In a special called meeting on February 1, Dekalb County Board of Education announced plans to spend over $700 million in tax-funded E-SPLOST funds for facilities renovations and upgrades to a variety of school sites. Dekalb votes approved the E-SPLOST VI on November 2, 2021, with an overall 80% approval rating. The funds allow the school district to develop a scope of capital projects without burdening the general fund of the district.
Interim Superintendent Vansane Tinsley remarked, “… What is needed to make sure our students are successful? …We must ensure that shelter- our buildings- are intact if we want our students to thrive in the educational environments. We must also make sure other basic needs such as transportation and safety are addressed as well as basic infrastructure that supports technology and infrastructure as a whole remain our priority.”
The list includes the construction of several new schools such as: Sequoyah Middle, Sequoyah High, Dresden Elementary School, and Cross Keys Middle School, for $352 million in tax dollars. While schools like Druid Hills High School, which was built in 1927, will go through modernization for an estimated $50 million. Druid Hills was in the news in February 2022 when students were exposed to the dire conditions of the building and public outcry when the board voted to reject a modernization of the building. After the controversial ouster of Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris in April 2022 after blaming her for the conditions of Druid Hills; the district voted in May to put the school back on their revitalization list.
In addition to the new construction, Dekalb County Schools will spend $80 million on safety and security with updated security cameras, access controls, intrustion detection, security vestibules in all schools, updated fire alarms, and disaster recovery systems. This comes after an up-tick in safety, and security measures in other districts among the metro area, including in Atlanta Public Schools where they have earmarked
There will also be work in the areas of information technology and equipment to the tune of $129 million dollars with an IT infrastructure and device refresh, bus and vehicle purchases, and upgrades, and an upgrade to communication infrastructure.
In addition, there will be smaller projects around the district including roof replacements at: McNair HS, Kittredge Magnet, M.L. King Jr. HS (original building), Hightower ES, Cedar Grove MS, Jolly ES, Lithonia HS, Chamblee MS, Margaret Harris Comprehensive, Oak View ES, and McLendon ES for $36.1 million dollars. Another $32 million will be dedicated to HVAC refresh at: Idlewood ES, Allgood ES, Ashford Park ES, International Student Center, Murphey Candler ES, and Kittredge Magnet.
The district set aside $28 million for program management and $42 million for program contingency. To see the presentation, click here.
The vote on this plan was unanimous with a round of appaluase from the audience.
The district has another planned meeting for February 13 in Stone Mountain.