FAQ – School Facility Planning Study

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Secondary School Facility Planning & Feasibility Study (November 18, 2016 Version)


DeKalb Schools just released another FAQ. These are the questions and answers I thought were interesting.
1. Was a feasibility study done for each site?
A feasibility review was conducted for every site. The purpose of these studies are to demonstrate that the proposed capacity additions are conceptually feasible and to establish a cost estimate for each. This review does not determine the best and final location or configuration of the additions and associated site changes, as these decisions will be made during a formal design process to include the principal and the School Council Construction Committee for each school.
2. Where will the additions go?
The final design and location of each addition will be determined in the design process for each school in collaboration with the principal and the School Council Construction Committee. Please note that the locations shown in Appendix A (conceptual plans; http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/documents/secondary-schoolstudy/appendix-a-conceptual-plans-(10-31-2016).pdf) are conceptual in nature and are intended to show that the additions are capable of being done given the site information available at this time. Decisions regarding the final placement of the building additions will be addressed during the formal design process for each school project.
3. Will additional land or sites be needed?
The feasibility review conducted for each site did not suggest the need to acquire additional land at this time. The cost of acquiring additional land for these middle and high schools was not included in any project budget. If, however, it is determined in the design process that additional land is necessary for a project, additional funds will need to be identified and subsequent Board approval would be required to allocate these additional funds for that project.
5. How will necessary road and traffic improvements be implemented? Have you done a traffic study? Is the District coordinating with the County and the cities?
The District has informally discussed these plans with most of the appropriate local jurisdictions. Only after approval by the Board will formal traffic studies be initiated with these local entities to determine what road and traffic improvements, if any, will be necessary for each school.
In anticipation of the Board’s approval, the District is currently working out plan for a proactive and comprehensive transportation and public utility impact analysis of these set of school additions and the new Cross Keys HS. We will formally meet with the local jurisdictions as we plan and implement this comprehensive analysis. This will allow all parties to weigh in on and strategically prepare for any necessary improvements. Please note, the respective system (e.g. roads, sewers, water, etc.) infrastructures around the District’s schools are the responsibility of the local government, not the District.
9. Will adding capacity mean adding students to a school?
No, not necessarily. The schools receiving additions are forecasted to be hundreds of students over capacity by 2022. The intent of the recommended additions is to provide sufficient capacity for the existing number of students attending the school and the additional students forecasted to attend by 2022. It is assumed, however, that some attendance lines may need to be adjusted, particularly for the re-clustered Chamblee and Cross Keys clusters, to balance school size and projected enrollment.
10. Wouldn’t it be best to build the schools a little bit larger to allow for higher than expected attendance levels in the future? Put another way, why build to a utilization of 100% rather than adding additional capacity?
District staff are aware of the uncertainty inherent in any future forecasting. Rather than risk the cost of “overbuilding” by adding much more capacity than is needed, or “underbuilding” by building much less capacity than is needed, the District is recommending adding capacity as the forecast data indicates is needed. These forecasts will be updated annually as we track demographic shifts across the District. Our buildings will be designed so that, if warranted, we can add additional building capacity to accommodate future student capacity needs at each school where possible.
11. Will the District’s standard of 1,600 seats for new high schools change as a result of this process?
Yes, due to the shortage of available land to build new schools and our commitment to the most effective use of the taxpayer’s dollar. The recommendations at some schools are to exceed the District’s high school capacity standard of 1,600 seats.
12. How will students be moved once these additions are complete? Is this redistricting? How would this redistricting related to student move assumptions published as part of the Secondary School Planning and Feasibility study?
If redistricting is needed for these additions and the new high school, it would follow an extensive community engagement process. The three-meeting process of redistricting would occurs one year prior to opening of facility/addition, and be based upon the criteria set forth in Board Policy AD. The first redistricting meeting would simply introduce the process and gather comments related to secondary criteria (in Board Policy AD); no plans would be shown at this first meeting. At the second redistricting meeting, we would present two or three redistricting plans and collect input on these plans as they relate to the secondary criteria. We would then use the input from the second meeting to draw one staff recommended redistricting plan. At the third meeting, we would receive input from the community on the staff recommended plan. The input from the third meeting would be used for the Superintendent to recommend a redistricting recommendation to the Board for its approval.
14. How have city development plans been taken into account?
The District works with officials in the municipalities in DeKalb County to track development and determine potential impact on schools. A review of the school impact of each housing development is part of the permitting process for most jurisdictions. In addition, the District purchases development data from national development tracking venders in order to keep abreast of future housing changes that have not yet reached the permitting stage of planning. All of this data is incorporated into the District’s student population forecast models.
18. What is the Construction Committee and its role?
As part of our stakeholder engagement process for all major construction projects, the School Council (or Governing Board, if a conversion charter school) is informed of the general scope of the project, the project budget, and the related timeline by the principal and a representative of the District’s Design and Construction Department. In an open meeting, the Council is tasked to create a subcommittee of stakeholders who can advise the principal and the project’s Design Team (i.e. architect, project manager, etc.) of stakeholder input during the design process. This “Construction Committee” generally consists of five to seven members in addition to the principal and School Council President. The membership does not include staff members who will be informing the Design Team through other avenues such as user group meetings.
The Construction Committee maybe be asked to comment on various design issues, including: parking, core spaces (i.e. Cafeteria, Gymnasium, Kitchen Area, and Media Center), impact of improvement options on school climate and culture, impact of the construction phasing, the balance of competing need for land amongst athletic fields, parking, and other school design features, etc. School staff (principal) will inform the Design Team on the project as it relates to academics, support services, operations, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Secondary School Facility Planning & Feasibility Study (November 18, 2016 Version)

