A month ago, the school accrediting agency SACS took the DeKalb County School System off of probation, which is the status one step away from complete accreditation loss. The system had been placed on probation approximately one year earlier for mismanagement, dysfunction and other shortcomings of the school board.
As a result of the school system being placed on probation, and pursuant to state law, Governor Deal replaced six out of the nine members of the school board with individuals who have conducted themselves in a professional, even-keeled manner. Governor Deal deserves credit for setting events in motion that are causing our school system’s accreditation status to be restored.
DeKalb County is under a state mandate, adopted in 2011 but effective for the first time in this year’s elections, to reduce the size of the school board from nine to seven members. Fewer members is more efficient and reduces the possible agendas involved.
The current school board is comprised of seven single-member districts and two “super districts” that each contain half the county. The current single-member school board districts are compact and logical, and to a significant extent follow school attendance zones.
In the very short period of 17 days, I proposed, the House and Senate passed, and Governor Deal signed into law House Bill 979 (click for more information), a bipartisan bill that will shrink the school board to seven members by peeling off the two super districts.
WABE radio (click for story) explained why quick action was necessary. If HB 979 failed to pass, the school board election process that begins this Monday could not go forward.
The DeKalb House Delegation responded by proposing a disastrous redistricting map for the school board. To view this proposed map side-by-side with the existing map, click on the graphic that is embedded in the WABE story linked above.
The abominable redistricting proposal contains a series of seven long north-to-south districts. These districts would assure that most of the current board members won’t return.
The proposed map flies in the face of the recommendations of Dr. Mark Elgart, CEO of SACS, who has noted that stability and continuity are essential to continued improvement in DeKalb’s accreditation status.
The map also was put forward with no allowance whatsoever for public input. I am certain this is not the map that citizens anywhere in the county would endorse.
Fortunately, the passage of HB 979 will trump this nonsense. With the accreditation of our schools on the line, now is not the time to redraw districts in a manner that virtually guarantees disruption of the progress the school board has made.