[poll id=”3″]Open Letter To:
DeKalb County School District Board of Education
CC: Superintendent Green; Ramona Tyson (Superintendent’s Office)
Date: November 1, 2016
Chesnut Elementary Parent Teacher Council
Contact: Terri Young, Chair
Kingsley Elementary Parent Teacher Organization
Contact: Carrie Willard
We are writing to ensure fair and accurate representation for the Chesnut and Kingsley communities, whose desire to remain at local, walkable secondary schools was expressed in the Peachtree Charter Middle School (PCMS) and Dunwoody High School (DHS) council letters, which advocated for a 2017-2022 E-SPLOST V project plan that funds PCMS and DHS building additions.
In addition to the district’s efforts to collect community feedback in its multiple community meetings and online survey as part of the Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study, Kingsley and Chesnut community members have participated in the following forums:
• Aug. 30 – Representatives from every school in the Dunwoody cluster except Hightower (invited, but could not attend) met and formed consensus to keep cluster intact;
• Sept. 8 and Sept. 14 – Kingsley PTO held informational meetings for its families;
• Sept. 9 and Sept. 13 – Chesnut PTC sent informational letter to parents and discussed at PTC meeting;
• Sept. 13 – Kingsley and Chesnut families attended DHS council meeting where we voiced our support for an amended Option B with buildout to PCMS and DHS.
As a result, the DHS and PCMS letters to the county and the feasibility study’s recommendations all reflect the input we gathered from the Kingsley and Chesnut school communities: allow our students to remain Dunwoody cluster students by growing the capacity at the middle and high schools, rather than rezoning portions of our socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods out of the Dunwoody cluster.
However, now, due to recent commentary that has been circulating in online neighborhood forums, on our Board of Education Region 1 Representative’s blog (http://factchecker.stanjester.com), and in the October 19, 2016 Dunwoody Crier article, “Opposition Develops to DHS, PCMS Additions,” we are concerned that our views will not be represented in the December BOE vote. Our board representative has in fact taken a position contrary to that given by the DHS and PCMS councils, as he stated in the aforementioned Dunwoody Crier article:
“We can’t add 600 seats to the high school every 5 to 10 years; it’s not scalable. And there’s really been no coordination with the city of Dunwoody or other DeKalb cities in regards to the impact on traffic and stormwater. Given these cities and the county must permit and allow these additions, it seems odd that the school district wouldn’t be working with cities and the county in the development stage.” – Stan Jester, Region 1 BOE Representative
By promoting the misconception that 600 students will be added to the high school, Mr. Jester — who surely knows that in fact the plan allows for an enrollment of 267 net new students by 2022 (as DHS’ current enrollment already stands at 321 over capacity) — can only be attempting to incite opposition to the DHS addition.
We look forward to collaborating with our city and county to develop solutions to the issues of traffic and parking at DHS. With community bodies, like Saint Luke’s Church, entering into partnerships with DHS to provide safe and accessible parking for our students, it is evident that there are resolutions for these concerns that will positively benefit neighbors surrounding the school as well as DHS students and families. Furthermore, we believe that our neighbors throughout Dunwoody would certainly not like to see these concerns supersede a socioeconomically diverse Dunwoody cluster that allows families who sought residency within the cluster to remain within the cluster. We thank you in advance for considering our views when you vote on the Facility Master Plan in your December 2016 meeting.
Thank you for your consideration,
Chesnut Elementary Parent Teacher Council
Contact: Terri Young, Chair
Kingsley Elementary Parent Teacher Organization
Contact: Carrie Willard
Wow. Sure, if money and land acquisition weren’t an issue, it would be great to build a second middle and high school within the City of Dunwoody. Stan’s comment was on point that building additions can’t keep up with the growth. Mega-schools made out of smaller-school footprints isn’t good planning.
And the plot thickens…
Yet the DCSD Facilities Plan is chock full of ‘Mega-schools made out of smaller-school footprints!”
Lakeside HS will have 2500 students on a site that the report from the DCSD Consultant says is “considerably below the state recommended acreage.”
Chamblee Charter HS will have 2400 students on a site that the report from the DCSD Consultant says is “well below the state recommended acreage.” The recommended size is 38.1 acres, but the CCHS site is just 20.71 acres. The report included an alternate option to increase the acreage but it seems that DCSD is ignoring this option.
Dunwoody HS will have 2100 students on a site that the report from the DCSD Consultant says is “well below the state recommended acreage.”
Also, keep in mind that Lakeside HS, Chamblee Charter HS, and Dunwoody HS will be at 100%, 99%, and 99% utilization, respectively, after millions are spent and campuses are disrupted.
After all of these additions, I wonder if there will be space to put trailers if the actual enrollment exceeds projections.
I don’t see how this can be called good planning.
Stan. They just don’t understand. You bully!
It appears that it is appropriate for parents of Kingsley and Chesnut to express their opinions. If anyone has a word to say that makes them at all uncomfortable, they instantly freak out and accuse everyone else of trying to divide the community. Now they are sending letters to the Board of Education crying that they aren’t being represented.
Do they not have maps at Kingsley and Chesnut? Their Board member represents a lot more than them. They are a small part of the district. Heck, the majority of Dunwoody is outside of those schools. They have bullied parents in DES, Vanderlyn, and Austin. What about Chamblee, Brookhaven, and Doraville? Why are our thoughts and opinions any less valid?
How can you criticize Mr. Jester for reporting facts? Just because he doesn’t think continually adding seats to the high school is a good idea, doesn’t mean he isn’t representing your interests. What if your view is actually in the minority? Why should he pick your ideas to support?
