It appears the school district is between a rock and a hard place with DSA and the administration is asking for an additional $5 million to fix it.
DeKalb School of the Arts (DSA) provides the highest quality education possible through academics and the arts. US News & World Report ranked DSA #3 in the state and #102 in the country. Acceptance into DSA includes: cumulative GPA of 80%, no grade lower than 71, audition in two arts disciplines, and interviews with the faculty among numerous other requirements.
DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts (DESA) is a Performing Arts Magnet School. DESA is a Title I school and serves students in grades kindergarten to seventh. Students in grades 2-7 who wish to attend must have a GPA of 3.0 and students in grades 4-7 must go through an audition process. Students in grades K-1 need just apply.
The ESPLOST IV Referendum language legally binds the district to a “Modifications, upgrades, and additions to Avondale Middle School for an Arts School” as well as “Capital Renewal Program to include renovations, modifications, and upgrades to … DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts”
ESPLOST IV Oversight
The 2012-2017 SPLOST IV reports define the projects this way:
- $3.9M for Arts School at Former Avondale MS
- $275K for DeKalb ES of the Arts at Terry Mill
The school district claims that the original intent, as communicated to the voters prior to the November 8, 2011 ESPLOST election, was for the DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts (DESA; grades K-7) and DeKalb School of the Arts (DSA; grades 8-12), to be combined into the Former Avondale Middle Facility in a K-12 configuration. However, that doesn’t seem congruent with the SPLOST referendum language or the SPLOST IV Oversight reports.
It looks like the original intent was for DSA to get $3.9 million to turn the Former Avondale MS into an arts school. DESA was to get $275K for HVAC and electrical work.
Recently DESA moved into Avondale MS. The referendum binds that money to Avondale MS, so the only way for DSA to get SPLOST IV funding is by moving to Avondale MS with DESA. The administration has come up with these two options.
Cost: $8.5 million
- Combine DESA and DSA at the Avondale Middle site with the funding necessary to build a new high school wing.
- The plan would focus on a comprehensive K-12 arts program with spaces for academics and arts at all grade levels with the addition of a 400-500 seat theater.
- If the plan is approved, the design and construction process would begin, with an anticipated move date of Fall 2019.
- DCSD plans to address road access to the site, curriculum needs, staffing, and unique arts programming concerns if the plan is approved.
Cost: $3.9 million (original)
- DESA stays at Avondale Middle and DSA stays at Avondale High.
- DESA receives funding for an auditorium at Avondale Middle, which may be shared by DSA and DESA for large performances.
- DSA is considered for SPLOST V funding for “minor renovation” at Avondale High.
As a parent of both DSA and DESA, my only comment is one of clarification. The original intent was not for DSA to receive $3.9 million to turn the Avondale Middle School site in an arts school. The intent was to use the $3.9 million to provide a “comprehensive arts school” at the Avondale Middle School site. As you know, the issue of late is how is the comprehensive arts school defined. Legally, it appears that it is defined as a K-12 program.
Just to clarify–hasn’t it actually been more recently that DESA has moved into the Avondale Middle space? Maybe just this year? Wasn’t Fernbank Elementary there before, using the space while their school was being renovated?
ESPLOST IV reports say $3.9M for Arts School at Former Avondale MS and $275K for DeKalb ES of the Arts at Terry Mill. What “Arts School at Former Avondale MS” are they referring to if not DSA?
My thoughts are I don’t think combining a k-12 campus is the best interest of the students. First of all DESA has never been the feeder school for DSA. All the DESA students had to try out just like all the other schools do and that should not change. I think some parents will think /expect that if their kids go to DESA then it’s automatic they would go to DSA.
One of the main reasons DSA has been a high performing school academically in my opinion, is the students have to be self accountable for their grades, behavior and participation to be allowed to stay their.
As for a new campus, I am all in favor of something being done for DSA.
I care about the future of DSA because of the experience students have had that could not be done in any other DCSS school.
The building DSA is in quite frankly should not be used as a school for anyone in it’s present condition. The PTSA had to buy portable A/C units at the beginning of the year because the county would not repair it. They had a fire last year during and event for one of these systems, so it’s not like the county was not aware of the problem.
