Concerns about Lakeside HS Expansion

Lakeside High School (LHS) is currently squeezing 2,165 students into a building with a capacity of 1,756 students. Enrollment is expected to grow to 2,619 students (863 students over current capacity) by year 2022. The board approved constructing a 750-seat, 38-classroom, two-story addition extending the current footprint and bringing the new capacity to 2,500 seats.

The Lakeside High School (LHS) attendance zone is elongated and runs up and down the Briarcliff Rd corridor. Various residents and civic associations have caught wind of the 750 seat expansion project and are doing the research the school district should have done in the first place.

After doing some of their own research, they wrote a letter to county and school leadership voicing their concerns.


Anybody that has driven on Briarcliff Rd when it’s raining is well aware of the watershed issues in the area. As you can see from the documents, LHS is built on the edge of a flood plain. As a matter of fact, the conceptual designs relocate the softball field right on top of a stream in the middle of said floodplain.

Supporting Documents

.pdf link icon Dewberry Report

.pdf link icon LHS expansion plan27092017

.pdf link icon Echo Lake sub-basin Study 1976

.pdf link icon NorthBriarcliff_NBCN_10-17_WEB



Briarcliff Rd at Echo Lake

Lakeside High School Expansion – Concerns

Dear Dr. Green and Board of Education Members,

We reach out to each of you because we are concerned about recent decisions made on behalf of our children and our community. We refer specifically to the administration’s recommendation and the DeKalb BOE’s affirmative vote to make physical additions to Lakeside, Dunwoody, and Chamblee Charter High Schools using SPLOST V money. We understand these plans were designed to deliver greatly needed relief from overcrowding in the areas these high schools serve and provide for projected enrollment increases. We fully appreciate the need to relieve the problems caused by the overcrowding.

However, we feel there is far more at stake than facilities. We believe the administration and the DeKalb BOE must consider longer-term options that are potentially more beneficial for our community at large and will ensure a more effective educational experience for our young people. We are speaking up now because, for the majority of our community, there is no knowledge of this significantly impactful plan. We have many concerns but we would like to highlight the most important as succinctly as possible.

• The Lakeside High School (LHS) student population has already been increased to its breaking point.
Lakeside opened in 1964 and its facilities have been enhanced and improved many times over its 53-year history. This includes a $23 million renovation and addition completed in the summer of 2012, adding a new classroom wing and performing arts building. As of 10/3/17 its enrollment is 2,165 and growing. It is still accessible only via Briarcliff Road, a heavily traveled, 2-lane, residential street. To date there are no known plans to undertake the improvements required to stabilize the watershed situation, widen Briarcliff Road and properly support any expansion to LHS. There are multiple reasons these current facilities should not be expanded. More importantly, as the neighborhoods around it continue to grow, a “quick fix” would not serve the community or our students well. Rather a 15-30-year strategic plan to accommodate expected growth and changing student and community needs is a necessity.

Too few citizens, directly impacted by these decisions, are fully aware of what you have decided on their behalf.
The process included many confusing layers of entities claiming to be the voice of the community, i.e., PTAs, School Foundations, School Councils, the Emory-LaVista Parent Council, the Lakeside Cluster Summit, and more. Most did not provide the administration and BOE with recommendations; others could not reach consensus and some did not know meetings were being held. It is also important to note that these are all “education-focused” groups and do not include community members with no daily connection to the schools. This situation begs the question, “Who speaks for the community when so many were not included in the process, or the communication chain, at all?”

The DeKalb County Commissioners are in unanimous disagreement with this decision.
The Commissioners have formally asked the DeKalb County School District not to expand the three high schools as described above, but rather to focus on the planned building of a much needed new high school in the Region 1 and 2 areas. The County urges the School District to consider the infrastructure impact caused by adding space for a substantial number of new students at these schools, as well as consider public infrastructure needs as it builds new schools and redevelops existing schools to increase capacity. We believe that for any expansion or building decision to be successful, effective collaboration with, and the cooperation of, the county Planning, Development, and Public Works Departments to ensure infrastructure issues are handled appropriately is essential.

