From where I’m sitting, the message is loud and clear. The public does not support the General Obligation (GO) Bond. I received statements from the DeKalb NAACP and the Georgia Federation of Teachers.
NAACP DeKalb County Branch believes that improving the learning environment by building state-of-the-art school facilities is critical to the success of DeKalb County students. This Branch has been supportive of previous Bond initiates by the District, but we are opposed to the proposed $265 million in GO Bonds due to cost overruns until the District demonstrates that it will provide the proper oversite of any additional funds. This states the Branch’s position, but there appears to be the lack of transparency that the citizens are entitled to and deserve if the District hopes to build public support for this referendum.
Georgia Federation of Teachers
The Georgia Federation of Teachers concurs with the DeKalb NAACP regarding the school district’s request to raise the millage rate. The present administration has almost double the budget from that which was under former Superintendent Michael Thurmond.
Again, we ask as others have asked for a Forensic Audit.
Dunwoody Homeowners Association
Dear Members of the Board,
The Dunwoody Homeowners Association (DHA) strives to ensure a high standard and quality of life for the homeowners of Dunwoody. An essential component of a strong and vibrant community is quality public schools for every child. Unfortunately, the school facility crisis of DeKalb County Schools (DCSD) is putting the quality of life for all of Dunwoody at serious risk. School buildings are suffering from leaky roofs, mold, malfunctioning air conditioning, non-working bathrooms, unsanitary locker rooms, unsafe multipurpose fields, and catastrophic plumbing breaks. These poor conditions extend to numerous portable trailers which are arriving at an alarming pace with little plan for relief in the next few years. We ask DCSD to prioritize this facilities crisis and school overcrowding through strategic initiatives and alternative solutions, not simply adding more portable classrooms each year.
Through the GO Bond you have proposed, you plan to increase property taxes for homeowners over the next 15 years. While we are quite concerned about the state of the facilities in our schools, we are skeptical of the GO Bond as a vehicle to successfully address these deferred maintenance problems.
We do not support the GO Bond for the following reasons:
• Lack of leadership: Dr. Green is expected to leave by next summer. Many departments are being run by interim leaders who have limited vision and fail to provide a long-term plan for the school system. Strong leadership must be in place to oversee additional taxpayer funds prior to their collection.
• Lack of financial transparency: The 2017 financial audit contained material weaknesses that have yet to be solved. The Athletics department internal audit from October of 2017 found “gross non-compliance due to controls not being in place”. The 2018 procurement audit revealed a risk of liability exposure. We have not seen a 2018 audit even though we are in the 3rd quarter of 2019. A forensic audit, by an objective third-party firm, must be conducted of the athletics, food service, public safety, and procurement departments prior to any consideration of a bond.
• Lack of transparency on the GO Bond process: According to attendees from our community, including elected officials, GO Bond meetings were very confusing and provided no opportunity to answer the public’s questions. DCSD must develop greater trust with the community during the bond approval process.
• Lack of professional acumen in GO Bond construction estimates: Internal DCSD staff compiled the construction estimates, rather than using professional estimators. A construction management firm needs to be hired to manage the entire scope of the Go Bond work.
The DHA has been a long-time supporter of DeKalb County Schools throughout the Dunwoody area and desires to continue this successful partnership. The DHA is proud to be a consistent contributor to all seven public schools and our support goes beyond just financial donations. DHA members are also DCSD parents who support hands-on initiatives like campus clean up days and other service projects to keep our schools strong.
Our primary goal is to promote the recreation, health, safety, welfare, benefit and enjoyment of the homeowners within the community. We know this goal cannot be obtained without focusing on maintaining high quality schools. We implore you to be more purposeful with the funds you currently have and pause the Go Bond process until you have addressed our concerns above. We are confident that taxpayer funds will be better spent when a stronger financial and strategic foundation is in place.
The Board of Directors
Dunwoody Homeowners Association
DeKalb Schools is holding public meetings to seek public input on proposed options to address the E-SPLOST budget. The sentiment is clear, Yes on a new Perimeter High School and No on GO Bonds. These images are from the Chamblee Charter HS public meeting on E-SPLOST and GO Bonds.
Flashback – 2016 Feasibility Study
This sentiment hasn’t changed since 2016. I captured this vote in one of the break out rooms … 100% for a new perimeter high school and cluster.