DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green

DeKalb County’s new school superintendent told a group of Dunwoody parents that he intends to turn attention away from the school district’s past problems and redirect it to success in the classroom.

Stephen Green told more than 75 members of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association gathered at Dunwoody High School that “the district, in my estimation coming in, was off course.”

But now, he said, “we have a clarity of purpose. We know what we’re about and we know what we’re not about.”

Green took control of the 102,000-student DeKalb district July 1. He follows interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond, who took office after his predecessor was indicted.

Green predicted a recent decision by the school board to spend more money on teachers’ salaries would reverse the drain of teachers leaving DeKalb for neighboring districts.

“We are seeking to get better,” Green said. “We have a lot of areas to work on as we continue.”

Green also told parents that a fifth Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax for education would be on the ballot in May.

The tax will raise about $500 million, school officials said, and be used to finance safety and security projects; build new schools and additions to existing schools; renovate buildings; improve technology; and replace school buses, desks and other equipment. The individual projects will be determined after consultation with parents and are scheduled to go to the school board in December, they said.

Green also told the Dunwoody parents he did not support proposals to create small independent local school systems. Some Dunwoody parents have argued that they should be able to create a city school system and Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) has promoted legislation calling for an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to allow more school systems.

“Independence is OK,”Green said, “but if you’re talking about separate school systems, segregation … I’m not in favor of breaking up the school district, if that’s what that’s about. Our challenge is to be a large school system and to feel small.”