Terri and Carrie and all your friends, take a hard look in the mirror. You are asking all of us to shut up and sit down just because you feel nervous about what might happen to you. I wish you had more common sense. I wish you supported the majority of the cluster. We aren’t out here trying to hurt you. It’s sad that you see it as a binary choice.
Mr. Jester, please know that the you have the support of the quiet majority. Everyone should thank you for all that you do to be transparent and give us information. Lord knows, nobody else is doing this.
The people that wrote that letter have comprehension issues. Just because you don’t think slamming DHS with huge traffic problems and bloating a school is a good idea, all of a sudden, you aren’t being represented? Have you ever given thought that you aren’t representing what is good for Dunwoody? Why don’t you treat the rest of us with more respect than that. I’m tired of going to parent meetings where you try to make everyone feel guilty. There are other views out there. We want representation too.
The school communities had a lot of meetings and got input from the cluster and this is the plan (modified B) that was adopted. I was sitting in the DHS library when parents voted for this option. As a former Chesnut parent, I can assure you that we all have respect for the Jesters and all that they have done and continue to do for the community. Nothing about this letter states that we are “not a fan” as Stan titled it. The letter states simply that the community has concerns that their representative does not support a plan that keeps Dunwoody neighborhoods in Dunwoody schools. Our section of town is in walking distance to the middle school that the Dunwoody cluster middle school students attend (those not using private options). No plan that potentially takes Dunwoody neighborhoods like ours out of DHS is acceptable.
Worth posting again–I posted it in another thread on here…
Our neighborhoods deal with a ton of traffic from the middle school and elementary schools on a daily basis at drop off and dismissal (and for an hour on either side of it) and we manage to live with it. This comes along with living near a neighborhood school. It is time for community members to look for solutions instead of complaining about cars parking near the HS and that dreaded traffic.
You are selling a falsehood. All the the cluster didn’t even feel comfortable expressing an opinion. The deck was way too stacked with Kingsley and Chesnut parents at the meetings. I felt uncomfortable expressing a different opinion. No agreement or letters have been sent from Vanderlyn or Austin. I don’t think DES has sent one either. Funny enough the middle school seems to have been represented by the foundation lady and not the council. Your viewpoints are not in the best interests of many of us. Quit pretending that they do. What about those taxpayers and homeowners that don’t have children. Can’t they care about traffic and it be a reasonable concern? What about parents that don’t want large schools. You don’t get to dictate what is important to us. We pay taxes too.
This entire overcrowding “solution” has brought out several deep seeded threads and feelings in this community… I probably should have steeled myself a little bit better for this. The last time redistricting rolled around I was a new school parent. I sat in Dunwoody Club Forest and watched the Vanderlyn and DES communities rip each other apart. It was confusing and disheartening then and now.
Today I am lucky enough to stand next to Carrie Willard as her Kingsley PTO Co-President. And I can tell you this – she is anything but selfish, naïve, or any other negative adjective that has been callously tossed around – as if somehow name-calling is deserved or appropriate in this situation.
I will tell you what Kingsley did, what Carrie did, what I did to end up here. We represented the needs and wishes of our school community. Our recommendations come not out of a hidden agenda or a misplaced personal value system. Our recommendation followed the opinions and desires as expressed by our Kingsley students’ families.
I have not doubt that our perspective is different from other schools in our cluster – in our region. But it was our perspective to share, our needs to represent, our job to do. To misrepresent our school community would be a disservice to them. And so we placed our opinions before the DHS council and the DeKalb BOE – as requested by the school system and Kingsley Elementary.
We did not walk into this decision without thoughtful engagement of Kingsley. We worked on the same timeline and knowledge base as all the other schools in our cluster. After the school councils met, we held two parent meetings, on different days and at different hours in order to get as much parent input as possible. We made sure we had translators available for our parents. We communicated in e-blast and through social media. And the resounding message from our community was to choose an option that preserved our cluster’s attendance zone. That our families, regardless of apartment or single family home, regardless of socio-economic status, regardless of language spoken at home – all said the following: They value the programs offered at PCMS and DHS. They chose to live in Dunwoody and pay higher rent or purchase more expensive homes for our schools. They value the community here. They hoped to stay part.
Option B was the only option that ensured that our Kingsley community stayed part of the Dunwoody community – the community we call home. And so, Carrie and I advocated as such. It didn’t come from any ulterior or misinformed motives. It came from the direction of our community.
No option is perfect. There were pros and cons to each… In looking at the options we knew that through this process we would work to be partners in any solution to help overcome any negatives and highlight the positives.
The greatest concern expressed after the district closed its survey, finished their community engagement meetings, and recommended a blended B option (as that was the overall community engagement input that was given to the SPACES committee) was parking and traffic. As a former Vanderlyn parent and a Dunwoody Club Forest resident (Little Neighbors Chair for too many years to count and DCF President for several years) I understand first hand the frustration being expressed. But I also saw that this concern comes with viable solutions. When Saint Lukes opened up their parking lot to our students, not but a 7 minute/0.4 mile direct walk to school, my heart sang. This was the Dunwoody community that I know. The ones that embrace and encourage each other, the ones that work together.
I’ve seen some very ugly things in my time working for our school system and advocating for all of our Dunwoody schools. I’ve sat on DCSD strategic planning committees and system flexibility committees to be called racist, selfish, and glared at by different participants who knew that I was/am a Dunwoody resident and Co-Chair of GLASS – the group working to help Georgia and Dunwoody have the option to have independent school systems. I attended GA legislative committee meetings where I was accused of wanting to waste taxpayers’ dollars on creating more school systems, or where I was accused of encouraging segregation by believing in an independent school system.
But I have never waivered in my advocacy for our city, for our community, who have asked to be represented and fought for. And I do the same for the school that I am PTO President of. It isn’t motivated by selfish intention. It isn’t from a naïve or misinformed reason. It is actually quite the opposite.
