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Four DeKalb school board seats up for grabs
by Bobby Tedder
btedder@neighbornewspapers.com
June 06, 2012 12:28 PM | 1852 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With four seats on the DeKalb County School District’s board of education, hot-button issues abound.

Incumbent Don E. McChesney will seek to fend of challenger Marshall Orson in the District 2 race.

In District 4, incumbent H. Paul Womack will vie with James T. Gilbert, James P. Kinney III and James L. McMahan.

Incumbent Pamela Speaks will face off with Michelle Jenkins-Clark for the right to represent District 8. Meanwhile, Melvin Johnson, Denise Etienne McGill, Terrilyn C. Rivers-Cannon and Latasha Walker are all running for the District 6 post vacated by Thomas Bowen.

An ongoing comprehensive school system overhaul has shaken things up in recent weeks.

The district has opted to purge 133 jobs heading into the next school year. Axing those positions — primarily assistant principals and graduation coaches — will amount to $9.2 million in savings for a district strapped with a significant budget shortfall.

One new source of revenue; however, has put the DeKalb school board at odds with some residents and other county officials.

The board approved a pact with T-Mobile earlier this year allowing the telecommunications giant to erect towers in multiple residential communities and on school property.

The DeKalb Board of Commissioners took issue with the deal, charging their school system counterparts of attempting to sidestep the county zoning ordinance — an allegation the latter have denied.

Commissioners urged DeKalb Chief Executive Burrell Ellis, who oversees the department responsible for issuing building permits, to reject any applications brought forth on behalf of T-Mobile.

Ellis responded with a letter issued to commissioners last month.

“Staff has been directed to identify and evaluate the applicability of the various federal and state laws and regulations, consider the permit applications as they are presented and make the appropriate determination based on our thoughtful evaluation of the facts,” Ellis said.

The chief executive also asked that funds be made available for legal expenses due to the strong likelihood that litigation would result from a denial of permits.

As the aforementioned issues continue to play out, the shadow of redistricting lurks nearby.

The DeKalb delegation of lawmakers have opted to delay reducing the size of the school board from its current total of nine — as mandated by 2011 legislation — and the configuration of redrawn maps.

Redistricting initiatives come about every 10 years and are based on the most recent census information.
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