On the other side when it rains they have to put large trash cans in the hallways and classrooms to collect the water.
So I’m in favor of spending money to renovate, but would prefer to see DSA have a new facility built. This is the top school in a system that have very few high performing schools but never seems to get any attention from the county office regarding the facility.
This dialogue has been going on too long. I would however like to commend the work of the two schools for being able to still be highly functioning in subpar facilities. Because this has been an issue on the table for so long now, if the desire was to move DSA and DESA together they should have all moved in TOGETHER last year. Shame on DeKalb County for the lack of attention given towards the work of DSA. If this school can “provide the highest quality education possible through academics and the arts. US News & World Report ranked DSA #3 in the state and #102 in the country.” Then just maybe they could be #1 given better resources which could be provided through a state of the arts facility.
JF, before you start shaming people and school districts, let’s break this down …
This dialogue has been going on for a while, but I am geographically removed DSA and DESA. I know half a dozen people that go or have gone there and I’m having a hard time following the intent the art school community perceived 5 years ago. I’m being asked to provide input and approve an extra $5 million to implement a K-12 arts school and that doesn’t seem to jibe with the SPLOST referendum, the SPLOST reports, or what the handful of people are telling me.
If you recall, the school district was in limbo last year bringing on a new Superintendent. Dr. Green was hired in May 2015 and started that July. The superintendent Dr. Green replaced along with the chief legal officer, were gone on day 1.
Resources – Are you suggesting we should resource DSA differently than we resource other schools?
My concern is having a K-12 school. Not having seen any plans, I don’t know how they are going to separate the upper school from the lower school. DSA is DeKalb’s number one school for test scores and is highly respected in the state and nationally. I am very concerned about the optics of having a DESA student audition and not get into DSA when they are in 6th grade have attended DESA their whole life. Because they are connected it will have the appearance of an entitlement that they are to move on up to DSA. Faculty could also possibly tweak the acceptance process for those who audition. This could lead to children from other schools who want to get in the program to be denied.
I believe DeKalb will be better served if both schools are separate.
My 2¢… actually, 1¢ because of SPLOST 😉
Stan, I was much more active and watching during the 2011 period. The e-splost 4 languages reference was a flat out mistake referring to “formerly at Avondale MS” because at that point there had never been an arts school at avondale middle. DSA had formerly been at Avondale HS and had just returned there. DSA started as a program at Avondale High School. DESA had just been moved to Terry Mill from the former Hooper Alexander building and the small funding noted there was for “temporary” upgrades for that move from the Hooper, which has since burned down. My oldest child went to DESA that year and then got into DSA the following year. It isn’t surprising that the central office people would have gotten that language confused, because at that time they were trying to throw together an eSPLOST list to vote and get it on the ballot under timing pressure from the City of Atlanta. They HAD to designate some future use for Avondale middle, and it appeared that the actual logical use from all the consultant’s forums at that time would have been to consolidate the 4 high achieving magnet programs there in the middle of the county…. It would have made so much sense financially and pedagogically to combine Kittridge/Chamblee/Wadsworth/and the Southern High Achiever’s(at Columbia?) program there. It looked to me like the board/administration flinched before that recommendation was publicly made and that left the administration grasping for something to put in that nice, recently built building. It needed to be closed to justify the elimination of the Avondale feeder pattern and several elementary schools.
It was unacceptable not to state some plan for it because if it was “empty” the charter schools, including the International Community School that was desperately trying to get a building, would have a legal right to claim it.
So…a”comprehensive arts school” was placed on the list with a made up number and no communication to the actual school that this might be the plan. I know this because I attended many of the board meetings trying to advocate for a building for ICS and watched the Esplost process. A couple of weeks after the ballot language was voted I ran into the chair of DSA’s school council at that time and asked him about it. He was shocked and had heard nothing about it.
