Chamblee Charter High School – 600 Seat Addition

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DeKalb Schools will bring to the board on Monday a recommendation to construct a 600-seat, three-story addition to Chamblee Charter High School. The project will also include

  • 116 space parking lot in front of school fronting Chamblee Dunwoody Rd
  • Kitchen extension (984 sq/ft)
  • Cafeteria extension (1,891 sq/ft)
  • Media center expansion (2,647 sq/ft)
  • 2 story employee parking garage

Note: This project will not include any renovations or additions to existing art rooms, locker rooms, band room, choir room, gymnasium, fields, or any other core spaces or surrounding infrastructure.
What are your thoughts?

Conceptual Plan
The following plans represent a conceptual approach to locating building additions and site modifications at the schools recommended for additions and reconfiguration. These conceptual plans are intended for the purpose of determining feasibility only.
click to enlarge

Enrollment/Capacity – Chamblee Charter High School (Oct 2016)
Chamblee Charter High School currently has 1,624 students enrolled and is expected to have 2,328 students (518 students over current capacity) by year 2022.

Enrollment By Grade (Oct 2016) Total Total Available Percent
School 9 10 11 12 Enrollment Capacity Seats Capacity Portables
Chamblee Charter HS 514 426 361 323 1,624 1,810 186 90%

The administration recommends constructing a 600-seat, three-story addition extending the current footprint and bringing the school to 120 classrooms.
Core Areas
The classroom addition and resulting increased capacity will require modifications to the school’s common areas – media center, kitchen and cafeteria. Previously these expansions were indicated as additions to the footprint of the building, but further analysis shows that the media center and cafeteria expansion requirements can be better accommodated by expanding within the building itself. These modifications will expand core areas by 5,522 -square-ft.

August Round 3 Estimates Cost September Final Recommendation Change in Seats Estimates Change In Funding
1 600 seat addition at Dunwoody HS $23 million 600 seats (2,100 seat capacity) 0 $16.4 million – 29%
2 450 seat addition at Peachtree MS $17 million 450 seats (1,700 seat capacity) 0 $13.9 million – 18%
3 900 seat addition at Lakeside HS $34 million 750 seats (2,500 seat capacity) – 17% $22.1 million – 35%
4 500 seat addition at Chamblee HS $19 million 600 seats (2,400 seat capacity) + 17% $16.4 million – 14%

The estimated total cost of the proposed recommendation has flucuated over the last few months. It was recently reduced to $16.4 million but is currently $21,200,000.

Total Budget Cost includes direct construction costs, Arch/Eng. fees, site testing fees, furniture/fixtures/equipment, and project contingencies. These costs were developed from historical cost information compiled by School Planning and Management, in their Annual School Construction Report 2015, Region 5 (Southeast United States) cost per student for new high schools. These costs were then inflation adjusted for year 2019.
Student Moves
It estimated that an additional 400 students will be redistricted from Cross Keys HS to Chamblee Charter HS. It is also estimated that roughly 250 students will be redistricted out of Chamblee HS and in Cross Keys HS
Board of Education Meeting
These recommendations will be presented to the board at the end of the 2pm business meeting this coming Monday. There will be public comment at 5:45pm. The board is expected to vote on this in December. You may get on the list to speak this Monday at public comment by emailing Margaret_Francois (

121 responses to “Chamblee Charter High School – 600 Seat Addition

  1. This is a shame. Not to mention the survey “data” shows exactly 50/50 split when you consider that both A and C are in favor of a high school in Doraville.

  2. Dekalb Inside Out

    Don’t forget the survey results showed Option A until the last few days the survey was open when Dunwooody High School and Peachtree Charter Middle School sent out the following newsletters every day …

    Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
    There has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks about three options that have been presented by Dekalb County School System to deal with the growing student population in our middle and high schools. A recommendation has been requested from the school councils at Dunwoody High and Peachtree Middle. If you are busy and don’t want to read the full justification, please click the link below to an online survey and select Option B. …

  3. Dekalb Inside Out

    Note these designs were put together back in July. So, the decision to go with Option B has been made since at least July 4 months ago.

