Administrators were met with a full house on Tuesday when presenting proposals to address over-capacity issues in the Cross Keys Cluster. Another community meeting will be held tonight – Thu, Sep 17th at 6 PM, Sequoyah MS.
The Cross Keys cluster consists of 4 elementary schools, a middle school and high school. To serve the growing student population, 18 portable classrooms were added this year to the elementary schools and 16 portable classrooms were added to the middle and high school.
|Cary Reynolds ES||4||25|
|Cross Keys HS||8||15|
The proposed solution is a multi phased approach.
Phase I (Summer 2016) – Phase I will be to relocate DESA, Avondale MS and Warren Tech to less utilized facilities down south. 3rd, 4th and/or 5th grade academies will be created for Cary Reynolds and Dresden in the recently vacated buildings.
Phase II (Fall 2017 and beyond) – Phase II will consist of the construction of two new elementary schools and the development of up to 3 district wide Pre-K centers. Relief for the middle and high schools will be obtained through new school or renovation additions to the existing schools.
Funding – Funding will be through E-SLPOST and COPs (Certificates of Participation), publicly offered or privately placed, both competitively, repaid by E-SPLOST V revenues.
Public meetings: (Stakeholder Engagement)
- Tue, Sep 15th at 6 PM, Cross Keys HS
- Thu, Sep 17th at 6 PM, Sequoyah MS
October 5th Board Meeting:
Allocate $9.25 million of E-SPLOST IV funds for
(1) Improvements at Warren Tech, Terry Mill, & Former ISC,
(2) Modular buildings and parking,
(3) Design of two elementary schools, and
(4) Feasibility study for middle and high school capacity
Approve moving forward with COPS financing package
Proposal to Address Over-Capacity Issues in the Cross Keys Cluster
My youngest child attended Dunwoody Elementary when it was a 4/5 school to relieve overcrowding within the Dunwoody cluster. I believe by year 4, it was converted to a traditional Pre-K-5 elementary school. It was, in my opinion, a failed experiment.
Even in Dunwoody, it was a burden and challenge to parents who have many advantages. For the parents who didn’t have cars, it certainly made things much more difficult. While overwhelming populated with students for whom English is a first language, the school had a diverse population of students from around the world. Many of these immigrant families have no car and utilize public transportation.
So now the system wants to try it again. But this time, with kids who already face lots of challenges and families for whom advocacy isn’t a routine activity.
How about simply opening the buildings described with an attendance zone? District in such a way that you relieve the same amount of overcrowding, but have a k-5 model. Lots of systems redistrict a high school cluster or two, without redistricting the entire system.
Keep in mind that the academies, regardless of their grade structure, will have to have a full staff. DES had a principal, ass’t principals, counselors etc. Janitorial and cafeteria staffing will be the same. There is absolutely no administrative cost difference in whether these buildings are k-5 or 4-5.
It will be years before new elementary schools are built for the area and redistricting can occur again at that point.
Please try to do right by these children. Their community has not been well served by DCSS.
Email sent Tuesday, Sept. 15.
Dr. Green and members of the BOE,
I will not be able to attend either of the public input meetings regarding the proposal to address the overcrowding in the Cross Keys Cluster. I do want to provide my thoughts as the district moves forward because this issue directly connects to other concerns I have previously raised.
First of all, you need to ask yourselves why the former Briarcliff High School is not included in the proposal which was presented yesterday? It is next door to the former International Student Center. Why did Mr. Drake state, at least twice, the current proposal utilizes all the available buildings when that is not true?
This misrepresentation of the facts highlights the need for direct questions during BOE work sessions. Contrary to what some BOE members may believe, the information presented to the BOE is not always accurate. For example, it was only a couple years ago that Dr. Beasley stood in from of the BOE and openly mocked a teacher for suggesting the district did not have a curriculum. More recently, Dr. Beasley told the BOE the district indeed, does not have a curriculum. It is incumbent upon the BOE to make sure they are being given complete and correct information. This is especially true when it comes to the budget. As board members you should be concerned with the changes to the monthly Vendor Spends Report. How will you know how much money was “expensed to the prior year?” How will you know the year-end totals?
As board members you should be asking, how did we find ourselves in this situation? Part of the answer to that given yesterday. Growth in that cluster has exceeded expectations. However, the proposed organization presented to the BOE in November and December 2012 predicted all of the schools in the cluster would be over capacity. Why wasn’t this addressed any time in the last two years?
