On Monday, DeKalb Schools administration will be recommending to the board, changes to the E-SPLOST V budget, including defunding a new school and several building addition projects.
E‐SPLOST V Budget Adjustments and Scope Revisions (February 10, 2020)
As recently as August of 2019, the last Superintendent was telling the board and public that E-SPLOST V was $95 million over budget. Unfortunately, I believe the administration knew their E-SPLOST plan was extremely over budget at least a year before that. Moreover, I believe the administration knew the plan they presented to the public and the Board was not feasible from the beginning. I have been saying this every day since the original plan was presented and the facts have proven the wisdom of my position.
Our new Superintendent inherited this mess. I am thankful she is taking important steps to correct the old, inferior plan. She informed the Board that E-SPLOST V projects are actually $166 million over budget. There are two ways to fix the hole in the budget: 1) Bring in more money with a GO Bond or 2) cut projects.
Clearly, it is not a prudent move to take out debt to fund an inferior plan that exacerbates the inefficient and inappropriate facility use rampant in the district. Furthermore, the district is facing a degraded credit rating because the previous administration had such poor performance on district audits and was two years behind in getting financial information to the auditors. Once again, the financial malfeasance that I have questioned at meetings and blogged about for years, is now plainly visible to even those that buried their heads in the sand and blindly supported whatever the administration told them. If only more people had heeded my warnings we would not be in this position but here we are. Ms. Tyson sees the problem clearly and is moving in the right direction.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
DeKalb Schools administration recommends we defund 8 middle school and high school capacity addition projects.
- 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
Active Funded Capacity Addition Projects
- Cedar Grove HS auditorium
- John Lewis Elementary School (complete)
- Doraville United Elementary School (ongoing)
- Indian Creek Elementary School (ongoing)
Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP)
The Interim Redistricting Plan commits to a Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) to take place during the 2020-2021 school year (complete in June 2021) and will start implementation beginning in the 2021-2022 School Year. DeKalb Schools has 6,000+ open high school seats. DeKalb Schools administration is proposing to address middle and high school overcrowding while saving $263 million with district wide redistricting and school consolidations/closures starting in Fall 2021. The previous administration and planners should have implemented a comprehensive plan in 2016. If they had done so, we would not have seen the degradation of the environment at several campuses. Such a plan would have also addressed the persistent complaint regarding several attendance areas.
FULLY FUNDED EXISTING E-SPLOST V PROJECTS
Projects still funded from the existing E-SPLOST V project list include, but are not limited to,
• 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)
New Kittredge (Old John Lewis) – $1 million will be spent on upgrades and improvements to security and infrastructure to prepare for the return of Kittredge Magnet.
New Chamblee/Dunwoody Elementary School – $35 million for a new elementary school to serve the Chamblee and Dunwoody clusters expected to open in Fall 2023
Dunwoody HS – Move Tennis Courts – This Spring, DeKalb Schools administration is cutting down the last of the trees in front of the school to make room for another trailer quad. Next Spring, the administration would like to spend $1 million to move the tennis courts next to the softball fields to accommodate more trailers. I am asking the administration to use that $1 million to go towards covering the retention pond and use that space for trailers.