DeKalb Schools annexation bill clears General Assembly

A DeKalb County student was stabbed with a pencil while on a bus in the 5100 block of

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A DeKalb County student was stabbed with a pencil while on a bus in the 5100 block of

SB 53, approved by the House on Tuesday, says boundaries of the school district may not be extended by annexation unless approved in a separate referendum, should provide for effective dates, student transfers, that in some cases school district boundaries may not change, among other things.

ExploreThe bill was passed by the Senate on Feb. 7.

District officials sought legislative intervention in 2018 amid a battle with the city of Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools over what's become known as the Emory annexation, of Emory University, the Centers for Disease Control and other area businesses were to be annexed into the city. A Fulton County Superior Court judge issued an injunction last summer keeping the annexation from moving forward, saying DeKalb Schools had a valid argument that city officials violated its charter in an "11th-hour change" to the annexation agreement.

"We think it's a fair bill," DeKalb County Board of Education member Marshall Orson said recently. "It doesn't allow other to cannibalize our land without taking on education obligations for children."

In the Emory annexation, the the DeKalb County School District looked to lose about a dozen students and $2.5 million in revenue. District officials have expressed concerns since late 2017 about the annexation, saying they were initially told it would not impact the school district. Days before the Atlanta City Council voted on the ordinance in December 2017, DeKalb County School District officials said the proposal was changed to reflect growth for APS.

Orson said the Emory Annexation is one of several annexation efforts in recent years from neighboring municipalities where significant tax revenue was lost but little change occurred affecting the district’s size.