Saturday, October 11, 2008

Monday Meeting 7 p.m. at DUMC - City Implementation, Elections, Ethics, Alcohol and Municipal Court

Monday, October 13th; 7 p.m.
DUNWOODY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
1548 MOUNT VERNON ROAD
DUNWOODY, GEORGIA 30338

H) UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

1. Second Read and vote on approving Ordinance adopting Chapter 10 (“Elections”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

I) REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS (none at this time)

J) NEW BUSINESS:

1. ACTION ITEM – Discussion of and proposal to hire a consulting firm to assist City in RFP process for City Implementation.

2. Consideration of approval of Ordinance adopting Chapter 18 (Municipal Court) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances (First Read).

3. Consideration of approval of Ordinance adopting Chapter 4 (Alcohol Beverages) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances (First Read).

4. Consideration of approval of Ordinance adopting Chapter 9 (Ethics) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ethics (First Read).

Meeting Agenda, Alcohol, Court, all other documents offered previously.

29 comments:

Kevin said...

I understood when the city was formed it would operate in a transparent manner. Why is the Police Chief being selected by "invitation only"? Should we conduct a nationwide search for the best candidate? There are a number of good people out there that could lead the city police force. This sounds like some backroom politics that we are used to seeing out of Decatur.

dunwoodydad said...

They can hire the Burger King for all I care. It will be better service than what we had before.
Have any of you ever had to deal with Dekalb County police... yikes.

I hope there is also a plan to improve education, culture and services (in that order). My property value has decreased because of the failure of Dekalb County Schools and the NCLB waste and idiocy. Now that Dunwoody High has failed AYP, can we now make the taxpayers pay for sending our kids to the empty and safer schools in the Atlanta ghettos?

Kelly Spratling said...

Ouch, Dunwoodydad. I've dealt with the Dekalb police on a number of occasions (as recently as a few weeks ago when our car was broken into) and have always found them to be respectful. I'm sorry your experience was not so positive.

I don't think the City of Dunwoody will have much impact on our schools, other than perhaps controlling zoning so that the schools are not more crowded than they currently are. NCLB is a federal program, so there's not much that the city or Dekalb County can do about it.

I suspect that your decreased home value has more to do with the general economy rather than the education, culture, and services in the Dunwoody area. Home prices are down throughout the country -- the housing bubble has burst.

I hope that you will offer your services to make our city a great one.

DunwoodyParent said...

Home values in Dunwoody will continue to decrease due to the failure to plan for growth by the DeKalb School Board. The DeKalb schools are a lost cause. The only hope is a tax increase to residents to fund a City of Dunwoody School District.

Ilovemykids said...

dunwoodyparent, the decline in home values has very little to do with the Dekalb School board and a whole lot to do with the economy. Georgia state law prohibits the creation of new school districts.

DunwoodyParent said...

ilovemykids,

I disagree with your opinion on schools and home values. The economy has had a major part, but the schools play a part as well.

Is it not possible now to create a new school district as long as it is a 'Charter' school district? I think Dunwoody would first petition the county (and be declined of course) then petition the State (and be successful).

Ilovemykids said...

The city of Dunwoody does not even come close to having a tax base to support their own school system. As far as a "charter" school district? What benefits would that bring? It's my understanding that if the county denied charter status, but the state approved, then the schools would receive no local funding for operations. Charter school systems are still required to follow NCLB guidelines as well.

DunwoodyParent said...

With NCLB we would not be part of the DeKalb system, but our own. Under NCLB kids do not transfer from district to district; they transfer only within their district. If we are not part of DeKalb then the overcrowding at the high school ends.

You seem to know more on the funding than I do (P.O.,I have not researched this). Can you direct me to a state document or Bill stating that a City of Dunwoody School District would not receive local funds? I'd appreciate the input. Is it here somewhere: http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/pea_board.aspx?PageReq=PEABoardRules



Regarding tax base, this is something that an exploratory committee established by the city council could look at. I know it would require bonds for new schools (or bonds to purchase schools from DeKalb)and a tax increase.

ilovemykids, what is your objection to exploring the establishment of a school district for the city?

