Teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and parents voted Tuesday whether to take the petition for the Druid Hills Cluster Charter Schools to the DeKalb County Board of Education.
The petition is a grassroots effort started by parents and teachers in February as a means to figure out how to work with the school board, but to increase neighborhood-based control over the school and finances.
“There needs to be a shift in how we deal with education,” Druid Hills High School teacher Carrie Staines said, at an Aug. 5 school board meeting. “DeKalb County is a massive school system and a fair amount of the money does not go to improve the school since the system is so large. The charter will allow us to get to know our community and schools better.”
The petition was created by an organizing committee consisting of two volunteers from each school who oversaw the implementing, organizing and spearheaded the campaign for the charter.
The seven schools that would exist in the charter are Avondale, Briar Vista, Fernbank, Laurel Ridge and McLendon elementary schools, Druid Hills Middle School and Druid Hills High School. The principals from these schools would work together to decide on curriculum, new hires and other school matters. Also, a cluster advisory board will be formed by parents.
Residents attended the school board meeting to express their concerns for the petition.
“I want to urge the board to strongly consider the Druid Hills Cluster Charter Schools,” Avondale Estates Commissioner Lindsay Forlines said. “With the charter, these schools have an opportunity for more parent involvement and can provide a better education for our children.”
Also at the meeting, interim Deputy Superintendent Alice Thompson introduced the new principals and announced the school system hired 700 new teachers for this school year. Staines said by having more local control, centralized teachers will have the ability to buy into the system instead of having constant change in curriculum.
Druid Hills resident and organizing committee member Matt Lewis said there has been opposition to this effort from those who do not want localized control and desire education to be more centralized from the school district.
If 60 percent of the teachers and parents present at the public meeting vote to take the petition to the school board, the school board will have 60 days to make a decision about the charter.