Thursday, April 2, 2009

Updates to the CIP coming???

Ol' pscexb is still around, just busy with work at the end of the quarter. I did get this interesting nugget of information from a friend that is a member of the Citizen Advisory Committee. It seems to suggest that DCSS IS making decisions based on populations shifts and re prioritized needs.

The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) met on Thursday, March 12th to discuss the Mid Program Assessment. A comprehensive booklet was distributed, providing an overview of the program thus far. Following are some of the highlights discussed:

-Overall CIP projects are 98% on schedule.

-Part of the reason for the 300 million dollar bond purchase was to have ‘funds in the bank’ while contracts were awarded. This was influenced by pending legislation to ensure funds were available for construction projects.

-SPLOST revenues are currently running over 20% of budget. Assuming no growth in revenues for the remainder of SPLOST (on target), it is expected the final revenues would exceed the projected amount. The delta between the SPLOST budgeted versus actual through December 2008 was just over 24 million dollars.

-DCSS received over 23 million dollars from the state for four projects in the CIP.

-The Lithonia HS expansion and Clarkston Center roof replacement were recommended for removal from the CIP. These projects total just under 12 million dollars.

-It is expected that DCSS has just over 59 million dollars available for other projects.

-Recommended new projects for the CIP are (Note: below is a summary):

* SW DeKalb HS – 31 classrooms and Fine Arts auditorium (20+ million)
* Lakeside HS – 28 classrooms (11+ million)
* Cross Keys HS – As recommended by architect (3.5 million)
* Technology procurement (6 million)
* Priority roofing (6+ million)

-Recommended projects would go at end of current CIP however if work is being done at that school for the CIP, addition funding would be made available (i.e. Cross Keys and Lakeside).

-The CAC approved sending this recommendation to the BoE with the caveat they proceed with other projects on the recommended list, given this is a ‘buyers market’ with respect to labor prices (they are extremely low at this time).

OK bloggers, whaddayathink????


Anonymous said...

Wow! SPLOST revenues above projections? In a down economy.
Good thing those projections were conservative.

Kim Gokce said...

I have heard similar anecdotal reports. While more money is a better condition than less money when it comes to capital, I still want to see DCSS get more out of every dollar spent regardless of the level.

Even if I am happy with funds being directed at the Indians and the Vikings, I remain cautiously pessimistic about what we will have when it is all spent. I've fallen into the Missouri state of mind and can't get out of it (The "Show Me" state).

Some of these expenditures are slowly working their way to the levels where I have to question whether DCSS is making the best long-term choices. As we approach $20+ million in barely a year at Cross Keys will it be wrong to ask why didn't we look at a total renovation?

What additional expenses will be coming up in the next 2, 5, 10 years? What is our expected useful life for Cross Keys after the currently planned investment?

I don't have the answers and I would like DCSS to address these types of items when making these decisions on our behalf. Perhaps they have made this clear for Lakeside and Cross Keys and I simply missed it.

Cerebration said...

Thanks so much for the relevant update, psc. I wish the school system itself was forthright in their communication to the public.

I'm curious - SW DeKalb is a terrific school - but doesn't it already have an auditorium? Why a performing arts center? Why not just encourage students to attend DSA? OR -- conversely, why not can DSA and make Lakeside or Chamblee a mirror version of SW DeKalb - with Career Academies and a Performing Arts Center - with an arts magnet program? The only such program up in the north end of the county is at DSA - no other school offers a performing arts or any kind of arts program.

I like the SW model a whole big bunch -- I hope we can replicate it at Lakeside and Chamblee at least.

On another note - since virtually nothing has been done with Cross Keys (even though it has been listed as #2 on the SPLOST 3 list of priorities) - why not sell that property (it's very valuable), tear down all of the buildings at the N Druid HIlls property and combine all of the money to build an exceptional vocational/tech school for Cross Keys students as well as High School of Tech North magnet students - AND - a really great military academy. They could all share a great new gym and the track and field at Adams stadium too.

