This evening I was unable to attend the DeKalb County School Board Meeting but received word of their decision to finalize the plans for the 4th & 5th grade academy prior to vetting the idea to the community in a meeting which was scheduled for this coming Wednesday evening. I have already received a few e-mails on the topic and wanted to share one of the better ones which also sums up the situation very well. Mr. David Clinch has children in Austin & Peachtree and sent the following e-mail to over 160 individuals, including the entire school board.
The DeKalb County School Board approved a 4th-5th Grade Academy for the Dunwoody cluster in a unanimous vote at their meeting this evening.
Dr. Lewis had told the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council meeting at Peachtree Charter Middle last week that he would ask the Board to delay the vote and that they “usually” adhered to such requests from him. In fact, he told the Board only that he had been asked by people at that meeting to make the Board aware of their request for a delay but that he himself was committed to a 4th-5th Grade Academy. While there was some discussion and commentary by some Board members about asking for a delay, it was clear that there was a consensus to vote on the issue this evening and not to delay. Per Board meeting rules there was no opportunity for people in the large crowd to comment.
Dr. Lewis also told the Board that the purpose of the Community meeting that has been set up for this coming Wednesday is not, and never was, to get more input from the community before making a decision on this issue but was arranged only to discuss concerns about why Kingsley and Hightower are being left out of the Academy. This was not the way the meeting was described at Peachtree last week.
There will hopefully still be an opportunity for those that did want a delay in order to get more information to voice their concerns about being denied that opportunity and perhaps also a chance to get some answers for the questions many people still have about an Academy and the affect of this decision on our Elementary Schools.
Whichever solution you supported in this process, the result is that we will soon have four schools in our cluster that are either completely new or structured in a completely new way...a new 4th-5th Grade Academy and the three schools (Austin, Vanderlyn and Chestnut) that will now be K-3 Elementary schools. Kingsley and Hightower also have issues of their own that have not been addressed by an Academy.
Each one of these schools will have serious educational and logistical issues to deal with and, as usual, it will be up to the residents of Dunwoody to do whatever it takes to make each as good as it possibly can be. I hope that we can find ways to work together to help all these schools provide the best possible education for all the children in Dunwoody while we also work separately to ensure that the County improves its communication and decision-making process.
I also hope that we can also find a better way to communicate on a continuous basis as a community about these issues so that we never again get caught by surprise by County decisions or become needlessly fractured along partisan lines because we don’t have an opportunity to come together to discuss these issues properly. If this process has revealed anything it has shown clearly that there is a wealth of energy and passion in this community to get the best for our children and now we need to work hard to channel that energy into creating an inclusive and comprehensive system to help us achieve that goal for years to come.
An Austin, Peachtree (and soon to be Academy) Parent