I know what my community wished for. And because I advocated for them, I have taken a backlashing on this blog and in other areas. My children have been called snowflakes and I’ve been told to donate them to the Sagmore cause. I’ve been called naïve. I’ve received calls telling me what different leaders “feel about me”. Does it make me sad to hear these things, these personal attacks? Of course. But I will still represent what my school community has asked me to. Just as I’ll continue to represent my city neighbors down at the sate and district.
I am okay to not agree on things. We need to hear each other’s perspectives and concerns in order to find solutions and common ground. Those who live on Womack and who live on Vermack, they are my neighbors. They live in Dunwoody. Their concerns are mine. Just like I would hope that my school’s concerns are theirs. We aren’t individuals in this. We are not they, them, you… We are we. We are us.
The letter on this blog was written and submitted to the district in order to reiterate our schools’ support of the recommendations. To review the process of how we were able to gather opinions. And to express concern over our school board member providing more voice to the opinions on this blog and his own than the process that was followed to come to the recommendation provided to the district.
Hopefully Mr. Jester knows that his title misrepresents what our schools feel about him. It isn’t that we aren’t a “fan” of you, Stan. It is that in this situation, “we are concerned that our views will not be represented in the December BOE vote”.
So I leave with this thought… In a community that will hopefully grow up and old with each other, can we please treat each other with respect and open mindedness? Can we agree to disagree when no compromise is able to be reached, but not crucify one another and attempt to hurt through insults or worse. At the end of the day I want to be able to see my neighbors at the swim and tennis club, at the 4th of July Parade, on a walk at Brook Run and know that through it all – we call each other neighbor first and don’t make each other into enemies because we see things through different lenses.
In December I’ll be at the AIC representing Kingsley and I’ll also still be down at the capitol working for our city in January. Because I am one of us. We are Dunwoody.
So if you were to feel like your views would be represented in December by Mr. Jester, where would that leave the rest of us? I guess we would need to write a letter like the Mrs. Young and Mrs. Willard did. Would that be divisive? Mr. Jester is elected to represent a district much larger that Kingsley and Chesnut. It is disrespectful to send a letter to the other board members and say that you are concerned about how your corner will be “represented”. Mr. Jester is under no obligation to agree with you any more than he is obligated to anyone. He is there to do what he believes is right for his district and the entire school district. You aren’t obligated in that way at all. It is more than appropriate for him to hold a position different than yours. He shouldn’t have letters sent that undercut his ability to do his job with the full board. Do you really want the rest of us to play that game?
The fact is that the vast majority of Dunwoody is served best by Option A. Kingsley and Chesnut made everyone feel uncomfortable to even speak up and played the survey at the last minute.
Erica, thank you for your efforts and your eloquent explanation.
Everything that Erika said…ten times over.
I am saddened that some felt bullied because the parents at potentially redistricted schools are engaged in the process. This process requires that school boards engage their families and provide input to the county. As we live in dunwoody but could potentially be redistricted to a city we have no connection to, our families feel particularly motivated to request inclusiveness.
While I am glad Mr. Jester read our schools letter and made it public, I am concerned that he chose not to respond personally prior to doing so. And in posting the letter in its original form he shared the email addresses of 2 elementary school board members.
I hope we can have a positive dialogue about the growth of our city and thus our city’s schools and how we retain those kids in its schools.
My constituency is most of DeKalb West of 85 consisting of Doraville, Chamblee, Brookhaven and Dunwoody.
While the possibility of some streets in Dunwoody getting redistricted out of Dunwoody is speculative, I recognize the heightened fear and anxiety this speculation is causing.
I do not agree with the proposed conceptual approach to adding 600 seats to CCHS, 600 seats to DHS and 750 seats to LHS. I am equally adamant about ALL Dunwoody children going to school in Dunwoody.
There is a path to achieve both goals. I hope we can work together to achieve it.
I hope the people that wrote this letter apologize to Mr. Jester. They should also retract their previous positions.
Stan, thank you so much for your position on keeping all Dunwoody kids in Dunwoody. Could you please elaborate on the path you mention above? I think that would be important information to have and be able to share with my school community. Thank you 🙂
I see nothing in the Chesnut and Kingsley position that needs to be retracted. The council letter stated concerns that our neighborhoods would be collateral in the effort to limit DHS expansion. Terri and Carrie simply signed their names as council chairs on a council letter. The letter came from the school councils and the school communities.
Mr Jester, please elaborate on your plan stated in the comments above. We appreciate all that you do for our community and nothing about this letter should be seen as personal. The quotes listed are direct media quotes and the council letter stated facts. The families who bought homes in this portion of the Dunwoody cluster are “just as much Dunwoody” as those who live closer to the HS. The folks on the other side of town travel this way for middle school and we travel that way for HS. We are all a part of Dunwoody and the community/ cluster.
Thank you, Mr Jester for your stated commitment to keeping the Dunwoody student community in Dunwoody schools.
That should be “collateral damage” not collateral. Thank you, Dunwoody neighbors for keeping this conversation civil. Attacking one another accomplishes nothing. I will repeat that the council chairs only signed their names as contacts and the letters were from the school community. From what I see in the letter there is nothing that could be perceived as a personal attack at all. I see plenty of rude comments toward Terri, Carrie and their friends who are working hard in the Dunwoody cluster to make our schools great. Please keep things civil.
Thanks, again Mr Jester for engaging in the effort to keep all of us in DHS.
Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What if Austin, Vanderly, and DES sent a letter to the entire Board of Education and said that they didn’t think that their board member was going to represent their interests in December because he wanted to add all these seats? It would be inappropriate.
