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DeKalb School Board, Commissioners Discussing Options For New Schools

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
DeKalb School Board, Commissioners Discussing Options For New Schools

The DeKalb County Board of Education and Dekalb County Commission took a first step at trying to answer facility needs for the school system during a joint meeting Tuesday.

Though the meeting was scheduled to talk about an elementary school, Director Of Schools Patrick Cripps said other facility needs are growing. County Commissioners pointed to two immediate options: the school system contributing $2 million toward a project or extending a sales tax agreement in place with the cities inside the county to help fund a project.

Cripps said inflation has already taxed the school system.

“We’re going into our reserves more and more each year,” Cripps said. “And prime example, you know, pre-Covid we could buy school buses, two of them, for $180,000. We just bought two of them for $300,000.”

County Mayor Matt Adcock said the extension of the sales tax agreement would likely mean no other school projects over the next 30 years. Cripps said another school would be needed in the county immediately after the one currently in discussion, citing issues with the local high school.

“The school was built originally for 400 people,” Cripps said. “There’s 800 running in the halls now. Same thing with Smithville Elementary. You talk about, ‘Well is Smithville Elementary that big a need?’ I say yes because we got two second-grade classes that’s not even part of Smithville Elementary. They’re at Northside. They’re not even with their peers. That’s a problem for me.”

School Board Chairman Shaun Tubbs said it has been confusing and difficult to work with the county commission on this matter throughout his ten years on the board.

“We’ve been told so many things,” Tubbs said. “We were told four years ago, the commission had came and talked to us about a plan that they could build a Pre-k through 2, and in ten years should have it paid off, and then start building a high school. But then, whenever the vote came up for it, they voted against it.”

Adcock said the next step in the process is to discuss the sales tax agreement extension with the cities in DeKalb County.

“In this plan, they’re talking about building another school right after this one,” Adcock said. “So, if that’s the case, we’re going to need that plan anyways, that agreement with the cities.”


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