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Grassroots Movement Saves Livsey Elementary School

DeKalb County Board of Education makes final ruling on redistricting at packed hearing Monday

On Monday night, working through a packed house and power outages, the DeKalb County Board of Education voted with a 7-2 margin to approve a consolidation and redistricting plan for the county.

Per a press release from the school board: "The recommendation presented to the Board of Education for its consideration during the Feb. 7 Board meeting was approved today with the following adjustments:

1. No change to current attendance lines for Flat Rock Elementary School and Bouie Theme School.

2. Modifications to the initial recommended attendance lines for Austin ES, Vanderlyn ES, Chesnut ES, Sagamore Hills ES, Laurel Ridge ES, Avondale ES, Druid Hills cluster, and Livsey ES."

It goes on to say that even with the recommendations, Interim Superintendent Tyson realizes much of her original plan, yet it reduces "the impact on number of students by over 25 percent and retains 100 percent of the cost savings."

Tonight's plan was years in the making.  Last year, the Board commissioned a 20-member citizens' task force to pool data and choose schools to close, but abandoned that effort when the task force effectively resigned under pressure from citizens, including calls of racism, and handed the job back over to the School Board.

Beginning in January of this year, the School Board hosted public charettes, public input forums, and received scores of letters, phone calls, and emails from concerned parents and community members.  They enlisted the help of a consulting firm, MGT America, as well, to evaluate facilities and utilization of schools.  On Feb. 7, Ms. Tyson made her recommendation to the Board of Education.  Two public input meetings were held last week with the final vote taking place tonight.

The following DeKalb County Schools will be closed as part of this plan: Atherton, Glen Haven, Gresham Park, Peachcrest, Medlock and Sky Haven Elementary Schools, Avondale Middle School and Avondale High School.

What does this mean for the Tucker area?  Livsey Elementary School will retain its full current population while also absorbing 51 students from nearby Pleasantdale Elementary. Some Pleasantdale students will also be moved into Evansdale Elementary, who will retain all of their current students as well as their magnet program despite threats of losing either or both earlier this year.   The 54 students who were originally proposed to go to Midvale will remain at Livsey.

Livsey parents and community members fought hard for this change, citing that the school's current facilities had room for all of the current students plus the 51 new students from Pleasantdale.  There was also some concern with the consulting firm, MGT America's, capacity and enrollment numbers concerning Midvale.  Several sources implied that Midvale may need to displace their Special Ed program, or alternately, acquire trailers, in order to accomodate the Livsey students.  This was neither confirmed nor denied by DeKalb County School System.

The other schools included in the second part of the amendment all requested and were awarded similar "tweaks" regarding maintaining their current, or portions of their current, populations.  Flat Rock and Bouie Elementaries, which were, effectively, to swap buildings, will be staying as they are.

Heather Leo, Co-Vice President of the Livsey PTA, represents much of the school community in her reaction. "Thank you to the entire Tucker community that got behind this effort to Save Livsey," she said.  "I am so proud to be part of a school that fights for what is right. Thank you also to the DeKalb BOE members who voted for the amendment to Tyson's plan. We look forward to working together as a community and with Interim Superintendent Tyson (and whomever her replacement will be) to continue to be a strong DeKalb County and neighborhood school."

Chris Kuebler March 08, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Hooray for Livsey!! :D
Stephanie Train March 08, 2011 at 08:41 PM
I am soooooo thrilled and proud of Heather Leo, Michelle Penkava and the supporters who worked so hard to keep Livsey intact. Thank you!!
Kevin Madigan (Editor) March 08, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Sigh of relief all round... Others weren't so lucky, though.

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