The DeKalb County School District’s vision “to inspire our community of learners to achieve educational excellence” will not be met by this decision.
The student experience has been severely neglected in this approach. Expansion forces a patchwork of buildings that precludes keeping departments together so they can work and collaborate daily. Many students, especially those riding buses, are currently late to school due to traffic on roads for which there is no planned solution. This impacts feeder schools and instruction time at all schools. With increased traffic, that problem will only worsen. More students will be forced to ride the bus to schools that are further from their homes, and they will be unable to take advantage of after school tutoring and other supportive programs. As each school grows larger, more students will be unable to participate in extracurricular activities due to a limited number of spaces within athletic teams, drama programs, music programs, etc. Further, the expansion plan does not include increasing the common spaces by the same percentage as the student population, i.e., locker rooms, physical education space, cafeteria capacity, etc. If we do not include these factors, which both drive and support an enriched educational experience, the current expansion decision most certainly will inhibit student learning and growth.

Neglected watershed, fragile ecosystem, and flooding can no longer be ignored.
We speak to this issue because flooding within the Echo Lake Sub Basin directly impacts student and public safety. Lakeside High School sits within the Echo Lake Sub Basin, a fragile watershed that has been neglected for over 40 years. Stream bank erosion and deposition of sediment into creeks, ponds, lakes and culverts have rendered the storm water management system inadequate and untenable.

In February 1976, the Echo Lake Branch Sub-Basin Study, focusing specifically on the 2.5 square-mile area surrounding LHS, clearly recommended what needed to be done to support the natural and man-made infrastructure of this area. Regardless of what may/may not have been done as a result of this study, a new Dewberry Study issued in July 2017 cites the exact same issues and needed corrections 40 years later. It appears that none of this was taken into consideration for the 2011-12 expansion, nor for the current decision to expand LHS again. Increased traffic and projected growth will result in continued damage to this delicate ecosystem and poses a risk to student and public safety. Until the storm water management system throughout the Echo Lake Sub Basin is addressed, there should be no development upstream, including Lakeside High School.

We are sincere in our efforts to support the BOE, DeKalb County and our high schools. Given the overcrowded situation, we seek the best proactive, long-term options available to positively impact the academic achievement of our young people. We are asking that the BOE do the following right now:

1. Place all currently planned actions on hold in order to listen to our community’s concerns.

2. Provide the opportunity for all stakeholders impacted by this decision to fully understand what has been decided and why. This requires transparency through well planned and well publicized town hall meetings that will provide us the opportunity to speak and listen directly to the experts about these concerns.

3. Prepare now to reopen discussion on the current decisions with the goal to adopt long-term solutions that will ensure the education our students deserve as well as protect the physical environment.

4. Respond to this letter providing concrete suggestions as to how we proceed to collaborate on these issues within 30 days.

We stand ready to take on much of the work required to get people out to learn from our BOE officials, the DCSD administration, and other experts who best understand the issues. Further, the school district’s own enrollment projections show that these schools will be at capacity when these expansions are complete and to our knowledge, there is no identified plan for additional growth. This fact heightens our assessment that this is the right time to stop and ensure longer-term solutions are considered so that our students will be inspired and able to achieve your vision of educational excellence.

