On Monday, the DeKalb Schools administration presented their plan to right size E-SPLOST V.
WHERE ARE WE
ESPLOST V projects were way under estimated and left the school district $166 million over budget. $93 million of the budget deficit comes from new facilities and additions … which shouldn’t surprise anybody.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The administration admitted new facilities and additions projects had incomplete scopes and poor estimates. Program contingency is way too small and each project had no buffer for unforseen expenses. Furthermore, state reimbursements were way over estimated.
SO … WHAT’S THE PLAN
We can reclaim $263 million by removing from the project plan the following 8 middle school and high school projects. No GO bonds are recommended.
Cross Keys MS conversion – $16.4 M
Freedom MS addition – $11.8 M
Peachtree MS addition – $17.8 M
Chamblee HS addition – $28.1 M
Clarkston HS addition – $22.7 M
New Cross Keys HS – $111.9 M
Dunwoody HS addition – $18.3 M
Lakeside HS addition – $36.0 M
There are currently 6,000 open high school seats. As mentioned in Round 4 Redistricting, the DeKalb Schools administrative team said they wanted to build a plan around clearly defined goals, embrace collaboration and community engagement as well as hire an enrollment/redistricting analytics expert for district wide redistricting and consolidation of elementary, middle and high schools.
TURF, SPRINKLERS & SECURITY
The 8 middle school and high schools not getting additions, will keep turf and other originally planned projects. These schools will keep the following projects:
Current Cross Keys HS – turf, security vestibule, sprinkler
PROJECTS FULLY FUNDED IN ESPLOST V
• All sprinkler projects
• Artificial turf installations at high schools
• All security fencing and security vestibules
• Parking addition at 10 schools (new spaces only)
• All capital renewal projects
• Cedar Grove HS Auditorium addition
• New Indian Creek ES facility
• All technology projects (including GPS/ERP)
$96.8 Million – REMAINING BUDGET TO BE ALLOCATED
ESPLOST V budget is $561 million. The new project list will cost $464 million. What do we do with the other $96.8 million? These 3 scenarios have been proposed by DeKalb Schools administration.
If we can survive the current ESPLOST, the referendum for the next ESPLOST will be November 2021.
DeKalb Schools is telling the public that E-SPLOST is $100 million over budget and is making recommendations to the board to address these budget issues. Below, please find the latest E-SPLOST budget revisions (including project deletions and scope reductions) and potential general obligation (GO) bond to cover the E-SPLOST budget shortfall presented to the DeKalb Schools Board of Education in private rolling meetings Sept 24 – Sept 25, 2019.
Board Of Education
Please note that I reject the notion that we have a revenue problem. I also do not agree with much of what is proposed in the Administrations recommendations.
As I have discussed in other blogs, we have a procurement problem in DeKalb. That issue must get solved first. DeKalb taxpayers must not be forced to pay inflated prices for goods and services. This cheats both the students and the taxpayer.
We also know that we have about 6000 open high school seats in the school district. We need immediate relief for our overcrowded schools. This can happen with cascading redistricting. All normal, functional school districts do regular redistricting to optimize facility use. DeKalb must do this. One of the reasons the school district sees a revenue problem is because DeKalb isn’t qualifying for much in the way of State Capital Outlay reimbursement because we have too many open seats. The state will only help you build new schools or additions, if they see the need. That’s not a revenue problem, that’s poor planning.
Finally, because of the aforementioned, poor planning and procurement problems, DeKalb has done a terrible job keeping the facilities it already has in good shape. We are seeing relatively new buildings with system failures. It’s time to put our eSPLOST dollars to good use and fix what we already have.
DeKalb Schools Board of Education
DeKalb Schools administration presented a 3-Step Proposal to address E-SPLOST budget issues. They gathered public input and feedback throughout July, August and September including 5 public meetings, an online survey and emails/letters from the community.
RESULTS of PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
The administration heard from the public that facility conditions are a major concern. There is a need for better communication of E-SPLOST projects including prioritization of facility improvements. There is a lack of trust and opposition to raising taxes.
GO Bond – While more funding is necessary, there is opposition to raising taxes.
Arts School – Affected communities are concerned about the condition of Avondale HS facility. K-12 arts school is not a priority.
E-SPLOST V Projects – Facility conditions are a major concern. Do not remove renovations. Immediate capacity relief is desired. Artificial turf is considered a safety issue by many, but is less important than facility conditions.
Chamblee Magnet – The DeKalb Schools community would like to move the CCHS magnet to save money. Dunwoody and Chamblee communities are against moving the magnet. The administration is recommending moving the Chamblee magnet to the new Cross Keys HS facility when it opens.
Other Concerns – Facility needs and projects are not consistently and clearly prioritized. “Cascading Redistricting” is supported by many as an alternative to building additions.
ADMINISTRATION E-SPLOST V RECOMMENDATIONS
• Sprinkler Installations (future funding)
• Peachtree MS Addition (future funding)
• Lakeside HS Addition (future funding)
• Turf Addition (future funding)
• Freedom MS Addition (not needed due to lower enrollment)
• Chamblee HS Addition (not needed if we relocate magnet)
Note form administration: Moving the magnet from Chamblee Charter HS will fund renovations at Hawthorne ES and Fairington ES and parking additions at 10 schools
REDUCE PROJECT SCOPE
• Cross Keys MS Converstion (smaller addition)
• Cedar Grove HS (no turf)
• Clarkston HS Addition (smaller addition)
INCREASE PROJECT BUDGET
• Fence Installations
• Security Vestibules
• New Cross Keys HS
• Dunwoody HS Addition (Larger Addition)
• New Indian Creek Elementary School
• Druid Hills MS Renovation
• ERP System
• Parking Additions
There is currently no recommended change in the E-SPLOST IV arts school project. Comprehensive K-12 arts school will be proposed in all GO bond options.
PUBLIC REDISTRICTING MEETINGS
Austin Elementary Public Redistricting Meetings – Dunwoody HS Auditorium (7:00 PM):
• Round 2 – Wednesday, October 23, 2019
• Round 3 – Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Doraville United Elementary Public Redistricting Meetings – Chamblee Charter HS Auditorium (7:00 PM):
• Round 2 – Wednesday, October 16, 2019
• Round 3 – Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Redistricting First Round Summary
September 30, 2019 – Amazingly overnight, the capacity of the new schools went from 900 to 950. The capacity of all other schools in the feeder pattern dropped by 5% – 20%.
Public Meetings – GO Bond & E-SPLOST Projects
August 7, 2019 – The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) is holding five (5) public meetings to seek public input on proposed options to address E-SPLOST budget issues arising from an increase in construction costs as well as additional projects.
E-SPLOST Program Budget and GO Bonds
July 9, 2019 – 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.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.” — Frederick Douglass
“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.”