A study group appointed by the Decatur school system says annexation would add more students than city government expects and accelerate the need to build new schools and renovate old ones.
The school board will hold a work session to discuss the Annexation Workgroup Report at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, at the Westchester Center at 785 Scott Blvd. The public is invited to the meeting.
A copy of the report was posted Tuesday on the City Schools of Decatur annexation blog and can be read there.
Ten Decatur residents comprise the study group, including parents and school system and city employees.
Highlights of the report:
- By breaking down census data, the group concludes 276 kids would enter the school system in August 2014 if annexation is approved. That's 48 more than the 228 estimated by the city.
- Without annexation, enrollment in 2018 will hit 6,063. With annexation, enrollment in 2018 would hit 7,839. The system now has more than 3,600 students.
- Most new kids would enter the lower grades, but mobile classrooms or expansion would be necessary at almost every school, even with the return of Westchester as an elementary school.
- Building a new school would be very challenging because finding enough land--a minimum of six acres for an elementary school--is difficult in Decatur.
- Annexation would have the end result of forcing the schools to lower per pupil expenditures unless taxes are raised.
The 24-page report ends with three differing recommendations for the school board to choose from. The school board is expected to choose a recommendation Nov. 13 and later deliver it to the city commission, which will ultimately decide whether to move ahead with annexation. The commission is scheduled to decide Dec. 17 whether to move ahead.
- Oppose the annexation areas as currently proposed.
- Support annexation of partial parcels.
- Continue to collaborate with the City of Decatur to assess possible annexation areas.
During a Monday meeting, the Decatur City Commission didn't answer any questions about annexation's impact on schools, saying that information should come from the school system officials.
Mayor Bill Floyd said the city commission might move ahead with annexation even if the school board doesn't want them to.
"A lot depends on why they say no," Floyd said. "It's a very important part of any decision we make."