  4. Get the budget wrong, pass a SPLOST that doesn’t raise enough money, mis-manage the money they do get, ask for more money..

    rinse and repeat

  5. Kirk is right – the proposals are absolutely insane.

    But you know, DCSD has done a masterful job of adding new projects with the GO bond so that folks all over the county, except Chamblee, will think they are getting something in their area.

    They have hidden cost overruns for nearly a year. Dr. Green said it was just since January, so I suppose we are supposed to be satisfied with a district that hides problems for “only” 6 months before they say “oops” and ask for more money.

    And now, instead of just taxing us for the $95 Million that is needed for cost overruns, the District wants to grab from $180 Million to $245 Million more. While the cookie jar is open they might as well grab as much as they can!

    Remember that E-SPLOST programs require at least some oversight, although we know that it has been WOEFULLY INADEQUATE.

    But programs funded by a GO bond need not have any oversight.

    Now it’s clear why the District is trying to transform this gross failure of a $561 Million E-SPLOST-V program into the biggest money grab opportunity they’ve had in a long time.

    And sadly, they will probably succeed.

  6. Ben is exactly right. The state is clearly telling DeKalb that their numbers make NO sense. There is so much excess capacity that it overshadows any overcrowding problems according to the state’s formulas. None of these solutions address the excess capacity.

  7. Lose the magnet

    They are falling all over themselves and impacting my taxes to save the precious magnet program which by its very definition is an outdated and unfair system in which the incompetent government chooses winners and losers. Scrap it!

  8. Stan Jester

    The magnet program is quite popular. I think you pointed out the problem that there are not enough seats and the government has to choose winners and losers. We should be adding magnet programs, not taking them away.

  9. Stan,
    Can you share the process of declaring the Arts school “infeasible” for E-SPLOST-IV?

    Can you share the logic of how the Arts school could be “infeasible” for E-SPLOST-IV but “feasible” for E-SPLOST-V, since Option 2 states that the Arts school will be added as an E-SPLOST-V project?

    Thank you.

  10. Stan Jester

    Art School – The E-SPLOST IV language is quite constricting and potentially deemed infeasible. The E-SPLOST V language is much more flexible. I think it was just part of the discussion on Monday. I don’t think any decisions have officially been made about it.

  11. Maggie Adams

    I’m always curious what “move the magnet” means. So much of the magnet (once you get to Chamblee High) is intertwined in the AP and gifted teachers. How can you move the magnet without moving those teachers? Having the magnet at CCHS benefits all the resident and charter students who are (rightfully so) taking advantage of the classes available to all students due to the presence of the magnet. And a side note – I have always found it horrendous that German at the middle school is only offered to the magnet students. It should especially available to the students who have been immersed in German from the elementary school.

  12. Lose the Magnet

    @maggieadams – how about the kids in 4-7 that get inferior educations at the elementary schools and definitely at CMS because there name was not chosen? System is rigged and it is wrong!

    @stanjestwr – if you are so pro-magnet, then come up with a solution where all who qualify get the services needed. It’s bullshit that some tax payers are winners and others are losers. In fact, many times the losers may even have better qualifications than the winners. Tell me how that’s fair.?

  13. I don’t think killing the magnet program will improve the education the students get in other classrooms. I don’t like the winners and losers either. We obviously need more more high achiever magnet programs at other schools. There are half a dozen high school magnet programs South of 78 and only one magnet North of 78 … North DeKalb is in need of more high achiever magnet programs.

  14. Maggie Adams

    @losethemagnet I agree the system is flawed by serving only those who won the lottery, but you seem to be saying, “If I can’t have it, nobody can.” I agree that more magnet programs are better. I agree with Stan that killing the magnet will not magically serve other schools better.

  15. DeKalb is Bizarre

    Here we go again. The people who think Kittredge magnet is the ONLY magnet. At last count, there was a second magnet with plenty of seats. If “Lose the Magnet” feels it’s so unfair, put your child in Wadsworth. Their test scores have routinely beaten Kittredge. So if you really want to get the “services needed” there you go.

    And just a question – you say kids in 4-7 get inferior education? What about the kids in K-3 who are getting inferior education? It’s not like the schools suddenly get worse when kids go to magnet.

    Maggie Adams is right – you can’t move the magnet without completely reorganizing the HS. The magnet isn’t separate in HS.

    More magnet programs are needed in the Dunwoody/Chamblee/Lakeside area. Or maybe a science tech magnet/high school like what Gwinnett has. But given overcrowding and the fact that it’s N DeKalb, it won’t happen.