  4. But why schould it be ok to move my kids to a high performing school to a title one or failing school. Parents invest in schools and that’s why they are successful despite being in DCSD. What happens to all the $$ and time parents donated to their child’s school? The resources? People buy or rent in a specific school district. It’s just not right that bc DeKalb dragged their feet and used temporary fixes that now no land exist to build the much needed schools, the students suffer. Different areas need different programs. If you can’t see or admit to this then you shouldn’t be involved with the process

  5. All I have to say is this – after hearing the great presentations from the board meeting the other night, the school board better blow up the Option B solution that was masterminded by Gokce and Dan Drake and shoved down our throats.

  6. This whole thing is a unbelievable sham. I have already gotten advice from numerous lawyers on putting together a class action lawsuit against the county if they want to go down this path of Option B.
    This is a rejected option and it will be taken to court if they continue down this path.

  7. William Blackwood

    One would hope that there’s an awareness of the magnitude of the changes that might occur in the wake of the elections. Several potential, near-term steps could — or at least should — impact thinking about long-term planning in DeKalb.
    Primo, the President has the unilateral authority to rescind DACA and DAPA (both Executive Acts) with the stroke of a pen and to change the way immigration laws are enforced.
    Secundo, the President and the Congress can redirect the spending of Title I and other funds in a manner that would encourage the abandonment of existing public schools in areas that receive these funds.
    Tertio, the federal Department of Education — whose future may very well be uncertain — can do a quite a bit to foster consequential decision-making at the local level.

  8. More importantly, the President may, in fact, address the illegal immigration problem in this country – which is why we are in this situation to begin with. Sorry folks, but let’s be real. These issues are the direct result of a broken immigration problem that is impacting all of us in the Dekalb County School System. I’m not saying what we should do about it, but I am bringing awareness to the fact that the reason Cross Keys is overcrowded is due to the high number of undocumented families in the BuHi corridor.

  9. Run Amok – the reality is … very real but not so simple. The reality is most of the children that comprise this wave are legal and should the President-elect follow through on his threat to form “Deportation Force” (which I’m not expecting but hey let’s run with it) to roust out our neighbors who are undocumented, overstayed visa, ran the border or whatever, the families will do what they always do: everything humanly possible to protect their kids and their futures. They would find relatives who can remain legally here for their kids to stay with or other survival techniques.
    So, while I know it’s a fantasy for many to solve the problem through the White House, the reality is not real simple.

  10. Kim – “Our neighbors” have jumped in line in front of law abiding people who wish to enter our country legally because of lax immigration laws, and, as a result are causing chaos within our system. They are taxing our resources, causing our legal resident parents lots of angst as a result of potential redistricting, and ultimately adding costs to our tax payers. I am not sure why tax paying citizens have to be redistricted or have their neighborhoods schools significantly altered because of lax immigration policies that have overrun our schools with families/kids of illegal immigrants. Again, I’m not advocating for deportation necessarily, but I question why many of us have to bear the brunt of this mistake and, if we dare question it, be accused of being bigoted, racist, or worse. The fact of the matter is we like our community schools as they exist today. Whether it be Dunwoody High, Chamblee High, where our daughter goes to school, or Lakeside, we bought our houses and paid higher property values because the schools in the area were reputable. Now, because nothing has been done for years in both how we let people in this country and how the county school board makes decisions on “our neighbors,” we find ourselves in this mess. I, for one, will not tolerate our local schools going down the tubes, along with our property values for reasons that are beyond our control. Let’s open up a Doraville High, create a place for the illegal immigrant children with special services for their specific needs (ESL, acculturation, etc. etc.)

  11. Who are the “illegal immigrant children,” Amok? You jumped right passed the single most important and inescapable fact about our situation that I shared: the children born here are fully vested American citizens. I hope we can agree to continue the right and just debates about how our Country should manage its immigration policies and enforcement without making the mistake of failing to distinguish between the two problems.
    We can wring our hands and lament “how could this be” but this is how it is. The BoE is obligated to educate every school age child in its district in any case. Notwithstanding any hypothetical approach to segregating these children the BoE is forbidden from doing so.

