The chief of DeKalb County’s schools comes to Dunwoody Thursday evening with school issues top of mind in the city. Judging from online conversations, there may be a shortage of comment and question cards.
The school superintendent, Dr. Steve Green, scheduled the 7 p.m. session at Dunwoody High months ago as part of regular “On the Scene with Dr. Green” series of area meetings.
Since then, a major issue has surfaced and a familiar one has gathered steam.
Top of mind for many parents at Dunwoody and Chamblee high schools is the conditions of playing fields.
It is unlikely that Dunwoody baseball will play any home games this season because of broken pipes that have made the outfield dangerous. The high school’s one rectangular playing field is overused and water logged.
At Chamblee, parents tell The Crier that 104 athletes in the many spring sports have been denied use of the neighboring North DeKalb Stadium and its turf field for practices and have nowhere else to go.
But the issue that affects all parents is overcrowding. In Dunwoody, the problem extends to elementary schools and its middle school.
At Dunwoody, Chamblee and Lakeside highs, the planned school expansions threaten to overwhelm small footprints. And there may not be money to pay for them as Dan Drake, the interim chief operating officer, suggested at local meetings last month.
Add to that mix reports from other news organizations about the maintenance backlog, problems with procurement policy and a teacher salary snafu and the meeting should yield myriad questions.
Central to the discussion is expansion at three high schools and the way forward.
“They can’t do anything on time and under budget,” said former school board member Nancy Jester Sunday night.
She has been a fierce critic of the expansion plan, favoring instead a new high school in Doraville.
In her discussion she alleged that the school board allocates funds by regions, rather than by need. Pointing to other regions with declining enrollment, she said Region 1 (north DeKalb in general) is primarily spending to build a new Cross Keys High and two elementary schools in the Buford Highway corridor.
“(In Dunwoody) you’re getting additional classrooms and nothing else,” repeating her arguments that no additions to common spaces such as libraries, cafeterias and gymnasiums are planned.
Green’s administration was stung last week by a directive from the Georgia Law Department and Attorney General Chris Carr that three meetings scheduled for next week violate the state open meetings act.
School Board Member Stan Jester calls them illegal because of the directive that the meetings can be attended by no more than three school board members to avoid having a quorum subject to the open meetings act.
He cites the opinion of Jennifer Colangelo, the assistant attorney general, who signed off an opinion citing the Dunwoody city council for violating the Open Meetings Act.