PolitiFact: Annexation will not contribute to overcrowding in Decatur schools

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 16, 2015
Decatur's annexation master plan. File photo.

Decatur’s annexation master plan. File photo.

This story has been updated. 

PolitiFact Georgia waded into a contentious debate in Decatur regarding how annexation plans will affect the city’s school system.

One argument against annexation contends that the city’s annexation efforts, which failed this year, would put pressure on a system that’s already challenged by growth. Current student enrollment is 4,658 students. The school system is projecting 6,527 students by 2020 without annexation under a “low-growth scenario”. According to a report produced by City Schools of Decatur earlier this year, annexation will add an additional 747 students to the city’s borders.

PolitiFact determined that annexation will not place a significant burden on the city’s schools because the majority of the growth will occur without annexation.

According to PolitiFact, “any claims that annexation would crowd the schools ignore the already burgeoning classrooms. The schools are already overcrowded. Decatur school enrollment has exploded by more than 100 percent in the past decade, all without any major annexations.”

The claim that annexation would contribute to overcrowding of schools was rated as “false”.

To read the full report, click here.

A couple of readers have suggested posting this map that was attached to a 2015 Annexation Bill, introduced by state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates.

Here is the map:


About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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  • DecaturDan

    Wait.. So, the fact that the schools are already overcrowded without adding additional property automatically negates any possibility that annexation would further exacerbate the problem?

    • Something like that …

      • Mike

        Seems like someone needs to do a politifact on politifact’s calculation.

  • King Tommen

    The school population will grow by ~10% on day 1 of annexation, before the bulldozers move in and level half the housing stock for larger families. Just because it’s “bad” now does not mean it can’t be “worse”. I’ve not yet seen an analysis that tries to capture how the increased desirability of the annexed areas will drive growth. The numbers presented to date seem to assume that since are XXX kids in Dekalb schools there in 2015, there would be XXX kids to absorb into Decatur schools once annexed. That is pretty clearly not the case. Heck, wasn’tt CSD itself proposing to “phase in” kids from annexed areas over a few years because they couldn’t absorb them all at once?

    • RAJ

      Much of the proposed annexed commercial area desired by Decatur is ticketed for those $600,000 town homes with kids so Decatur both solves AND grows it’s school problem?

  • Kate

    Hey, Dan–this is not the final CoD map that went to the legislative session last year. Should it be updated?

    • Can you tell me where I can find the most recent map? Lost track of it amid all the last-minute changes at the end of the session.

      • Kate

        sent you an email

  • Viola M

    Wonderful to hear the Avondale mayor is looking to boost relations with Avondale Elementary. If DeKalb County schools surrounding Decatur were to improve, the pressure on CSD would no doubt be marginally assuaged, and the potentially annexed areas might not be so quick to acquiesce.

    However, this got me thinking: do Decatur homeowners have a vested interest in the surrounding DeKalb schools remaining crummy? Hypothetically, if currently-poor-performing DeKalb schools quickly became “great” (and I know this is fantasy), housing prices would plummet in CoD, wouldn’t they?

    Decatur residents have said that homeowners in proposed annexed areas would be “gifted $100,000 – $200,000 overnight” as a result of annexation. By that logic, if schools were suddenly not as big of an issue, wouldn’t Decatur property values experience a similar DROP in prices? I know it’s not a zero-sum situation, but it’d make it a lot harder to justify $600,000 for a townhouse.

    I’m NOT suggesting people are actively hurting DeKalb schools’ performance. This is purely a thought experiment about real estate and market adjustments.

  • x + anything > x

    There’s two issues and they keep getting conflated. One issue is whether annexation will exacerbate crowding in CSD. Unless school buildings come with the annexation, of course it will because of the simple truth that (x + anything) > x. Extra students need seats to sit in even if they are a tiny percentage of the already crowded student body. If those seats aren’t available in current classrooms and trailers, then more trailers are needed. If all the space for trailers has been taken already, then more building space is needed or classrooms will become crowded. Once the state limits for classroom size have been reached….
    A totally different issue is whether the increase in CSD crowding is worth the economic benefit to the City of Decatur that annexation may bring. That’s the calculation in which the magnitude of the percentage increase in students is relevant. If annexation brings a huge economic benefit with a small percentage increase in the student body, then it may be a good move for the City as a whole. But you still need to find seats for those students.

    • RAJ

      Decatur annexation(mainly commercial) failed in the last session because of lack of support from unincorporated areas,mostly in South Dekalb, that depend heavily upon public school financing. Loss of school tax dollars to Decatur School System would seriously damage County school financial stability and likely result in lower test scores in areas outside the Decatur System.

  • Ben

    Politifact is technically correct- on day 1 following annexation, the additional land will not by itself cause overcrowding. However, they do not estimate the growth once these newly annexed properties are sold to families thereby adding additional students.

  • Sally

    I’m a bit tired with the kids being home on fall break, so I may have read things incorrectly. Can someone help me with these two statements in the politifact article? “The high school alone, which houses grades 9-12, has 1,159 students. That puts it at 8 percent over the Georgia Department of Education’s enrollment capacity of 1,073 students.” and “Today, there are about 550 more students in the city’s four K-3 schools than already packed into the over-capacity high school, Burnett said.”. Are there ramifications for having above 1073 students at the High School? Is that enrollment capacity of 1,073 based on square footage or something like that? If so, then this seems like a particularly powerful argument for passing the bond and building on to the High School. However, if that number is just some number that all schools must stick to (it seems probably not as it seems a very odd number…..) then building on to the high school doesn’t make sense, a new high school would be needed right? Can you explain?

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