(Thank you to arroz for the valuable input)
School closings; always a traumatic issue, anywhere in the country. DCSS is facing its biggest budget gap ever, and school closings are rightfully on the table. Unfortunately, because of the weak leadership of the BOE, the South DeKalb vs. North DeKalb debate has again reared its ugly head. Our county commission (and Vernon Jones when CEO) also allowed all too often for many debates on budget to become more South DeKalb vs. North DeKalb nonsense.
Well, it's back.
What is incredibly aggravating is that members of the Citizens Planning Task Force, appointed by DCSS Board of Education members, have fanned the flames.
School closings are about cold hard data. That's it. It's not about "social justice". It's not about "breaking up a community". If the enrollment numbers just aren't there, we are no longer in the position to keep open a school because of politics.
One of the main reasons why schools like Sky Haven, Gresham Park, Kelley Lake, Toney, Meadowview, Midway and Peachcrest are being considered for closing is because they are in areas that have been decimated by the foreclosure crisis. If the students aren't there, they aren't there. Period. A school can be closed and rented out to a small business, and then re-opened later if the student population comes back.
Proposed school closures divide DeKalb
But listen to Citizens Planning Task Force members:
Task force member Bruce McMillian:
"I’m not going to let this panel be a scapegoat or whatever you want to call it for these tough decisions.
The pocket that has been targeted by the school system is an area that, I feel, is an area of least resistance. The affluent areas in the county, the ones with the higher tax base, none of those are being targeted.”
Task force member Darrell Jennings Sr.:
Said he plans to look at the enrollment of all 83 elementary schools before making any decision. The choice should be made based on how the closures will impact the community in terms of social justice, economic development and property values, he said.
“I just object to all these schools being closed in my backyard,” he said. “They gave us a list of 23 schools and 19 of those schools are in south DeKalb.”
Thank you Bruce McMillian and Darrell Jennings Sr. for miserably failing as task force members, and stooping to baseless allegations, instead of carefully and maturely focusing on the task at hand.
Luckily, we have some reason from Task Force member Tracie Scott:
“If we’re going to disrupt people’s communities, I think we need to be able to say this is going to be better for your child.”
Yes, there has to be a strong case made to the public to close any school, and the BOE and task force has to be very open with its reasoning. But...THIS IS NOT ABOUT GEOGRAPHY OR RACE, THIS IS NOT ABOUT SOUTH DEKALB VS. NORTH DEKALB. It's about an $88 million (or more) budget gap. As much as I advocate for massive cuts to the Central Office, MIS, instructional coaches, the school police department, contracting out services, selling surplus properties (if DCSS even has a list of all its properties), these cuts alone aren't going to get it done. The smallest schools need to be shuttered.
I am very, very curious to see if our Bord of Education members will be strong, or if they will cave into false emotion, especially Zepora Roberts, Gene Walker and Sarah Copelin-Wood. Let's hear your take on an issue that should be rational and objective, not emotional and subjective.