Category Archives: SPLOST

DeKalb Schools E-SPLOST Project Recommendations

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.


Stan Jester
DeKalb County
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.

–Stan Jester
DeKalb Schools Board of Education


PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

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

DEFUND PROJECTS
• 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

ARTS SCHOOL

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.

GO BOND


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


RELATED POSTS

Public Feedback Results
GO Bond & E-SPLOST Projects

October 10, 2019 – Results are in from the five (5) public meetings to seek public input on proposed options to address the E-SPLOST budget.

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.

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.

Public Feedback Results – GO Bond & E-SPLOST Projects

Results are in from the five (5) public meetings to seek public input on proposed options to address the E-SPLOST budget.

GO Bond

General obligation (GO) bonds are bonds backed by a debt service property tax. GO Bonds require voter approval by referendum. The bonds 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

WHY GO BONDS
DeKalb schools would like more money. They would like to rebuild schools rather than fix major building systems in aging schools.

GO BOND – PUBLIC FEEDBACK

Question: “Which GO Bond option do you prefer and why?”
A – $265M GO Bond including 5 new elementary schools
B – $220M Go Bond including only 4 new elementary schools
C – $100M Go Bond to shore up existing E-SPLOST overruns
D – No GO Bond

Public Meeting Results – GO Bond

Online Survey – GO Bond

Comprehensive K-12 Arts School

The DeKalb County School District is in the process of designing a Comprehensive K-12 Arts School at the former Avondale MS site.

The board (except for me … I thought it was a waste of time and money) and district staff traveled the country on the taxpayer’s dime to tour the Center for the Arts at Dillard High School located in Ft. Lauderdale and the School of Creative and Performing Arts located in Cincinnati, OH in late November of 2017. The alleged purpose of spending so much money was to

“to speak with the local school administration, design and construction staff, and others to glean from their successes and learn from their challenges as we seek to design and construct a Comprehensive K-12 Performing Arts School which provides the best learning environment that meets the needs of our students and teachers.”

Question: “Which Arts School option do you prefer and why?”
A – $15M funded by SPLOST V at the Avondale MS site
B – $15M funded by GO Bond at the Avondale MS site
C – $70M funded at a new site including a new Performing Arts center
D – Cancel the Arts School Project

Public Meeting Results – Arts School

Online Survey – Arts School

The Art School community doesn’t want the Art School project cancelled. The Art School community feels like the current facilities are in poor condition. All other communities see the new Comprehensive Art School as a luxury that should not come before the needs of the other schools. There is not an interest in having a combined K-12 Arts School.

E-SPLOST PROJECT FEEDBACK

• Communities in Region 1 and Region 2 are concerned about the growing enrollment
• Many attendees at many meetings expressed a preference to cancel the building additions
• All South DeKalb Meetings (Clarkstone, Miller Grove and Columbia) want the high achievers magnet moved out of Chamblee Charter HS.
• Chamblee and Dunwoody communities do not want the high achievers magnet moved
• Turf Installation – Some see it as an expensive luxury. Some see it as cost saving and safety issue

Other Concerns Noted By Facilitators

• Community members expressed concerns that the Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) scores were inaccurate or a poor metric for project prioritization.
• There were many requests from Dunwoody, Lakeside and Chamblee community members to redistrict.
• There were many requests to build a new Doraville area high school instead of doing the building additions.
• Many requests for more renovations and fewer building additions.
• Many requests to better understand the district’s long term facilities plan.
• Many requests to prioritize maintenance at existing facilities