Decatur’s new superintendent says discussion needed before East Lake move
Atlanta’s Board of Education could as early as December approve a lease with City Schools of Decatur to rent the former East Lake Elementary School.
But Decatur’s new superintendent, who took over the reins of the system last month, isn’t in a rush to move forward with the idea.
David Dude told Decaturish that there’s a considerable amount of community engagement needed before CSD students would move to the Atlanta school, if that even happens.
“I do not anticipate taking anything to the board in December like APS is doing,” Dude said. “We need to have quite a few conversations still.”
At its last regular meeting, School Board members didn’t sound too gung ho about moving forward with the lease.
“This is an issue we have had virtually no discussions on,” board member Annie Caiola said. “We knew obviously that this was one of many options that we’ve been talking about. All these detailed questions about who and when and timelines, the process has barely even started. From this board member’s perspective, if we decide that we move forward with East Lake, the process before we did that would look just like every other time in the past where we have opened a new school and we’ve had lots of public input about redistricting and who would be affected and when that would take place and none of those things have even happened yet in terms of discussion.”
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.
East Lake has been vacant since 2012, but the prospect of CSD renting it has touched off a conversation among residents living around the vacant school about the building’s future.
Dude said Decatur has some things to talk through as well. Any discussions likely wouldn’t occur until January at the earliest, he said. The superintendent said redistricting students from existing schools to East Lake isn’t an idea he favors.
“It is still very early from my perspective,” he said. “I think (APS) … they’re ready to go. But yeah, we’re still working through that here. No matter what, East Lake is a temporary solution for a permanent problem. That’s one of the reasons I’ve said redistricting to put students in East Lake doesn’t make sense. It’s a temporary thing. I don’t think redistricting is going to address a temporary solution.”