Ilovemykids said...

If a charter petition is denied at the local level, the petitioner may appeal to the state to become a "state charter special school". If approved, the charter school will not receive local dollars/funding for operations.

http://www.gacharters.org/faqs#how-are-they-funded

Ilovemykids said...

May an eligible charter school that is part of an LEA be listed as a choice option for parents who wish to transfer their child to a higher-performing school?
Yes. LEAs may list charter schools under their jurisdiction that have not been identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring as choice options,


http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/charterguidance03.pdf

themommy said...

A new law was passed last year (but is months behind in implementation) that will establish a commission that if a local system denies a charter application and this commission approves it, the proposed charter school can become a state charter school and will capture both local and state funds.

There will certainly be legal challenges to this as many opponents of the law (school systems) believe that the language in the Constitution forbids this. There was some hope that a system or two would file suit before the whole thing was up and running so the situation would be clarified.

As it is, it looks as if we will have to wait until the first schools are established (there are many waiting in the wings, especially in Gwinnett) to see the legality of this.

In Dunwoody, to benefit from this law, we would have to have buildings as DCSS owns our buildings.

themommy said...

One more thing, the Georgia Constitution was amended several decades ago to only permit counties to form school systems. Dan Weber heads the State Senate education committee. Send him a note asking him to introduce legislation to change this.

Many city systems in GA are supported by smaller populations than Dunwoody (Decatur and Buford come to mind). In Decatur they pay much higher taxes than we do, but they also have very small schools and lose some of the efficiencies that we would have in Dunwoody with larger schools.

DunwoodyParent said...

thanks for the input

joggerdavew said...

I suggest that much of the 'grief' about our local schools is unfounded. Nearly every Dunwoody-area schools has ALREADY a charter school, so what's the problem? What's the REAL issue here? Is the issue -- dare it be said -- that our precious little sons and daughters have to actually mingle with children from the "other side of the tracks", i.e. people who are neither affluent nor white?

When we moved to Dunwoody, more than 15 years ago, we were warned by numerous otherwise intelligent parents that the local schools were full of "gangs" -- yes, that's the word they used -- and that it was dangerous to send our kids there. All these parents ended up sending their kids to private school and I'm sure their kids got a great education. I wish them well. Despite their warnings, however, our kids went through the local schools with nary a problem. And, what do you know, they actually have friends of multiple races and from various parts of the city. And DESPITE the fact that their school buildings were a little old and they attended a few classes in trailers, they have actually received a fairly good education (in-between all those tests and exams, that's a feat!) Some of their teachers have been downright inspiring. So I know, first-hand, that all this talk about the local schools being the cause of Dunwoody's downfall is merely a cover-up for an attitude that people won't admit in public, yet is a product of the old South.

DunwoodyParent said...

jogger,

I doubt my rants have anything to do with 'old South' as I am from Pittsburgh.

You ask 'what's the problem?' The problem is that a school designed for 550 kids has 1,000; that's the problem. Kids eating lunch at 10:00; that's the problem. Kids spending their day in portable trailers with poor air quality and no bathroom; that's the problem. Teachers having to devote much of the classroom instruction time helping a single student that does not speak English; that's the problem. Taking kids away from their neighborhood school and from their siblings to go to a 4th-5th grade school; that's the problem. A school board that has not planned for growth in Dunwoody; that's the problem. A school board that is afraid to redistrict Dunwoody (and get elem schools under 100% capacity like most schools in the USA are because they received too many emails and threats of legal action); that's the problem (why is it that every other metro Atlanta community, and the state of Georgia, including the rest of DeKalb,has solved overcrowding by building new schools AND redistricting except for Dunwoody?)

Regarding skin color and family income, that bit is no concern either. But I do insist that all kids in the school be legal US citizens and speak (or working to) English. I'd also like to see kids in Dunwoody schools eat lunch between 11 and 1 (not 10:09 AM) and be educated indoors in a facility that is not overcrowded. Is that too much to ask in 2008 in the United States of America? A country with great wealth and innovation and we treat the school children of Dunwoody like cattle?

