Adding Classrooms is Only Part of the Soluion

Numerous members of the community came out to public comments this past Monday to share their thoughts about creating mega schools by expanding seat capacity.
Angela Maki is an involved member of the community with children attending the Lakeside cluster. On Monday she relayed to the board of education that classrooms alone are an inadequate solution to overcrowding. She wants to know what the school district is going to do about expanding PE facilities, locker rooms and office space, etc …

Angela Maki
Nov 6 – Public Comments

Good evening Dr. Greene and Board Members,
My name is Angela Maki, and my children attend Lakeside High. Thank you for this opportunity to speak on the planned additions at Chamblee, Dunwoody, and Lakeside.
I know your top priority is to ensure the academic success of all students in a safe, healthy environment so they are college and career ready when they graduate. Classrooms are merely a portion of an effective and safe school campus. No realistic renovations can enlarge the original building’s corridors or the narrow staircase where literally thousands of students enter and exit Lakeside each day. These narrow hallways, which access key common spaces, provide an effective place to hide unsavory activities in plain sight due to the wall-to-wall congestion, and have been the location of violent fights as recently as this Fall.
Classrooms alone are an inadequate solution to overcrowding. Expanded PE facilities, locker rooms, and auditorium space, along with additional offices, are necessary to accommodate the increased administrative staff and students that expansion will bring.
While it may seem that traffic is not the school district’s concern, in reality, it is. Traffic impacts the instructional day. The late arrival of buses and cars due to gridlock disrupts learning in first period classes, not just at Lakeside, but also at Henderson Middle School due to 3 tiered busing.
Parental involvement, so critical to student success, is impaired by traffic and parking problems, which make it difficult for parents to attend registration, conferences, meetings, awards ceremonies, athletics, concerts, and more. It is impossible to have full parental participation without sufficient infrastructure, and the proposed parking deck is not an adequate solution.
Lack of student participation also concerns me. Last year, according to your documents, over 21% of our students traveled 5-7 miles to school, and 75% of those traveled 6-7 miles. While it is easy for students residing near Lakeside to take advantage of after school tutoring and enrichment activities, those students who live beyond walking distances are often left out. Bigger isn’t better.
I’m disappointed that a small percentage of parents, when given an opportunity to vote on solutions to overcrowding, seemed more motivated by their own fear of change than by a desire for district-wide student achievement. I firmly believe that the current plan to expand the old, instead of building new, will lead to more problems, not fewer. The rapid, dense development in our communities (housing developments, new CHOA facility, movie studio, etc…) and potential changes brought about by annexation merits a fresh look at solutions to overcrowding.
You face both complex overcrowding problems in Regions 1 and 2 and the urgent need to provide seats for students, but our children and teachers deserve a better solution than the current plan. Please halt the proposed expansion plans at Chamblee, Dunwoody, and Lakeside, and work with objective, creative, professional planners to determine how to best serve all of our students in these times of great change. The students and staff are counting on you. Thank you.

Lakeside High School – 750 Seat Addition
November 2, 2016 – The recommendation to construct a 750-seat, 38-classroom, two-story addition to Lakeside High School. The project will also include…

Dunwoody High School – 600 Seat Addition
November 2, 2016 – The recommendation to construct a 600-seat, 29-classroom, two-story addition to Dunwoody High School. The project will also include…

Chamblee Charter High School – 600 Seat Addition
November 2, 2016 – The recommendation to construct a600-seat, three-story addition to Chamblee Charter High School. The project will also include…

22 responses to “Adding Classrooms is Only Part of the Soluion

  1. There used to be a document produced by the school district showing the lay of the land of all the high schools – including acreage. These schools are in no way equal, in terms of acreage available. Schools like Arabia – (which is at 89% capacity currently) have a lot of acreage – and room to expand. Schools like Lakeside, Dunwoody and Chamblee are seriously landlocked and more classrooms would feel very crowded in hallways, shared spaces, etc and would seriously impede traffic. We once posted a slideshow overview of aerials of our high schools on the original DSW. You can view them here …
    Again, this is not a new issue. The first expansion was too much to add to Lakeside, IMHO. To go at it again is insane.