Jessica, somebody should apologize. The letter wasn’t to Mr. Jester asking him to talk with them about the issue. It did not ask how he could help them find common ground. The letter went to all board members basically saying that Mr. Jester isn’t looking out for them. That’s just rude and disrespectful. That’s pretty much what a personal attack looks like. If I were him, I would write you guys off because you keep digging. If you want to salvage anything, somebody should apologize to Mr. Jester.
No one from Kingsley and Chesnut seems to care that other people also have opinions and they differ. Most people in the community do not want more seats at Dunwoody. When someone above wrote “it’s time for the community to look for solutions instead of complaining about cars and traffic”, that sounds a lot like, “You better get over it and think like us. Deal with it.” What if the rest of us said that to you? The PC bullying is only coming from one side.
Yep. I agree. Put the shoe on the other foot. If Austin or Vanderlyn were in danger of being redistricted into Doraville what would happen then? Even if it were only a few streets? I am sure there would be expansion plans for dunwoody high to be 10 stories high and a parking deck 3 stories high. This is all about common sense and common human decency. To force any one house in dunwoody into a sub par school district that those people didn’t sign up for is Not cool at all. Let’s use the golden rule here. A lot of people in danger of being redistricted are hard working blue collar families, and yes, even minorities. At least if the minorities have to be redistricted they will at least already know what it feels like to get kicked to the curb. They worked their asses off just so their kid can have a better education and this is what they might get? Automatic lower home values and a garbage school district.?? Oh well. This small town political bullshit just shows that we are no better than Hillary and Trump . I win either way. I stay in dunwoody or upgrade to Peachtree corners.
David has taught me a few things. First if you live outside of Chesnut and Kingsley, you should suppress your opinion that a crowded campus in the middle of a neighborhood is bad idea. Second, suggesting any changes means you are trying to kick Chesnut and Kingsley out of Dunwoody. Third, you can’t advocate for what you think is best for Dunwoody because it might not meet David’s “common decency” argument. Fourth, if Austin or Vanderlyn say anything they are trying to kick “hard working blue collar families” and “minorities” to the curb. Fifth, if Austin or Vanderlyn mentioned “property values” they are not using the “golden rule”.
On the flip side, David says that it isn’t proper to “force one house in Dunwoody to to a sub par school district.” He said they “didn’t sign up for that” and “it is not cool.” You know what isn’t cool? Being a hypocrite. No one from Austin or Vanderlyn has said anything like that. You are the one that seems to be overly concerned about labeling other schools (sub par) and asserting that some of your neighbors are motivated by race and class. How is that golden are decent. If you live near DHS and you don’t want a bigger building and more cars, that doesn’t mean you lack “decency”, “common sense”, or don’t follow the “golden rule”.
Come up with an idea that keeps All of Dunwoody in Dunwoody then. I haven’t seen one plan yet. Traffic sucks by my house every morning. There are some very bright people in the area. I am sure there are some creative ways to fix any traffic and parking issues. The fact that we are arguing about parking and traffic shows how truly lucky we are as human beings.
Full disclosure, I am a supporter of Option A. Region 1 needs seats, and this option provides the most seats with the least disruption to schools and communities. The Buford Highway corridor has been grossly neglected, and Doraville is the only city in our region without a high school in its limits. I emailed the DHS council and PCMS foundation chairs after their recommendation letter to DeKalb County was released to express my disappointment. After having children in the system since 2004, and experiencing the good, bad, ugly and criminal, I was in absolute shock that the DHS and PCMS representatives decided Option B was best.
Having said that, a wise friend reminded me that this is DeKalb. Option B is most likely what they wanted in the first place (lowest cost), and they manipulated the situation to have the clusters agree. In hindsight, I wonder if the DHS and PCMS representatives might feel that they should have told DCSD that they did not have enough information or time to make such a categorical recommendation. I follow these issues closely, but was unaware of any meeting being held where the community was going to be asked by a show of hands what they wanted.
I live in the area around DHS. This year, we have had problems in the neighborhood with DHS students that we have not previously experienced in the 11 ½ years we have lived here. We’ve had truant students hanging out in our neighbor’s yards. I had a group of DHS boys hanging out in my driveway at 9:30am waiting for a taxi to take them somewhere (not school, though). We’ve had students racing their cars side by side on our streets, students riding on the outside of SUV’s (standing on the sideboards and hanging on to the windows), and also one cool guy who thought it was a great idea to spin his wheels (lay tracks) while another student stood in front of his car. This guy continually speeds through the neighborhood with his music blaring. Unfortunately, I saw no difference in the amount of cars parked on neighboring streets this week (Corners Dr., Corners Cove, in front of Vanderlyn, Trumbull Dr., and the neighborhood off of Vermack across from Village Mill – sorry, don’t know the street name). I’m disappointed that students won’t take advantage of the generous offer by St. Luke’s. I think the City of Dunwoody will need to restrict parking on these streets in order for the students to change their habits.
In conclusion, what is really disheartening to me is the rhetoric being thrown back and forth from both sides. We should all be working together for a CITY OF DUNWOODY SCHOOL SYSTEM. We should not be tasked with making the best worst choice. We should not let the DeKalb County School District divide our community like this. This area only continues to grow, residentially and commercially. We need creative, strategic thinkers to plan for the growth. Adding more seats to a school that is already too crowded, that is located smack dab in the middle of a quiet, residential neighborhood, is not creative or strategic. We have seen how DCSD’s projection numbers are woefully underestimated (PCMS is only 9 years old and we have 16 classes meeting in trailers!). We will absolutely need an elementary, middle, and high school in the Perimeter area. Let’s focus on the long term needs of our community and how to get there – together.
Michelle Fincher…. thank you. You are amazing. I appreciate all that you said. Your concerns are concrete, your desire to problem solve sincere and collaborative. Would you be interested in a further conversation off of blog land?