AW’s post is on point on much of what she say, and I can say that having had 2 children spend 7th grad at DESA after graduating K-6 from ICS and then having them at DSA. They are very different programs with different cultures and I do not want DSA to no longer be able to take in the most motivated, artistically interested students district wide. If we truly are doing what we ought to be in every elementary school, kids should have exposure everywhere. The K-3 ones in particular at DESA are there because the parents “won the lottery” and that is often because they are desperate to get them out of their home schools not because the child has any particular arts interest or talent. That same desperation in parents still exists at the high school level, but because of the current admissions process DSA can limit itself to those KIDS who are motivated to the arts and it makes a huge difference. It will get much harder to deny preferential treatment if they are one wing over. I have great sympathy for parents who feel that desperation, but the “K-12” comprehensive arts school configuration is not the lifeboat.
Now that my kids are graduating, I can see that it might work. But it would require trust and competence in the folks managing the program, which we didn’t have in 2011 when I was very opposed to the consolidation of the 2 schools. I think “comprehensive” might be better interpreted as “all the arts” rather than “all the grades”. But that is a landmine. My kids have had bad buildings their entire time at DCSD—ICS in shared churches and trailers, DESA at Terry Mill, and Avondale High School. The quality of their actual education has been the best that this district had to offer during the time of their tenure here.
Go in peace…
That’s very helpful MM. I’m also glad to hear about the quality of education your children have received. So, what’s the plan? Keep the schools separated or go ahead and combine, but monitor it closely?
My penny thought is only to say that it would be very unfair for a middle school to get an auditorium before all auditoriums promised in earlier SPLOSTs are built. All high schools were promised an auditorium and career tech addition and as far as I know Cross Keys and perhaps one other still do not have an auditorium.
Speaking as a parent at both DSA and DESA, I believe the consensus is that this CAN work if done right. However, I believe there are so many questions that should be answered before taking a vote. Most importantly, What does this program look like? What is the plan? It appears that we are moving forward with a vote to combine two stellar art programs (one arts integrated and the other talent based) into one and conduct major campus renovations and the building of a new auditorium without first understanding the function. The district does not have an educational plan in place for this. No one can articulate this. I understand that the Board doesn’t get involved in the details of curriculum, admissions process, administration, logistics of having K-12 on the same campus, etc. These are district office decisions. But shouldn’t the District provide the Board with some type of plan so they can vote on approving funds for a building based on this plan. Form follows function!
I am so very proud of both programs. DSA and DESA are jewels in our county. Much isn’t said about DESA mainly because it is a K-7 program. It is an outstanding program with excellent test scores, great teachers, and a principal that has grown the program in a phenomenal way since she has been there. A large percentage of the 8th grade incoming class at DSA comes from DESA. It’s a fact. Feel free to ask for the statistics. Parents at DESA don’t want a pass for their students. DESA students can compete on the same level as any other talented arts student at any other school in our county, and have done so consistently. I am certain that a similar admissions process will be in place if the schools are combined.
Lastly, DCSD’s legal department has determined that the “comprehensive arts school” language means a K-12 program. This is based on their research and case law. I believe Mr. Jester knows this. If you research the history of this (2007-present), it is quite clear the the $3.9 million was meant for an arts school not just funds for DSA or DESA. Both schools have been housed in substandard buildings. This is only the second semester DESA has been in the Avondale middle school site, and it was a fight to get there. I look forward to the Board doing the right thing by combining the two programs after first having a clear understanding of the plan and implementation of a K-12 comprehensive arts program.
Well written M Mayo!!! And Dionne McGee. Thank you.
The ESPLOST IV Referendum language legally binds the district to a “Modifications, upgrades, and additions to Avondale Middle School for an Arts School” as well as “Capital Renewal Program to include renovations, modifications, and upgrades to … DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts”
When and where did DCSD legal express that “comprehensive arts school” means “K-12 program”?
I agree with what Dionne has requested, what does this program look like? What is the plan? Before money is spent on a facility, let’s determine the desired outcome. How can the programs, students, staff and teachers best be served? How do you maintain the character and integrity of each program? Does this allow for growth? How do you accommodate high schoolers with elementary kids? Are they sharing the cafeteria? How does that work?
Combining both programs in one facility may make economic sense, but it seems the cart is before the horse.
Unless DSA moves into the former Avondale MS, I don’t think DSA will get much if anything from SPLOST IV. Are you suggesting that the district and DSA/DESA leadership may not be able to work your questions out together? If they can’t work this out together, then you don’t want DSA to move in with DESA and therefor forgo SPLOST IV funding?
