Piggybacking off of District 79 State Rep. Tom Taylor’s House Resolution 486, Johnson and Harris decided to form the advocacy group to help create more school choice for parents — which Johnson said benefits the entire state, not just the local area.
“Tom Taylor had already spoken about his intent to reintroduce this amendment about the possibility of independent school systems,” said Johnson. “And I knew we needed some kind of change. So when Tom started talking, I asked to jump on board. I knew I wanted to make a difference.”
Taylor’s resolution calls for an amendment to the state constitution to “authorize any municipality created on or after Jan. 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after Jan. 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, to establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system.”
The organization has already hosted several community meetings, garnering support and letting residents know more about the efforts.
DeKalb County has about 100,000 children in its school district, which Johnson said is one of the main reasons a smaller, local school system is needed.
“We are the third largest school district in the state and with that blanket policies are made for all 100,000 students,” she said. “Even though the county is separated into five area districts, they are all treated the same. A local, small system could provide high quality education to hopefully maximize the potential of all the kids.”
In a small school system, Johnson said leaders would be able to recognize and respond to students and parents quicker than a larger system.
The city of Dunwoody and Dunwoody Parents Concerned About Quality Education joined together for a feasibility study on a Dunwoody Independent School District. According to the report, a reallocation of revenues and costs — including projected costs of a new Dunwoody Independent School District — allows the conclusion that deconsolidation and formation of an independent school district is financially feasible for Dunwoody.
Projected revenues for a separate Dunwoody school district from local property tax allocations, state funding and federal funding would have been $78.7 million in 2012 — based on student and community characteristics, teachers’ profiles and current laws and regulation, according to the report. Costs of $37.8 million in 2012 would no longer have accrued to a deconsolidated DeKalb County School District, but would have fallen to a new Dunwoody district.
Costs for operation of a Dunwoody central office and services are projected to be $10.3 million. Net revenues for operations of an independent Dunwoody school district would exceed school and district operating costs by $30.7 million annually, according to the report.