Let’s fact check the fact checker:
1. Mr. Jester has yet to publicly state, at least anywhere I can find, that he wants all Dunwoody children to stay in Dunwoody. Had he done that prior to this thread, he would have avoided this issue. He has caused this problem by his vague and coy comments about DHS and PCMS. This was not caused by Chesnut or Kingsley’s PTC’s.
2. There has been and probably will always be a divide in Dunwoody but it’s not Chesnut & Kingsley versus the other elementary schools. The reality is, it’s every elementary school for themselves. We saw this during the last redistricting when Austin and Vanderlyn parents went after eachother, we saw it with the racial code words that were used like not wanting “multi-family housing” in attendance zones.
3. If your child lived within spitting distance of PCMS as so many of the Chesnut kids do– literally across the street from the school– and you heard your child would be redistricted miles away, you’d be fighting mad, too. Let’s picture a proposal that redistricted Vanderlyn kids out of DHS. It’s that ludicrous.
4. I was at that DHS council meeting in which people now claim there was bullying. I saw nothing of the fact.
5. Mr. Jester continually tells you DHS can’t take another 600 seats neglecting to admit that it’s really on the order of 200 more seats over current enrollment. It’s a 600 seat addition that solves current overcrowding and for the 200 or more students expected.
6. Mr. Jester and others claim there’s no footprint on the DHS campus for an addition. In fact, the principal of DHS came to the DHS council meeting and said flat out—they welcome the addition, they feel they have the space and that the extra investment would be quite helpful.
And this isn’t part fact checked.
1. It’s a first world problem that your kids can’t park their shiny cars at school. Poor babies. I’m so sorry. Life really is a struggle.
2. If we’re really going to talk about efficient use of DeKalb County Schools space, we’d have redistricted Vanderlyn years ago to eliminate their trailers and fill the empty seats at Kingsley, thereby reducing open seats for out-of-zone attendance. But we dare not touch that attendance zone. Go ahead and boot Kingsley out of the zone, though, that’s perfectly fine. Pure rubbish.
3. You’ll all deny it but we all know it’s true: it’s human nature to have a “not in my backyard” mentality and that’s what this fuss about PCMS and DHS additions and attendance zones is all about. None of you, nor I, want to be redistricted to a chronically underperforming school zone like Cross Keys HS or the non-magnet program at Chamblee HS. So you’ll say whatever you have to in order to keep your kids where they are. Me too, neighbors, me too.
Demz the facts, Jack. And Stan.
Dear Faux Fact Checker-
You are a funny one. Mr. Jester has done nothing but be transparent and helpful.
FACT: Last time I checked, we only ever get information from him.
FACT: Dunwoody High School Council and PCMS Foundation should have told the school district to buzz off when they were pressured to make some statement without more time to seek consensus.
FACT: You are continuing to divide people with statements like “every elementary school for themselves”
FACT: You are more than a tad incorrect about “multi-family” and attendance zones. Don’t let the facts get in your way, though.
FACT:No one in Dunwoody has ever talked about redistricting kids from Chesnut or Kingsley out of Dunwoody. That is the irrational fear that the school district wants you to believe so they can ruin your middle and high schools. Stop letting them win and divide us.
FACT: The plan the district is pressing is a 600 seat addition regardless of the overcrowding now. The solution isn’t to add 600 seats. The solution is to redistrict.
FACT: I spoke with people at the DHS meeting that said they felt uncomfortable expressing their real opinions. Call it bullying. Call it intimidation. It was real.
FACT: The DHS principal is an employee of the school district and is not a neutral party.
FACT: Your critique about more traffic and cars as “first world” is disrespectful and petty. It is perfectly acceptable for us to have expectations about those things just as you have expectations about your school feeder plan.
FACT: Vanderlyn was redistricted the last go round. That’s why now both Vanderlyn and DES are overcrowded. You aren’t entitled to your own facts. If Vanderlyn was redistricted again, Chesnut and Kingsley would be out of luck. Be careful what you wish for.
FACT: Chamblee and Cross Keys are actually better performing that you make them out to be. You should look at the actual data. Cross Keys and “non-magnet” Chamblee are not “chronically under-performing”. You have let your bias show. Perhaps you, Faux “Fact Checker”, need to look inside your heart about racial bias and concerns about “multi-family”.
Mr. Jester, thank you for what you do. My family appreciates you. I wish more elected officials were as transparent.
Fact: The DHS principal is an employee of the school district and is not a neutral party.
That is hilarious. Just curious, where does Stan send his kids to school? If that isn’t a conflict of interest I am not sure what is
All city students should go to their city cluster – Redistricting is separate to the conversation. Much like costs of the different projects, it’s tough to get a straight and consistent answer from the school district. It’s tough, as you know, to make decisions on numbers that are plus or minus 40%. Cities are defined communities of interest. Chesnut and Kingsley are just as much a part of Dunwoody as Austin, DES, and Vanderlyn. The only group trying to divide us is the school district.
I understand that the school district has tried to pit us against each other. It can’t be that we must be terrible neighbors and lose parts of our city. That’s a false choice and we should reject that.
I do not agree with the proposed conceptual approach to adding 600 seats to CCHS, 600 seats to DHS and 750 seats to LHS.
This is not in opposition to anyone who is a homeowner or parent of a student in the City of Dunwoody. United we stand. Divided we fall … should ring true for the Dunwoody, Chamblee, Brookhaven and Doraville clusters.
There seems to be a larger issue at hand. The school crowding is only one symptom of the fact that we live in a city and county that is not well planned. If we allowed for smart growth, we would focus on infostructure BEFORE allowing large scale construction. It seems like that is the root cause of so many issues that have our community divided. I hope to see Dunwoody learn from this, although I had the same hope after the last redistricting…
Erica K – Amen.