Just trying to be a good steward of the money we have -- I don't see the sense in spending so many millions on less than 300 students at DSA - and millions for a performing arts program at SW DeKalb - which will only harm enrollment at DSA. If we do SW DeKalb Performing Arts - then let's do a Lakeside Performing Arts just like it and move the DSA students into the Lakeside program. (Without all of the extra transfer students - other than AYP - we have plenty of room.)

Cerebration said...

In case anyone would like to peruse the recently released (Feb 09) CIP report - download it here

It's a very business-like and thorough report. I would like to see the entire SPLOST spending and construction projects hosted at their own - very in-depth website - with lots of pictures.

pscexb said...


Good question regarding SWD. I understand that was clarified during that meeting. Prior to the recommendation, it was shared that after SPLOST 3, SWD would be the only HS in the district without an auditorium. That was part of the positioning with the idea as it was brought before the committee. SWD has a long history with its band and arts program hence why that type of auditorium was requested. FWIW, I 'believe' I understood that Tucker and Lakeside both will get the same type of auditorium.

Cerebration said...

Yes - the programs at SWD are well-known and excellent. I would love to see the same thing replicated at Lakeside, as I said.

I guess I was wrong - SWD doesn't have an auditorium? That's just wrong - with so many talented kids - between band and chorus there must be over 500 kids in these programs - if you include visual arts - there is waaay more arts happening at SWD than at the DSA - which only serves 289 students - and that's 8th-12th. It's the same story at Lakeside - lots and lots of talent and no support for the arts.

An aside - what ever happened with the well-loved chorus director who got in trouble over a few kids acting up in his class? I know the community fully supported him and desperately wanted him back. Well-loved teachers like that are hard to find.

Ella Smith said...

I heard about the classrooms at Lakeside about a month ago. This has the support of not only the school board members in the cental and north area but also representatives from the southern part of the county.

Celebration, you should feel good. Your pictures might have helped others understand.

SW Dekalb should have an auditorim.

Anonymous said...

Both Lakeside and Cross Keys need a total and complete renovation. Anything less is unacceptable.

Cerebration said...

Questions for psc:

Which four projects from the CIP did the state agree to pay $23 million for and why?

Why didn't they cut the SPLOST addition to Miller Grove? Miller Grove is (according to the demographics) at peak capacity and has available seats right now. Projections show that MG enrollment will decrease from now until 2016. (Especially when you factor in the Arabia HS available seats - Arabia was not considered by the demographer, as they didn't know about the plans to build Arabia.)

Glad to hear that we aren't putting a roof on a building that we don't actually use for students (Clarkston Center) - hopefully that roof budget can go toward a school with children in it and a leaky roof (Kittredge is pretty bad I'm hearing.)

Was there any discussion as to when construction can be expected to begin on Cross Keys? How do they expect to merge the HSTN into Cross Keys given the horrible condition Cross Keys is currently in?

pscexb said...

Answer for Cere to the best of my ability....

1. Not sure of all 4 but Tucker is definitely one and I believe MLK is also one. As I understand, the state typically provides some monies for school construction. With that in mind, it's possible that the new Dunwoody ES could be one but don't hold me to that. The actual schools should be easy to find out by checking with Ms. Pope's office.

2. I understand that question was not asked so I will 'assume' the district feels there is still a need for that space.

3. Regarding Cross Keys, that project was delayed because the original architect quit. As a result, DCSS had to rebid the project and adjust the project plan for it. I understand this project will be done is stages, housing some students temporarily in trailer while they work on different parts of the building. I believe this was discussed at the meeting held at Ashford Park a while back along with the new project plan/timeline for the project.

pscexb said...

Something to chew on while reflecting on Cere and Kim's questions. DCSS performed a mid program assessment of the CIP, which I believe is a first. A 'good faith' 5 year modernization/construction plan was presented to and approved by the voters for SPLOST 3. The planning for this probably began 6-7 years ago, using demographic data at that time. The district 'reassessed' the projected needs and made adjustments. We can argue whether it went far enough or addressed the right needs but you have to admit, this makes good business sense.