A better question is, why weren’t capacity issues addressed when drafting the SPLOST IV project list?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know the same consultants who put that list together were hired by the Operations Division to repeat their work in preparation for SPLOST V. As I have pointed out previously, MGT of America miscounted the number of classrooms in over 80% of the school buildings. The classroom count and the school capacities had to be redone by district staff. Parsons Environmental wrote in the facility assessment of Midvale Elementary the parking lot “should be replaced.” Yet, in the facility scoring document, the parking lot received a passing score. (The condition of the parking lot at Midvale has deteriorated since then and still should be replaced.)
Given the fact the same consultants are running the Building S.P.A.C.E.S Initiative, and the questionable quality of their previous work, there are serious concerns to be raised regarding SPLOST V. More immediately, are the potential solutions for addressing the overcrowding of the Cross Keys Cluster going to be based on accurate information? After watching yesterday’s presentation, I believe there is reason for concern.
The former Briarcliff H.S. should be included in the planning to address the overcapacity issues of the Cross Keys Cluster. To pretend that building is not available limits the options.
Thank you very much for your time.
Amen and Amen to what Mr. Lunde wrote. The BOE should not be just a rubber stamp to approve anything the Administration proposes.
The BOE has a fiduciary responsibility to question staff and to do some independent research. It may lead to some uncomfortable questioning but that is not meddling. That is fiduciary responsibility in action. That is being the ONLY voice for students, teachers, parents, and all citizens.
This will probably anger some readers, but DCSD should also consider moving the theme school at Oakcliff to another location and reopening Oakcliff as a regular school with an attendance area. While many, many children who attend the theme school live in the Pleasantdale and Carey Reynolds attendance areas, any student attending that school who comes from outside the area is taking a classroom seat that is needed for a student living in these two attendance areas.
I would like to see DCSD do a better job of monitoring overcrowding at all Dekalb schools. When Fernbank jumped to the top of the list for a new school building. Disadvantaged students in other schools that were originally at the top of the list lost out.
Nancy Creek ES students (Kittredge) never should have been consolidated into Montgomery. The decision ignored the growth trends for the area and put Montgomery above capacity after the first year. In a few years Montgomery and Chamblee MS will be facing the same overcrowding issues that Cross Keys is dealing with right now. DCSD should consider moving Kittredge to another location and reopening Nancy Creek ES as a regular school with an attendance area. As a commuter school, Kittredge isn’t faced with the same location constraints of typical ES schools plus the current facility isn’t really well situated for a high traffic commuter school as it is located well within in a residential neighborhood.
I am a representative of the Cary Reynolds PTA. As we are talking about our concerns and preparing information to share with the Board of Ed. on the 5th, we came across the agendas for the Board’s meetings on that day. We are unfamiliar with the process for speaking to the board. We do not see the Proposal Addressing Over-capacity of the Cross Keys Cluster on the agenda. We are under the impression that the proposals that were presented to us on September 15th and 17th would be open for community input/comments and voted on at the this upcoming October 5th meeting. Should we expect to see this topic we are addressing on the agenda for that day? Will the vote take place that evening?
– Best regards
There have been concerns about creating 3-5 academies and I agree. You need to be very careful about giving a primary school a pass on academic achievement measures. Children will need to arrive in 3rd grade with the needed skill levels to be successful. If test results are the measure, how do you get that with students who are not old enough to take a state test? In a K-5 school everyone is on board with testing goals and every teacher is accountable. It might be better to create PreK – kindergarten academies to start and keep grades 1-5 together.
ResearchForTeachers is a teacher at Cross Keys High School and has a blog [http://georgianeducator.org/]. Last week she published Overview of DeKalb County Public Meeting for the Cross Keys Cluster. She wrote about these common threads from those public meetings last week:
One parent told how her son peed on himself twice because he was out in the trailers and couldn’t get to the bathroom in time. Because teachers are in the trailers with over 30 children, it’s very difficult to take students to the bathroom without having to either take the entire class or call an adult escort to take the 5-year-old to the bathroom. She thanked the presenters for making the presentation, but said that we need solutions NOW – not in a year or two.
The refrain heard most often was “redistrict”. Many teachers (including myself), parents, and community advocates demanded redistricting since many schools in DeKalb are not as overcrowded as the Cross Keys cluster schools are nor do they have to go to school in buildings that suffer from such disrepair.
There was an overwhelming consensus against the third and fourth grade (and then the next year fifth and sixth grade) academies, one of the key items in the county’s proposal (which you can view in the first link), Heather Isaacson, former Cary Reynolds PTA president and a parent of two boys who attended the elementary school (but are now at Chamblee Middle School and Kittridge Magnet School for High Achievers) argued that many parents would find it burdensome to take their children to potentially four different campuses (the elementary school, the academy, the middle school, and then the high school) during the course of one day.
Many parents and teachers complained about trailers and classrooms not having air conditioning and requested immediate attention to these issues.
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