Cross Keys Over Crowding – The Plan

DeKalb County School District held three (3) public meetings to present redistricting options to address overcrowding in the Cross Keys Cluster.
Related Posts
03/07/2016 – Approved Cross Keys Redistricting Plan
02/14/2016 – Cross Keys Over Crowding – The Plan
01/16/2016 – Redistricting the Cross Keys Cluster
  Public Meetings on Redistricting Options 
Why Are We Considering Redistricting?
There is substantial overcrowding in the Cross Keys Cluster. The goal is to reduce overcrowding and the number of students in portable classrooms for next school year (Fall 2016).
The Board, upon recommendation of the Superintendent, may alter school attendance areas in accordance with Policy AD based on the following criteria:

Primary Criteria
1. Geographic Proximity
2. Instructional Capacity
3. Projected Enrollment
Secondary Criteria
1. Safety and Traffic Patterns
2. Previous Redistricting
3. Balancing of Special Programs
4. School Feeder Alignment
5. Intact Neighborhoods

Fall 2016 Redistricting Plan
On February 11th at Cross Keys HS, DeKalb Schools district staff presented a recommended plan to help relieve overcrowding in the Cross Keys Cluster starting this year, Fall 2016.

  • Redistricting 61 Woodward ES students to Fernbank ES
  • Redistricting 269 Montclair ES students to Fernbank ES
  • Redistricting 394 Montclair ES students to new Former ISC school (new K-5 school)
  • Redistricting 444 Dresden students to Montclair ES
  • Redistricting 301 Cary Reynolds students to Dresden ES
  • Redistricting 232 Cross Keys HS students to Chamblee HS

District staff also recommends the continued search for properties for two new 900-seat elementary schools to serve the Cross Keys Cluster. The District’s Secondary School Planning and Feasibility Study will kick-off (March 2016) the discussion of long-term relief for Sequoyah MS and Cross Keys HS and all other middle and high schools in Regions 1 and 2 in addition to the Clarkston Cluster. The district believes there is a major need for redistricting at elementary, middle, and high schools over the next three years for schools in Regions 1, 2, and 3, in conjunction with the Secondary School Planning and Feasibility Study and as new facilities come on-line.
The Superintendent’s recommendation will be presented for Board approval at the March 7, 2016, Board meeting. The proposed redistricting plan, if approved, would go into effect in August 2016.

23 responses to “Cross Keys Over Crowding – The Plan

  1. Stan,
    In the initial notices put out to the public I thought it mentioned that Druid Hills would be gaining some Cross Keys kids as well and I am curious as to why that did not come to fruition? Some additional short term fixes could include renting commercial property to be used for schools. Not ideal but a decent stop gap measure I have seen employed in other districts. An empty grocery store can house a lot of temporary classrooms. Lots of work to be done in the spring it looks like with long term solutions. If the GM developers want DCSD to get on board with the TAD it seems that some land from the project should be set aside for the district. That seems to be standard ops in many communities when housing development take place not mention a plan with more than 5000 units planned. Thanks for getting the information out as I am still unable to access the DCSD website.

  2. How many new facilities do they think they can build in the next three years? How many have they built in the last five?

  3. PatW,
    The original list of affected schools was more accurate, then a few days later this list of schools came out which has a number of schools on it that don’t seem feasible:
    Montgomery ES, Huntley Hills ES, Ashford Park ES, Cary Reynolds ES, Dresden ES, Montclair ES, Woodward ES, Briar Vista ES, Fernbank ES, Laurel Ridge ES, McLendon ES, Avondale ES, Chamblee MS, Chamblee HS, Sequoyah MS, Cross Keys HS, Druid Hills MS, Druid Hills HS, Warren Tech, Oakcliff Theme
    New buildings are just one of many things that are paid for with SPLOST funds. The administration is currently estimating that 46% of the expected total $500+ million will be spent on new facilities and additions. We currently don’t have a project list, so it’s impossible to say what will be done or the priority of the projects.
    Even if the stars were aligned and everything fell into place, I logistically don’t see how any new buildings could be built with SPLOST V money and open before 2021.

