Decentralized Redistricting Saves Taxpayers More

Tonight, Sunday, January 30, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. is the deadline to complete the DeKalb County School System’s online survey regarding the “centralized” and “decentralized” plans for school redistricting. Click here to participate in the survey.

If you miss this deadline, you also can e-mail the members of the DeKalb County Board of Education with your thoughts about the two proposals. In fact, you should consider doing this whether or not you have completed the survey. The Board of Education will make the final decision about redistricting.

Click here for a blog post that will enable you to e-mail all nine school board members and Superintendent Ramona Tyson with one click of your mouse. This “one-click” e-mail function is courtesy of Dunwoody City Councilman John Heneghan’s “Dunwoody North” Blog.

Click here and scroll down to “Options” to see PDF maps of the centralized and decentralized proposals.

The centralized option involves moving the high achiever magnet programs from Kittredge (formerly Nancy Creek) Elementary School and Chamblee Middle School to Avondale Middle School and from Chamblee High School to Avondale High School. It also includes substantial boundary changes that are disruptive and counterproductive to neighborhood schools throughout our community.

The decentralized option would keep the magnets at Kittredge Elementary, Chamblee Middle, and Chamblee High, and involves less disruption to existing attendance zones.

An enterprising Montgomery Elementary parent has created an excellent new website, Decentralize DeKalb (click for link), that is an information clearinghouse for parents like me who oppose the centralized plan and support the decentralized plan. I encourage you to visit it. Among other things, there is a petition on the website that awaits your electronic signature.

Here is the most important thing you need to know about the two redistricting plans: The decentralized plan actually yields the greatest cost savings for the school system. That’s right. The plan that causes the least disruption saves the most money!

Click here for a PDF document posted on the school system’s website on Friday, January 28, that says as much. The following are the “money quotes,” so to speak:

“We estimate the centralized plan to save the DeKalb County School District approximately $150 million in operating costs over the next ten years; the decentralized option is estimated to realize gains of approximately $161 million over that same time period. Additionally, we can expect an extra $5 million in capital entitlement earnings over the ten years period from the centralized plan (and slightly less in the decentralized plan).”

…and…

“This summer, we expect the centralized plan to initially cost $140,000 (moving and appraisal costs) and the decentralized plan to cost $110,000. There may be additional costs as the proposals are refined and capital improvements to certain schools may be required. Additionally, the centralized plan may require some additional annual expense for the provision of band, athletics, and other extracurricular activities at the centralized magnet schools.”

Disrupt more schools. Save less money.

That’s the centralized plan.

Disrupt fewer schools. Save more money.

That’s the decentralized plan.

These are talking points that should find their way into every citizen’s communications with the members of the Board of Education until they make a decision on redistricting.

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