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Posts Tagged ‘City Schools of Decatur’

Audio is now available on the City of Decatur website of the Lifelong Community Advisory Board’s information session on the Homestead Exemptions that will be on the November 8 ballot. City Manager Peggy Merriss, City Schools of Decatur Superintendent Dr. David Dude, and City Schools of Decatur Board Chair Annie Caiola were on the panel. The talk was moderated by Lifelong Community Advisory Board member Maria Pinkelton. Special thanks to Lifelong Community Advisory Board member Elizabeth Burbridge for recording the talk.

We apologize that the audio is a little grainy at the beginning but it gets better. Please be certain to listen for at least the first 15 minutes and you will get a good summary. Visit the City Schools of Decatur website for more in depth information. Also, visit the City website for information regarding Homestead Exemptions currently available.

If you would like more information about the Lifelong Community Advisory Board and its committees (Taxation and Affordability, Transportation, Housing, Decatur Neighbors, and Communication), please email leeann.harvey@decaturga.com or call 678-553-6548.

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Decatur’s Lifelong Community Advisory Board’s Taxation and Affordability Committee is hosting a Third Thursday information session for City of Decatur residents to learn more about the new homestead exemptions that will come up for vote on the November 8 ballot. Please join us on Thursday, October 20, 6:30 p.m., at Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore Street, to learn more about the exemptions.

A panel from City Schools of Decatur and City of Decatur will answer questions and provide information about these five homestead exemptions. One of them is an exemption from school property taxes for homeowners over the age of 65—an exemption that expires in five years when it will be re-evaluated.

For more information about the Decatur for a Lifetime initiative or the board, contact leeann.harvey@decaturga.com or 678-553-6548.

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From the City Schools of Decatur eblast –

Due to winter weather concerns, all CSD schools will dismiss 2 hours early on Friday, January 22nd. Buses will run regular afternoon routes 2 hours early.

• College Heights and K-3 Schools will dismiss at 12:30
• 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue will dismiss at 12:45
• Decatur High School will dismiss at 1:30
• Renfroe Middle School will dismiss at 1:40

All after school programs and activities are cancelled for Friday afternoon and all day Saturday including the SAT administration at Decatur High School.

This decision comes following a state of emergency issued by Governor Nathan Deal that will close state offices tomorrow at noon as well. For the full announcement from the Governor, visit http://goo.gl/nZ1zhb.

The CSD Safety Team will continue to monitor conditions. Any updates or changes will be posted to the CSD website and Facebook page.

 

 

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ARC platinum green communities 1.28.15This week, the City of Decatur was one of seven local governments to be recognized by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) for leadership in implementing policies and practices that contribute to efficient and sustainable use of resources in metro Atlanta.   The city became the first jurisdiction in the 10-county region to achieve Platinum level as a Certified Green Community, the highest certification level. Representatives from the city received its award at ARC’s January board meeting.  ARC recognized the City of Decatur, along with two other cities – Alpharetta and Sandy Springs, and Cherokee, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties, which either renewed or upgraded certification in ARC’s five-year-old Green Communities program.

Commenting on Wednesday’s presentation, ARC Chairman Kerry Armstrong said, “The seven local governments the Atlanta Regional Commission recognized today are working hard to use resources wisely and well, and I commend them for their achievements. Their efforts are contributing to cleaner air, reduced water demand, less waste going into landfills and more. As a result, we have a cleaner, greener region.”

After first achieving Green Communities certification at the Bronze level in 2009, and upgrading to the Gold level in 2010, the City of Decatur has renewed its certification at the Platinum level this year, the first local government to reach the highest achievement possible. Some of the actions Decatur took to become certified include:

  • Developing an Environmental Sustainability Plan as direct response to a charge from the people of the city seeking to become even more environmentally responsible. The plan outlines goals and strategies that the city and community should take to deepen their commitment to serving as good stewards of the environment and resources.
  • Expanding the Safe Routes to School program to include all eligible elementary and middle schools in the City Schools of Decatur system along with College Heights Preschool and two private schools. An average of 55 percent of students participate in International Walk and Roll to School Day each year.
  • Committing to building LEED certified facilities, the latest of which, Fire Station No. 1, is on course to obtain LEED Platinum. Sustainable technologies include high efficiency equipment and lighting, green roof garden, a geothermal vertical-closed loop heat pump system, solar water heating, rainwater harvesting and greywater reclamation. The building is designed to achieve a 33 percent reduction in energy consumption and in water usage.
  • Supporting several community gardens with financial and in-kind support. At Decatur’s Kitchen Garden, more than 30 refugee families grow hundreds of pounds of fresh food each season, combating hunger that their families and neighbors face. The produce is also sold at the Decatur Farmers Market and a number of Decatur restaurants.

