Friday, February 12, 2016

DeKalb School Superintendent Dr. Green Responds to Legislation To
Reduce DeKalb School Funding


Representative Tom Taylor (Dunwoody) has introduced legislation in the GA House (House Bill 969) which would reduce the funding to DeKalb Schools by about $56 million:http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/legislation-targets-dekalb-school-funding/nqNhp/.

This legislation was discussed in this earlier article http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/legislation-would-cut-dekalb-school-funding/nqB9f/.
 
The measure does not apply to any other school district other than DeKalb and it offers no property tax relief. Many believe, as I do, that this legislation is a retaliatory move against the school district (i.e. our children's education) for Dr. Green's decision not to participate in the Doraville TAD:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/news-and-events/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/Sup.-Statement-Doraville-TAD.-12-15-15FINAL.pdf.

Sen. Fran Millar, R-Atlanta, said he’d like the DeKalb school system to be more responsive to issues like a proposal to support the redevelopment of the torn-down General Motors factory in Doraville. DeKalb Superintendent Steve Green has said he won’t participate financially in the mixed-use project.

You can read Dr. Green's response to Maureen Downey of the AJC: http://getschooled.blog.myajc.com/2016/02/11/dekalb-schools-fire-back-at-legislation-cutting-its-funding-by-56-million-politics-over-pupils/

The decision not to participate in the Doraville TAD is a decision that I, and many others, support.  Despite "assurances" from a school board member, a DeKalb BOC member, local and state legislators that TAD will be beneficial to the school district, I have seen no specific data that supports this, just "pie in the sky" numbers. The TAD may be a great deal for Doraville and DeKalb County, but it should not involve school district funds.

To this point, everything that I have seen and heard leads me to believe Dr. Green is nothing, if not, honorable in his attempts to bring about the needed change within DeKalb schools.  He has an enormous task and to be distracted by this game-playing by politicians takes away his focus on the education of our children.  I hope that the continued interference by Senator Fran Millar (Austin ES "issue" and his involvement in the reduction of funding legislation) and Rep. Taylor does not bring negative consequences to our schools in Dunwoody. 

I support the Independent School District legislation that Rep. Taylor has  authored.  However, it might be best if another legislator takes over the responsibility for fighting this battle. I believe this stunt makes Taylor "damaged goods" and could hurt the continuing battle for ISD's. 

While I believe at some point this funding legislation is the right thing to do (when the school district is on a solid footing, financially and academically), doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is never right.  Even at that time, there should be a "phased-in" type of approach in order to cause the least amount of distress to the school district, i.e. the children.

3 comments:

  1. D Mom,

    I had a similar opinion at first. The fact is the GM site will be developed with or without the TAD. If the school board says no, the current investors bail. Then the DeKalb Development Authority, an unelected board, steps in. This board is very powerful and can and will do more than the TAD. They can strike a deal with apartment developers and eliminate ALL taxes, leaving the school board with $0 and no upside. This will happen as soon as the TAD is dead. I'm not a fan of public money for private development, but the Development Authority in GA is extremely powerful. This TAD is not great, but the alternative is awful

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  2. I understand what you posted. I agree the DeKalb Development Authority is not something wanted involved. HOWEVER, even if the school district participated in this TAD, I just do not believe it will be as successful as people believe. No one jumped at the chance to buy this property. Are there companies that have indicated they will anchor the retail part? I have not seen any companies wishing to build housing in that area. Heck, in Chamblee/Brookhaven they are jumping all over each other to build retail/housing developments. I just don't see it at this location. There is just too much speculation for me to feel comfortable about the school system participating. The more Millar and his cronies pressure DCSD, the more I have to believe there is little to offer here.

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  3. While other folks have linked this legislation to the TAD, there is no connection or linkage. This legislation is about DeKalb being the only county in Georgia that exceeds the 20 mil cap for education, and consistently fails to put the required 65% of revenues that are designated to be spent in classrooms. All this while growing their administrative costs exponentially with a bloated bureaucracy.

    Senator Millar linked the 2 in a delegation meeting, but I have been very clear in my intent. Maureen Downey wrote her article in the AJC without ever calling me to ask what I was trying to accomplish with this. This 4 mil excess has been in place since the 1970's, when DeKalb ran a junior college as part of the school system. That was taken over by the Regents decades ago, but the millage rate was never adjusted to reflect that they were no longer funding that institution. Over the years, the DCSS has raked in billions in excess revenue, but still has failing outcomes. If 158 other counties can run their schools with a 20 mil cap, why can't DeKalb?

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