Though most of the residents in my neighborhood look like me on the outside, I know that we are different because we hail from different parts of the state, country and world. I believe our roots of origins and life experiences have shaped and defined who we are today. This diversity is what I believe makes my neighborhood a great place to live. We find a way to be agreeable despite our disagreements as we all have a common goal of wanting to make our neighborhood a great place to live.
Expand this to our larger community of DeKalb County and I believe the same applies. I believe we all want what is best for our community, starting with quality schools for our children. I see this is a key factor in determining our quality of life as it makes our community more desirable for everyone. To ensure we have quality schools, it requires active and engaged citizens along with frequent collaboration with our school system, county government, business and faith based communities.
Under the moniker ‘2020 Vision’ the school district began an 11 month process starting in October 2010 with the goal of developing a 10 year Facility Master Plan. It began with a public engagement phase, soliciting feedback from the community. Bluntly speaking, I was disappointed by the lack of participation of South DeKalb residents in the Charrettes. Opportunities were provided to attend the meetings or contribute via an online survey. Regretfully not many participated in either. It is fair to say that some recommendations may be formulated based on input received thus far and the opinions of many in South DeKalb may not be reflected.
I believe the impact of the decisions that will evolve from this recommendation are comparable to the district’s compliance to the Pitts v. Cherry lawsuit in 1969 and conversion to the middle school model in the late 80’s. Combined with the current economic challenges, the school district may not have much choice with some of their recommendations. I believe we will see some combination of school closures, consolidations, and redistricting throughout the school district. Where this will happen remains to be seen.
It’s not too late to be heard. There will be another phase of public engagement in January 2011. I strongly encourage citizens to go to the school districts website and review the data that the recommenders will be using. You can find it on the 2020 Vision and Planning pages on the website. It is said that rising tides lifts all boats. The recommendations we advocate for can help provide greater access to opportunities for our children. We need more voices to ensure this happens. Please do your best to participate when the meeting dates, times, and sites are announced.