  16. Maggie Adams

    @dekalbisbizarre I think the 4-7 comment is referring to Regions 4-7 rather than grades.

  17. Lose the Magnet

    Oh sure Dekalb is bizzare. I have to drive my kids from Chamblee to South Dekalb in traffic while my neighbor gets to drive 3 minutes. Yeah, that’s fair. The system is bullshit. Needs to be changed. EVERY KID THAT QUALIFIES NEEDS TO BE PROVIDED THAT SERVICE.

  18. DeKalb is Bizarre

    Really Lose the Magnet? Do you really think only N. DeKalb kids are in Kittredge? There are kids getting up at 5am to catch an early bus from South DeKalb. Plenty of kids with their parents fighting 30-45 minute traffic to get to Kittredge and then the crapshoot that is 285 to get home. THAT SERVICE is available to every kid that wants it. It’s called Wadsworth.

  19. Wadsworth is great. It is the middle school and high school that follows it that isn’t. Clarify the test scores at both of those schools. Can they compare to CMS and CCHS? Start an Arabia Mountain mini 4th-8th program with a busing option from all regions and you’ll see some more attendance from all areas of DeKalb. Think about when Brookhaven Innovation Academy started. Families attended from all areas.

  20. Stan, I hate these options. DCSD’s Central Office is once again pitting communities against one another in a desperate grab for tax dollars, instead of doing the jobs for which they are handsomely paid and creating a comprehensive long range strategic facilities plan. What is the rationale behind each of these options? Can these cost estimates be trusted after the in-house staff bungled the previous ones, or were these estimates verified by a third party?
    Where can citizens view the 2018 FCA reports (and previous years) for these individual schools? I question the validity of this data and the decision-making abilities of those who put this proposal together.

  21. Message From DeKalb Schools …

    The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) is conducting a survey to seek input on options to address E-SPLOST budget issues arising from an increase in construction costs. The proposed options were presented to the Board of Education on July 8, 2019.

    A key part of the proposed options is a potential referendum to approve a general obligation (“GO”) bond issue to complete the current E-SPLOST program and to complete additional projects to address urgent facility needs. The size of the bond would be in the range of $222 Million to $265 Million.

    The survey opened July 22, 2019 and will close September 15, 2019.

    Additionally, to receive additional public input, five (5) public meetings will be scheduled for late-August to mid-September. Dates, times, and locations are currently being scheduled.

    Please visit http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/e-splost to learn more about the proposed options and to complete the survey.

  22. Frustrated DeKalb Parent

    Interesting item in Handout 3 to balance ESPLOT V to $561M. The county is proposing increasing the budget for a new ERP/Finance/HR system from $10.0M to $13.3M, a $3.3M (+30%) increase. Hawthorne sure could get a lot done with that and no mention of that in any of the summary slides.

  23. Not one penny more

    Whatever happened to living within one’s means? Citizens have already given DeKalb over $2BILLION in SPLOST funds, and DeKalb has mismanaged that money to create a $95 MILLION deficit, hopelessly overcrowded schools in Regions 1 and 2, half-empty schools in other regions, schools in disrepair, moldy trailers falling apart, etc… Why is deKalb suggesting spending $34 to consolidate Hawthorne and Henderson Mill into one school, instead of spending $11.5 Million to perform capital improvements on both schools? This is ridiculous. Do they really think citizens will vote for a GO Bond?

  24. Stan,

    I did the survey and it is as bad as expected.

    People, please, DO NOT TAKE the survey until the administration does a better job of explaining the options.

  25. escapeefromdekalb

    Why Is Steven Green Still here? Why can’t we table any large expenditures until a capable leader is hired? Oh right- that will probably never happen– who would want to come after the years of abuses, mismanagement and a failing system to say — I can fix that!

  26. Stan Jester

    Why is Green still here. It takes a simple majority to non renew his contract. It takes a super majority to fire him. There are also stiff financial penalties if the Superintendent is fired.

    The school district is in dire need of some of these large expenditures. I agree that many of the planned large expenditures are ill conceived.

  27. @ Kirk,
    Did you log in to see if you could take it again from the same device? I could.

    Poorly written survey – probably in house job, not a trained survey writer;

    asks public to answer questions based on their limited knowledge/understanding prior to any community meetings (in other words, answers will be solely based on emotion, not logical, informed, fiscally responsible choices for the entire district);

    ability to stuff the box with multiple responses from the same person

    Flawed but we are promised the results won’t be used to make the final decisions…that’s what we heard last time too. Fool me once…

    Take it down now DCSD.

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