Open Letter to DeKalb Board of Education Members,
Thank you for acknowledging the importance of arts education. As you know, DeKalb School of the Arts parents have been advocating for attention and resources to allow our facility condition to match the excellence of our program. I’m happy to see that you will (hopefully!) be allocating funds to make that happen.
A comprehensive K-12 arts school has been a part of DSA’s long-term vision. However, stakeholders felt that placing K-12 arts students in Avondale Middle school with a new auditorium would not fulfill that vision. Now, it appears that DCSD will take the time to create an environment where arts students of all ages are able to thrive. State-of-the-art practice and performance spaces will take DeKalb’s arts program to the next level. High school students can be separated from elementary students, but still be available for mentoring and collaboration. The new theater/auditorium will not only provide a large enough space for multi-grade level and multi-disciplinary performances, but it will draw larger audiences from throughout metro-Atlanta. This is the opportunity to put DeKalb’s arts facility on the national map, and I’m very excited about that prospect.
While speaking during public comments at your July board meeting, I mentioned Stilwell School of the Arts in Clayton County. I hope that you will encourage DCSD Operations staff to learn from the architects, engineers, and stakeholders who planned that facility. Since Georgia does not have a comprehensive K-12 arts school, I hope you will also encourage DCSD Operations staff to look at high-functioning K-12 models across the United States. It is vital that this project is done correctly. To do this will require DCSD to look beyond “standard” and “customary” and move toward “innovative” and “optimal.”
Please vote yes on the design firm award approval for a comprehensive arts school at the former Avondale Middle School. Then, provide DCSD with the support and resources to create a world-class facility to match the world-class program.
Stan, I believe we should proceed with the merger at Avondale Middle, while watching carefully going forward to make sure that at both the middle and high school grade levels ALL the students must display interest and talent in the arts, and all the students district-wide must have available slots to enter the program.
I say this having been strongly against merger back in Atkinson’s day but having now changed my mind. We need to all remember that the choice here is not to remain the DSA of the past. It is between the DSA of the present circumstances projected 3 year into the future vs. what it might be merged at that time. There are only certain windows of opportunity for the board to revisit the facilities plan that the state requires. If you look at the details of the board decision, it provides within it both reasonable $$ and an RFP for real planning of the infrastructure changes needed. The board decides NOW what the general outline of the plan will be.
For many years DSA got extra “magnet points” that helped fund arts staff and keep class sizes low. Nobody knew how much due to lack of transparency—and there was regularly venom heaped on DSA by those who couldn’t get in and resented perceived favoritism when their own programs were hurting. When the tax base tanked, DSA took a double hit with both the withdrawal of any extra subsidies on top of the overall decline in funding that happened district wide with the housing crisis. As a result, the school has increased incoming student count as well as class size.. This makes it extremely critical that there be a large and well qualified applicant pool that wants to attend. The older students that I have talked to believe that the bar for entrance is lower than when they started. Meanwhile, I know that there are families that come to the open house that love the program but decide not to apply because the facility is so much worse than their home school.
The issues of separation of grades, sharing the cafeteria, road access, need for not just an auditorium but a fully functional theater, were all discussed when I was on the school council. The $3.9 million available would get us either the Theater and nothing else, or the separation of grades and no performance space. The road improvements were not even in the realm of possibility given the level of cooperation between the school district and the county at that time. And our staff had to explain to the central district facilities people what is different about the lighting, sound and flooring needed for live performances as compared to a typical auditorium. Since the $3.9m was all that was possible–we didn’t want to head into something lacking the basic needs.
So what has changed? More $$ in this plan that seem to me to be the right ball park for what is in the proposal and necessary. A superintendent with good pedagogical judgment. Less venom from the rest of the district because DSA’s ongoing operations is no longer subsidized and we are in much better shape financially as a district. Michael Thurmond as county CEO will likely do what he can to be supportive of improvements in access to the site.
