With the start of the school year, Aug. 13, just around the corner, District 1 DeKalb school board member Nancy Jester is worried that there is more uncertainty than usual.
The budget is still being worked on, with more staff and teacher reductions still possible, programs have been cut, and parents and teachers are still in the dark about many assignments.
“I’m trying to get answers,” said Jester. “ We’ve had bigger changes than in the past. There is just a lot of confusion.”
DeKalb school spokesman Jeff Dickerson agreed.
“There is more uncertainty this year because of the state of the budget and the state of the economy,” he said. “With the increase in class size, we need fewer teachers. But because of the economy we haven’t seen the usual attrition.”
Dickerson added he is confident it will be resolved, but not before the first day of classes.
Two local elementary schools will have new principals. Austin principal Beth Ogletree announced she would be leaving to take a job as director of curriculum K-5 for the Marietta City Schools. In an email, Ogletree wrote, “This is an exciting opportunity and a new challenge for me, however it is very difficult to leave such a wonderful school community.”
According to DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson, effective July 31, Dr. Ann Culbreath will become the new principal at Austin Elementary. She is the current principal at Briarlake Elementary. Mary Jenks, the current assistant principal at Briarlake Elementary will be appointed principal at Briarlake Elementary.
At Chesnut Charter School, the principal for four years, Dr. Richard Reid, announced his retirement effective Aug. 1, citing “health-related issues which I can not ignore.”
He wrote in an email that, “this decision has not been easy because of my deep connection to Chesnut, its staff and the greater Dunwoody community that supports it. “ Chesnut assistant principal, Veronica Williams, has been named his replacement.
In making the new principal announcements Dr. Atkinson said, “As we are two weeks away from the opening of schools, these assignments will provide a smooth transition for all students, staff and families.”
Chamblee Charter High School will begin its second school year as an active construction site, with students mostly in mobile classrooms as the demolition of phase one, the main school building, has been completed. The Highland Garden apartments on the adjoining property have also been demolished, shutting off Stadium Drive. Underground utilities are being put in, as are the concrete footings. All of which is good news for the $79 million reconstruction of the school, which had fallen behind schedule. For the second year, students will navigate their way among the 32 trailers and the remaining wing of the school building which houses the cafeteria, gymnasium and natatorium. School parking, student drop off areas and stadium parking are still being worked out.