The reason I mentioned 'charter' was for someone to explore a way around the state's constitutional ban on the establishment of new school districts in GA.

Just by putting the word 'charter' on a school sign doesn't seem to change what happens in the school itself.

themommy said...

Dunwoody Parent

We have a less then ideal location for a new school. Had they used the property at the corner of N. Shallowford and Chamblee-Dunwoody they could have easily built a school (going up) that would have held 900 students and probably been open this year! However, our last board member wasn't a fan of having a school so close to apartments. He made it politically impossible to use that site.

So, we have a situation which you don't find often in other school districts, where the only way to redistrict and fill the new school is to move neighborhoods that literally touch one school district to the other, which is across the street. Other school districts do a better job with site choice. On top of that, you have one Dunwoody school that should have been filled years ago and that Board Member prevented that as well.

As to your comment about US citizens, actually that is illegal.

DunwoodyParent said...

The property at the corner of N. Shallowford and Chamblee-Dunwoody isless than ideal. The lot is small, so there would be little room for parking, playgrounds, etc. It's also not deep, so the school would have to be built very close to the road -- a busy road. In addition, the proximity to the intersection of Shallowford and Chamblee-Dunwoody would have presented some traffic challenges. Finally, the existing building would have to be torn down, creating additional expense. I spoke with Chip concerning this location many times, and he never mentioned the apartments as a problem. But, perhaps you know him better than I.

The Womack location, while not ideal, does afford plenty of land for parking, playgrounds, and a nice setback from the road. Womack is also wider and better able to handle the traffic. A nice large carpool lane will handle the traffic much better than Vanderlyn.

The location of the school did create some redistricting challenges, but the biggest challenge was the people of Dunwoody. MANY neighborhoods hired lawyers to try to force the county to return them to their schools. Remember Oxford Chase and Chesnut Ridge? I'm sure there were others. And, just imagine the legal and political battles that would have occurred if/when the Branches were moved to the new school (which would need to happen to fully utilize the Womack school.) I believe some of our local politicians would have played some cards to block that.

So, in the end, the DCSS took the option which provided less fuel for legal disputes. They tried to come up with a compromise to make the most people happy -- and I think that they did. There are many who are not happy with the decision, but I think it was the best one for the DCSS and the community.

DunwoodyParent said...

PLEASE NOTE that there are two different people posting here under 'dunwoodyparent'. The comment above is not from me.

Regarding illegal alien comment, I hope you do not consider my comment itself illegal but rather the content. I am familiar with Plyer vs Doe, a decision that changed government education for the worse.

DunwoodyParent said...

mommy, thanks for the input regarding the prior board member's actions. That is a problem in itself - one board member setting policy for his/her area. I know the other board members look to the local member for guidance for stuff going on in their respective district. But at some point, the superintendents and other board members have to take a closer look, and perhaps go against that board member. Jim's stance on the 4-5 school is wrong and you know it. The other board members sided with Jim since he is the Dunwoody guy. Bowen and other members sorta tied their hands on the issue, thinking Jim represented the majority on that issue (he doesn't). And Jim will support Cunningham (and others) when they speak on their area, without thinking independently.

The site of the school is not the best for a K-5 school, I agree with you. The school is being built and we need to deal with it. I think what we need is for that new school to be a K-5 (or a 2nd middle school), sell the old school property and use those funds toward new property for a 2nd middle school (or new K-5 close to ashford dunwoody rd).

Ilovemykids said...

Unfortunately, every time the word "re-district" is mentioned in reference to Dunwoody schools, certain groups of parents immediately put lawyers on notice for potential lawsuits in an attempt to make sure that their children are not the ones redistricted to another school. I'm sure this played a part in Dr. Lewis' decision to go with the 4-5 Academy.

DunwoodyParent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DunwoodyParent said...

I know this happened. But on what grounds could a valid suit be filed? If there is a suit to be filed for redistricting, then an equal suit could be filed for not redistricting.

If people were able to file successful lawsuits against school boards because of redistricting then you'd see lawsuits filed daily across the country.

themommy said...

Where to start, the property on Shallowford had great potential, it was actually Dr. Lewis' first choice and Chip talked him out of it and influenced the process to heavily.

