Superintendent: Decatur Needs a New School By 2018 – And Needs to Pay For It

Start the clock.

According to one blurb on the AJC yesterday, Decatur Superintendent Phyllis Edwards is saying that City Schools of Decatur will need another k-5 building on the north side of the city to house students by the 2018-2019 school year.  And ultimately, as has been recently reported, the school system could require up to 2 new buildings to accommodate growing enrollment.

The post even notes that Dr. Edwards called DeKalb CEO Lee May about potentially available space in DeKalb County office buildings, after he recently unveiled a plan to move many county employees to a new development along Memorial Drive in unincorporated DeKalb.

But of course, building new schools isn’t cheap.  The extensive renovations already planned for Decatur High School and Renfroe Middle School have been planned to be paid for by issuing Certificates of Participation as part of a lease purchase agreement with Georgia Municipal Association.  Now with new construction on the horizon, the City is making good on its statement to revisit a bond referendum for Decatur Schools, back when it postponed a vote back in mid-2013.

The AJC reports that during the Mayor’s State of the City Address on Tuesday, Mayor Jim Baskett said that the city would revisit issuing a bond referendum for the school system this Spring.  The Superintendent told the AJC that the price tag on the bond would be around $80 million, notably higher than the $59.6 million bond referendum that the city rejected back in 2013.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

18 thoughts on “Superintendent: Decatur Needs a New School By 2018 – And Needs to Pay For It”

    1. and the Performing Arts Center too. God forbid a school have nice facilities for extracurricular activities.

    2. Lest anyone forget the state of our athletic facilities prior to the recent renovation and the complete absence of a true performing arts space, let’s remember that our locker rooms, band room, gym, and weight room were so antiquated that they were becoming/had become unsafe and were certainly incapable of supporting curricular or extracurricular physical activities. While quibbling about the specific decisions made as a part of the stadium/gym/PAC project should certainly be fair game, the facilities themselves are a necessity, not the luxury some contend.

      1. For my part, I was being sarcastic. I think the old-timey musical instrument was serious. The stadium/gym/PAC project at DHS was WAY past due.

  1. Wonder if “K-5” is a reporting error or if that’s what the Superintendent actually said. Guessing the former, but it is interesting to note.

  2. I definitely see how we’d need a new K-5 on the north side with annexation; I wonder why we need one up north without it. The enrollment committee a few years ago foresaw greater growth on the south side and thought College Heights would have to be considered for K-5 at some point. It’s a school, and it’s already owned by CSD. Big renovation would be required, no doubt.

  3. Oh, AJC, how you continually disappoint me.

    “…or taking land by imminent domain.”

    Eminent, not imminent.


  4. Seems like the mayors and commissioners have planned rather poorly for City of Decatur’s growth in their schools. Annexations will require even more school space, more police and fire stations to keep Decatur’s current ratings. When Avondale put a pencil to annexing more commercial areas, they discovered, based on the number of police calls, that it would not be cost effective to annex because it would have required hiring two more full time police officers. This cost would have eaten up any potential financial profits with additional taxation monies.

    1. “Annexations will require even more school space…”

      Correct, and very likely much more than projected in the annexation study. One of the benefits cited by the city to support annexation is that more land will be available to build schools on. That same land will also be available for developers to build homes, condos, and apartment on. And contrary to what it appears our city officials believe, families with school aged children are very willing to live in condos and apartments, especially if they are within COD. Just look at the existing apartments along Dekalb Industrial, they are filled with families with children, not young, childless professionals. The projections contained in the annexation report seem to be way too low. And if that turns out to be true, the annexation will be disastrous for CSD.

    2. It does seem very cart before the horse IMO.

      “Hey guys, we have a huge problem, way too many students. Let’s bring a whole bunch more students! Then we can try and fix what will surely be a crisis somewhere down the road. How? Don’t know that part yet”

  5. The Mayor and the Commissioners need to get their heads out of the sand and own up to the enormous problems they are creating for our beloved school district. We can not afford the additions planned for the High and Middle schools already. There is literally no way that we can afford a new facility too. We also have a legal obligation to accept all students in our district whether we can house them or not. The schools are the best thing about Decatur and the City is doing it’s best to ruin them. Once the schools stink and taxes are too high the City will be a horrible mess for decades.

    1. The vast majority of the enrollment increase is coming from within the city – it will happen regardless of policy.

        1. The Mayor and the Commissioners are creating problems by not acknowledging the growth in our schools and not participating in the process of dealing with it. The enrollment is swelling and more classrooms are needed with or without annexation. The City is the only entity with the power to authorize forms of payment for building new schools, adding on to existing ones, buying property for schools or even annexing facilities. The City Commission has not done any of these actions in at least 2 years. Save our schools, vote out the Commissioners.

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