10 responses to “FAQ – School Facility Planning Study

  1. Bill Armstrong

    For today, I am satisfied. It’s not perfect, but given where we are in the process, I say let’s move on. As a Chamblee HS, MS & ES parent, I would have liked to see a bit more on the CCHS plans. But nothing even remotely close to making me want to delay the vote. I intend on voicing that to the board before the 12/5, as well as on that day as a speaker.
    I would encourage anyone who wants to impact specific school plans & designs to look closely at this, in particular #17 & 18. See about getting on the Committee. Or at least follow it very closely. It will be a great opportunity to help shape &, to some extent, design your own school. But your own school, not those of others. Let them do that. It’s their school. I think it’s time to move forward, the process has moved reasonably well, and generally as scheduled, so far.

  2. A few parts that were published on dekalbschools.org that were not presented here:
    (Note – modified by editor)
    can be found at
    .pdf link icon Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Secondary School Facility Planning & Feasibility Study (November 18, 2016 Version)

  3. Hmmm…unsure why you edited my post instead of adding the missing information to your post?

  4. Bill Armstrong

    Laura – the full 5 pages is in the scrolling window below the incomplete portion that ends after #18. Not sure why.

  5. Just keepin’ it tight –FactChecker Staff

  6. Sorry, but this is nothing but spin. To believe that stakeholders will have any input is just plain naive. Please note “maybe asked to comment” is a far cry from having input. I am guessing we’ll have as much of a voice as we did in the Dancing with the Stars style “survey” during the “community input” process. I am not one to hold up progress, but this decision needs to be deferred. Our only hope for keeping these DCSD employees from moving forward with the plan that is easiest for them is to get our elected officials on the BOE to hit the pause button. Once this list is approved there will be no putting the toothpaste back in the tube. The proposed additions are short-sighted and an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars.

