Any hope parents had of persuading DeKalb County School District officials to change the district’s graduation plans, currently expected for the week after school ends, are mostly moot.
District officials signed a contract on Oct. 12 to hold 2019 high school graduation May 28 to June 2, the week after school ends.
The contract, received by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request, shows the Georgia World Congress Center is guaranteed at least $56,877 from the school district for the space, secured from May 28 to June 2, 2019, after a nearly 50 percent discount. Utility, labor and other charges will be billed to the district after ceremonies take place, the contract states.
According to the district's vendor reports, The Georgia World Congress Center received $49,500 for graduations in 2016, $5,179 in 2017 and $196,789 for graduations in 2018. The district was expected to make a $14,219.25 payment on Nov. 9 toward the 2019 graduation. Those costs do not include equipment being used for sound, lighting and any other planned effects.
Parents have expressed frustrations about the new graduation dates, saying they will conflict with summer programs and planned vacations, and force teachers to attend ceremonies without being paid. DeKalb County School District officials said many already were missing out on festivities, including teachers who had classes during graduation ceremonies, and younger students whose siblings were graduating.
Graduations have become a several-hundred-thousand-dollar venture since the district moved ceremonies out of churches amid complaints made by Washington-based group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.