Chamblee Magnet Moving? It's Still On The Table

Is the option to move the Chamblee Magnet Program still on the table?

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

The purpose of the Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study is to develop long-term plans for addressing capacity needs of the district’s middle schools and high schools.
A steering committee was empowered to review various capacity and programmatic matters. The steering committee met with a group of representatives from each of the forty middle and high schools included in the study. They studied and discussed 4 potential options. One of these options included “Chamblee HS: Relocate 650 magnet students to Southwest DeKalb HS”.
Since the steering committee meetings in June, the Chamblee community has been quite vocal in their support for keeping the magnet program in Chamblee. A FactChecker comment from a Chamblee community member noted:

“I had written to the consultants listed on the study documentation about my concerns with relocating the magnet program and here is a response from one of them:
After hearing the feedback from the community, the option to move the magnet programs is no longer on the table. Our recommendation is to leave them where they are. Please feel free to share this with other concerned parents and students.”

In response, Kim Gokce, an involved educational advocate posted

“Well that’s a relief! For a moment I thought DCSD was actually acting on open dialog and open solutioning. This also simplifies the solution domain so we can make quicker, sub-optimal decisions.
Perhaps your contact can also confirm for us that the current attendance area for CCHS will remain intact. Because as the Magnet is untouchable due to untold value surely we can’t expect anyone to allow themselves to be removed from the cluster, right?
Heck, while they are at it please ask them to just publish their plan so folks in the region can stay home on 8/23 and 8/25. We all have better things to do than play along with the appearance of public engagement and change, I think.”

Gokce subsequently expressed his outrage that moving the Chamblee Magnet was taken off the table sending an email to the school administration saying,

“[The email from Karen Cox] is circulating widely in the Chamblee community. It is a bit of an outrage on many levels. I’m so angry right now I will not try to explain why I think this is a fatal blow to the process.”

Superintendent Green and Chief Operating Officer Joshua Williams have now sent out these messages assuring everyone that moving the Chamblee Magnet is a viable option still on the table.

Relocating the magnet is one of several options

Superintendent Stephen Green

Dr. Stephen Green
Superintendent, DeKalb County School District

Dear Board Members,
It is my understanding that you may be receiving a flurry of emails regarding plans to relocate the Chamblee Charter Magnet Program based on a letter from a representative of Education Planners, Inc., Ms. Karen Cox.
Once we learned that this occurred through members of the feedback committee, we immediately responded to those members and refuted the information. From that we had some assurance that this would clarify and correct the misinformation. In addition Ed Planners, Inc. sent a formal letter of apology for the miscommunication as well (See attached), which we sent to the members of the feedback committee.
It appears that the misinformation network letter writing campaign is still at play so I felt the need to send this to you in advance of this Friday’s Board Communique.
First of all, let me assure you that no decision or recommendation has been made. This option was one that was considered based on feedback, however, and in the spirit of transparency, this option will be referenced as one of several solutions to be considered by the community in the upcoming public forum sessions.
Joshua Williams and his team are personally responding to each of the emails have been received.
I hope this brings some context and clarification to the messages we are receiving.
Thank you.

The Email was Inaccurate

DeKalb Joshua Williams

Joshua Williams
Chief Operating Officer, DeKalb County School District

The email from Ms. Karen Cox with Educational Planners was completely inaccurate and inappropriate. The District will be presenting options which incorporate the community’s feedback to consider the relocation of the District’s magnet programs, in addition to other strategies to help address the overcrowding concerns throughout the District.
Various options will be presented during the upcoming public meetings scheduled to take place on August 23rd (at 6:30 PM at Clarkston HS) and August 25th (at 6:30 PM at Cross Keys HS) for the community to weigh in on which option(s), or combination of options, should be used to develop a final recommendation for the Board’s consideration.
I apologize for the confusion and assure you that the District is committed to being transparent, collaborative, and open to stakeholder and community input as we work together to develop a recommendation which supports all students and communities. We look forward to your participation and hearing your feedback at the upcoming public meetings.

