Options To Address E-SPLOST Budget Issues

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.


The DeKalb County School District operates in over 130 instructional facilities
• 76 Elementary school facilities
• 19 Middle school facilities
• 21 High school facilities
• 7 Other school facilities
• 3 Instructional program facilities


Industry‐wide construction costs have increased by 15%‐20% in past few years. E‐SPLOST V projects are projected to cost approximately $87 million more than originally estimated. E‐SPLOST V state reimbursement revenues might be as much $31 million over estimated due to existing unused capacity


DeKalb Schools recommends the following two step process to address the budget issues:

1. Balancing Budgets for E‐SPLOST IV and E‐SPLOST V for approval by the Board in June/July 2019
2. General Obligation Bond to fund additional projects (including some of those projects removed in step 1), for approval by the Board


E‐SPLOST V Adjustments
• Remove 10 projects (‐$66.8 M)*
• Reduce scope of 8 projects (+$13.8 M)*
• Increase budget of 14 projects (+$53.0 M)*

Recommended E‐SPLOST IV adjustments:
• Remove K‐12 Arts School from E‐SPLOST IV (‐$11.1 M*)
• Fund project with GO Bond

*Based on current budget.

Remove 10 E‐SPLOST V projects: (‐$66.8 M)
• Peachtree MS Addition (‐$14.1 M)†
• Lakeside HS Addition and turf (‐$26.9 M)†
• Turf installation at 14 Schools (‐$10.8 M)*
• Parking addition at 10 schools (‐$1.6 M) *
• Sprinkler installation at 18 schools (‐$3.9 M)
• Freedom MS Addition (‐$8.5 M)
• Lead‐In‐Water Set‐Aside (‐$0.9 M)
• Clarkston HS Addition – Reduce addition from 32 classrooms to 15 classrooms and remove artificial turf installation (‐$8.4 M)

Reduce scope and increase budget of 3 E‐SPLOST V projects: (+$22.1 M)
• Cross Keys MS Conversion – Reduce addition size from 21 classrooms to 8 classrooms (+$1.8)
• New Cross Keys HS – Reduce size of new school from 119 classrooms to 98 classrooms (+$17.2 M))
• Cedar Grove HS Auditorium Addition – Remove artificial turf installation (+$3.1 M)

Increase budget with no scope change in 11 E‐SPLOST V projects: (+$22.5 M)
• Fence installation at 36 schools (+$1.2 M)
• Security Vestibules at 20 schools (+$1.6 M)
• Chamblee HS Addition (+$4.9 M)*
• New John Lewis ES (+$0.2 M)
• New Cross Keys North ES (+$0.2 M)
• New Indian Creek ES (+$10.5 M)
• Druid Hills MS (+$0.6 M)
• Tech: ERP/Finance/HR System (+$3.3 M)

Increase budget of 3 other E‐SPLOST V projects: (+$30.6 M)
• Dunwoody HS Addition – Increase size of addition from +26 classrooms to +41 classrooms and remove artificial turf installation (p #215, +$9.5 M)†
• Program Contingency (p #602, +$16.1 M)
• Revenue Reserve Fund – Create a revenue reserve fund (+$5 M)

E‐SPLOST IV Recommendation
Remove K‐12 Arts School from E‐SPLOST IV* and place into GO Bond (‐$11.1 M)
OR Keep K‐12 Arts School in E‐SPLOST IV and find $3.9 M of other non‐SPLOST revenues


• Option A: $210 million GO Bond
• Option B: $245 million GO Bond
• Option C: $180 million GO Bond

• Peachtree MS Addition ($12 M; E‐SPLOST V)
• Lakeside HS Addition ($25 M; E‐SPLOST V)
• K‐12 Arts School ($15 M; E‐SPLOST IV)
• Four new elementary schools ($34 M each): ($136 M total)
• Toney ES (22% FCA; combine with Kelly Lake ES, 39% FCA)
• Stoneview ES (40% FCA; capacity needs)
• Hawthorne ES (37% FCA; combine with Henderson Mill ES, 27% FCA)
• New ES for Dunwoody/Chamblee clusters (capacity needs)
• GO Bond program contingency and escalation ($22 M)

• Peachtree MS Addition ($12 M; E‐SPLOST V)
• Lakeside HS Addition ($25 M; E‐SPLOST V)
• K‐12 Arts School ($15 M; E‐SPLOST IV)
• Five new elementary schools ($34 M each): ($170 M total)
• Toney ES (22% FCA; combine with Kelly Lake ES, 39% FCA)
• Stoneview ES (40% FCA; capacity needs)
• Hawthorne ES (37% FCA; combine with Henderson Mill ES, 27% FCA)
• New ES for Dunwoody/Chamblee clusters (capacity needs)
• Brockett ES (35% FCA) or Idlewood ES (65% FCA) or E.L. Miller ES (36% FCA)
• GO Bond program contingency and escalation ($23 M)