It will not affect my own children. However, I trust that folks like Allison Gevertz and the currently leadership and staff at the two schools and the district will work out the details going forward in the best interest of all concerned.. Yes, DSA needs to take the bird in the hand and move to Avondale Middle rather that hoping for some separate custom built high school in the far future. Their small size will never justify the $50M it seems to cost for a new high school these days and begging for it really would be an affront to the students in the Cross Keys cluster. Avondale High School makes a great set for a Goosebumps movie…but there really is no place for a bigger performance space and it should just be used for storage and a small community performance space.
Most people involved in this discussion do not go back to 1993 when my son Tim started as a 8th grader at DSPA( DeKalb School for the Performing Arts. I have been. Involved since that time through three principles and seven yes I said seven superintendents.
Each had their ideas about how a performing arts school should look, however none stayed long enough to follow through with there ideas. The school started in the 80’s as a school within a school and covered grades 8-12. The elementary school operated out of Hooper Elementry on Memorial drive, and I believe has been moved twice. Things worked well for many years because the principal was an advocate of the arts. When he left the new principal was not a performing advocate and began to usurp the art staff in everything the school was doing and caused some major problems and was involved in some financial ideas that hurt the program. The parents and staff were not pleased and asked to be moved to the Old Briarcliff High School which had been closed, it was not the best idea, but delivered some autonomy to the school. The school operated for the next few years on a shoe string budget and performed in the cafeteria with no stage and permanent seating. It flourished because of the quality of the students and staff, but was once again burdened with a principle with absolutely no experience in performing arts and he
was not capable to perform the most meanial tasks of a principal The school floundered under his non leadership until he finally retired. Mrs. McCauley was placed in the principal roll and it has soared ever since, even with inadequate funding and facility. Finally in Splost 3 they were allocated 10 MM to referbish the current school, Briarcliff High School. It would have taken all 10MM just to update the electric rather than give them an actual performing venue. I was on the School Board at that time and convinced Dr Lewis to instead move them back to Avondale High School which was empty. It at least had a theatre and was in better shape and the Arts program would get much more for there money than they would at Briarcliff.
He agreed and once again some of DeKalbs best students were offered a bandaid for their efforts. We are now back at it again, to not really think out what we are going to do, we are looking at making the same mistakes all over. An elementary, middle school and High School do not operate well in the same building.
Same complex maybe, many parents will not send their 6 year old to a school also housing seniors. You also run into a situation on picking a principal or administrator who works well with all grades. Having K-12 on same site also becomes a safety problem with the older students driving.
We currently have problems in our charter schools with student that start at K and then have entrance guaranteed for the rest of his or her school if they perform academically. There is a big difference between pecousious K-7 students and the talent level of 8-12 graders. There must be complete different way of choosing the older students and if you work the K-12 together it will be a disaster. Before the system does any think it would be prudent to decide the proper funding to run whatever configuration it will use. A performing art school can not be effective run like a normal school, oh it can but we are kidding ourself
And shorting some of our best.
I have been involved 23 year in DCPA and DSA, our scholarship fund has given more than $50,000 in equipment and gifts and over $100,000 in summer scholarships to DeKalb performing art students and am sad to say that Stan Jester had the sense to at least ask me what I thought. There are a number of others out there that would be helpful in helping chart a course. The kids have waited a long time for DeKalb to do it right, let’s not do another, gee I think this will work, let’s listen to know best and do it right this time. I have complete confidence that Dr Green would agree.
Please excuse my mistakes, it’s almost
midnight and I have had a long day
I agree with Jim … this school has been band-aided for years – just ’emergency’ type reactionary decisions with very little vision for the future. But that seems to be modus operandi for DeKalb schools leaders. (Note that they would not even hold discussions with the people who wanted to invest hundreds of millions at the former GM site and needed school board approval for a TAD in order to invest in infrastructure… but I digress.) I must say though, that DSA only accounts for about 400 students total – and that’s from 8th-12th grades. I would suggest looking at DSA as part of a high school ‘campus’ type solution – as I have only ever heard the word “comprehensive” attached to “high school”. Say we build an all new facility at Briarcliff – merging and expanding magnet programs in several separate buildings – like a small college campus that pulls from all middle schools around the county (I would not like to see a K-12 school). Maybe include performing arts, media arts, math and science programs? How about a few tech programs like high tech automotive? This could also be done at the Cross Keys campus (and might be a better spot due to the Marta station very nearby). Then build a new high school at Briarcliff to replace Cross Keys? I just think it’s high time to really brainstorm on this – and tap in on the historical knowledge of people like Jim Redovian, Ms. Mayo, and others. We have wasted literally tens of millions of SPLOST dollars by placing band aids on these programs and buildings. Is Dr. Green able to be a visionary? I don’t know – I have never met him. But this is what we need in DeKalb. Otherwise, we are just plunging deeper into mediocrity and time is running out to change that.
