Thursday, September 18, 2014

Update from the Druid Hills Charter Cluster

An update was posted by the Druid Hills Charter Cluster initiative earlier this week. Although state law requires that the refiled petition be taken up by the DeKalb County school board for their vote on approval or non-approval, agendas for board has over the past several months have noticeably avoided this task.

So... what to do? DHCC advocates are suggesting that if you would like to see the process move forward to an affirmative vote, consider sending a handwritten note. The most effective folks to lobby are probably board members who voted not to approve the petition initially but who will be rolling off the board and may be more willing to shift their thinking on the refiled petition (Ms. Karen Carter, Mr. David Campbell, and Dr. Michael Erwin). E-mail is also OK but these tend to get lost in inboxes and handwritten correspondence may stand out more. You might also consider copying Superintendent Thurmond on your correspondence so that he can develop a sense of community support for the initiative.

Handwritten notes can be sent to:
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

E-mail addresses for board members can be found here.

From DHCC:

As talk and organization around the concepts of new cities and annexation continue to grow, the Druid Hills Charter Cluster remains focused on one issue and one issue only: approval of the DHCC by the DeKalb Board of Education for the benefit of our seven cluster schools. It is true that approval or denial of the charter will have real implications for any cityhood or annexation efforts. In light of these growing discussions in our greater DHCC community, the DHCC would like all stakeholders and elected decision-makers to keep the following points in mind:
  • DHCC has the support of all seven school councils and the communities they serve.
  • DHCC represents the most diverse school population in DeKalb County.
  • DHCC's Petition meets all the requirements of a conversion charter petition, as noted by DCSD and the State of Georgia.
  • Charter clusters, such as the DHCC, keep all the local property tax dollars generated within a given high school zone in DeKalb County, and allow the value of those dollars to be allocated equally, on a per pupil basis, across DeKalb County. The creation of new school systems or the annexation of territory into an existing independent school system takes the local property tax dollars generated within that same high school zone out of the DeKalb County Board of Education's budget.
  • Failure to approve the DHCC could result in some portion of the cluster tax base being annexed into the City of Atlanta, the City of Decatur, and/or incorporated by one or more new cities expected to be approved for referendum by the General Assembly in early 2015.
  • DHCC provides a governance structure and petition commitment to improve the performance of ALL seven schools in the cluster.
  • DHCC accepts 100% of all cluster resident students and available capacity is open to ALL DeKalb students by lottery. DHCC has no ability to exclude any student within its attendance zone and no ability to exclude any student from any where in DeKalb whose enrollment is determined by random lottery.
  • DHCC includes new programs and enhancements to existing educational programs NOT available any where to current DeKalb students.
  • Truly empowering school-house level principals and teachers with the flexibility, autonomy, and authority to determine the instructional pacing, curriculum, assessment methods, enrichment programs, and even daily and yearly calendars that best serve their students will result in greater professional satisfaction for our teachers, increased accountability, and sustained improvements in achievement and growth for ALL students.
  • The cluster-level accountability that comes with flexibility and autonomy AND the expansion of school choice via the state-mandated, county-wide lottery that will be offered at each and every cluster school with capacity, will foster healthy and productive competition among our creative, dedicated principals and teachers, leading to better service to, and outcomes for, students throughout DeKalb County.
  • DHCC follows precisely the funding rubric outlined by state law and, as a result, drives a much greater percentage of per pupil funds to classrooms and teachers than the status quo.
The DHCC is a good idea for all students within DeKalb and approving it is the right thing for the DeKalb Board of Education to do for DeKalb County students. Share your voice and your opinion with every official elected by residents of DeKalb County.