ARC developed the Green Communities Program to foster greater environmental stewardship and to recognize local governments that invest in programs leading to a more sustainable region. The nationally recognized program showcases the ways in which local governments are helping to transform the region by reducing their environmental footprint. Since 2009, 18 jurisdictions in the 10-county region have been certified. Cities and counties earn Green Communities certification by implementing practices and policies in 10 categories, ranging from energy efficiency and green building to transportation and water efficiency. ARC’s Green Communities program was the first program in the country seeking to transform a region by promoting sustainability through a “green” certification program for local governments.

Complete information about ARC’s Green Communities Certification Program, including the measures each community has implemented, is available on the agency’s website.

The Atlanta Regional Commission is the official planning agency for the 10-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the City of Atlanta and 69 other cities.  The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues.

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A community-organized listening session (please note: this is not an official City of Decatur event and was organized by city residents for city residents) about potential future City of Decatur annexation is 4 p.m. this Sunday at The Church at Decatur Heights, 735 Sycamore Dr.

Members of the Decatur City Commission and the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education will be present. This event is free and open to the entire community.

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A message about annexation from Peggy Merriss, City Manager, City of Decatur and Dr. Phyllis Edwards, Superintendent, City Schools of Decatur

The City Schools of Decatur and the City of Decatur are working together to review and analyze implications related to projections of unparalleled student population growth as well as the opportunities and challenges presented by potential annexation.

Why is annexation being considered at this time:

The 2010 Strategic Plan as Part of GOAL 9: EXPAND AND DIVERSIFY THE CITY’S REVENUE BASE, Task 9B states: “Explore annexation opportunities in partnership with the City Schools of Decatur that expand the property tax base and enhance school operations.”

During the 2013 and 2014 sessions of the General Assembly, legislation to create the cities of Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker were considered. Incorporation of these areas would have municipalized the entire northern part of DeKalb County and resulted in placing new cities immediately contiguous to the existing City of Decatur city limits. None of the bills passed.

Currently, the Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) has issued a statement indicating that DeKalb County cityhood proponents have until November 15, 2014 to submit an agreed upon map and if they do not she will appoint a five-member panel to produce a map by December 31, 2015.

Given the current efforts to municipalize the unincorporated northern area of DeKalb County, the City of Decatur is in a position where long-term permanent city limits must be determined. Once the City is adjacent to another city, annexation is no longer a possibility. In addition to the long-term city limit definition, key objectives of the annexation master plan are to influence and control development at key gateways; expand and stabilize the property tax base; respond to interest from property owners; and, consolidate partial parcels.

Student population growth:

Rapid growth in student enrollment at City Schools of Decatur has been occurring for many years now. The growth in student enrollment has been studied by professional demographic experts and has been a topic of serious conversation at School Board meetings and also at joint meetings with the City Commission. The issue has been publically discussed and publicized through various community meetings and in media outlets. Since 2004, there have been a number of community and parent listening sessions that have taken place to obtain comment and input on the topic.

The City Schools of Decatur and the City of Decatur have contracted with the Sizemore Group to develop demographic projections for school-age population over time from areas identified in the 2014 draft annexation master plan. Those estimates continue to be refined. Preliminary information indicates that without any annexation, student enrollment is expected to increase by approximately 3,000 students. If the areas that are currently included in the draft annexation master plan are annexed, there will be an addition of approximately 580 more students by 2020.
The predicted growth in student enrollment appears to be coming from within the existing city limits. Future enrollment projections take into account current and potential likely future developments within the City. City School staff members are working through the predictions in terms of assuring a high quality education for the students and providing facilities that support an outstanding learning environment.

Facility needs:

City Schools of Decatur have addressed increased enrollments over the past ten years by implementing system-wide master plans that have used proceeds from Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) and from Certificates of Participation (COPs) capital financing for a program of facility renovation, expansion and re-use. Master planning efforts are currently underway for Renfroe Middle School and Decatur High School to accommodate enrollment growth that is almost entirely due to predictions of a larger student age population within the existing city limits.

Staff and consultant teams working with the City Schools and the City of Decatur are assessing service delivery needs and additional facilities will likely be part of any annexation plan. City Schools have already identified that an additional school facility will likely be needed without any annexation. Regretfully, that poses an extreme challenge within the existing city limits where even if there were 6-10 available acres of land, the going price is at, or above, $1million an acre. Part of the analysis of the draft 2014 annexation master plan is to identify possibilities for public facilities, including potential school sites.

Expansion of the tax base:

Another part of the analysis is the implications for adding to, and diversifying, the real property tax base. Both the City Schools of Decatur and the City of Decatur are reviewing the potential revenues and expenditures associated with the draft annexation master plan area. Opportunities to expand the tax base in the long term in order to stabilize and minimize potential future tax increases must be considered and annexation provides an opportunity for that possibility.

