Decatur School Board will consider lease for Atlanta elementary school
The Decatur School Board will hold its regular meeting next week and a copy of a lease for Atlanta’s East Lake Elementary School is on the agenda.
Chief Operating Officer Noel Maloof reports that the lease of the school, located four blocks from City Schools of Decatur’s 4/5 of Academy, will save taxpayers millions. But the idea has met with a mixed reaction from CSD parents and people who live in the neighborhood around East Lake.
Under the terms of the lease, CSD would begin renting the building in June and the lease would expire in 2019. CSD would pay $6,614 a month in rent, plus other expenses. Maloof told the school board the total costs for year one will be $220,000. Year two expenses would be $170,000. Those costs include utility bills for the school.
If CSD were to buy 24 portables to house students, it would cost $2.7 million for the first year, Maloof says. Total costs for the second year would be $288,000. Maloof said in his memo to School Board members, “At this stage we have not made any plans for how the building will be used. This will need to happen in conjunction with stakeholder input and through a careful review of what best fits the needs of our master plan. While there are many ideas out there, we do not want to commit to anything without this consideration.”
The prospect of renting East Lake comes as Decatur is grappling with growth. CSD is projecting it will have about 6,296 students enrolled by 2020. Currently the school system has about 4,300 students. On Nov. 3, voters overwhelmingly approved a $75 million general obligation bond to build additional schools and renovate existing facilities. It includes $15 million for a new elementary school. The school board has about six acres along Talley Street under contract.
In East Lake, there’s some hope that APS would find a new use for the building which has been unoccupied since 2012. The lease indicates that APS doesn’t have any immediate plans to reuse it. In Decatur there’s trepidation about what leasing the school would mean for current CSD students. Would some be rezoned to East Lake? Decatur’s new superintendent, David Dude, has said he does not support that idea. At the moment, it’s unclear how CSD would use the property and it’s not defined in a draft of the lease posted on the school system’s website.
The School Board’s consideration of the lease appears to contradict something Dude recently told Decaturish. He said while the Atlanta Board of Education was planning to consider the lease sometime this month, “I do not anticipate taking anything to the board in December like APS is doing. We need to have quite a few conversations still.”
There’s no guarantee School Board members would move forward with the lease. They’ve expressed some hesitation about it.
Read more: Here is a copy of the lease and other associated documents posted to CSD’s website.