Erika K, thank you for your comments. Elaborate more on the smart growth and infrastructure you would like to see.
Thank you to everyone on this thread who have kept their remarks free from insults and attacks. The conversation can move towards constructive resolution more quickly without the negativity. I am a PCMS and Chesnut parent who has been engaged in this process, including attending the DHS council meeting. A couple thoughts:
1. Mr. Jester, thank you for stating in this thread that you advocate for all city students to go to their city cluster schools. You also say that the solution does not have to be a 2100-seat DHS. What is your alternative solution? Proactively sharing your answer with the community in this forum or in person would do much to stem the rising angst and divisions amongst neighbors. So long as our city planning allows for new homes to be built within the cluster, it would seem that pulling in the cluster boundaries (Option A) or building room for those children at existing or new sites within the cluster (Option B) are the only choices. Is there a third option you propose?
2. I question the assertion that DES, Vanderlyn and Austin parents and community members are a “quiet majority” who would prefer Option A, which sends (by 2022) 600 Dunwoody cluster students elsewhere. I have talked to neighbors in those communities who hold an inclusive view.
3. At the DHS council meeting, where many families from Kingsley and Chesnut openly voiced a desire to protect their children’s seats within the Dunwoody cluster, it is understandable that it would be very difficult to then face those parents and openly ask for Option A, which could potentially send their children elsewhere. But that is not the same as being bullied. It is simply hard to tell your neighbor that you would rather keep a school small than find a way to keep their children within the cluster.
4. Mr. Jester, when you say that you do not want 600 more seats at DHS, does this mean that you also do not want 450 more seats at PCMS? I have heard little to no mention of PCMS in the objections from you or others to the DHS addition, but do not see how the two are different, except for the fact that they are located in different parts of Dunwoody. Could you clarify your thoughts on this?
5. Mr. Jester, this is a genuine question for you: could you please explain why we would want to turn down e-SPLOST V facility improvement money for DHS, which is already sitting at 300+ overcapacity? Even if the solution to relieve this overcrowding was to reduce the student body to 1,500, I understand it will be several years before any potential DHS redistricting happens, correct? In the meantime, we leave the school without substantial improvements to serve the demands of its existing overcrowded status? Are you concerned that by accepting money to make improvements to DHS, we are also agreeing to enlarge its population, which you believe we should avoid at all costs? This brings us back to my questions in #1, and the question at the heart of this matter: where will these 600 children go to school if we don’t make room for them at DHS?
Redistricting at the elementary level is coming whether anyone likes it or not. Des projections are at 700+ at 2022, Austin will need do fill their new 700-900 student school and Vanderlyn is overcrowded.
An additional topic that has not been addressed is the school district plan to expand Chesnut and add 300 + seats. Those seats will be filled via overcrowding from other Dunwoody elementary schools. I asked Dan Drake this question directly and he said that “most likely” the DES overcrowding would be handled by Chesnut and the Vanderlyn overcrowding would be handled by Austin.
With all of he competing ideas and plans it is tough to get a sense of what is best for each of the schools and the cluster. Where does all of that leave Kingsley? Stan, I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic specifically. This factors into all topics related to the Dunwoody community as a whole and the topic of attendance zones for specific elementary schools.
I would like to echo Angela’s question as to why the individuals on this blog and Mr Jester himself are not concerned with the add on at PCMS but have a ton of concern over the DHS expansion. It could be due to the neighborhoods affected by the former and the latter. It could also be because the neighborhoods surrounding PCMS understand that this is a part of being in the vicinity of a neighborhood school and are therefore not complaining about extra traffic and parking issues. Our area also has parking issues on side streets as a result of the middle school. I cannot leave my neighborhood easily between 8:15-8:45 am and again between 3:45 and 4:30. Perspective is everything.
Mr or Mrs Anonymous–
“FACT: The plan the district is pressing is a 600 seat addition
regardless of the overcrowding now. The solution isn’t to add
600 seats. The solution is to redistrict.”
If the solution is to redistrict, who’s being redistricted out?
You can’t tell people redistricting fears are irrational if you’re
also saying the solution is to redistrict. That’s how we got to a
letter to DeKalb County Schools, going around our school board
Stan, thank you for clarifying not once, but TWICE here that all schools should remain within their communities. Thank you.
I don’t disagree that a cycle of school additions presents a variety of issues and isn’t necessarily good long term planning. What sorts of options would you like to see that solve overcrowding in this cluster? So far, all I see is “we can’t keep adding” but I’m not seeing solutions to the problem.
Re: Smart Growth… as much as I support smart growth, and we are seeing many examples ITP and some variations on the theme OTP, I don’t think it’s a quick answer here. Unless smart growth zoning restricts new residential or adopts a net zero plan for school attendance, it won’t change the overcrowding issue. I’ve witnessed the zoning lawsuits that come from that kind of zoning living in another state. It’s not pretty. I don’t think residents would stand for it in Georgia.
What about PCMS? – My thoughts about DHS are a proxy for how I feel about the entire proposal to different degrees at different schools. You may have noticed that adding seats is an even bigger challenge at Lakeside High School. PCMS is better equipped than DHS to handle the additions.
Alternative Solution – Coming this week
Facility Improvements – I wouldn’t characterize the proposed addition as “Facility Improvements”. Nothing is getting renovated in the current conversation except expanding the kitchen and cafeteria by a few hundred square feet.
DHS fields and the stadium at Chamblee HS will be renovated no matter what path we go down.
Timeline – Whatever path we take, it will be roughly 5 years (+/- a year or two) before the middle schools and high schools see any relief. Elementary schools in Region 1 should start seeing relief in 3 years.