  4. Stupid Decision

    As one who with three elementary and middle school children who live in the Chamblee Cluster, I want to state my strong opposition to the plan to move 232 students from Cross Keys High School To Chamblee Charter High School. This is a classic example of the country trying to apply a band-aid solution that will inevitably create more issues than it solves. One only has to plan out what this will look like in 5 years to see that it is the wrong decision. Look at the number of students in the three resident elementary schools in the Chamblee Cluster. Montgomery Elementary is anticipated to have almost 800 students next year. Ashford Park has trailers and Huntley Hills is likewise close to capacity. Chamblee Middle School has also grown substantially in recent years. Also look at the amount of development in both North Brookhaven and Chamblee. This will not only continue to impact the elementary schools, but will impact the high school as well. Finally, look at the decision that was made 7 years ago to close Nancy Creek Elementary for Kittredge and send half of those children to Montgomery. Look at Montgomery now – some 150 students over capacity. Pay attention to the population trends! The last thing that Chamblee High School needs is an incremental 232 students from Cross Keys. Chamblee is a jewel within the Dekalb County System and scores as a top high school in the state. Why would the county jeopardize this by overcrowding the school? It makes no sense. A better option is to find a temporary facility to relieve the over-crowdedness that is impacting Cross Keys while building a new high school ASAP. The current plan of splitting up a cluster and sending half of those students to a different high school, while risking the overcrowding of another high school is the very definition of “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” I sincerely hope that the county looks to better alternatives than this poorly thought out option.

  5. Frankly, an easier option would be to remove the Magnet Program out of that cluster altogether, an unlikely and unpopular solution.

  6. Building new spaces and renovating old spaces is a great idea, but it takes time. The school district is looking for new spaces to create new schools as well as existing building to renovate. It will be years before any of those plans yield new seats. This is a temporary plan to alleviate some of the over crowding starting this Fall until new seats can be established.

  7. Sending Montclair and Woodward students to Fernbank while driving past the empty school properties at N Druid Hills Rd and Briarcliff seems an unreasonable. Whike there is space in Fernbank’s new building and the students would be welcomed, why would DCSD create such a hardship on these families? They want to attend teacher meetings, school programs, and visit the school just as other parents do. It will be impossible for them to get to Fernbank in a reasonable timeframe to do so. A temporary fix without a plan? No new buildings are going to be built before 2021? That’s a generation of lower income families who will be put in a hardship situation. The staff at Fernbank is willing to learn how to meet the new students’ needs, but they do not currently have the training and resources necessary to help these students be successful. I do not think the Cross Keys community wants to be broken up and sent to Decatur. There has to be a more thoughtful plan in place. Also, why isn’t the current information available on the DCSD website?

  8. Cate D, if you are frustrated at the constraints of the proposal, you’re paying attention. You must also, though, pay attention to the foundational issues. There are NO good options as we have collectively painted ourselves into a corner.
    Also, the plan calls for nearly 500 children from Montclair ES to go and fill up the old Kittredge site (ISC). So no one is “driving past the empty school properties at N Druid Hills Rd …” … the plan calls for fully utilizing this property. The Briarcliff HS property is more problematic and is not being recommended.
    You are right, Cross Keys families do not want to be broken up. They also don’t want 500 kids in trailers at our elementary schools, or 10am start for lunches and no time to eat because they have facilities supporting 1200 kids designed for 700. They do not want their children as young as 2nd grade wandering outside alone in pairs to bathroom trailers in unsecured properties. They also do not want their children in trailers with no communication link to the main building nor emergency alarms. They do not want their kids getting sick from the mold in the poorly maintained trailers. They do not want their kids using bathroom facilities that are unsanitary because they cannot support the extreme crowding. They do not want their kids taught by teachers or led by administrators who are burnt out from trying to manage the logistics of being 60% over enrolled rather than focusing on education. They do not want their kids on buses with standing room only. In short, they want the same things you or I want for our kids. And they want to protect them from the same things you or I would want to protect our kids from, too.
    Why are there no good options? Because “we” have ignored these BuHi kids for at least 15 years. It’s time to clean up the mess. No more excuses. Shame on us all.

  9. So, Kim, do you support the recommendation from DCSD?

  10. I do and I think it is better than where they started for a few reasons: 1) It leaves alone the special needs kids at Warren Tech, 2) It leaves Briar Vista intact, 3) It removes a significant number of trailers, 4) It uses the significant number of seats at FES and CCHS.
    I’ve been looking at the problem and the data since 2009. We are far behind the curve and the conditions are egregious for these kids. I’m open to the next brilliant suggestion but I don’t see viable options being put forth for 2017 school year that DCSD has not already considered and dismissed. The real solutions that are sustainable are going to require years of site selection, construction, and redistricting at every level. Yippee.

  11. I also have a long list of concerns about the proposal: 1. The need to enhance LEP support at the new sites, 2. The additional cost for parent travel (many of our parents use public or taxi services, 3. Access to enrichment programs currently available to the kids at their home school, 4. Availability of economic childcare (Boys and Girls Club shuttles our kids from Montclair, Woodward and I think Dresden to their club at dismissal.

