A new Dunwoody High School principal has been hired and will start Oct. 16, DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green said at a Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber luncheon Oct. 4.
The district has hired Priscilla Cole, who was most recently an assistant principal at Centennial High School in Roswell, a Fulton County public school.
She will replace Tom McFerrin, who announced in July he would resign to take a new job as the DeKalb County School District’s Career Technical and Agricultural Education coordinator.
Cole was also named assistant principal of the year in Fulton County’s Northeast Learning Community.
Green said having a new principal at Dunwoody High will usher in “the next era” at the school.
“Dunwoody is at a very important crossroad right now. [McFerrin] has left a powerful legacy and brought the school to new heights,” Green said. “It’s time for the next era.”
Green discussed the new hire at a luncheon held at Seasons 52 at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody, which about 40 people attended.
Green also said at the luncheon that he was in favor of tax abatements in response to a question about incentivizing an Amazon headquarters in the area.
“I am not opposed to tax abatements. I understand the importance of enticing business,” he said.
Abatements provide reductions or exemptions on property taxes, which could affect how much tax dollars the school district receives. Green said he is in favor of abatements, but that they need to be monitored and regulated.
“They have to have a start date and end date, and end when they’re supposed to end,” he said.
Green also discussed the role poverty plays in student success. To help students with challenges they face at home, including poverty, Green has hired psychologists and sociologists, he said.
“The outreach has got to be deeper and wider. We cannot pretend like [poverty] doesn’t exist,” he said. “Some will say that’s not the schools’ job, but we know what goes on at home affects a student’s performance at school.”
An initiative to have DeKalb teachers help build their own curriculum is moving along, Green said, with the first phase having been approved by the board March 2017, which included curriculum for academic subjects. The second phase is projected to go before the board in March 2018 and will include curriculum on elective subjects, Green said.
Green also noted that standardized test scores and high school graduation rates have risen. However, SAT scores district-wide remain below state averages, he said.
“We’re still behind the state, so we’ve got a long way to go, but we are making progress,” he said.