Cere is right, the plan did not take into account that Arabia Mountain would be a system wide choice program. It was also unaware that a military themed HS would open. No one knows what impact that will have on HS enrollment and capacity throughout the district. There are also many residents moving Inside the Perimeter (ITP). We don't know what impact that will have on the school system. Add in the fact that Grady will now charge for residents outside of Fulton and DeKalb. Yes, that may also impact some displaced residents from the city of Atlanta.

Maybe we should have assessments every year? The plan 'may' remain the same but it shows that we are watching the indicators that determine if we need to make adjustments to the plan.

themommy said...

Sort of along these lines, has anyone heard any reaction to the fact that almost all choices for middle and high school AYP students next year are in S. DeKalb?

Cerebration said...

Thanks, psc. Say, how does the state decide which schools to pay for? Do they use a Title 1 formula (needs based, income-based or otherwise?)

And yes, it's a good thing that they are revisiting the SPLOST 3 budget. However, I still believe the process is political - and not data driven. Have a look at my chart in my newest post. We could be heading for big trouble if these inequities are revealed to the public.

Anonymous said...

Cross Keys is in such poor condition that it makes much more sense to build a new high school and to build it quickly by adapting architectual plans already used for other schools. (Gwinnett does this very effectively).

And has the county considered selling the Cross Keys property which is in a valuable area and building a new high school on the North Druid Hills property across from Target?

Sembler and the other developers have plenty of options on the other two corners of the intersection. The county needs to hold onto the NDHills property to relieve the overcrowding in schools in the Central part of the County.

Cerebration said...

I completely agree with your idea, anonymous. That junky old Cross Keys is not salvageable - sell it - take the profit and tear down the old Briarcliff HS - and build something truly nice - new - and different. How about a spectacular vocational - technical school? One that students attend ALL DAY - taking regular classes along with classes that will teach or interest them in a skill for life.

Cerebration said...

Well - good news! Apparently plans for Lakeside DO include a much-needed renovation. Hurrah!! This will be voted on at the Monday Board Meeting - I'm hopeful that the board will all agree that these older, crumbling buildings really do need attention. They should be prioritized over new construction at least - so many kids have suffered in these old buildings long enough. It's a tough choice, but getting kids out of sick buildings, I would hope, is a little more important than reducing trailers at some of the newer schools like MLK and Miller Grove (which is actually UNDER enrolled by about 300) - especially when that over-crowding could be relieved by taking in more students to the new Arabia HS.

Tough choices - but I'm hoping that I'm correct that the board will make these decisions based on where the most need is for the students currently in our buildings - across the entire county.

Future growth may or may not come -- in fact, we are currently seeing declining enrollment. The projection for next school year is only 97,800 students. Let's focus on fixing up what we have - consolidating and redistricting where we can - and selling off some of the properties that are not suitable for future use as a school. Cross Keys could possibly be sold - but the Druid Hills property could provide a hard to find, central location for a new, innovative campus in the future.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone happen to see the headline article in this week's
Dekalb Neighbor?

Apparently, the school board is "suprised" that Lewis has proposed that Open Campus (named now for the late Elizabeth Andrews) is to be moved to Mountain Industrial, at the old K-Mart site.

A few years ago, the site was proposed as a practical alternative to the poorly located
new Stone Mountain Middle School.

The proposal was put forward at a meeting held at Idlewood Elementary, and the proposal was soundly rejected by
Stan Pritchett and the school board members in attendance.
Reason? "Because we're planning on moving the open campus

Zepora Roberts is quoted as being "suprised" by Lewis' proposal
in the Dekalb Neighbor article.
I'm suprised she feels that way. You see-

I was at the meeting at
Idlewood Elementary.

(and so was she).