Relocating Chamblee Magnets
July 27, 2016 – Would moving the Chamblee magnet program to Southwest DeKalb HS kill the magnet program for Region 1 and Region 2? Option 2B of the Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study includes – Chamblee HS: Relocate 650 students (Magnet) to Southwest DeKalb HS.

Pros & Cons
Planning and Feasibility Study Options

July 25, 2016 – Committees consisting of steering committee members and two representatives from each of the forty middle and high schools studied and discussed these pros and cons of the four potential options to address current and pending capacity needs.

Cost Estimates
Planning and Feasibility Study Options

July 20, 2016 – Based on 2022 enrollment projections, the Steering Committee discussed these Cost Estimates for the four potential options to address current and pending capacity needs.

DeKalb Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study
July 18, 2016 – The study will identify the challenges and opportunities facing each middle school and high school, determine options to address the needs identified, and prepare regional master plans to implement the options. Here are the problems, the funds and the options.

Chamblee Magnet Program – Is it moving?
July 13, 2016 – Any truth to the rumor of moving the magnet program from Chamblee Middle and Chamblee High? Steering committees discussed the pros and cons of the following four potential options to address current and pending capacity needs.

17 responses to “Chamblee Magnet Moving? It's Still On The Table

  1. And no explanation as to Ms. Cox’s proclamation? I guess we’ll never know what the motivation was to undermine the public input process. Given how direct and matter-of-fact her statement was, it is clear it was made in full confidence. Mistake? Or incorrect?

  2. We’ll never know if she was just the latest to be thrown under the bus by DCSD. It’s quite possible removing the magnet from the options was the internal conversation and she didn’t get the memo to keep silent. I would like to believe that the majority of business owners are honest and transparent and if that’s the case, maybe her direct, matter of fact email is a reflection of those traits.

  3. AB, that is plausible. Speculating is fun and I can think of another plausible, however twisted, theory … what if the consultants knew options would be presented and wanted to distance themselves from the backlash everyone expects from certain quarters? Perhaps this way they could save face in the process by intimating that they disagree with their client’s view and setup plausible deniability as a result of the “leak????”
    I realize that rational arguments rarely rule the day in areas of dispute such as this one. Nonetheless, I look forward to an open and public dialog on the proposals whatever form they may take. Based on the memos above it appears DCSD’s leadership is committed to at least contemplating the questions that should be debated.

  4. Kim, I hope you are right. Maybe this will be a new experience for stakeholders than those of many preceding years where parents took their time to attend meetings for naught. Hope springs eternal.

  5. Tim DeBardelaben

    Why are we not expanding the Magnet programs in Dekalb? We know they work so instead of fighting over it why not expand the program where every region has a Magnet program? If you only are going to have one it should be more centrally located. It is not fair to locate it where certain students are at a disadvantage to be able to attend. Dekalb use to be the one of the top school systems in the nation. Now we are worried about not being the worst in the state. Think it is time to get a new mindset. New buildings are great, but a better education leads to greatness.

  6. I am still waiting to hear how Lakeside and Tucker High Schools are going to magically find the capacity to add hundreds of seats. Both communities were told the current buildings are the maximum size possible based on their sites.
    Why are those possibilities even included in the discussion?

  7. Tim, Having a magnet in each region was recommended under Johnny Brown by the Blue Ribbon task force but was never funded. In addition, Kittredge was supposed to be an incubator for best practices- teachers were supposed to go there to learn for a year or two and take their new knowledge/skills back to their home schools. That also never happened although a few wise principals studied what they did and incorporated what they could with the funding provided at their schools. If the incubator was implemented as planned, perhaps all our elementary schools would have been tops and no one would want to flee their neighborhood schools…it likely would have had a trickle up effect to middle and high schools making them excellent as well.
    As for Lakeside, even if there is room on the campus to add an addition, the cafeteria (which was expanded in SPLOST III), is unable to handle the current students and anyone that has to travel in that area before or after school knows the surrounding streets are unable to handle the current traffic load and will worsen if the enrollment increases.