  12. And I have to point out that putting quotes around “our neighbors” pretty much explains it all. I see my neighbors as my neighbors – no quotes allowed. 🙂

  13. That’s all that needs to be said – you are playing the typical lib race card. Did you not just see how badly that strategy worked in our national elections? Look, pal, the reason I put quotes around our neighbors is because you, in your holier than thou attitude, decided to refer to the folks that we are taking about here as “our neighbors.” And your position, you believe, advocates solely for the interests of the Buford Highway individuals at the expense of everyone else. In fact, you are hurting EVERYONE with this silly Option B proposal – especially the Buford Highway community. Do you think that CCHS is going to be able to provide the same services in acculturation and English as a second language to both the children and the families that Cross Keys is currently providing? The answer is absolutely not. You will sacrifice the services that some of these families are getting – all in the name of politically correct “integration.” Let me ask you another question – where was it on the SPLOST ballot that I voted for that indicated that SPLOST V had anything to do with a diversity strategy? Why is it so much more important for our illegals to be integrated into an already highly diverse school in Chamblee? What are we going to do about the schools on the south side that have no diversity whatsoever? I hope you have room in your budget to incorporate busing because if we have to create diversity in Cross Keys than we need to create diversity everywhere.

  14. And herein lies the reason why the entire methodology of this plan is severely flawed. They had citizens “vote” in the survey and at meetings and in letters for a CONCEPT. Now that the ugly details of one concept are out and being picked apart, Drake and Green want to move forward with it as if the entire plan had been voted on from the beginning?
    How many people were asking for more details and were told “we can’t give you details this early in the process. We are just gathering thoughts.” Bull. They wanted everyone to show their cards and then they could craft a narrative and meet with strategic groups to make that narrative fit and pit groups against one another.
    If I hear one more person (including you, Kim), say “well, if you had just agreed to move the magnet,” I will lose it. If only our problem was as easy as 600 students. Moreover, EVERYONE asked, what are the details so that people could see the downstream impacts. You cannot blame anyone for the details of what ended up being a really bad patchwork of band aids and was not an option on the table with the original 3. This is bait and switch on steroids.
    We should be shown the details of ALL of the plans and be given the time to review. However, given the politics we have been trained by our leadership to play, my guess is option 4 would be voted down because every high school community except CKHS and CCHS would unite and vote against it. Let CCHS and CKHS bear the brunt. Actually it’s really, let only CCHS take the brunt going forward while CKHS has done it in the past.

  15. Three cheers for what Anna wrote. Now that we have more details we know that:
    DCSD is pushing a plan that allocates $21 million in E-SPLOST-V funds to build a 600 seat addition at CCHS. This plan has several flaws because of the extremely small CCHS site. These flaws exist no matter how the CCHS district is drawn. Resistance is against the adequacy of the plan, not the students who will attend the school. How can it be wrong to stand firm for an adequate campus?
    Flaw 1 – The DCSD concept requires a parking deck that City of Chamblee didn’t allow “way back in 2011” when the current school was designed. If DCSD has met with the City of Chamblee and has reason to believe that this is OK now, why not say so?
    Flaw 2 – The DCSD concept requires 116 parking spaces along Chamblee-Dunwoody Road in front of the beautiful academic building. City of Chamblee has just announced a “Chamblee High Streetscape Update.” This includes a lovely meandering sidewalk in front of CCHS as well as a flashing light pedestrian crosswalk in front of the school. The City has bought easements along Chamblee-Dunwoody Road from Harts Mill to Peachtree Boulevard to accomplish this. I’m thinking that 116 parking spaces in this same space are not part of the City’s plan. But if DCSD has met with the City of Chamblee and they both see a way to make this work, why not say so?
    Flaw 3 – The DCSD plan squeezes a 2400 seat school on a site that is less than half of the state recommended acreage for a 2400 seat school. If there is any research to show how this is an improvement for academics or school climate or school safety, why not say so?
    Flaw 4 – DCSD’s presentations showed that it cost $23 million to add 600 seats at Southwest DeKalb High School. Yet now they project only $21 million to add 600 seats at CCHS. If there is a reason why the cost estimate has gone down 10%, why not say so?
    The DCSD plan shows that it is possible to make these additions, but the flaws make it likely that more money will be required or that the result will be an extremely crowded space full of 2400 teenagers and 150+ teachers. How is that a positive change that the Chamblee community should support?
    I agree with the Sagamore Hills parents who are requesting that the BOE vote on the E-SPLOST-V project list be delayed until February. That gives time to address these flaws.
    Don’t forget that the E-SPLOST-V additions at CCHS, Dunwoody, and Lakeside and the new Cross Keys High School leave each school with more than 2000 students, with only 70 seats more, for all 4 schools, than DCSD projected 2022 enrollment. (9463 enrollment vs. 9521 seats)
    Dan Drake’s projections may be fabulous. But to base a $200+ million plan with less than a 1% safety margin for unanticipated growth doesn’t make sense. If there is more enrollment than projected, will we even have space to put trailers after the additions? Let’s take a deep breath and take another look at this whole plan.