  2. School Year 2016-2017
    School Enroll Capacity Site Acreage
    M.L. King, Jr., HS 1597 2092 117.6
    Arabia Mountain HS 1423 1582 79.5
    McNair, Ronald E. HS 784 1522 64.5
    Miller Grove HS 1439 1832 46.2
    Stephenson HS 1598 2040 39.8
    Lithonia HS 1334 1416 39.6
    Redan HS 1041 1149 38.7
    Clarkston HS 1540 1270 37.7
    Southwest DeKalb HS 1231 1825 35.8
    Stone Mountain HS 1030 1193 35.7
    Lakeside HS 2184 1756 33.3
    Dunwoody HS 1822 1505 29.4
    Columbia HS 1115 1450 28
    Cross Keys HS 1392 1306 26.4
    Cedar Grove HS 1093 1240 25.6
    DeKalb School of the Arts (DSA) 408 684 24.2
    Towers HS 965 1299 21
    Chamblee HS 1624 1810 20.6
    Tucker HS 1733 1747 17.6
    Druid Hills HS 1321 1425 11.3
  3. That said, as I’ve stated before, the reason I quit blogging is because it became like Groundhog Day – revisiting the same issues over and over and over due to new and changed leadership. There is a large group of parents whose children graduated and all their efforts to ensure good things for DCSD have stopped. New parents are here – and are finding the exact same issues – but revealing them as if they are new. They are not new. This is the problem with DCSD. There is no longevity – no one looking at the decades-long picture. No one devising, much yet actually following a long-range plan. Please read these posts from 7 years ago. They hit on these same issues – issues that have been kicked down the street for years upon years. The biggest problem in DCSD is that the ‘leadership’ responds to squeaky wheels – they do not, nor have they ever – plan for growth, equity and the future of education. The school district is a dinosaur that has very heavy and expensive baggage to drag around.

  4. ps – thanks for the chart, Stan. I find it very eye-opening.

  5. There is NO reason for the Chamblee/Lakeside/Druid Hills cluster to be over-crowded. Let us not forget that the school district owns and has been sitting on an enormous property on Druid Hills Road – the former Briarcliff High School. Adams Stadium is on this property – along with the International School (formerly Kittredge). This is a great site for a comprehensive, (new educational thought) high school. But it sits. Rotting. Causing blight. And waiting for the highest bid. If and when they sell, what will happen to that money? !! Follow the money.

  6. E-SPLOST Project List says the old Briarcliff HS site will be used for the new Cross Keys HS or sell it and use the money to build a high school somewhere else.

  7. Stan, in case you would like to add the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 enrollment numbers to your chart, here they are:
    M.L. King, Jr., HS 2044, 1954
    Arabia Mountain HS (NA)
    McNair, Ronald E. HS 1124, 1021
    Miller Grove HS 1751, 1562
    Stephenson HS 1893, 1691
    Lithonia HS 1683, 1563
    Redan HS 1518, 1449
    Clarkston HS 934, 914
    Southwest DeKalb HS 1862, 1759
    Stone Mountain HS 1468, 1396
    Lakeside HS 2184 1705, 1651
    Dunwoody HS 1602, 1597
    Columbia HS 1322, 1269
    Cross Keys HS 829, 732
    Cedar Grove HS 1239, 1143
    DeKalb School of the Arts (DSA) 284, 289 (8th-12th)
    Towers HS 1044, 919
    Chamblee HS 1564, 1546
    Tucker HS 1493, 1398
    Druid Hills HS 1409, 1393
    During these two years, high school enrollment in DCSD dropped 1,610 students.

  8. The CKHS acreage is not correct. The current lot is 18.25 acres. Your figure includes acreage from 1/4 mi down the road.

  9. I’m going by the May 19, 2016 Cross Keys High School Assessment Report – “The Cross Keys High School site was originally constructed in 1958, has a total area of 26.4 acres, and is occupied by approximately 182,169 square feet of permanent building space.”

  10. Mr. Jester,
    Has the school system looked into why the enrollment in the southern end of the county is decreasing?
    Where are the children?

  11. Is the acreage correct for Lakeside? It originally included land along Oak Grove Rd which was sold and developed. The statements by Ms. Maki only scratch the surface of the current problems at Lakeside and the consequences of the 750 seat addition. This property borders protected la d and almost sits in a floodplain. Paving and building on the property will have a negative effect on the ecosystem and the Peachtree Creek system. It will also have a negative effect on community members by increasing flooding when it rains. There is no alternate route to Lakeside when the roads are impassable. Briarcliff is a neighborhood street, not a highway. It has no bridges or side steeets leading to the school. Additionally, as Maki stated, there is no additional parking for events anywhere near the school or within walking distance.
    The Briarcliff/Druid Hills Rd property is an inappropriate location for a Cross Keys cluster school with the development of the CHOA facility, shopping areas, and additional businesses in the I-85 area. The students will be bussed across the interstate through gridlock traffic to get to the school.

  12. I can only go by what the Lakeside HS Assessment Report says
    The Lakeside High School site was originally constructed in 1965, has a total area of 33.3 acres, and is occupied by approximately 254,168 square feet of permanent building space. Campus site features include paved driveways and parking lots, pedestrian pavement, flag pole, landscaping, and fencing. Site mechanical and electrical features include water, sewer, natural gas, and site lighting. This report contains condition and adequacy data collected during the 2010/2011 Facility Condition Assessment (FCA). Detailed condition and deficiency statements are contained in this report for the site features.

