On the Hot Seat
After an audit showed the DeKalb County School District with issues of in fighting among board members, being top-heavy and mismanagement of funds, the district made strides to improve their standing. However, in October AdvancEd — parent organization of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — sent a team to visit the school system to conduct an analysis. That visit resulted in the system being placed on accredited-probation until Dec. 31, 2013. In a statement, the school district said it would work collaboratively to review the findings and begin to address the required actions.
Loss in Revenue
With the incorporation passing with 55 percent of the vote July 31, DeKalb County soon after realized it needed to make up a projected $25 million loss in taxes. While Brookhaven residents are content about more local control, the county is searching for ways to make up for that loss. DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis’ projected 2013 budget would call for an increase in the property tax rate of 1.69 mills and possibly refinancing debt. The commissioners are expected to vote on the budget in February.
City of DeKalb
Another sidebar related to the incorporation of Brookhaven is the revitalization of talks on a possible city of DeKalb. District 55 State Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, spearheaded a senate committee to discuss the issue. Several meetings were held in the fall, with a representative from the Carl Vinson Institute saying a city of DeKalb would not only prevent new cities from incorporating, but also would restrict new cities from expanding via annexation.
State of the Schools
At her Dec. 3 State of the School System address, DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson explained the school district’s plans to go digital in 2013. As part of that plan, more than 8,200 middle school students would transition from using textbooks to using Lenovo netbooks next school year. By the fall of 2014, the plan is to have all middle and high school students fully transitioned. Teachers will also get laptops, and there are plans to have 100 percent of the facilities wireless by next fall.