What worries me though is that knowing a SPLOST V vote was approaching – this brainstorming should have been happening for at least the last 2 years so that a very clear, exciting program for use of $500 million could have been presented to voters. Instead, once again, we were given a casual, vague construction plan that essentially said, ‘just keep the money flowing and we will spend it willy nilly…’ and voters obliged. So now, it appears that’s what will happen.
As a DSA parent, I believe that a co-located K-12 Arts School (Option 1) COULD be a sustainable long term solution for DSA, but with a number of caveats to address the lack of detail and fast timing of the decision. DSA should have its own SEPARATE building or wing at the Avondale Middle School site appropriate for high school students; appropriately designed arts spaces, and adequate access/road support. The new shared auditorium should be designed to provide sufficient seating, wing and fly spaces, technically well-outfitted, and flexible enough for use across arts disciplines. If the plan moves forward, I hope that DSA administration, faculty, and stakeholders are an integral part of the planning to insure that the end result is truly a state of the art facility. I also strongly hope that DSA maintains its autonomy as a separate functioning high school, including student selection, curriculum planning, staffing, administration, etc. because this “recipe” is what makes the school great.
After having gone through two SPLOST cycles with no meaningful and actionable investment to improve DSA’s facilities, I believe Option 1 may be a real “opportunity” for DSA to finally receive a high school facility that better matches the achievement of its program. But to turn the opportunity into a reality will require budget and collaboration. I am hopeful for both.
I am a parent of 2 DESA students and am writing to solicit your support. I am requesting that you hold off tonight’s voting until after the District can provide the Board and its constituents with the specific details on how our students will be affected by merging these two distinct programs. I will be at the public forum tonight and possibly the board meeting, so I too can fully understand what decisions have been made. I am optimistic that the merge will be beneficial, but I do not want to assume that fundamental considerations have not been factored.
As an elementary parent, I am most interested in understanding the following:
1) What will be the admission process for this school, for each level from Kindergarten?
2) Will all current DESA students automatically get to stay in the high school?
3) How will administration and educational programs change, as the two schools are very different yet both successful?
4) Will there be 3 different start times and dismissal times based on the elementary, middle, and high school hours that parallel with the rest of the District?
5) Campus traffic – we need help as it is; how can we accommodate another school?
6) Funding – will the Board support the additional funding that will be required to ensure that both programs stay successful.
I live in South Dekalb, and have been very proud of the DESA and DSA programs. I would very much like them both to remain successful. I ask that you consider academic excellence with every aspect of the decision process, so we can be a premier school county.
I agree with Jim and Cere. Prior to being asked to vote for additional funding, Dr. Green and his staff should have a thorough review the needs of a performing arts school (to include all stakeholders: DSA and DESA staff, parents, students; curriculum experts (beyond DCSD), theater/visual arts consultants, discussions/visits to similar facilities around the country) and then Beth discussions about how that might look in DeKalb and how it can be implemented. Again, DCSD appears to just be throwing out “a bandaid” as others have suggested without a full vision/desired outcome (which is necessary in order to determine the steps to get there and how the outcome will impact the rest of the puzzle pieces.
Stan, option 1 says $8.5 million and the BOE is being asked for $5 million. DSA already has $3.9 million. $5 million would give it $8.9 million (almost an extra 1/2 million beyond the projected cost.) Is that a result of you rounding up for ease of presentatin or are they actually asking for $5 million? From a transparency standpoint, it would be helpful to know if they are padding the amount.
