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Decatur School Board to consider adding $1.9 million in portable classrooms


Decatur School Board to consider adding $1.9 million in portable classrooms

The Decatur School Board meets on Jan. 12, 2016. File Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
The Decatur School Board meets on Jan. 12. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The Decatur School Board meets on Jan. 12. File photo by Dan Whisenhunt

With the possibility of renting Atlanta’s East Lake Elementary off the table, City Schools of Decatur is considering another, more costly solution to deal with its need for additional classrooms.

At its upcoming regular meeting, the School Board will consider a contract that will add $1.9 million worth of portable classroom space to the district.

The School Board meets on Tuesday, March 8, at 6:30 p.m. at CSD’s central office, located at 125 Electric Avenue. All meetings are open to the public.

The Portable Classrooms will be allocated as follows:

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– Four classrooms at Oakhurst Elementary

– Six classrooms & Restroom Bank with infrastructure at 4/5 Academy FAVE

– Six classrooms with infrastructure at Decatur High School

The $1.9 million price is lower than the original $2.7 million estimate for acquiring the additional portable classroom space. Renting East Lake would’ve been a far cheaper option. The estimated cost of year one of the proposed East Lake lease was $220,000. Superintendent David Dude said the “detrimental aspects” of a proposed lease – like moving students around, paying more money to transport them, and hiring more staff – outweighed the benefits of the proposal.

In other business:

– It is likely there will be one or more people at Tuesday’s meeting speaking on behalf of media clerk Susan Riley, who was fired and later placed on paid administrative leave by Dude. Tom Stubbs, a local attorney who has been rallying other residents to Riley’s cause, said he plans to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting and others may join him. In an email to potential speakers, Stubbs urged Riley’s supporters to be respectful during their remarks.

“You can express disagreement with Dr. Dude’s actions, whether it is his judgment in making the decision or accepting without further investigation the portrayal of events on which he based his decision,” Stubbs writes. “You can question that activities of others who played a role in Susan’s firing and suggest a review of those activities. However, personally attacking a specific individual, including the Superintendent, Dr. Dude or other school employees, is not just against the rules, it is downright harmful to the cause.”

Dude has pledged to have a third party conduct an independent review of the firing, but so far the independent investigator hasn’t been named. Click here to read previous articles about Susan Riley’s case.

– The School Board will consider adopting a joint resolution with the Decatur City Commission in support of safety improvements along Scott Boulevard in front of Westchester Elementary.

Parents of that school launched a petition with the goal of making the road safer.

It says in part, “Despite numerous programs sponsored by the school system to encourage walking, parents are scared to walk their children to school along Scott for fear of serious injury. The sidewalks are narrow with little to no buffer between the sidewalk and the road. In addition, there is inadequate standing room at crosswalks for students waiting for the light to change.”

The petition says Westchester, which reopened in 2014 after being closed for 10 years, created a safety committee comprised of school leaders and parents. The committee has met with Decatur city officials and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and created a list of projects, including slowing down traffic on Scott between Clairemont and Coventry Roads and providing funding for traffic direction at Westchester as students are arriving and leaving.

The petition cites statistics gathered by Decaturish which found Scott Boulevard led the city in speeding tickets between January 2013 and April 2015.

The proposed resolution recommends the following safety improvements:

– Reduction of the speed limit

– Addition of radar speed signs

– Crosswalk and signal improvements

– Continued evaluation of a pedestrian hybrid beacon in front of Westchester Elementary School

– Lengthened school zone with additional signage

– Sidewalk improvements

– A corridor study with recommendations of pedestrian and bike safety enhancing projects

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