600 children – Much like the project costs, the student move numbers are rough estimates at best. It’s not irrational to be concerned that these numbers will affect “you”, but it is speculative.
Chamblee children should go to school in the Chamblee cluster. Dunwoody children should go to school in the Dunwoody cluster, etc … This is true for the Dunwoody, Chamblee, Brookhaven and Doraville clusters. United we stand. Divided we fall.
Stan, do the numbers add up if we “only” take non-Dunwoody residents out of the cluster? I believe I saw an earlier comment on another topic stating that this was “not enough” students to relieve overcrowding. Thanks in advance for your timely and detailed responses. We would love to hear the plan that keeps Dunwoody kids in Dunwoody without expansion. Thank you, again for the info sharing.
Mr Jester- The city where I grew up (Shaker Heights Ohio) has a great website with all it does. The zoning committee often turned down projects until infostructure was sufficient. We had no parking lot at all at my high school and also no school bus. We worked with the surrounding neighborhood for parking, and some walked quite a distance because every street had sidewalks. I realize this is a bit off topic but I am more than happy to talk as well
Ericka k- Georgia and DeKalb don’t work like that. The school district, the county, and the city are all different governments. That’s why we don’t have good planning. All these different governments don’t coordinate anything. We should demand that they get on the same page.
David – Your comment about Stan Jester’s kids is way over the line. Agree or disagree on the merits of an argument. I do know this. No board member has given us more detail and more opportunity to give him feedback. Tell him what you think. I just don’t think mentioning his kids is fair. I think we should be better than that.
Can city council change city border , move it west to Vermack? Dunwoody North should become
Part of Doraville
Build the Wall–nice trolling. How long did it take you to come up with that? Are you aware that PCMS (the MIDDLE SCHOOL for Dunwoody) is located in Dunwoody North and everyone in the city sends their kids there? I am guessing that you are. That might be the very dumbest comment on this thread. Winner, winner chicken dinner.
What if Doraville isn’t enough?
ALL children go to school in the city cluster they live in – That means ALL Brookhaven children should go to school in a Brookhaven cluster and ALL Doraville children should go to school in a Doraville cluster … etc … All Dunwoody students go to school in the Dunwoody Cluster.
Student Move Speculation – The graphic on this page
is what is causing all the consternation in the Kingsley and Chesnut community. Back in July it was estimated that if we have a Doraville cluster, 400 students from PCMS and 600 students from DHS would attend the new Doraville cluster.
I’ve been reticent to give that number any credence due to all the other numbers on that page that have changed. They also estimated that DHS would get $23 million in additions which has since been reduced to $16 million.
What if Doraville isn’t enough? – If you go to the latest (Oct 2016) enrollment capacity report
Dunwoody HS is 317 over capacity. Redistricting Doraville students to a Doraville cluster will address overcrowding.
Between the two elementary schools in Doraville, what if that doesn’t add up to 600 students … will they carve out streets in Dunwoody to go to Doraville? NO … with the plan coming out this week, Dunwoody students stay in Dunwoody … period.
DCSD has a new plan?
Dunwoody, Chamblee, Doraville and Brookhaven have a new plan.
Stan, is this a new County plan? How do we get a copy?
No school district employees have seen it. Stay tuned. You’ll get a copy right here.
Facebook Site: “Doraville Deserves a High School” is getting popular too.
Is there a reason why there has to be a vote in December?
If there are still so many concerns and questions, why can’t the vote be delayed to February?
This seemed to be a request of people at the BOE meeting last night.
Isn’t it possible with the additional time, people that feel their voices were not heard could be heard?
The BOE would still have the ultimate decision making authority.
Years ago in a social education class I learned something very important.
The quality of a school has a tremendous impact on the County.
BUT the other part of that was that ” no matter how good a school is, the school cannot live apart from the community.’ Is that just a nice saying for our letter head.?
A school needs the support of the community.
There will probably never be a plan that everyone supports.
At least by giving people additional time, more of the voices in the community could be heard.
There are certain schools that seem really great at getting publicy and media support. But the voices of all of the schools in this situation need to be heard.
I was raised in Atlanta. My siblings and I walked to school. The school was in the center of a neighborhood and had tremendous community support. We were not in a rich community. Parents worked, but they still found time to support the school.
I understand the strong feelings of wanting community schools.
But back to my inital question.
Why can’t the BOE vote be in February?
I fully support a delayed vote in these circumstances, I think it is the prudent thing to do at this juncture. Why should such a HUGE project be rushed through the approval process?
Can the Doraville HS vote be a stand alone item on your page instead of hidden in the Chesnut/Kingsley article?
It just occurred to me a Doraville cluster poll would be interesting. I’ll try and add it to the front page. I couldn’t get the formatting to work when I moved the poll off to the side on this page.
Also, note I don’t let people vote more than once … generally speaking.
I have a problem with the School Board approving anything until the finalized location of the new “Cross Keys High” is revealed. There are very different outcomes whether the location is The Briarcliff site, or some other nebulous “cost-neutral” site. I feel the board should have renderings for that proposal, as well to make an informed vote.
I am really looking forward to learning more about the plan to keep students in schools in the city they reside. This would be a step in the right direction to get city municipalities more engaged in these decisions and coordinate with DCSD on issues like traffic concerns. Not to mention zoning approvals to finally consider impacts to schools.
I agree with deferring the vote until February. It is clear that there is more opposition to the proposed project list than there is support for it. Stan, do you have a sense if this would fly with board members?
I can’t speak for the other board members. But, the administration brought to the board a $500 million project list and nobody had questions but me.
Stan, as I watched that play out on the live stream last night, I was in absolute shock! Thank you again for bringing many concerns to the surface, even though the administration’s responses were disappointing, at best.