Future steps:

There is still a long way to go in the process. Both the City Schools and the City of Decatur are working on the background analysis and review that is needed in order to inform the discussion for the public and the Board of Education and the City Commission.

  • November 3, 2014: City Commission work session at 6:30 p.m. Public hearing during regular City Commission meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Both meetings at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St. Live stream of the meetings will be available online here.
  • November 5, 2014: Board of Education work session on enrollment numbers. 6:30 p.m. at City Schools Administrative Office, 125 Electric Ave.
  • November 12, 2014: Joint Work Session with City Commission and Board of Education. 6 p.m. at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St.
  • December 1, 2014: Final report released to public.
  • December 9, 2014: Board of Education considers adoption of a resolution regarding the Annexation Master Plan.
  • December 15, 2014: City Commission considers adoption of an annexation resolution.

If the City Commission adopts a plan, then: 

  • January – April, 2015: General Assembly considers and adopts legislation incorporating the annexation request, including authorizing a referendum.

If the General Assembly adopts the legislation and the Governor signs it, then:

  • July, 2015 or in November, 2015: A referendum is held.

If the referendum passes in the affirmative, then:

  • December, 2015: Annexation is effective.
    • June 1, 2016: First Installment tax bills are due.
    • August, 2016: School year begins.

Conclusion:

The process of determining whether or not to move forward with an annexation plan has not been completed. The City Schools and the City are working together because if a plan is adopted, it needs to serve and enhance all of the public needs in the community. Task 9B of Goal 9 of 2010 Strategic Plan is clear: “Explore annexation opportunities in partnership with the City Schools of Decatur that expand the property tax base and enhance school operations.” The question of annexation will not exist in the future – once the area surrounding the existing city limits is part of an incorporated city, there will be no choice and it is very likely that in the next 3-5 years, the City of Decatur will be surrounded by other incorporated cities. IF the past is any indication, the City Schools will continue to face enormous pressures in the next five years and moving forward into the future. Those pressures may not be able to be addressed within the existing city limits so annexation has to be explored.

Peggy Merriss
City Manager, City of Decatur

Dr. Phyllis Edwards

Superintendent, City Schools of Decatur

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PW ribboncutting-3 (2)

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Please join City of Decatur Public Works and City Schools of Decatur Facilities Maintenance

on Monday, March 24 at 8:30 a.m.

for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the recently renovated Eloise T. Leveritt Building

PW ribboncutting-3 (2)

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Today’s weather is a good opportunity to re-post the following from Sgt. Ross with the Decatur Police Department:

Check On Seniors In Your Neighborhood

This is not a warning to the community that it is cold outside, we are all quite aware. This is a request for everyone to pitch in as a community and offer something that is free, a few minutes of your time. Many of us prep for cold weather by stocking the kitchen, picking up a space heater, throwing more blankets on the bed and tending to our plants and animals. However, it is not easy for every member of our community to prepare for or endure extremely cold weather. Please take a few minutes to check on the seniors in your neighborhood. See if you can bring in their mail or wood or something else they may need. Sometimes simply being checked on is greatly appreciated when staying indoors gets to be lonely. Lastly, a neighbor may need emergency assistance and unable to call for themselves. If you are caring for an elder loved one or simply watching out for seniors in your neighborhood, click here for some specific tips to help.

The police non-emergency number is 404-373-6551.

Here’s a round-up of today’s closings in the City of Decatur:

  • The Decatur library is closing today at 2 p.m.
  • The Decatur Recreation Center is closing at 5 p.m. Youth basketball and all afternoon and evening classes are cancelled. All Recreation Center classes and activities before noon tomorrow are cancelled.
  • Decatur Municipal Court is closed tonight. Please call 678-553-6655 to reschedule your hearing for a future date.
  • All City Schools of Decatur after-school programs and after-school activities have been canceled for this afternoon. All evening activities, athletics practices and games, classes, and meetings scheduled in the City Schools of Decatur are also canceled.

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Polar bears photographed by the NOAA's National Ocean Service (not in Decatur)

Polar bears photographed by the NOAA’s National Ocean Service (not in Decatur)

UPDATE: Please bring a lunch for each child you drop off at Polar Camp.

It’s still really cold out, and City Schools of Decatur will be closed tomorrow. For City of Decatur residents looking for something for the little polar bears (aka children) to do, there will be a special Polar Camp tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore St.

Polar Camp is first-come, first served for a limited number of City of Decatur students in Kindergarten through fifth grade only. There is no cost for Polar Camp for Decatur residents. Parents will need to fill out registration and health forms when dropping off campers who are not already enrolled in after school programs.

For more information, please call Children and Youth Services at 404-378-1082.

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