DeKalb County School District takes issue with changes to Emory annexation plan

 

Emory Medicine testThe DeKalb County School District has made clear it will seek legal action if the City of Atlanta moves forward with the planned annexation of Emory University as currently written.

R. Steven Green, DCSD superintendent, penned a letter Dec. 18 urging stakeholders in the pending annexation of 744 acres of DeKalb County by the city of Atlanta to reconsider the annexation’s current format. In the letter, Green cites a serious negative financial impact he believes the annexation will have on DCSD.

DCSD agreed to the terms of the annexation in September with a provision stating the process would not affect the boundaries of DCSD with relation to Atlanta Public Schools (APS). But, Green writes in the letter, that changed on Dec. 14 when the ordinance regarding district boundaries was amended and rushed through committee and on to the council for vote without any notice to DCSD.

DCSD estimates that $2.25 million in tax revenue will be transferred from to APS as a result of the change.

Green calls the tax transfer “especially egregious” and said the annexation will not result in the transfer of a significant number of students from DCSD to APS. In an interview with The Champion, Green could not give the precise number of students who would be affected, but estimated it would be between three and 10 total students.

According to Green, the amount of money transferred is not equivalent to the transfer of obligation, and the change will make it significantly harder for DCSD to serve its 100,000 students.

“We need every penny we can get to properly serve (students’) needs. Our demographics are pretty obvious,” Green said. “Seventy-two percent of our students are on free or reduced lunches or are in need of special services.”

The letter was sent to Emory University President Claire E. Sterk, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and others.

At press time, Mitchell had not responded to an email inquiry from The Champion regarding the letter’s claims.

Though he made clear in the letter that litigation is not the preferred way to solve the problem, Green said DCSD is prepared to seek appropriate legal action to “safeguard the educational opportunities to (DCSD) students.”

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