Stan, I noticed the “promised” new ES for “North Cross Keys,” aka Doraville, fell off the list. Do you support the talk of a bond referendum to get the funds needed for this? Do you know of other funding sources that could be brought to bear? The families and children at Cary Reynolds in Doraville have suffered long enough and were “promised” a new ES in the area or at CRES.
Which list are you looking at? The two elementary schools are still there as far as I know.
Let me see if I can find the document. It supposedly was part of the presentation Monday that I missed.
Stan and Kim,
Kim is correct that DCSD no longer plans to use E-SPLOST-V funds for two elementary schools to relieve overcrowding in the Cross Keys cluster.
Slide 25 of Joshua Williams presentation to the BOE on November 7 (first link at http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/e-splost/) shows that E-SPLOST-V will fund only 1 ES in the Cross Keys cluster, John Lewis ES. It includes the Note below:
Note: Additional Elementary School capacity (e.g. New Cross Keys ES –North, Additions at Jolly ES, Chesnut ES, and Rowland ES) needs identified under this master planning initiative are not included due to budget constraints. Further exploration of the public’s willingness to approve a referendum for a bond backed by property tax millage is recommended.
Slide 18 in that same presentation shows that only 39% of the public supports such a bond referendum. So it seems like this funding option would take longer and isn’t a sure thing at all.
If you go back and look at DCSD E-SPLOST-V and Secondary Schools Facility Planning and Feasibility Study presentations from May – October 2016, ALL have stated that $60 million of E-SPLOST-V Category 2 funds would be used to build 2 new elementary schools to relieve overcrowding in the Cross Keys district.
Yet now E-SPLOST-V will fund only 1 of these schools, leaving Cary Reynolds at roughly 170% overcapacity and Dresden at roughly 150% overcapacity though the year 2022.
This sounds like a terrible change to me, so I am hoping that someone can give a good reason for this change.
Doraville is NOT getting an elementary school
Two new elementary schools to Serve Cross Keys Cluster Overcrowding ($60 million)
Every document that has been produced until Nov 7 had carved out 2 new elementary school in the Cross Keys Cluster. Even the Final Recommendation Presentation (Sept. 27, 2016) says “*Approximately $60 million committed to two new elementary schools in Cross Keys cluster.”
Nov 7 Presentation – Dr Green said Doraville was getting an elementary school – Dr Green said “We met with the Mayor of Doraville a week and a half ago and she did not realize at the time that a new elementary school would be brought into their area.”
Nov 7 – Project List presentation – Buried on page 25 of the presentation, Doraville is no longer getting that elementary school. Brookhaven is getting an elementary school and Indian Creek, whose Facilities Condition Assessment report says their school is in fine shape, is getting a rebuild.
It’s a 40 page document the board didn’t get until the presentation started. I didn’t catch that they took out Doraville’s elementary school. Green said that Doraville was getting an elementary school in that meeting.
Wow! Thanks for letting us know, Stan. It is hard to believe that this is an honest mistake, as the 2 elementaries in the Cross Keys district have been prominently included in DCSD presentations for so long. Hopefully DCSD can regroup and make this right.
Stan, please keep us updated as you discover what has happened. Thanks!
One question. I understand your thought behind everyone child goes to school in his/her cluster/ city. One problem. MES already serves two cities! Should Chamblee students be pushed out of a school bc it is in Brookhaven. Please not that the city lines actually go right through a neighborhood. What I find so disturbing is most of this is A problem bc DeKalb used trailers, a tempory solution, for so long that the problem is so massive. Let’s not forget, most money has been dropped into the south side of. the county leaving the north the fend for themselves. In doing so. Parents, students and communities have become more invested because we have stepped up where the county failed.
Stan, many valid topics/questions just popping up here but can you spend a moment on my question about the “Doraville” elementary school and funding? The presentation explicitly states that alternative funding will be required to keep that “promise.”
What funding do you know of that could be directed to this construction? Do you support a bond referendum, if needed? I think we must find a way to keep this promise. Going all the way back to April 1, 2015, we (and I say, “we,” because I include myself) have been promoting relief for Cary Reynolds ES as one of the, if not THE, priority.
Doraville will have a rebuilt-presumably larger Pleasantdale Elementary under Splost IV funding.
It sounds like you, an uber-involved Cross Keys stakeholder, were caught completely off guard about DCSD removing the promised elementary school for the Cary Reynolds/Dresden area from the E-SPLOST-V project list.
Is that correct?
If so, what does that say about DCSD? They promised this school for six months in all E-SPLOST-V/Planning presentations and then apparently didn’t notify the Region 1 BOE rep or a very involved stakeholder about their change of plan. Is this partnership?
I also suggest that you listen to Dr. Green’s statements during the November 7 Committee-of-the-Whole meeting, about his meeting with the Mayor of Doraville. He said that Mayor Pittman was satisfied when she learned that Doraville was getting an elementary school.
But did she understand that this elementary school is dependent upon the public approving a bond referendum? Or did she believe that this was the “sure thing” elementary school funded by E-SPLOST-V?
Food for thought.
Anyone who does business with DCSD should be wary. It sounds like there are people on here who thought they had certain things in the bag when, in reality, they should have been concerned about making backroom deals with the devil. DCSD is screwing many schools over to accomplish something it sounds like they had already decided on. They don’t actually have to do anything but what they want. Stan is the only board member holding their feet to the fire, and we all know that when Stan speaks up, several other board members would vote to cut off their own noses just to spite Stan.
If the parents at Kingsley are so worried about Hispanic children, where is the letter requesting the Hispanics living in Dunwoody but zoned for Hightower Elem, be rezoned to Kingsley?