Sincerely,
Barbara Arne Debbie Miller
Kay Colson

Additional Signatory:
Stephanie Stevenson (Grand Prix Drive), Kenneth Lippe (Starfire Drive NE), Angela Maki (NBCA), Edwin P. Ewing, Jr. (Amberwood Association), Vijay Varma (Kirkland Drive), Gregory George (Starfire Drive NE)

Enc: LHS Proposed Expansion Map, 1976 Jordan Engineering Study, 2017 Dewberry study, Flooding Image, North Briarcliff Civic Association Fall 2017 Newsletter

Addressed to DeKalb County School District Leadership:
Dr. R. Stephen Green, Superintendent,
Dr. Melvin Johnson, District 6, Board Chair
Dr. Michael A. Erwin, District 3, Vice Chair
Mr. Stan O. Jester, District 1
Mr. Marshall D. Orson, District 2
Mr. James L. ‘Jim’ McMahan, District 4
Mrs. Vickie B. Turner, District 5
Dr. Joyce Morley, District 7

Copied to:

DeKalb County CEO
Michael L. Thurmond, Chief Executive Officer, ceomichaelthurmond@dekalbcountyga.gov
DeKalb County School District
Joshua Williams, Chief Operations Officer, joshua_l_williams@dekalbschoolsga.org
Richard Boyd, richard_boyd@dekalbschoolsga.org
Dan Drake, Executive Director Operations, Daniel_Drake@dekalbschoolsga.org
Trent Arnold, Area 2 Superintendent, trenton_j_arnold@dekalbschoolsga.org

DCSD SPLOST Citizens Oversight Committee
Randy David, randyandken@comcast.net
Jim Redovian, jim@redovian.com

Lakeside High School
Damian Bounds, Principal, Damian_Bounds@dekalbschoolsga.org
Mike SanFratello, School Council Chair, mike.sanfratello@gmail.com
Lakeside High School Cluster Summit, stinsleyhook@gmail.com, dmartindvm@gmail.com

DeKalb County Commissioners
Nancy Jester, District 1, njester@deklabcountyga.gov
Jeff Rader, District 2, jrader@dekalbcountyga.gov
Larry Johnson, District 3, larryjohnson@dekalbcountyga.gov
Steve Bradshaw, District 4 srbradshaw@dekalbcountyga.gov
Mereda Davis Johnson, District 5, mdjohnson@dekalbcountyga.gov
Kathy Gannon, District 6, kgannon@dekalbcountyga.gov
Gregory Adams, District 7, gregoryadams@dekalbcountyga.gov

DeKalb County Planning, Development and Public Works
Ted Rhinehart werhinehart@dekalbcountyga.gov
Luz Borrero, lborrero@dekalbcountyga.gov
Andrew Baker, aabaker@dekalbcountyga.gov
David Adams, dadams@dekalbcountyga.gov
Peggy Allen, pvallen@dekalbcountyga.gov
Nathaniel Chisholm, NChish@dekalbcountyga.gov
Dave Pelton, dwpelton@dekalbcountyga.gov

16 responses to “Concerns about Lakeside HS Expansion

  1. Redistrict Evansdale Elementay and Pleasantale Elementary out of the Lakeside Cluster. Overcapacity problem solved. Long distance busing problem solved.

  2. Dear Jim,
    If only it were that simple!

    Where would the Evansdale and Pleasantdale Elementary school kids go? Tucker Middle School and Tucker High School are projected to be at 100% utilization in 2022, with their current elementary schools (Livsey, Idlewood, Brockett, Midvale and Smoke Rise).

    So redistricting Evansdale and Pleasantdale out of the Lakeside Cluster into the Tucker Cluster isn’t realistic.

    So the only option would be the Stone Mountain and Clarkston clusters in Region 3. But Clarkston HS is getting a 650 seat addition due to growth in its current cluster, so it wouldn’t have space. Stone Mountain HS only has about 150 more seats before it reaches 100% utilization.

    This is why the District’s plan makes no sense. Region 1 (Chamblee, Dunwoody, Cross Keys) and Region 2 (Lakeside, Tucker, Druid Hills) will be at 100% utilization after we spend all those millions of our tax dollars. The campuses will be super-crowded and much smaller than what Georgia DOE recommends, and the traffic conditions will only get worse.

    There simply isn’t enough capacity.

