The AJC notes that the city and CSD will host a joint work session at City Hall at 6pm on Monday, April 27th…
“with the board presenting its case for putting a $75 million general obligation bond on the November ballot. The commission, however, won’t vote on the bond until May at the earliest. After the joint session, the board returns to Central Office for an executive session (not open to the public) that may end with an announcement of a search firm.”
The blurb also notes that the School Board will be interviewing “one or more search firms” during a work session on Friday morning in an “an early step in a nationwide search for replacing Superintendent Phyllis Edwards”.
The AJC reports that Superintendent Phyllis Edwards convinced the Decatur School Board at Tuesday’s meeting to support a $75 million General Obligation Bond, vs. the $82 million bond that was previously requested. The blurb continues…
“Whatever you ask for it’s still not going to meet our needs,” she said. “But I think the $75 million is easier to pass because it’s more reasonable.”
With $75 million, the annual tax increase on those owning an $150,000 home would be approximately $204, on a $300,000 home, $408, on a $500,000 home, $680 and on a $700,000 home $953.
Over on Open City Hall, of the 402 current “On Forum” responses, 70% of respondents said they would approve a $75 million bond. However, it should also be noted that 78% of respondents have children currently in the school system, which is a considerably larger percentage than the total Decatur voting population.
Chart courtesy of Open City Hall
The City Schools of Decatur has only raised the tuition at its 0-3 year-old program at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center by $20/month since it was acquired by CSD back in 2011, according to a note to the School Board from College Heights Principal Suzanne Kennedy.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Decatur School Board approved phasing in a much larger tuition increase at the ECLC over the next three school years.
Principal Kennedy stated in her note to the Board that the ECLC’s tuition rates are “significantly lower than current market value” according to a review of the tuition levels at 10 comparable childhood learning centers around Atlanta. Principal Kennedy also noted that CSD currently supplements the ECLC to the tune of $1,350,000 a year.
And of course one can’t consider this without first reflecting on CSD’s ever-top-of-mind K-12 student enrollment bulge.
Principal Kennedy stated “College Heights funding may become a larger challenge than it is today given the significant increases in student enrollment across the district and CSD’s primary mandate to serve the K-12 program. After reviewing this information, the council agreed that it was time to adjust tuition rates to be more aligned to other centers and to become more financially sustainable.”
After a “significant amount of deliberation and discussion” including three ECLC Advisory Council Meetings, discussions with Council Members, and “informal Hallway/cocktail/coffee conversations”, CSD staff recommended a gradual increase in ECLC monthly tuition over the next three school years.
As shown in the chart above from the presentation attached to the recommendation, in 2015-2016, tuition will rise $100 from the current level of $1000/month for infants and $900/month for 2-3 year olds. In both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, the tuition rate will rise again for both age groups by $150/month each school year. CSD will also offer a “family discount” of 10% for oldest child if 2 or more enrolled in 0-3.
After all is said and done, monthly tuition is rising from $1,000/month to $1,400 for infants and from $900/month to $1,300/month for 2-3 year-olds by the 2017-2018 school year.
These tuition increases will bring in an additional $543,000 per year (as shown in the chart below), helping to close the $1,350,000 gap that currently exists in the program’s costs and its tuition revenue.
Charts and tables courtesy of ECLC presentation to School Board
CSD’s regular enrollment table updates are a great way to keep an eye on Decatur’s most talked about topic.
The chart above is set up to track against projected levels for the coming year, but we can also used the data to make comparisons to get a sense for what is actually happening.
First of all, as you can see above, enrollment for next year has already surpassed the final levels for the current school year (4407 vs. 4344). While Kindergarten is still has a ways to go – since many in that grade are new to the system and need to actively enroll – many other grades for next year are at or above the previous enrollment level last year.
However, perhaps an even more telling comparison at this juncture isn’t included in the chart above.
What if we were to a look at enrollment levels for the following year now and vs. the same period last year? Luckily we are proficient enough in CSD’s eBoard system and Excel to put together a little table that shows just that.
As you can see from the above, CSD’s enrollment levels thru March 27th are already up 9% vs. enrollment levels thru one week earlier last year. (That’s as close as I could get from the data available) This seems to indicate that so far this year, enrollment is still growing near CSD’s projected 10% rate.
As you can see from CSD’s line chart below, enrollment increases have fluctuated between 8%-12% over the last 5 years. This early indication seems to show that this trend could easily continue into the next school year.
There’s a new series of questions on Decatur’s Open City Hall from City Schools of Decatur gauging resident reactions to solutions to deal with Decatur’s rising enrollment levels. Here’s the intro…
In order to gauge the opinion of residents of the City of Decatur, City Schools of Decatur (CSD) is using the city’s online tool, Open City Hall, and asking that you complete this short survey.
Currently CSD is experiencing unprecedented enrollment growth. The School Board and Superintendent have been studying enrollment projections for a number of years. Ten years ago, CSD’s enrollment was approximately 2,200. Today at 4,336 students, enrollment has surpassed the highest previous historic level. By 2020, using low growth estimates, enrollment is slated to be over 6,500. Additional information is available for review on the CSD website at www.csdecatur.net.
And here are the questions being posed…
- Are you aware that, according to Georgia Department of Education guidelines, CSD schools are currently at capacity?
- Would you support $60 million in bond financing that meets 89% of the projected low growth enrollment needs and increases property taxes on a $500,000 home by approximately $545 per year.
- Would you support $75 million in bond financing that meets 93% of the projected low growth enrollment needs and increases property taxes on a $500,000 home by approximately $680 per year?
- Would you support $82 million in bond financing that meets 100% of the projected low growth enrollment needs and increases taxes on a $500,000 home by approximately $744 a year?
- Would you support any of the following alternatives to building new facilities (check all that apply):
- Do you have children enrolled in City Schools of Decatur (CSD)?
- How many years have you lived in the City of Decatur?
- Do you have any other comments about school funding?
Go provide your feedback!
Kathleen sends along this pic of her two girls standing in front of the start of construction to install the new trailers/learning cottages/portables at Renfroe Middle School.
Back in February it was reported that Renfroe would need between 10 and 13 new portable classrooms for the coming school year and that all 30 new trailers would be installed by July.