You may recall that SPLOST III projects ran over and all of the SPLOST IV projects were cut by the BOE by either 6 or 8% before they ever began (I believe Nancy was on the BOE at that time and could remind us of the percentage) in order to fund the remaining SPLOST III projects. Before granting this admin request, I would think that the BOE should restore full funding to those projects the voters approved. Have all the remaining projects been restored to their original funding? If not and there is available money (which seems to be the case of admin is asking for $5 million for DSA), why not? Where is this $5 million coming from? Many SPLOST IV projects have had to cut corners and drop part of their projects due to the across the board cuts. If there is extra money available, it seems the projects the voters approved should have their full funding restored first and if there are left overs, the district should prioritize the needs (the purpose of facility needs assessments) and begin meeting those at the end of SPLOST IV (rather than approving new money to those alert enough to seize an opportunity or have the superintendent’s ear – potentially leaving greater needs of the voiceless unaddressed. Otherwise, Dr. Green and his staff give the appearance of acting in a “willy nilly” way as someone stated, rather than a visionary or needs based way.
Agenda Item: C. 16. d. E-SPLOST IV Project: 510-422, RFP #16-752-023 Design Firm Award Approval for Comprehensive Arts School at Former Avondale Middle School
For whatever reason, the current budget is $3,137,147. The administration is asking for an additional $5.4 million to be allocated to this project.
1. Would you like to keep DSA where it is until all your questions are satisfactorily answered?
2. If your questions are never satisfactorily answered, can you wait for SPLOST V or SPLOST VI for the needs of DSA to be addressed?
3. Can we move forward with a K-12 arts program today without knowing the answers to your questions, but giving the superintendent instructions to work closely with the principals and school councils on answering those questions as well as effectively implementing those answers?
I don’t see how we could or should move forward move forward with out knowing what the long term plans for the schools and what level the district’s long term plan is for the size and scope is for the program, and how fully they plan to fund it. New buildings and up grades are great, but do no good if we don’t know how to use them. Because this is not you normal school, I believe a stakeholder committee should be formed to address all guestions. The select committee should be made up of both current and past parents as well as those that have expertise in the arts. I hate to put a hold on moving ahead, but history has shown moving with out diligence has cost us Millions, and we still are where we were 20 years ago. Let’s do it right and cover all the bases
Jim, if all the questions are not completely answered or if you do not agree 100% with the answers, do you advocate waiting 2 – 10 years for DSA infrastructure to be addressed?
A K-12 arts program seems to be the only way to address DSA infrastructure sooner than later.
With the board committing an extra 4.5 million to the effort, do you believe the board, administration, principals and school councils can work together on this initiative in a positive way even if we don’t agree with every decision that ends up getting made?
1) Firstly, I am not familiar with DSA’s current location; however, I have heard that their school needs major renovations. I did participate in one of the Regional Steering Committee Meetings this summer, and was shocked to discover that DSA, with its outstanding National recognition, was not considered a major concern. I personally feel that the District should fully support and prioritize DSA, as it brings honor to all of us in the County.
I am in full support of DSA getting their needs met.
2) I am in full support of DSA getting their needs met, and I am sure that will include SPLOST IV, V and VI…
3) I am in favor of K-12 arts program. I support both current principals as both schools are doing great. However, to me, moving forward without knowing the answers can only mean creating a totally new program from scratch. Moving forward without knowing the answers cannot mean merging the current programs, as this currently seems impossible and erratic!
Stan: I believe that 10 years is too long to wait, however I would hate to see something passed and voted on without more study and clarity. I am not comfortable that we know where exactly we are going and don’t want to commit to something we can not change and be stuck on a dead end street. Haste in this case would be another mistake to fix something, with out knowing what was broken
Why do you say 2-10 years? There are many projects under SPLOST IV that haven’t begun. What’s the rush to approve this extra money for DSA? Couldn’t the district spend the next 6 months resolving/addressing the concerns raised and then return to the Board with answers and a request for additional funds? That would be a healthy response from the district. In addition, this request/information was not made available in time for anyone to share citizen comments pro or con at a BOE meeting prior to being placed on a consent agenda at a work session. Stakeholders continue to feel they have no voice when the district and BOE perform in this way.