I’m really trying to be collaborative. I’m trying to understand the logic that leaders in DeKalb are using. But today, I’m having an extremely difficult time reconciling that objective with the latest news that DeKalb County School District is going to be constructing a new elementary school to relieve overcrowding in the Cross Keys cluster by…

Tearing down an apartment complex that is located less than a mile from MARTA.

It just seems to be adding insult to injury. This is what I see (and maybe someone else can help me process this):

  1. DCSD neglects the student population (and their school buildings) along the Buford Highway corridor for over a decade.
  2. DCSD corrals students into close to 100 trailers (portable classrooms) within the Cross Keys cluster elementary schools, middle school, and high school while other surrounding schools have dozens of available seats within their schools (or few, if any, trailers).
  3. DCSD redistricts students to schools over 30 minutes from their homes and adds more trailers to some of the schools.
  4. DCSD decides to displace over 100 families by knocking down an apartment complex to build them a school.

I simply don’t understand.

If DCSD had worked with the City of Doraville, DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, and the Integral Group (Assembly development), and if DCSD had decided to approve its participation in the TAD (tax-allocation district), I am sure they could have negotiated an attractive deal for all parties in order to acquire the necessary land.

Instead, the district leadership took a very short-sighted approach with its refusal to participate in the TAD and now it is destroying the homes of the very people they were ostensibly “helping” by declining to participate in the intergovernmental agreement.

There are also older industrial/commercial properties that could have been utilized, but, for whatever reason, those options weren’t pursued far enough.

As we continue to discuss the importance of preserving affordable housing — especially along corridors that are close to public transit and job opportunities — we need to not only wish for it to happen, but we must actively pursue it. We have ordinances to protect trees, but nothing to protect people living in apartments.

Something has to change. And our school districts, which are supposed to be holistically addressing and improving the needs of our students and families, do not need to be the ones exacerbating an already complicated, disruptive, and difficult situation.

picture at first meeting

If you want to read a less emotional, more informative response to this issue, please visit DeKalb Board of Education member Stan Jester’s blog at http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2017/06/7307/.

If you would like to contact me, please call 770-715-7200 or email me at rebekahcmorris@gmail.com.