  12. Additionally, I have concerns about the long-term reality, including: 1) There is no plan for the existing sites which are still going to be overburdened and in poor condition for years to come, 2) There’s no relief in sight for Sequoyah MS, 3) There’s the prevailing idea that CK community should bear the sole burden for trailers rather than redistricting and spreading the problem more thinly (this is relevant because of cafeteria, gym, and other core service capacities that will remain overwhelmed in our CK schools), 4) The ongoing isolation of BuHi populations (it’s 2016!).

  13. A brave suggestion

    It is time to move the magnet program from the Chamblee and SWD clusters and consolidate it at Avondale Middle and High. That would actually free up a ton of space at a middle and high school and an entire elementary school.
    And put the program in a position to be a true high achievers program, along the lines of Boston Latin or the ones in NYC. The possibilities are endless in a self contained building.
    And to stupid decision, first, a great many MES parents aren’t sticking around for public schools if their kids don’t get into KMS. Or they plan to go to CMS for one year and then to Marist. Also, everyone has trailers. Chamblee can too. Chamblee is the alleged jewel of DCSS because it houses the magnet school. Remove it and lets see how shiny it is. Johnny Brown, when he was superintendent, broke apart the test scores. At Chamblee, the non-magnet student’s scores were average at best, and if I recall correctly, actually below the state average.

  14. Dear Stan,
    The agenda for the March 7 Board meeting was posted today and doesn’t include anything on the Cross Keys Redistricting. Do you know what is going on? Thanks.

  15. Stan Jester

    Agenda Item 13 Planning is a placeholder for the “Approval of School Attendance areas to alleviate Cross Keys cluster Overcrowding”.

  16. Thanks, Stan. Does this mean that Dr. Green may be proposing something different than what was presented on February 11?

  17. Stan Jester

    It’s possible, but they are probably still preparing the documents and the agenda item for the board meeting.

  18. Stan,
    Have you seen the recommended redistricting plan that the Board will vote on Monday night? It still isn’t published.
    I have 2 concerns:
    – I hope the District isn’t changing the plan with no opportunity for the public to see it and make comments to their Board member before the vote occurs.
    – I think it is tremendously important that the proposed plan includes details on the resources that the District will provide to the affected schools, especially the receiving schools of Fernbank Elementary and Chamblee Charter High. As far as I can tell, both receiving schools are taking a very positive and welcoming position on the redistricting plan.
    However, making the influx of a significant number of students with characteristics different from the receiving school population SUCCESSFUL for both the transferring students and the receiving community requires resources, such as translators and extra counseling support, and those resources must be provided probably sooner rather than later.
    The schools that are having significant parts of their community uprooted in this plan also need a commitment of resources from the District to make sure that the changes are positive.
    Please do what you can to ensure that no redistricting plan is approved without clear District commitment to provide the resources that all affected schools need, in the time frame that the schools request.

  19. Stan Jester

    Cross Keys Cluster Overcapacity Initiative
    03/07/2016 – Cross Keys Cluster Redistricting – Agenda Item
    From:Sandra Núñez – DeKalb Schools Director ELL Studies Program
    The Office for Civil Rights requires that all information that is brought to the attention of all parents is communicated in a language that parents who speak a language other than Eng-lish can understand,. The amount of translations will always depend on the amount of communication that we have with the parents. DCSD/OCR Meaningful Communication Agreement requires that we communicate in the top ten languages represented in the district.

  20. A brave suggestion

    A quick point about Chamblee High — it is already about 15% Hispanic and 40 percent free and reduced lunch. We don’t really know how those students do at CCHS, but the staff should have familiarity with their needs. If they don’t shame on them….

  21. Regarding CCHS readiness to support additional City of Chamblee are children that attend CKHS in scope of the redistricting this round … if I am guess-timating correctly, 15% Hispanic translates to roughly 250 students. Assuming that is correct, the plan calls for approximately doubling that number. The CCHS leadership has reached out to the CK community in multiple ways to make it clear that they are ready and able to support the students and adapt where necessary. Also, about 50 students from CK area already attend the Magnet program. CCHS and CKHS are much more alike in general than many realize.

  22. jesse johnsin.

    Should have never closed sequyah high school. That’s why cross keys is overcrowded and sub-par in performance.

  23. Jesse: Sequoyah converted to MS after 1989. Not sure I follow how that is the issue. If it reopened today, where would you put grades 6,7,8? The infrastructure was built to support K-7 ES and 8-12 HS. Getting back to that would require even more construction that we are faced with now, I think.
    P.S. Exactly what is “sub-par” about performance at CKHS? It performs precisely on par or above surrounding attendance area schools like Tucker, Lakeside, and Druid Hills in performance index at Georgia Dept of Ed. Go Braves! 🙂