DeKalb parents want to slow school closure plan

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Some DeKalb County parents are hoping to slow the process of proposed school closures.

The DeKalb County School System has released a sweeping 105-page document that outlines its proposed plans for the next five years, including closing and rebuilding existing schools.

Tucker Middle School is one of the schools included in the plans. It could be torn down, along with seven other schools, and rebuilt to accommodate more students. Twelve other schools would be closed entirely, including Livsey Elementary School in Tucker.

The plans clearly have the word “draft” printed on them, but some parents are worried that the school board is trying to move on the plan too fast, with a vote scheduled for next Monday.

“Surprising is the word that comes to mind. These are major decisions,” Dr. Randy Shepley of First Baptist Church of Tucker said.

Shepley’s children attend Livsey and Tucker Middle School.

“For the church where I serve, we’ve noticed the children’s numbers are actually going up and that makes us wonder why you would decommission a school,” Shepley said.

Other details of the 5-year plan include rebuilding eight schools and merging two middle schools with their high schools. The district would take on millions in new debt in order to speed up construction.

Many parents said they’re irked by the administrators’ push to adopt the plan Dec. 10, before newly elected school board members take office.

In a release, the district said, “The goal (of the plan) is to support teacher and student success by easing overcrowding at some schools, while building student-capacity in areas of the district.”

Some parent groups are just now organizing a plan, hoping to convince school leaders to delay any decisions.

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson is expected to give a state of the system speech on Tuesday, where she is expected to address the plan. The school board is also expected to discuss the plan in a Thursday meeting.