DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Dozens of parents were left frustrated and confused after Monday night's Dekalb County Board of Education meeting vote to move 800 students to new schools.
Parents said they just heard of this plan on Friday that is supposed to help with overcrowding in Dunwoody classrooms.
Now, 800 students will be moved to different schools in a plan the board says will get students out of portable classrooms by the beginning of next school year.
"I can't imagine the number of Xanax Dunwoody parents took over the weekend while we tried to prepare for this meeting today," said mother of two, Jennifer Geist.
Parents said they've attended meeting after meeting to find a solution over the past five months, but Friday, the board handed down a plan many parents said they'd never seen before.
"It feels like a knee-jerk reaction," said mother of two, Sheryl Bluestein. "My fourth grader would be going to a new annex, and I know nothing about it...there are so many unanswered questions," she said.
The school board says this plan will move many students to the new Doraville United Elementary school and get students out of portable trailers in Dunwoody schools. The board released the following statement:
The DeKalb County Board of Education today approved a redistricting plan to relieve overcrowding in several schools and revisions that align the remaining funds in school district’s E-SPLOST V budget with anticipated projects.
Under the redistricting plan, the school district will re-assign 800 students, mostly to populate the new Doraville United Elementary school opening next school year. It will also provide initial relief to overcrowding in the Dunwoody Cluster, eliminating all portable classrooms at Dunwoody Elementary.
The redistricting plan also calls for DeKalb schools to develop a comprehensive master plan, something Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson says is long overdue.
“You can’t properly plan for the future if you don’t have a plan for the future,” Tyson said during the board meeting. “The most important part of our recommendation is that we issue an RFP to develop a comprehensive master plan so the future superintendents will have a roadmap to guide their decision making.”
The board also readjusted the E-SPLOST V project list, deferring projects to align with the $561 million budget. The new project list brings a host of improvements across the district including new school construction, facility improvements and technology upgrades.
Both board actions are part of Tyson’s efforts to bring stability to the district which is in the midst of a search for a new superintendent.
“My primary objective during my tenure as interim superintendent is to do everything I can to put the district back on a firm foundation for the next superintendent,” she said. “We are focusing on three priorities: regaining financial stability; addressing the most significant challenges that impact the effectiveness of our overall performance; and ensuring that day-to-day operations are ready and thriving for the next leader.”
The redistricting and E-SPLOST V budget are the latest efforts by Tyson to put the district on firm footing. In December, school district officials completed two years of past-due financial reports and submitted them to the state for auditing.
DeKalb County School Board officials have reported they are now considering a final list of candidates as part of the search for a new superintendent. They expect to select a new leader by mid-to-late spring.
Families said this plan will split up their kids and make school drop-offs and pickups even more complicated.
"Some families will be inconvenienced, said Marshall Orson, the Board Chair of the Dekalb County School District. "There's really no way around it, but we're committed to finding the best solution for all students, Orson.
The parents at the meeting said they want their children to have less crowded classes, and they hope the board will answer some of their many questions soon.
These changes are supposed to take effect starting the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.