  7. Bill Armstrong

    Well Hilary, I for one do not consider myself naïve. I’ve been “dealing with” with DeKalb schools, the board, superintendents, the central office, for over 12 years. And by “dealing with” I mean “fighting against,” or at best advocating against their policies and plans. To me, so far, Green is not Lewis (or the others) far from it. It is early, but I have newfound confidence in our system under him and the team he is building. I’ll add that if you think this mantra “we need more time for facts, once we have them we’ll be satisfied and push for a vote” is being bought by me, we’ll you are mistaken if you think us Option B supporters are naïve enough to buy that. I’m not sure many, if not most, of the “delay the vote” crowd will be satisfied with anything less than a delay long enough to change the entire plan to their own.
    I came back from the School Council meeting last month thinking & telling others “if he (Green) can pull off half of what he’s planning, we’ll be far ahead of where are now. My kids will be better off, yours will too.”
    And that meeting was evidence of an improved opportunity for true input from parents, especially from the “organized bodies” level, such as the School Councils. I’m on my second stint on a Council now, and I can say that while I felt our input was valued by the Principal & was effective locally in our own school, it didn’t reach anywhere outside, even if it was theoretically possible. It was “lip service.”
    But now, under Green, there is a true mechanism, an actual department with real people set out to interact with the councils. A uniform structure for the operation of the councils is being put into place, and interaction between the various councils is being encouraged, to an extent expected. Also, the roles of the Regional Supers. with Green’s concepts of micro-cabinets, it is concrete, real. At least for Region 1, my interaction with Sherry Johnson, has been excellent. She spoke of the “buy-in” of the teachers and school community as playing a vital role in the success of Huntley Hills. She is right. And I see an opportunity for a larger “buy-in” with her on the Regional level, leading to success for Chamblee Cluster, and all of Region 1. I for one, I’m buying in.
    I understand that’s not the venue to impact the planning we are dealing with. Rather, that will take these School Council Construction Committees. You say that’s lip-service, there will be no real input. Maybe not, but to me, this veteran DeKalb parent, I don’t think so. No, they’re not going to be taking blueprints and renderings from a group of parents, but will there be meetings and planning taking place over time, with true changes made based on the input they are seeking, at least I think so.
    This system, under Dr. Green, it feels different to me, it looks different. If you persist in this “same old – same old” argument, well, it might be true. But you better hope not – you better hope you’re wrong. I think you are. Otherwise, we’ll all find ourselves 3-4 years from now in the same place, no progress, a push to get rid of the super. & a new board. The losers then? The kids. They’ve lost long enough.
    For the first time in a long time I have true hope. Don’t mistake that hope for naivety.
    Have a great Holiday weekend, a Happy Thanksgiving!
    And then hope to see/hear from many of you on 12/5, I’ll be there.

  8. Plan B is a joke designed to destroy one or more communities in the Lakeside cluster probably Sagamore. The most important factor in any new school plan should be a traffic study. Traffic is the number 1 problem in our community. It effects the health of our students the parents and the environment. We should be building schools and designing clusters to remediate this problem not exasperate it. A new Doraville cluster fixes overcrowding reduces traffic and will help diversify the Cross Keys cluster which are the obvious goals of Dekalb county. Plowing ahead with current plan will achieve none of those goals. Most Sagamore parents living east of Clairmont rd will not tolerate this plan. We will sue, move or otherwise transfer our children from this dangerous situation. Doraville wants and needs a new school and Sagamore Oakgrove and Hawthorne want to stay at Lakeside. There is evil intent in Plan B and the people promoting are directly attacking my community and my children. Let’s build a Doraville cluster and stop this madness.

  9. Lakeside Summit Cluster leaders are some of the people advocating for Option B. I’m guessing Pleasantdale and Evansdale don’t want to leave the cluster any more than Oak Grove and Sagamore.
    Lakeside residents should contact their school council, Lakeside Summit Cluster members and representative board member Jim McMahan if you would like to discuss and advocate for one position or another.

  10. Yes, I’m pretty sure the Lakeside Cluster schools would be happy with Option B, if it didn’t include moving 250 of the current students out of the cluster. The 750 seats should be adequate for current enrollment and *may* be adequate for future 2022 enrollment. I read Dan Drake’s FAQ on how the enrollment projections were predicted. Elementary School total growth seems flat. I don’t get why the projected High School growth is so inflated.