DeKalb County Schools releases annexation report

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 9, 2014
A slide from a DeKalb County Schools presentation about the potential impacts of annexation on the county''s schools.

A slide from a DeKalb County Schools presentation about the potential impacts of annexation on the county”s schools.

One of the questions raised by a proposal to annex three DeKalb County Schools into the city of Atlanta is what it would do to the students at the other schools that feed into it.

The proposal from Together In Atlanta would call for a referendum on annexing the neighborhoods around Briar Vista Elementary, Fernbank Elementary and Druid Hills High schools into Atlanta. They are three of seven schools in the Druid Hills High cluster. The proposal also encompasses Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control.

When the three schools move into Atlanta, they will also become part of the city’s public school system. The other four schools will stay in DeKalb County. What happens to students of the other four schools? Will they be allowed to attend school at Druid Hills High with the rest of the cluster? If not, what high school will they go to?

A report released by DeKalb County Schools doesn’t shed light on that subject, but it does offer the system’s estimation of the number of students “disenfranchised” by the Together in Atlanta Proposal. Together in Atlanta formed after the DeKalb County Board of Education declined to consider a proposal for creating a Druid Hills Charter Cluster.

Among the highlights of the DeKalb County Schools report:

– It says, “The proposed Druid Hills annexation plan would result in the disenfranchisement and displacement of 2,922 students and district-wide loss of instructional opportunities, athletic programs, instructional staff, and funding potential.”

– The report says 1,626 students across 37 schools will no longer have access to “school choice options,” options that include attending Druid Hills High.

– Druid Hills High School would bring nearly 1,400 additional students into the Atlanta School System. Fernbank Elementary would add more than 600 students, and Briar Vista will add more than 450.

– DeKalb County would lose the ability to sell some of its property. The report says, “Together In Atlanta (TIA) claims that annexation would give APS the power to take title to the old Briarcliff HS which would result in the loss of a DCSD long-term fixed asset with received offers in excess of $50 million.”

– The report says seniors in Druid Hills will pay more in taxes because they won’t get a DeKalb County homestead exemption. It says water bills will be higher for everyone. Taxpayers would still pay for DeKalb’s bond debt while accepting new debt incurred by the city of Atlanta.

The report is relatively short and worth a read …


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  • RAJ

    Seems I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into the school debate by PTA moms in my neighborhood(I’m 73)but this annexation proposal by Atlanta has far reaching consequences beyond the issues raised in the report. Over crowding of other schools in the county for years to come,loss of people resources and public resources to City of Atlanta and a loss of potential County government pride in a strong relationship between the people of DeKalb County and Emory University and Historic Druid Hills. Things that make our County attractive to younger people who may want to move to DeKalb. Just say’in.

    • RAJ

      Yes DHH…knee jerk reaction by DCSS and plenty of loose talk, but city hood groups have known all along that schools were the 800 pound gorilla in the room that no one wanted to talk about. Now the scale is off the wall. My point is long term damage to the County beyond the misinformation campaign and the 2.5M coming out of the classroom. DCSS could produce a solution that we don’t know about but it’s a long shot!

  • DHH

    There is a fairly strong take down of this information fromTIA. I did go through the slides myself and found some errors: 1) loss of IB program – no reason that would have to happen 2) overstatement of tax increases and loss of exemptions – certainly a very small group of seniors would see increases, but this is not across the board; some people will see taxes go down, others nearly flat. 3) loss of infrastructure such as Adams Stadium, science center, etc. – totally totally not true (and they have to know that) 4) all the information on utilities – straight up wrong. I could keep going here, but the problem is that once these errors are acknowledged it is impossible to take anything at face value. When you take this erroneous information and couple it with the news that Mr. Thurmond is planning on reserving 2.5 million for legal battles, I quickly loose any sympathy I had for the Dekalb District. They are waging a war of disinformation, and that is playing dirty.

    • Jim D.

      Please explain how DeKalb Schools would still operate some facilities (like Fernbank Science Center or the International Student Center) inside the City of Atlanta, while other facilities (like Fernbank Elementary, directly across the street from FSC) would be operated by APS. Not trying to pick a fight here, just trying to understand how that would happen. If there’s not a total transfer of all school property, doesn’t that mean that each and every separate DeKalb Schools property would have to be negotiated for? In which case, the overall picture is even more unclear and uncertain than anybody has suggested so far.

      • DHH

        Do you mean the International Community School which used to be Medlock Elementary? That is not in the map from the Atlanta Annexation Initiative nor the TIA group. I suppose that the annexation map could move East and include that area. That’s up to Medlock. What happens then is a Marshall Orson level question, but I speculate that that charter and 10 year lease would continue irrespective of what school district would surround it. The science center is an open question as well. It has a school code, but is not being used as a school. Dekalb did try to unload it a year or two ago. There are some special programs ongoing there now, but the scale of those programs is small. The district could deed it back to the county, and keep those programs as well as keeping the science center as a resource for the county. I think you are correct in that if this thing does go for a referendum and passes, that there will be a great deal of post-vote negotiating that takes place with issues such as school choice, and teacher retention. I don’t think that the level of uncertainty has increased all that much more than the baseline level of uncertainty we all have in trying to predict the future 3-5 years out.

        • CJ

          The International Student Center and the International Community School (ICS) are not the same thing. ICS is in the Medlock neighborhood. International Student Center is across from Target and within TIA proposed annexation boundaries.Fernbank Science Center does function as a school. My daughter took a few of her high school classes there and is looking to taking more. It is a wonderful resource to the higher performing DCS students.

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