  3. Mr Jester,

    Will the gym, cafeteria and media center be able to handle the increase in students? I am most concerned with safety. The increase in numbers will require added security for our students and staff. Recently the news has reported on problems with the sewer system in various parts of DeKalb County. How will that be impacted?
    Is it time for a new high school in Region I or II or both?
    When you think about it, those regions have not had a new school in some time. The new Tucker and Chamblee were new schools built to replace existing schools. Miller Grove and Arabia Mountain were new schools built to accommodate growth.
    If we are One DeKalb, then the needs of all our students must be considered.

  4. Build another cluster with a new high school in the Northlake area. Another cluster is needed in Chamblee area. is part of the practical solution. Look to build a third new cluster closer to Decatur after that.
    Has the school system formulated a solution for the Druid Hills cluster in the event that DeKalb loses Druid Hills HS and Fernbank ES? Short term solutions will no longer work.

  5. Tim DeBardelaben

    Dan Drake and Joshua Williams has DCSD chasing it’s tail again with this brilliant plan. Does it bother anybody else that Esplost money keeps getting spent on the same schools? Additions are band aids. DCSD needs at least one more cluster. They have the land at the old Briarcliff H.S. That would be a good insurance if they lose DHHS. To Rehab building would be $29million or new 2500 seat building would be $48 million compared to DCSD plans to spend $85 million for new H.S. In Brookhaven. They have the land where John Lewis E.S. sits to build a new M.S. Plus they could use leftover money they saved by using Briarcliff Property to pay for it. The way it is Marshall Orson will get his beloved Druid Hills Cluster. As soon as DHHS goes to APS Fernbank and Briar Vista communities will follow. The community will get another Emory facility where Briarcliff sits and the community will get nothing but congestion. Stan, please let everybody know that the current plans call for the demolition of Briarcliff and the DCSD will ask for rezoning to sell land. If DCSD does not have buyer already lined up….then how will they know what type rezoning to ask for? Emory wins, Marshall Orson wins, APS wins and the City of Atlanta wind. Dekalb county is the only loser.

  6. Except for media space, we are doing very little or nothing to the common spaces. The common spaces being addressed are not proportional to the number of seats being added. These building additions mean less common space per student … more crowded gym, cafeteria, locker room, hallways, etc … The building additions will also increase traffic and exacerbate parking problems in surrounding neighborhoods. It’s detrimental to the students and community of all these high schools getting seat additions..

  7. Tim DeBardelaben

    When DCSD has to spend millions of dollars on parking decks instead of common areas….that should tell people that it is a lousy plan. Not to mention by doing away with almost all the green space in front of the building aesthetically it will be an eyesore.

  8. I suppose there is a fire lane in front of Lakeside. I wonder if there will still be room for it after they add the parking spaces shown in front of the school.

  9. chamblee getting screwed

    Where the hell has Kim Gokce and his ilk run off to? They got the ill conceived plan that they were fighting for and now they are MIA now that the proverbial (blank) has hit the Fan. Where are you Option B supporters? Your silence is deafening!

  10. Tim DeBardelaben

    Kim Golce and I have not always agreed on this subject. Do you really think that DCSD would be doing anything about the blatant mistreatment of the students in the Cross Keys cluster if were not for him? Now do you really think that this Plan matches Plan B? Lakeside H.S. addition has absolutely nothing to do with the overcrowding in the Cross Keys Cluster. Jim McMahan the BOE member who represents Lakeside H.S. told me that not one student from Cross Keys Cluster will be redistricted into Lakeside H.S. Cluster. Kim Golce is probably not happy with DCSD plans anymore than the rest of us. He advocated to do away with with obvious discrimination of the Cross Keys students. The Black Administration has for years practiced discrimination towards the Hispanic students DCSD has between 12-14% Hispanic students. The number of teachers and administrators do not match that ratio. When the Blacks were in a minority they sued and won when Black students were 5% of student population. This is Dr. Green’s problem. He is the one who conceived this awful plan not Kim Golce who advocated for the fair treatment of the Cross Keys Cluster.