As to Jim and his influence, actually the Board was voting the way the majority of the emails they received suggested from Dunwoody -- protect my property values at all costs, don't remove me (my family,etc) from my current school, don't make me go a block further than I go now, etc.

I actually have only heard of a small group of Dunwoody parents opposed to this plan. There are some parents with very young children who have yet to start school and then a handful of parents who conveniently live in communities that wouldn't be redistricted to the new school.

DunwoodyParent said...

moomy,

the group opposed to the 4-5 school is more than 'a small group'. An online petition earlier this year had 500 unique signatures opposing the 4-5 plan.

I admit the anti-redistricting group (I am referring to the original redistricting plan put out by the board) was more organized and vocal than pro-redistricting group. They got emails out daily to board members and had power and influence behind them They accomplished their goal of not being moved out of Vanderlyn. Many of those same families put their kids in private school in 4th or 5th grade anyway so what do they care about anything past 3rd grade. Based on the numbers on the original redistricting plan , a lot more kids stayed in their current school than were moved to the new school so how could they (those moved)have been the majority? The fact is a vocal minority was hear louder than the silent majority.

I predict the 4-5 school to be open for one year, then a major redistricting will happen. Let those people file lawsuits; they'll be tossed. You can't win a case against a school board because you think your property values will decrease because you are being moved to a new school.

I'm taking a break on this issue until next fall. (unless they propose to name the school some ridiculous name that does not relate to the community). Does anyone want to start a thread on proposed new school names? I'll start by suggesting Ronald Reagan Elementary.

Ilovemykids said...

Yes, if redistricting occurs, you can be sure lawsuits will follow. It's not the fact that the "anti-redistricting" folks may not win, it's the cost of having to defend such lawsuits - the school board just does not have the money to do so.

IMO, as far as naming the school, it should be named after someone within the Dunwoody community who has an impact on education in this area - I propose "Elizabeth Davis Elementary". The "newbies" in Dunwoody probably have no clue who she is, but the older Dunwoody folks would know her as a woman who valued and put education first in this community.

themommy said...

Why not just Dunwoody Elementary School? There use to be one, isn't one anymore and really has a unifying feel to it, don't you think?

The original lines would not have worked. They left the new school to small and left Chesnut to small. Some board members were uncomfortable with the fact that neighborhoods that backed up to Vanderlyn would go to the new school. If more students were returned to Chesnut and these aforementioned neighborhoods were returned to Vanderlyn, hardly anyone would have been left at the new school. Add to this the very real Civil Rights issues that were raised by renters in the Austin district and you had a problem.

Actually, Dunwoodyparent (and I think there are two of you which is really confusing, by the way), far more students from Vanderlyn now go to and complete Peachtree than do from Austin. Austin, in particular, has a long history of students leaving before 4th grade. State data shows that the 2006-2007 5th grade class was 20 percent smaller than they were in third grade. For Vanderlyn, the 5th grade was about 12 percent smaller. (I really need to get a life.)

I think that once the school is up and running, parents will love the opportunities that are offered for the students. I hear rumors that true subject acceleration is being considered.

Thaddeus Osbourne Dabell said...

We pulled our daughter out of Austin after 4th grade ITBS scores were in. That was over 10 years ago and I honestly doubt it is any better now than it was then.

Ilovemykids said...

Dunwoody Elementary would be fine. There should not be any controversy over that. My thoughts were that the old Dunwoody Elementary building still exits, albeit as the library and Spruill Center and it might be a little confusing to long time Dunwoody residents, some who still refer to that building as the old "Dunwoody Elementary".

themommy said...

One other point, that I was reminded of last night, some of the most vocal voices against the redistricting plan came from the scores of families being redistricted from Austin to Vanderlyn.

I know that many people don't want to hear this -- but the efforts against the original redistricting plan came from a wide spectrum (home owners, renters) of parents/citizens and weren't really organized except on a neighborhood level. There was no petition drive, no survey, nothing like that.

If The Branches or Dunwoody West had been moved to the new school in the original plan, don't you think they would have been disappointed as well.