Atlanta’s annexation of Emory University and the Center Disease Control and Prevention drew criticism from the DeKalb County School District superintendent because the district will lose $2.5 million in revenue. District 1 Board of Education member Stan Jester said that loss of revenue will be “minimally felt” at local Brookhaven and Dunwoody schools.
The Atlanta City Council voted Dec. 4 to approve the annexation of more than 700 acres into the city of Atlanta, which will take effect Jan.1. Until last week, expanding the APS boundaries was not part of the proposal. The Atlanta Public Schools boundaries will now be expanded along with city of Atlanta boundaries, meaning property tax revenue collected in that area will go to APS instead of DeKalb schools.
Losing funds is never desired by the school district, but the amount lost is small enough for it to be unlikely to cause any major issues, said Jester, who represents Brookhaven and Dunwoody on the Board of Education. Compared to the district’s $1 billion budget, the $2.5 million amount is small, but Jester acknowledged every dollar is needed.
“Every dollar counts and I imagine that’s why [Atlanta Public Schools] wanted the boundaries expanded,” he said.
These funds go into the general fund to be used for regular expenditures like teacher salaries and programs, he said. The loss of the funds won’t impede other projects, like the planned new Cross Keys High School, from moving forward because those projects are funded by capital funds raised through the E-SPLOST, he said.
DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green said in a statement that he is against expanding the APS boundaries. Only 10 students will be affected, but $2.5 million in revenue that used to go to DeKalb schools will now go to APS, he said.
“The expansion is irrelevant and unnecessary: it was not included in the original plan and was shoehorned in at the 11th hour,” Green said in the statement. “The expansion is about money: the change in boundaries impacts just 10 students yet will strip $2.5 million in vital resources from DCSD,” he added.
The more important issue for Jester is that the that other residents and properties near Emory and the CDC will likely petition to be annexed into Atlanta in the future, further reducing the district’s boundaries and tax base, he said.
“I think more people are concerned about the domino effect that this could have,” he said.