• Peachtree MS Addition ($12 M; E‐SPLOST V)
• No Lakeside HS Addition ($0 M; E‐SPLOST V)
• K‐12 Arts School ($15 M; E‐SPLOST IV)
• Four new elementary schools ($34 M each): ($136 M total)
• Toney ES (22% FCA; combine with Kelly Lake ES, 39% FCA)
• Stoneview ES (40% FCA; capacity needs)
• Hawthorne ES (37% FCA; combine with Henderson Mill ES, 27% FCA)
• New ES for Dunwoody/Chamblee clusters (capacity needs)
• GO Bond program contingency and escalation ($14 M)

DeKalb Schools Go Bond Options

Go Bond Options Property Taxes

19 responses to “Options To Address E-SPLOST Budget Issues

  1. So will GO Bonds be put to the taxpayers for a vote? Am I correct that the GO Bond would result in $122-$165/year increase in property taxed on a $500,000 home? And that would be in addition to the property tax already going to the school system?

  2. Stan, where is the 2 weeks’ notice for the May 16 GO bond meeting?

  3. Stan Jester

    @Jay. You are correct. It would be an additional millage rate added to your current tax bill.

    2 weeks – I don’t think that notice happened. It doesn’t look like that time frame will happen.

  4. What the ever loving heck?

    Stoneview E.S. has gotten more maintenance, deferred maintenance, and preventive maintenance in the last two years than any other school in the district. Now they want to replace it? Seriously? They have spent millions on Stoneview while ignoring other schools whose roofs are leaking, water heaters don’t work and need paint.

    This whole thing smell rotten. I want to hear more details.

  5. Stan Jester

    There are a number of things at play regarding Stoneview elementary.
    1. South DeKalb has to get their cut
    2. Toney elementary and Stoneview elementary are not in good shape.
    3. There is WAY too much capacity in South DeKalb. We are loosing millions every year (as you probably know) in reimbursements from the state due to all the excess capacity in South DeKalb.

    Solution, as far as the administration sees it, close down Toney and Stoneview and build them a new school.

  6. Stan,
    Please insist that the District publishes capacity and enrollment numbers with their proposed changes.

    For example, at Clarkston HS, going from 32 classrooms down to 15 classrooms affects the capacity how? And how does this change in capacity match up with projected enrollment?

    Same for Dunwoody. Will going from 26 to 41 classrooms be enough, or will it leave DHS at the 99% utilization rate that the district thought was just dandy when they decided back in 2016 that 26 classrooms was all that was needed? Planning to be at 99% utilization is nuts, but I wouldn’t put it past them to do this again.

    For elementary schools, I think the regional and cluster forecasts should be updated and published to verify that these new schools result in enough capacity in the right places. Just because an elementary school has a low FCA doesn’t mean that it should be replaced with a 900 seat school.

    Will the new K-12 Arts school be any bigger than the current DESA and DSA? For example, DSA only has about 350 students for grades 8-12. If the new school has more seats than this then enrollment at middle and high schools across the district will decrease as more students are able to attend DSA.

    The district has been very clever in the way they’ve structured the options. They’ve decided that the two projects serving the most students, Lakeside HS and Dunwoody HS additions, will be funded only if we decide to tax ourselves more. That’s a threat and a way to manage the vote rather than deciding that the two projects that serve the most students should be guaranteed with E-SPLOST-V dollars. But I’m not surprised.

  7. Stan Jester

    Current Forecasted Enrollment & Addition Size

    MGT 2022 Forecast Updated 2025 Forecast Change Original Addition Recommended Addition
    Dunwoody HS 2,093 2,337 244 600 1,000
    Peachtree MS 1,686 1,513 -173 600 400
    Chamblee Charter HS 2,378 2,120 -258 600 600
    New Cross Keys HS 2,486 1,739 -747 2,500 2,200
    New Cross Keys MS 1,450 1,205 -245 500 200
    Lakeside HS 2,619 1,945 -674 750 400
    Clarkston HS 2,060 1,510 -550 700 350
    Freedom MS 1,630 1,134 -496 400 Cancelled
  8. Anonymous,

    Very good last point. We should write to the BOE and Superintendent and insist the projects that are most desperately needed are in SPLOST V.

    Enrollment at DSA will not increase with more capacity. DSA has small class sizes and chooses which students they will admit. Much like the magnet schools, Wadsworth & Kittredge, they don’t want to grow. Growth would make their tests scores go down.

    Actually, Wadsworth is trying to find students who want to attend. Their enrollment is down. They only have 112 students and capacity for either 635, or 700, depending on which number you chose. Talk about leaving money on the table.

    Stan, would you please ask the Superintendent to prepare a report for the BOE on how much money we are losing due to schools that are under capacity, or under 450 students, or whatever the magic number is? Also, this should be broken out by school. I think that information should be available to the public before we are asked to vote on any bonds.


  9. Stan Jester

    @Kirk. “How much are we losing due to under capacity?” Good question. Drake wasn’t sure when I asked him a couple weeks ago. I would like that number nailed down as well.

  10. Stan,
    However we are losing money. What I meant by capacity is open seats when the schools could have enough students to maximize funding. I know we are not penalized on capacity, but was unclear.

