DeKalb Schools Master Plan Could Have Seismic Impact on Tucker Cluster
In a school district the size of DeKalb County, change is inevitable. With overcrowding of some schools, underutilization of others and facility maintenance needs across the board, the Board of Education recently decided the time was right to undergo a Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) process. The CMP process included hiring an outside consultant, Perkins & Will, to interview community stakeholders, volunteers, teachers, staff and administrators from all schools, as well as to perform an exhaustive analysis of the district’s assets.
“It has been a long process,” explained Trenton Arnold, DeKalb’s Region II Superintendent. “We’re at a point now where through our vendor Perkins & Will, who has been guiding us through this process, that they are now presenting recommendations to the public.”
Those recommendations raised some eyebrows among many Tucker parents last month, with some pleased and some not. The biggest proposed changes included:
- consolidating Livsey and Midvale Elementary Schools. This would mean Midvale would be shut down and a new school building would be built on the existing Livsey site. This is a long-range plan that would not be executed for a decade.
- building a new Idlewood Elementary School building. The current Idlewood has been overcrowded for years and has scores of maintenance needs. The building, as with a new Livsey, would be contingent on approval of future ESPLOST funding.
- expanding the student body at Smoke Rise Elementary to include sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. This would help with underutilization of the new building, as well as easing some of the strain on Tucker Middle School.
“These are recommendations right now, and both [Perkins & Will] and the District and the Board understand that,” Arnold explained. “What’s critical and why we’re bringing this forward now, before the Board gets a first final look at it in December, is to continue to get input and encourage participation from our community.”
There are a number of ways for Tucker parents or other community stakeholders to express their agreement or disagreement with facets of these recommendations. The first is to speak at the Board of Education meeting on November 15. They can also send comments directly to the superintendent or regional superintendent. Allyson Gevertz is the Board of Education member representing most of Tucker, while Diijon DaCosta represents Idlewood Elementary. All of these email addresses are posted to the City of Tucker school webpage at tuckerga.gov/schools.
“What I want to make sure of is that there’s no feeling as though [interested parties] are having a hard time reaching out or getting in touch with somebody because, trust me, the board member wants to hear from them. The superintendent wants to hear. The district offices want to hear. Operations wants to hear. Even our vendor wants to hear back.” Arnold said. “As they say in the presentation, everybody’s going to get something, but it may not equate to everybody getting everything that they want. That’s always the challenge when you start talking about projects of this scope and scale.”
Many of these projects are long-term and would not affect current students in these schools. Others would take effect more quickly. Either way, none will take effect until the Board of Education and Superintendent gain additional input. The clock is ticking.
The PowerPoint presentation made by Perkins & Will consultants last month to the school community can be found at tuckerga.gov/schools.