Decatur Schools Bond Referedum Vote May Be Pushed Back Until 2014

In an item on the School Board’s July 9th agenda titled – “Bond Referendum Date Move from November 2013 to 2014”, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards writes…

In June, the Board approved the request to send the Commissioners the request to approve for a referendum in November of 2013. At each discussion of the Master plan, the schedule was always discussed. The Commission would need to approve this request by August 5th in order to meet the various publishing in a legal manner and also meet other requirements. There is a 90 day requirement in place according to our Bond Attorney and legal counsel.

The plan to have the two entities meet in a worksession was hindered by calendar issues. The Commission according to our City Charter, must approve the request for a referendum. The concern raised is one of having the city understand the plan and the need in more details before asking them to vote. The difficult timeline has always been an issue.

If the bond referendum is placed in 2014, it will give the school system more time to share the information and facts with the citizens and the city leaders. There are certainly pros and cons to this discussion. Pros include the time to hold additional discussions and fully inform others; the ability to document this year’s projections against the actual enrollment ( we are at 96%) at this time; the ability to continue discussions with DOE relative to their formula for building the amount of necessary classrooms. The school system has a number of projects in the works for this school year including the start of planned construction of renovating the old gym into some instructional units and the completion of 8 classrooms at the 4/5 Academy; the reopening of Westchester for the 2014 year and the selection of a Principal for the school by the spring.

Naturally on the con side the loss of a year will mean that we will have to account for classroom spaces in other methods; such as portables for an additional year.

This is the largest request we plan to make of the citizens. The need is clearly apparent to those of us working in the school system but equally important to make sure that we inform as many others as possible.

h/t: Patch

Superintendent Asks School Board to Send Bond Referendum to City


In a note to the Decatur School Board as part of their July 11th meeting, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards writes…

A first step is to ask the Board to approve submitting the referendum to the City Commission. We are hopeful that we can meet the short timeline by getting this item to the City immediately. We are asking that it be reviewed the third week in July and perhaps the first week in August.

I have also requested a joint session by contacting Peggy Merriss. I am hopeful that at one of these sessions, we can present the Master Plan as decided at the May Board Meeting.

This will be a push to make sure that we meet all necessary dates. For this reason, this is a time sensitive issue.

The attached Master Plan is a two phase process, though I’m not entirely sure which plan was ultimately decided upon.

DHS rendering courtesy of Master Plan

Superintendent Reaches Out to Community Regarding CSD Master Plan

CSD sends along this letter from Superintendent Phyllis Edwards…

Dear City of Decatur Community,

City Schools of Decatur is the fastest growing school system in the state of Georgia! We are in the process of developing a master plan to prepare to accommodate our growing student enrollment within the confines of our existing campuses.

The first phase of planning began in the winter months of the 2012-2013 school year with principals and instructional personnel developing program and space needs, taking into consideration requirements from the Georgia Department of Education.

We have created a website where documents detailing the Master Plan process are housed. This website includes presentations and resources previously presented at Board of Education meetings and housed online at our eBOARD site. The Master Plan website also includes answers to Frequently Asked Questions, such as the one below:

What is the master plan and why is City Schools of Decatur going through this process?
The City Schools of Decatur is the fastest growing school system in the state of Georgia.  Current facilities are reaching their maximum capacity and a plan that would provide solutions to this growth was found necessary by the Board.  The Master Plan development involves six (6) steps:
1.      Existing Facilities Survey – in this step, each of the current facilities were evaluated for their current condition, capacity and availability for expansion.  Working with the Associate Superintendent, projections of growth for K-3, 4-5, middle and high school grades were developed and confirmed.  This information was evaluated with regard to Georgia Department of Education requirements to determine areas that needed to be addressed to accommodate the growth.
2.      Building Space Needs Program – in this step, each of the current facilities deemed to be deficient to accommodate growth, had a Building Space Needs Program developed.  This document outlined specific spaces, square footage, site improvements and others necessary to accommodate the projected growth.  It also included diagrams illustrating how these spaces would or could be connected via Adjacency Diagrams.  
3.      Concept Development Plans – in this step, architectural floor plans and site plans were developed for the high school, middle school and certain K-3 facilities that would address the growth and accommodate the Space Needs Programs and Adjacency Diagrams.  At least two scenarios were developed for each as to give options for evaluation and consideration.     
4.      Schedule / Sequencing – each scenario had a detailed Design and Construction Schedule developed taking into consideration working in and around an operating school.  
5.      Cost Estimates / Budgets – once each scenario had a schedule / sequence developed, a complete Cost Estimate and Budget was developed including all hard, soft and financing costs to provide a complete Project Budget.  
6.      GA DOE / Board Approval – in this step the CSD Board and public have a chance to consider and evaluate each of the options prior to deciding on a direction to move forward with.

