Senate Bill 293 makes it mandatory that DeKalb County school board members shall be elected and provide conditions that will expand the boundaries of Decatur’s independent school systems that are extended by annexation by the City of Decatur, was signed into law on May 10th. 

According to the bill, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will provide both services and facility access in return for the received taxes. The legislation will allow DCSD to receive an amount equal to all ad valorem taxes for educational purposes collected on property zoned for commercial use or that portion of a mixed-use property where the primary use is commercial within all annexed areas. According to board members, the taxes would be collected at the City schools rate which is $23 million compared to the County schools’ $20 million.

Wednesday afternoon, Georgia State Senators Emanuel Jones and Elena Parent, spoke to the bill at a press conference.

“I am honored to have sponsored legislation that protects DeKalb’s school system from further incursion by other school systems, especially as it relates to commercial annexations,” said State Senator Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur. “This measure will protect the investment the citizens of DeKalb County have made in their school system and the outstanding faculty that created the State’s best learning environment!”

The bill also states that DCSD students will not be required to change school systems during a school year when an annexation occurs. Further, students who are rising or current 5th, 8th, 11th, and 12th graders will be allowed to remain in their school until they complete those pivotal years.

Vickie B. Turner, Dekalb County Board Chair, said there’s only one takeaway saying, “It’s always the children that win.”

This bill also includes provisions on the transfer of students and buildings and properties. Further, it requires that if the City of Atlanta annexes property that is in the boundaries of the DeKalb County School System, the action cannot be completed without a local Act by the General Assembly following the annexation or with the adoption of an intergovernmental agreement between the DeKalb County School System and the City of Atlanta School System approving such changes. 

“They say it takes a village. What I love most about Dekalb County is it’s not just a mantra. We really live it,” said State Senator Elena Parent, D-Decatur. “We never lost sight of the fact we want every child in Dekalb County to thrive.”

Vickie B. Turner, Dekalb County Board Chair (L) hugs Tasha White, City of Decatur Board Chair (R). (Photo: Jessika Ward/The Atlanta Voice)

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