  8. AB, your comment about the “core” services such as food services are essential to the long list of problems already manifested in our schools. At CKHS, kids will simply skip lunch because the tiny kitchen cannot process them fast enough even across many 30m lunch periods. I’ve seen bigger kitchens in homes in Brookhaven than at CK.
    Athletics is another. CKHS cannot adequately support female athletes. The weight room (such as it is) is accessible only through the Boys locker room and bathrooms. How do you think that works? It doesn’t.
    Speaking only as a CK booster in this case, “we” have left these kids in an outdated facility not once, not twice, not three times, but four times over when decisions had to be made. With “Option 1” style solutions we look set to overlook half of them for a fifth time. Unacceptable.

  9. Last time I looked, there were 44 different opportunities for school choice. That includes a magnet for high achievers in the north and one in the south. Moving the Kittredge/Chamblee Middle/Chamblee High magnet program to a more centralized location doesn’t make sense when there’s already one on the south side of the county (Wadsworth/Chapel Hill/SW DeKalb High)
    Another aspect of moving the magnets that never seems to be addressed is the magnet teachers. (Thanks LF for bringing this up.) Would they be made to move too? At Chamblee Middle the magnet teachers teach only magnet kids, but at Chamblee High the is not the case. If not, what would moving the magnet mean for those kids?

  10. Kim, I was only responding to Kirk’s comment related to LHS and Tucker. I am totally with you related to the neglect of the Cross Keys cluster. It is beyond time to meet the needs of those young men and women and the staff that passionately wants to help them succeed.

  11. Expand magnet!!

    Do you all realize how many kids qualify for magnet but can’t get in because they aren’t lucky enough to draw the magic ticket? It’s a completely unfair system. Some kids who score at 99th percentile can’t get in while others who are barely squeaking by get their name drawn. Expand the program so that ALL children who qualify get the servicing that they need!!!

  12. Congratulations to Chamblee HS and DeKalb School of the Arts for making Newsweek’s 2016 Top 500 High Schools in America.

  13. Pat Copeland, director of the district’s school choice program, said as many as 4,000 students apply each year for about 400 available openings at various charters and magnets. Here are some of the waiting list numbers for charter schools last year:
    DATE – 317
    DeKalb PATH – 233
    GLOBE – 400
    The Museum School – 437

  14. Expand magnet!!

    Here’s the other issue with Ms. Copeland and the school choice process. It’s about as transparent as mud. There’s been a lot of historical fishy-ness about who gets in and who doesn’t. Just expand the thing so we don’t have to do these dinosaur era lotteries.

  15. I was under the impression that the Phase 3 presentation on August 23 was going to lay out the final proposal to be approved. But the Green and Williams emails above lead me to believe that Phase 3 will again only present options? Is that the case? If so, how will this be different than what was presented in Phase 2?
    The original documentation for the Secondary Planning project stated that:
    “The first round will be to gather input on the challenges and opportunities facing the
    region, the second round will be to present options for public input, and the final third round will be to
    present the recommended plan.”
    What should we expect on August 23?

  16. Given the public interest, the school administration is progressing slower than originally anticipated to allow for more communication. Instead of bringing one proposal on Aug 23 & 25, the school district will be “presenting options”. I’ll know more by next week what that means. The administration will gather more feedback and present its final recommendation at a Building S.P.A.C.E.S. Initiative presentation last week of September. There will be more general input on the SPLOST V project list in October. At the November board meeting, the board will discuss the project list. The board will vote on the project list at the Dec 5 board meeting.

  17. Thanks- I think the school system could update the Secondary Planning website materials to make that clearer to the public. I believe many people are expecting a final proposal next week.