In addition to the information presented at school board meetings, City Schools of Decatur is hosting four presentations and forums for parents and the community.

Continue reading “Superintendent Reaches Out to Community Regarding CSD Master Plan”

Superintendent Recommends Tabling Master Plan Until May

CSD just sent along this announcement from Superintendent Phyllis Edwards…

Dr. Edwards has requested that the Board of Education table tonight’s original Action Item concerning Master Planning until the May 14th Board of Education meeting. Details for previously planned community events will be announced after spring break, and will be held at Decatur High School and Renfroe Middle School in the weeks following spring break.

Decatur Kindergarten Almost at Projected Enrollment for Next Year

On the heels of a post on Atlanta Magazine (thanks DrB!) about CSD suspending admission of tuition students (this was mentioned at the LAST school meeting, but I blanked in posting it), there’s this mention at the end of Superintendent Edwards’ overview for March School Board meeting tomorrow…

Enrollment projections for next year were set at 4036 (K-12). Kindergarten projections : 371.

At this time, we have 112 new Kindergarten students (last year 105). We have 142 new students overall with an enrollment of 10 new students at the 9th grade alone. With the calculation of the PreK students moving up – we are already close to meeting the projection for Kindergarten. We will keep you informed as the spring goes on.

And as the Superintendent said in the Atlanta Magazine piece…

We haven’t even kicked into [the main registration period of] late spring or summer,

Discussing Decatur School Enrollment: Today and Into the Future

Attached to the Superintendent’s note to the Decatur School Board for next week’s meeting is an enrollment update for the coming school year.  Enrollment opened up in February and continues throughout the summer.

The enrollment committee, made up of CSD staff and residents, recommended earlier this year that the Board use a “one-year cohort ratio” to determine enrollment for coming years.  If I recall correctly, this was because enrollment had been growing so rapidly in the last year or so that a three or five year average was thought to likely underestimate next year’s enrollment.

As noted in the attachment, “The aggressive one-­‐year cohort ratio anticipated that up to 384 new students may enroll for the 2012-­‐2013 school year. At the time of this writing, 250 students have enrolled.”  Among the individual grades, Kindergarten, 1st and 12th grade have already met or surpassed their projections.

With all this in mind, I followed up with Asst. Superintendent Thomas Van Soelen to get the administration’s take on these enrollment levels to-date.  Here’s his thoughtful reply in full…

Dr. Edwards commissioned an Enrollment Committee Fall 2011 (parents and staff) to engage in learning around the following two questions:

  1. How might we accurately predict the enrollment trends for the future?
  2. How might our buildings best be used to plan for that uncertain future?

The committee worked intensely for several months and offered a presentation and report to the Board 011012:

Recommendations begin on page 13 and include several actions that are relevant to some of the ideas that emerged in a previous post about the central office:

  1. Surveying the community for data regarding birth-age four children
  2. enrollment calculations

We used a one-year cohort ratio analysis to project 12-13 enrollment. Prior to the 12-13 school year, either two-year or three-year cohort ratios were used (see the report for the math about how these ratios work.) The committee noted that with the burgeoning enrollment of birth-age five children, a more aggressive formula was warranted. The Board has been considering 12-13 enrollment reports at each Board meeting. Here is a link to the most recent report.

Continue reading “Discussing Decatur School Enrollment: Today and Into the Future”

Superintendent Offers Two Recommendations For New Central Office Location

From the Superintendent’s letter to the School Board, prior to tonight’s meeting

I am providing you with information on possibilities for a central office location. I am not asking you to vote at this time. I believe we have two options. One is Beacon Hill, moving into the complex with the City; the other would require the central office to be built on the high school campus. There are pros/cons to both options. Clearly, we wish to move on this decision so Westchester can be placed back into service as a school.

And then there’s this detail from the Director of Facilities Jason Ware… Continue reading “Superintendent Offers Two Recommendations For New Central Office Location”