    Also, Lithonia has gotten more than their cut in regards to facility maintenance. If you read the Monthly Operations Reports, Stoneview is in each one multiple times. That school should be nearly as good as new now, with the exception of the parking lot. More work has been done at Stoneview than any other school in the district, by far. Whatever their FCA was in 2015 is not how the school is now.

    Also, Stoneview under capacity. The number listed on the operations website (www.dekalbschoolsga.org/operations/planning/) doesn’t match the capacity report. If you click on the “700” and look at the actual report, the capacity of the school is 981. Someone is trying to create a capacity issue where there isn’t one. Better print that report before it mysteriously changes or disappears.


  11. Stan,

    I am sorry. I was mistaken. The capacity of Stoneview is 834 when using the 85% scheduling factor. Still, that is 20% higher (834 vs 700) than what the causal viewing public sees. Why the big difference?

  12. The projects listed in GO Bond Option C total $177 Million, not $180 Million.

    Also, % for Program Management is different for the 3 GO Bond Options. Option A = 10.5%, Option B = 9.4%, and Option C = 7.8%.

    Stan, can you shed any light on this?

    Also, Stan, can you ask the District to verify that their proposed E-SPLOST-IV and E-SPLOST-V changes are in accordance with what voters approved?

    For E-SPLOST-IV I don’t understand how they can delete an approved project (the K-12 Arts school), and tell the public that it will be built if and only if voters approve GO bonds. Even worse, with the 3 GO Bond options shown, getting the $15M for the K-12 Arts school happens only if voters also approve from $165 – $230 MORE in GO Bonds. If I was a fan of this school, which probably was supposed to be completed by now, I would be outraged.

    For E-SPLOST-V, voters approved spending in broad categories:
    Safety and Security, $15M
    New Facilities and Additions, $291M
    Facility Condition Improvements, $100M
    Technology, $65M
    School Buses, Vehicles, and Other Capital Equipment, $40M

    Do all of these proposed change still match what the voters approved?

    I think the answer must be yes, or it would be illegal. But I think the District must prove it. There’s not a lot of trust here.

    Also, the E-SPLOST-V list included turf installation at 18 schools. Who doesn’t get turf?

    Thanks, Stan.

  13. Kirk Lunde

    Anonymous 3:02 pm,

    DeKalb County has never stuck to what the voters approved in terms of eSPLOST project lists. The BOE can, and has, make changes to the list. Also, the administration made multiple changes to the eSPOST IV project list without BOE approval.

    Is it legal? I don’t think that question in relevant. We are in DeKalb County.

  14. Bill Armstrong

    Regarding Chamblee
    “Increase budget with no scope change in 11 E‐SPLOST V projects: (+$22.5 M)
    • Chamblee HS Addition (+$4.9 M)*”

    Q. “No scope change” – so what’s the latest on Chamblee & the “parking deck with a field on top” idea? The football team is practicing there now, it was not turfed as was threatened at one point, needs to be addressed, but I assume on extended hold for the time being.

  15. DSW2Contributor

    The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) has an active investigation against Dr. Green:

  16. Sorry for such a basic question, but what’s the cost of GO Bonds? I assume there’s some sort of fee to set up the package and then an interest rate to pay investors.

    So it would be nice to see the cost for each of the 3 options.

  17. Stan Jester

    Check out “GO BOND OPTIONS PROPERTY TAX” in the post.

  18. DSW2Contributor

    Michael Thurmond made a really interesting comment during a May 23 meeting on transportation. Here’s how it was reported in the Saporta Report article titled “Metro Atlanta transit authority ready to evaluate the region’s mobility idea” (https://saportareport.com/metro-atlanta-transit-authority-ready-to-evaluate-the-regions-mobility-ideas/):
    One of The ATL board members, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, spoke up for equity in project evaluation. It’s one of six equal “guiding principles” for decision-making, but he wanted to make sure people keep it very much in mind.

    One of metro Atlanta’s big challenges is a lack of income mobility, Thurmond said.

    “The jobs are here, the people are there and they can’t get to them,” he said.
    It’s interesting to me how our schools have the opposite problem: DCSD’s overcrowded schools are where the jobs are (north side of county) while the undercapacity schools are where the people are (south side).

  19. Why is the answer always to build more schools or consolidate schools? There are overcrowded schools and schools under capacity. I realize students cannot be bussed from Dunwoody down to Wadsworth, but good grief, can’t we use the space or sell it without building new schools? I have not heard of any other school system so unwilling to draw new attendance zones based on enrollment to take advantage of empty seats and decrease penalties for those empty seats.
    Can DeKalb figure out how to spend what they have and stop passing projects without a way to pay for them? When an organization has a poor rating (financially), it costs more to borrow money. Don’t borrow money.
    About South Dekalb getting their fair share… I’m with Kirk. Good grief. The schools there are getting more resources than schools up here and smaller class sizes even though there is a significant increase in low income students, ESOL students, and low performing students. North Dekalb is not 95% African American, but this part of the county also has many minority and other students with needs which deserve funding.