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 …
Nov 6 – Public Comments
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.
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