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DeKalb school board ponders deficit for school building projects

Board makes no decision on a proposal that could take $1.1 million from Dunwoody High

The good news is that the DeKalb school district's deficit is not as bad as originally thought. The bad news is that the school board couldn't decide how it will account for a now-estimated $37-million deficit in a school building fund.

The Board of Education's budget committee met Thursday to discuss problems with the district's . It was the first meeting  since the district's leaders discovered the multi-million-dollar deficit and proposed deep cuts to ongoing school building projects.

The proposed cuts put more than $1.1 million in improvements at Dunwoody High School in jeopardy. Dunwoody is one of around 35 school projects in the district that could be canceled or shelved.

Nancy Jester, Dunwoody's school board representative, came out against allowing the budget axe to fall on the local high school. Dunwoody High is putting the finishing touches on a $20 million renovation.

Some of the finishing touches are basic and necessary, say parents. Classrooms  lack whiteboards for teacher presentations. Desks are needed for students and teachers. A state-of-the-art mass communications room still needs rewiring.

The cuts could also affect Peachtree Middle School. About $250,000 was promised by the district to repair  the school's track, which was ripped up from  construction at the school and suffers from old age.

The budget shortfall was a result of bad financial planning, say board members. Around $20 million of it comes from a miscalculation of interest on loans executed at the beginning of the $500-million SPLOST, which started almost five years ago.

The district also understimated building the new Chamblee High School by $10 million.

The school board is expected to continue to discussions on the deficit at their regular Monday meeting.

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