  13. Joy,
    Many, many Region 4 and 5 high school students attend School Choice schools rather than their home school.
    According to Dan Drake’s data,
    1932 Region 4 high school students attend a School Choice school rather than their home school
    1163 Region 5 high school students attend a School Choice school rather than their home school
    The biggest draw is Arabia Mountain High School, which is located geographically in Region 4. 757 Region 4 students and 258 Region 5 students go to AMHS.
    So obviously AMHS filled a need.

  14. Stan do we know if Dunwoody is finally going to receive a fine arts building that was promised during the last SPLOST? My sources say it has been promised again this time around. This is long overdue considering Dunwoody is the ONLY high school in DeKalb that does not have a fine arts building. There is no chorus or drama room. Those classes are taught in the auditorium or lobby and the teachers use the concessions stands as an office. The band and orchestra rooms are in terrible condition with barely enough space for our current students. I am amazed that they still manage to consistantly score top ratings at competitions and festivals given these deplorable conditions. Obviously our fine arts teachers are extremely dedicated to our students and we need to make sure that they have adequate facilities like every other high school in the county. Our students and teachers deserve better and it’s about time something was done.

  15. Hello Yvonne. The administration has made it clear that they plan on doing the bare minimum required by law if they can’t get a waiver for it. The DHS conceptual plans for the seat additions were created long before they asked the board or public what we wanted. The plans do not include any fine arts additions. The state’s requirements on most of the common spaces is minimal or non existent.

  16. I just looked again at the Conceptual Designs that DCSD released last year. What a mess for Chamblee Charter High School!
    The floor plan for the 30 classroom, 3-story addition at CCHS shows 12 classrooms per floor, with just one stairwell. NO restrooms are shown. NO elevator is shown. NO administrative or teacher workroom spaces are shown.
    How can this be?
    I think this is more than a “detail” that will be worked out later, as the Conceptual Design shows the building extending right to the end of the CCHS campus. It looks like the exterior dimensions are maxed out for the available space. Two stairwells, restrooms, an elevator, and space for an administrator and teacher workroom space are necessities, not luxuries.
    The Conceptual Designs for the 2-story additions at Lakeside, Dunwoody, and Clarkston show floor plans that include student restrooms, two stairwells, and a teacher/support space. Still no elevator or interior ramp shown, so I’m wondering how ADA requirements are met.
    The number of issues and “oops” items just keeps on growing….

  17. @Yvonne >> Do me a favor and take a tour of Cross Keys HS.

  18. @Yvonne,
    Please show me the fine arts building at Tucker High. My son attends THS and as far as I know there isn’t one. However, if you would like to trade auditoriums, I would gladly swap Tucker’s for Dunwoody’s. It is much larger and nicer than the one at Tucker.

  19. Ms. Maki’s message is right on point. A “fresh look at solutions to overcrowding” is clearly the right thing to do.
    The only thing I would add is that the concerns stated for the Region 1 and 2 additions be extended to the addition of 650 seats at Region 3 Clarkston High School.
    DCSD has no plans to give Clarkston HS the “expanded PE facilities, locker rooms, and auditorium space, along with additional offices” that it will need for its increased population. Clarkston will have the same challenges as Dunwoody, Lakeside, and Chamblee.
    I would hope that the BOE rep for Clarkston HS, Dr. Joyce Morley, will speak up for equity for the Clarkston HS community.
    Our students deserve better than this. But the public will have to persevere to make the BOE finally put the needs of students and teachers above avoiding controversy with Dr. Green. One can only hope.

  20. So what I see here is $76 million spent to expand three high schools on small spaces in densely populated areas that can’t handle the growth. For $76 million we can build a pretty decent HS somewhere in the Buford Highway corridor, and still have Cross Keys and the old Briarcliff property to satisfy the needs of Brookhaven and surrounding communities. Will there need to be some painful redistricting? Yep. Will a new HS satisfy some of the concerns about diversity? Maybe, if redistricted correctly, and the demographics of the Buford corridor are already starting to change. Time to revisit Doraville HS before we start making an irrevocable mess out of three schools and their surrounding neighborhoods and roads.

  21. It seems we have more than enough seats, but we won’t do what is politically unpopular and use those 738 empty seats at McNair, 594 at SWD, 495 at MLK, and so on.

  22. Michelle Fincher

    Is there any hope left for a Doraville HS to alleviate the crowding at Lakeside, Chamblee and Dunwoody? We recently looked into schools in North Fulton after my son saw the facilities at Johns Creek High School while taking the SAT. Fulton County is building a STEM High school at the old Milton High site in downtown Alpharetta to be open in 2020. It will be open to all North Fulton students, presumably with entry requirements/lottery. (Fulton County is also planning the same concept for South Fulton). This seems like it would be a perfect solution for a new HS in Region 1. Packing more students into antiquated facilities is not in the best interest of our students or community.