Meeting Minutes, August 27, 2014

ELPC Meeting Notes
August 27, 2014
Sagamore Hills Elementary

Get the Facts about The Druid Hills Charter Cluster: Answering Your Questions!

Elena Parent – District 42 Senate
• Municipalization, charter cluster, annexation – lots going on in DeKalb
• Overview of DeKalb Operations Task Force (serves with Jim McMahon) – grew out of consternation of leadership because of cityhood initiative
• Charged with looking at – cityhood & municipalization & governance – looking at ethics, internal audit
o Division of host proceeds, set up of government
o Meeting tonight at Maloof Auditorium from 6 – 8 p.m.
• GA State & GA Tech presenting various information – i.e. data, what other areas of country are doing etc.
• Cities: GA House of Reps said 3 cities need to get together and agree on boundaries by November or it will go to Legislative committee (Mike Jacobs, Tom Taylor, Amy Carter…)
o Up until now cityhood issues hasn’t impacted school systems
o Emory not interested in being part of a new city which leads to annexation issue
o Druid Hills Civic Association, and now has extended to other Civic Associations like Sagamore Hills, changes the dialog about school systems
o All to be explored, lots of moving parts & pieces
o The certainty is there will be some changes, it’s a question of what & when

David Moore – Legal Council for Druid Hills Charter Cluster (DHCC)
• STEAM Program Video
• Power Point Presentation
• Check out www.DruidHillsCharterCluster.org

Dr. Linda Frazer – DeKalb County School District
Overviewed petition process, guidelines and timeline for charter petitions (info on DCSD website) based on last year’s dates – this year’s dates will be posted in October but we can assume they will be similar
District’s Charter Petition – by June 2015 District must provide letter of intent – DCSD already did

Q & A
Comment -
There has been confusion about the word “waivers”. They are required by law for a charter school. For example – school facility waivers allow you to use the school building in different ways – provides flexibility & autonomy. DCSD won’t accept a petition that asks for a Broad, general waiver, therefore they had to spell out every single waiver they might possibly want in the next 5 years of the charter. Brings up questions about how that’s going to work with the whole district becoming a charter.

Question: Can DHCC co-exist with DCSD Charter District? How does this address issues with overcrowding? i.e. what about redistricting?
Answer: 1) DHCC can elect to stay as its own Charter or be part of the District charter
2) if space is available in the cluster, those spots are open to other students, in terms of redistricting, the cluster boundaries hold for 5 years

Question: Why is DHCC perceived as being a financial hardship to the District?
Answer: Dr. Frazer indicated she was not there to answer questions, just to take notes, and she would be submitting her notes to Dr. Thompson.

Question: What is timeline if we apply for Charter District? How long until something happens?
Answer: November 15 we submit Charter petition, roll out will start in Fall 2015. It will be written into the petition how the rollout will take place. State still has to approve the DCSD petition. Allyson passed the DCSD binder. State is not going to pass the petition just because it was submitted. System has to show they are pushing autonomy to schools. DCSD has hired consultant to assist with putting together petition.

Question: If Cluster passes, when does it go into effect? Do Teachers & Administration have to reapply for jobs? Would kids be redistricted?

Answer: August, 2015, yes all jobs become open and everyone must reapply. If child is in district or you currently attend district school, you are automatically in and can stay through graduation.

Question: What if DHCC vote is not on September 8 BOE Agenda? What can we do as parents to support?
Answer: Board members set the agenda. Talk to Board members – not just yours. DHCC doesn’t have adverse effect on budget. It’s good for everyone & good place to start if we’re going with District Charter

Question: Would County consider District Charter input meetings not only in the evening?
Answer: (Jim McMahon) – they’re going to add Saturday sessions. In answer to how do you advocate – attend meetings, especially next week at Stephenson & Towers. They don’t know what local autonomy looks like. Need to understand things are different in different parts of county e.g. Lithonia doesn’t have a school council so they can’t envision what this looks like

Marshall Orson – if District goes charter, local schools will gain control over governance, budget & personnel. Charter Cluster demonstrates a system of governance.

If System doesn’t get Charter status, all waivers go away.

On 9/30/24, after several requests, we received the following written responses from Dr. Frazer:

Will a comment section be placed on the Website for those who cannot attend the Charter System Family Engagement meetings?
Yes, our new webpage has a link where citizens can email comments (see the Submit Feedback tab at the link below). Parents and community members can also use my email address and/or phone number (trenton_j_arnold@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; 678-676-0671), whichever is easier for them. http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/charter-system-petition

Will the Charter Petition timeline be on the Web?
Yes. It will also be present on the new webpage; however, since the Board moved the October meeting, the timeline present on the webpage will have to be updated.

Will the District consider having the Charter System Family Engagement sessions in the AM instead of all in the evenings to accommodate all schedules?
This could certainly be a consideration going forward with future Community Engagement Sessions.

Why is the Cluster considered a financial hardship to the District?
The Druid Hills Cluster was considered based upon the financial parameters of their application. Their request was that the direct budgeted amount for the 7 schools (approximately $29MM) would be allocated to the Cluster along with an additional $10+MM - by their calculations - for what would be the Central Office expenses associated with those 7 schools. The total amount transferred to the new Cluster would have been more than we spend on those schools; and therefore, would have created a financial hardship on the District. Therefore, granting the petition was also determined to not be in the public interest.

ELPC asked the DHCC organizing committee to comment on the issue of 'financial hardship to the District.' Their response: The funding numbers for the DHCC were based on the state guidelines which dictate that the county keeps 3% of the cluster per pupil funding and the rest goes to the cluster. It is not that DHCC 'requested' these funds; we based the numbers on the per pupil funding quoted to us by the county and the 3% holdback allotted by state law.