  11. Tim DeBardelaben

    Just thought of something. Does anybody know how the rain run off will be effected by Lakeside’s practice field having artificial turf applied? Know DCSD is spending $14 million to apply artificial turf to all H.S. What environmental impact will that have at Lakeside and other schools?

  12. chamblee getting screwed

    Tim – WRONG! If you can’t figure it out, you’re blind.

  13. My understanding was that the additional students and, thus, the additional buildings at Dunwoody and Lakeside are most definitely ripple effects from the Cross Keys and Chamblee redistricting and shuffling. Lakeside cannot opt out of this dumbass situation without additional rebound ripple effects on Dunwoody, Chamblee, and Cross Keys/whatever they will rename it.

    Green needs to go back and look at the Doraville High School option. I have the feeling he is going to buck public opinion just like he did for the 20-minute extra time. He is an egotistical leader and doesn’t like being told what to do. It doesn’t really matter how the public “feels”.

    Dunwoody, Chamblee, and Lakeside’s only options are lawsuits and pressure from other area leadership, like county commissioners, city council people, mayors, even state leadership that lives in the affected areas. Take advantage of any city zoning approvals needed, any taxpayer-funded work recently done in the area that would be ruined, legal threats on overcrowding, unreasonable lunch schedules, etc.

  14. Tim DeBardelaben

    Like I said, Kim and I have not always agreed on this issue. I have been told that 70% of the votes came from one school in Dunwoody. Don’t know that Kim has that much influence in the Dunwoody cluster. My point about Kim is at least through his campaigning he brought the blatant discrimination by DCSD to light. All you have to do is look at the boundaries of the Cross Keys Cluster to know that it was drawn up for one reason and the Black power structure and is still willing to show their prejudice towards the Hispanics in Dekalb school system. Redistricting is only the first step in much needed help for these students. If you have lived in Dekalb long enough you will remember that the NAACP sued DCSD when the black student population was 5%. The court ruled in their favor and took control of many aspects of the administration of our school system. One of their main complaints was the hiring practices of DCSD. NAACP claimed that more Black teachers and Administrators needs to be hired. People that understood the Black culture and could be positive role models for the students to look up to. People who lived in the Back community. Well now that the Blacks are in control they have forgotten all of this. Personally as much as I disagree with Kim I also admire him for standing up and speaking out about an obvious wrong. I know several times he told me that he wanted to reuse the Briarcliff property. I was told by Dr. Johnson that they would reuse the Briarcliff property. Just think Kim might have been double crossed also. Let’s face it before Esplost was passed they said they needed money to relieve the overcrowding in the Cross Keys Cluster. Lakeside addition has nothing to do with Cross Keys. Dunwoody has has little to do with Cross Keys. DCSD should have been honest and said from beginning that they wanted to make the people in Brookhaven happy. Brookhaven is the winner of Esplost and if they are successful with their lobbying at the State Capital to form their own School System, DCSD will deliver them one penny on the dollar. So if you want to blame Kim for this fiasco you can but personally think you should look at Dr.Green, Marshall Orson and Jim McMahan. They are the ones with power to pull this cluster off.

  15. Tim DeBardelaben

    Anna, Jim McMahan told me Lakeside will not get any students from Cross Keys Cluster and might actually be shipping students to new High school in Brookhaven. That is why there is talk of Sagamore Hills becoming a split feeder school. DCSD wants people to believe that everything is happening to help Cross Keys. Don’t be fooled.

  16. I’ll say this in response to Tim’s comments: “DCSD should have been honest and said from beginning that they wanted to make the people in Brookhaven happy. Brookhaven is the winner of Esplost and if they are successful with their lobbying at the State Capital to form their own School System, DCSD will deliver them one penny on the dollar.”

    I’m a Brookhaven resident with children in the DCSD system. Don’t be fooled Tim, I don’t think the current plan benefits my family in any way, and I know many other Brookhaven residents who feel exactly the same and fought this plan tooth and nail all for naught.