The rebuilding of Chamblee Charter High School has become ground zero for a funding shortfall in DeKalb County Schools building projects, but the community is waiting for the project to move forward.
The permit is ready to go, DeKalb School officials and Chamblee’s city manager says. Government officials on both sides of the issue said there has not been anything holding up the permits.
School officials identified a $36.5 million shortfall in sales-tax funds designated for school projects after realizing the school system underestimated the cost of the Chamblee project by $10 million. The new cost estimate is $78 million. The Chamblee error revealed a bigger problem that school officials want to correct by pulling money from other projects so the charter high school can be rebuilt and the school system can pay interest on money borrowed for other projects. At a March 8 meeting to discuss a proposed cuts, District 1 Board of Education member Nancy Jester said she wanted to set the record straight about Chamblee.
“There have been discussions about the work stopped at Chamblee,” Jester said. “The community was made aware of what was going on. A number of rumors going around blame it on the city of Chamblee.”
Dan Drake, director of planning and forecasting for DeKalb Schools, said the permit has been ready since February and said the contractor needs to stop by City Hall to get them.
“We have been working closely with the city of Chamblee for years but especially for the last three to four months on obtaining our land disturbance permit,” Drake said. “They’ve been nothing but the best to work with.”
Chamblee City Manager Niles Ford said he’s not sure why the school’s contractor hasn’t picked up the permit, but says it’s been ready since Feb. 10. He said there was nothing unusual about the length of time it took the school system to get the permit, saying there’s normally information being sent back and forth between the city and the applicant.
As for why people think there’s a hold up, Ford said he didn’t know.
“We’re looking forward to the school being built,” Ford said. “We see them as partners.”