DeKalb County Superintendent, Michael Thurmond, has thrown down the gauntlet over annexation and cityhood. He has made it clear that the Friends and Family system won’t tolerate autonomy in the form of a charter cluster. Now, he isn’t willing to let Druid Hills pick up and go to the City of Atlanta and APS without a fight. I think the message here is, “Look, we know this isn’t about educating kids. This is about jobs for a certain group of friends and family. Anything that threatens the status quo will be met with a fight.” In effect, he is holding the entire county hostage to any potential improvement in a vastly substandard school system. The Druid Hill Charter Cluster really rocked the DeKalb School District. The District knew that if the cluster idea succeeded, the avalanche of change would be upon the system. As clusters peeled off to accomplish what the district could not do, DCSS’ incompetence would have nowhere to hide. More to the point, clusters would deny the central office the opportunity to divert money from the classroom to fund more chaos and bad ideas at the central office.
The Superintendent released a “report” with some outlandish language and faux facts. He claims 2922 students would be “disenfranchised”. Really, Mr. Thurmond? He is concerned about where students would go to school if certain facilities are annexed into APS. I have a suggestion. Perhaps you should reach out to Forsyth County. That school system is growing by roughly 1500+ kids per year. How are they accommodating such rapid growth? You could have kept the old Briarcliff High School repaired and up to date. Do you know its capacity is almost twice that of Druid Hills?The Superintendent is going to commit $2.5 million from somewhere (reserves ?) to fight annexation. That is taxpayer money that was meant to fund education. Interesting to note, there is a prohibition on the use of taxpayer funds to influence a referendum. For example, the school district is not allowed to campaign for an eSPLOST. Mr. Thurmond is a lawyer so he should already know this.
The Superintendent and the current BOE were very critical of previous administrations pursuing the, now settled, Heery Mitchell case. It appears hypocritical to engage in a costly legal battle of choice. DeKalb taxpayers should know this is your next swamp of quicksand just waiting to gobble up your money. Law firms throughout DeKalb are seeing dollar signs. Even on the new board coming in January, Mr. Thurmond will have 4 solid votes to “disenfranchise” taxpayers from their money.
Instead of worrying about the annexation of Druid Hills into Atlanta, why not focus on improving the education of the children within DCSS? Look to the Cross Keys cluster and ponder how this area has been ignored. Embrace actual “diversity”, which means “a range of different things”. Find ways to lower class size and push the taxpayers’ money into the classroom. Dare to be a leader that sheds the past and recognizes that the future belongs to the disbursement of power, not the concentration. In short, compete! Make DCSS an option that parents want to select, rather than escape, for their children.
How did we get here? First, we chose a superintendent that has NO professional educational experience AND is part of the DeKalb Friends and Family coalition. It is important to point out that Board Member Marshall Orson was the driving force in getting Thurmond into DCSS. Both Pam Speaks and Nancy Jester voted against hiring him before they became collateral damage in the school board massacre facilitated by SACS, the Governor, and a handful of local legislators. So, we all have Marshall Orson to thank for Superintendent Thurmond. It’s sadly ironic.
I truly believe it is way past time for the voters, taxpayers, and parents to get angry, informed, and serious about what is happening to us here in DeKalb because of incompetent leadership. I think that Druid Hills and their map has greatly overspread into the area of Lavista Hills. If Druid Hills (plus more of what is in Lakeside/LaVista Hills) gets annexed into Atlanta, this is certainly a political win for Mayor Reed. The legislature has already started their Pontius Pilate dance. Druid Hills, Tucker, Lavista Hills you all deserve an up or down vote on cityhood.
I hope that people understand that Michael Thurmond is in for the long haul. The BOE is slow walking the search if there is one at all. As I have said previously I will not be surprised if Thurmond is extended or even given a new contract.The search is a farce up until now. It would be everything a new BOE could do to get someone in place by June. We have now learned that only one search firm is in the running. That one will be the one that gives the staff exactly what they want. I truly hope that I am wrong on this one.
I think Druid HIlls has a right to be annexed if they wish. Their extended boundaries that stretch all the way to Toco Hills and N. Druid Hills Rd and Briarcliff Rd. are way out of their territory.
Pay attention now or you will be paying for a long time to come.