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DeKalb County schools financial miscue could cost Dunwoody High $1.2 million

Local school board member says she will fight that proposal

DeKalb County school board representative Nancy Jester says she will fight a district proposal that could halt $1.2 million needed to complete a massive renovation at Dunwoody High School.

The school board will meet this week to discuss how to handle a just-discovered $41-million shortfall of a Special Local-Option Sales Tax that was passed five years ago.

The district's new superintendent, Cheryl Atkinson, has recommended cutting off funding for 35 building projects that are underway - either putting them on the shelf or scrapping them entirely.

Jester said that can't be allowed to happen at Dunwoody High School.

"Some of it is so basic that it's really non-negotiable," Jester said. "It's not asking for the sun and the moon and the stars."

Dunwoody High School is at the tail end of a $20-million renovation. Jester said the items included the final phase of the renovation were basic things like installing whiteboards in classrooms and completing the wiring in an already built media center.

"You have to have a whiteboard in every classroom, obviously," she said. "I am not OK with using (Dunwoody's) project to bridge the (deficit) gap," Jester said.

The school board will meet this week to begin looking at the problem more closely, Jester said.

The district's deficit was created by a number of errors. District officials miscalculated interest owed on a multi-million loan at the beginning of the SPLOST.  A new Chamblee High School will likely cost $10 million more than budgeted. DeKalb County will not receive $5 million in anticipated state funding and a $500,000 debt was carried over from a prior sales tax.

Atkinson, who replaced Superintendent Ramona Tyson in August, declined to point fingers in the matter. Jester did as well.

"This is an error that went on as SPLOST went along. It's an involved responsibility," Jester said. "I am not in a position to point a finger right now. I'm solving problems."

The deficit for the SPLOST comes to light just before the $500-million revenue package expires this summer. Voters in the district have already approved another special sales tax to fund building projects in the district.

 Here is a list of projects still to be completed at Dunwoody High School:

  • White boards and tack boards for every room that needs them
  • Mass communications rewiring in media center 
  • Replace all floors in the halls and classrooms and carpet band and orchestra rooms
  • Replace thresholds
  • Replace cafeteria floor 
  • Baseboards throughout school
  • Repave and stripe south parking lot
  • Redo entire concession stand
  • Family & consumer science cabinetry & countertops 
  • New furniture for select rooms in the building including teacher and student desks    
Paula March 04, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I thought it was illegal to use SPLOST funds designated for a particular project and move those funds to another project?

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