  16. Stan, do you know if anyone from the school administration has worked with the various city officials on any of these plans?

  17. Anna,
    The short answer is No. The school district has not approached any other jurisdictions regarding feasibility, permitting, codes, etc … there is an entire section dedicated to Lack of cooperation with other jurisdictional authorities (cities and county) on Nancy Jester’s blog post, A Better DeKalb – My view on the recent developments in school building and redistricting plans

  18. Run Amok – you give me way too much credit. I think all your questions were rhetorical. If I missed one that you actually intended for me to reply to, let me know.

  19. Anna: “If I hear one more person (including you, Kim), say “well, if you had just agreed to move the magnet,” I will lose it. If only our problem was as easy as 600 students.”
    You and I can agree on this – discussing the Magnet has misled people from the beginning. I personally see such discussions as a waste of time. The problem is much bigger than that. Does it contribute? Obviously. There is debate as to what degree but that is splitting hairs.

  20. I have started, stopped, and erased this comment several times but I know going to post this now because this needs to be said.
    I spent the weekend at both Stephenson Middle and Stephenson High School. Both schools opened in 1996 to new students. The hallways are very wide and spacious. Not like Chamblee Middle or Peachtree Middle or even Chamblee High that was built later. Stephenson High School had a major addition under SPLOST I or II(?). In this addition, SHS received an auditorium and additional classroom. SHS construction committee asked for an additional cafeteria and additional gym and their fine arts spaces expanded. They also asked the county for a new stadium on a piece of property the county-owned next door. All that SHS got what they asked for is the additional cafeteria. The cafeteria is just a serving line. The food is still prepared in the main building and carted over to the “Stephenson Academy”. (I will explain in the next paragraph)
    Just so everyone knows, SHS sits on 45 acres. SHS Construction Committee had a novel idea. A concept that has worked and still works. They came up with the “Stephenson Academy”. This is a separate wing just for 9th graders and they still use today. When the renovations were built, the school’s enrollment at the time was 2600ish. Today the enrollment is 1580. The “Stephenson Academy”‘s cafeteria is still in use today. Is this really a good use of resources? Couldn’t this be better used for an interpreter at a school?
    My question is why did the county give one school an additional cafeteria and have told other schools where the county wants to increase the enrollment to 2600+ that they can not get an additional cafeteria? Also, why is a school with an enrollment of 1580 still have 2 cafeterias running?
    I do have a serious health related question and if someone who works for OSHA is on here please help me with this. I am worried about our band directors and students that are in trailers, rooms that are too small, or rooms that are not acoustically correct. I know that my hearing has been damaged from years in a room too small for a band classroom with 70+ kids in the classroom. I had a student do a science report on the decibel readings during class. I along with my students was sitting next to the equivalent of a jet engine for most of the class. Why are we doing this to our teachers and students? I bring this up because SHS brought this up to my attention when I was touring and asking questions this weekend.
    Again, I am not a fan of adding onto to already cramped schools that do not have the acreage. Especially, when we are going to need another high school in 5 years.
    I would urge anyone and everyone who gets lucky enough to be involved on a construction committee, go and visit SHS and Lithonia, Arabia Mtn. and SWD. These are schools that were built or added onto to handle high enrollment numbers. Ask questions of teachers (classroom/PE/Fine Arts), parents (PTA/School Council), and school house based administrators. What works, what doesn’t. What would they do differently? Educate yourselves before the process starts.