Make Chamblee Charter HS Better Not Bigger

The architects for the Chamblee Charter HS building additions have provided two options for the 600 seat building additions.

DeKalb Schools is planning on constructing a 600-seat, three-story addition to Chamblee Charter High School (CCHS). The original anticipated start date was November of this year, but the school district is still figuring out how to go about doing this.

This project will not include any renovations or additions to existing art rooms, locker rooms, band room, choir room, gymnasium, fields, administrative offices, storage or any other core spaces or surrounding infrastructure.

The architect for CCHS, Hussey Gay Bell, has provided two options for the addition. One requires a land purchase and one does not. The CCHS Construction Advisory Committee (CAC) have been shown these options. The school district is exploring the process for going down each path.

I’ve never heard of anybody doing anything like Option 2. I thought people were kidding when I first heard about it.


OPTION 1 – Purchase land adjacent to the high school

CCHS Scheme 1


OPTION 2 – Build a parking garage and put an elevated athletic field on top of the parking garage.

CCHS Schema 3



OTHER NEWS

Second round of public meetings scheduled for the new John R. Lewis Elementary facility, and redistricting in the Druid Hills cluster

The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will conduct six (6) public meetings as a part of two (2) upcoming redistricting efforts involving the new John R. Lewis Elementary Elementary facility and the Druid Hills High School cluster.

These two (2) redistricting efforts are to address additional capacity created by the new John Lewis Elementary facility, as well as the overcrowding of elementary schools in the Cross Keys and Druid Hills High School Clusters.

The second of three (3) meetings will present three (3) proposed options for redistricting. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the redistricting options in small groups and provide input to the formation of the staff-recommended redistricting option.

All members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and last until 8:30 p.m.

John Lewis ES redistricting:
Schools affected may include Ashford Park ES, Dresden ES, John R. Lewis ES, Montclair ES, Montgomery ES, Woodward ES, Chamblee MS, Sequoyah MS, Chamblee HS, and Cross Keys HS.

MEETING 2 – Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018** at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Cross Keys High School
1626 North Druid Hills Road
Brookhaven, GA 30319

** This event has been updated from its original date.

Druid Hills Cluster elementary redistricting:
Schools affected may include Avondale ES, Briar Vista ES, Fernbank ES, Laurel Ridge ES, and McLendon ES.

MEETING 2 – Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Druid Hills Middle School
3100 Mount Olive Drive
Decatur, GA 30033

Please visit www.dekalbschoolsga.org/redistricting for full details

37 responses to “Make Chamblee Charter HS Better Not Bigger

  1. Bill Armstrong

    “Better not Bigger” – man, that sounds familiar.

    I will say I’ve never spoken to anyone not in favor of acquiring more land. I’ll also say as the Dad of a kid who practices on the existing field everyday, something on top of a parking deck would be an improvement.

  2. I’m not in favor of acquiring more land if it means just expanding parking and classrooms. This plan enables the district to add capacity as cheaply as possible without adding adequate art rooms, locker rooms, band space, choir space, gymnasium, fields, administrative offices, storage or any other core spaces. I imagine I’m not alone.

  3. @Stan you are not alone. I am not for this, and I hope that the School Board and Dr. Green come to a better solution. First of all, the money to acquire land was not accounted for by Josh Williams and Dan Drake in their estimate. Where does this money come from? Because you will not get a straight answer.

    @Bill “something on top of a parking deck would be an improvement.” The school is only guaranteed so much money, and by doing this, there is less money to do the addition.

    Also, the price of building in metro Atlanta is skyrocketing right now. A Henry County middle school that was promised several years ago is currently on hold because the “Lowest Responsible Bid” came in $6 million over budget. So with LHS, DHS, and CCHS numbers coming out so many years ago, where is that additional money coming from? What will be cut?

    Last, we need to be emailing our School Board and Dr. Green and ask….. If you take the 2000 seats that are being added between LHS, DHS, and CCHS that is a new high school. Also, if you combine the three construction totals. $75-80 million that is a new high school, so if you are going to build additions on sites that are too small and will be at 100% capacity once they are done, why not create and build another high school without interrupting student learning?

  4. Seems like both options would far exceed the original estimate.

  5. Then why doesn’t the school system revert Sequoyah Middle School back to a High School?

    Also, why I am asking questions. Why is the county redistricting Druid Hills cluster? The new FTE counts are in, and the only ES school over capacity is Laurel Ridge is 105%. All the other ES schools in the cluster are at 79 – 82%. Fernbank is only at 79% capacity, and that includes many Montclair students that are there now.

    Why do you redistrict when you have so many empty seats?

  6. I have almost completely given up policing DeKalb Schools because even when faced with facts and public sentiment, they do what they want. We know that adding onto 3 schools, especially with outlandish ideas like a practice field on top of a parking deck, is more expensive than a new school (why do people hate that practice field? Because it floods. Which makes it an excellent candidate for building an entire structure on top of…not).

    Why doesn’t DCSD want to build a new school? The answer doesn’t matter because DCSD does exactly what they want to do and makes all answers and numbers fit that story. Once ground is broken at CCHS, the three-addition plan is cemented in place.

  7. Bill Armstrong

    Lynn, my comment regarding the field was simply a joke on the quality of the current field. How about the just paint it on the concrete to save $$. Stan, maybe they could add a level to the parking garage for your list, or just paint them on the concrete too?

    I will ask again, why keep fighting this “stop construction on all 3 & build a new school” argument? I get that some people want it, until they start digging nothing’s done for sure, but this argument was started the day after the vote to approve the plan, without avail after 2 years this December. Is there any indication from anyone in the central office that there is a sliver of hope they’ll change their minds? I think So Tired is right, unless someone knows something new.

  8. Bill, “Give it up” … that’s what they said about the cell towers on campus until enough people rallied behind it and said ‘No’.

  9. Bill Armstrong

    Stan, I didn’t say “give it up” just observing this is trying to turn 3 battleships around & I’m just asking if the Admiral has said he’d even consider it – especially since the same basic argument is still being made.

    I think it’s a valid question.

  10. Is Green entertaining other options? I believe that is a question that has only one answer. The decision of CEOs are final … until they’re not.

  11. All of this will unravel because it was all a stupid idea to begin with. The money won’t be there. The plans are so silly they collapse in on themselves. The new Cross Keys isn’t really going to be the new Cross Keys. The sad part is that the kids that will suffer in overcrowded schools through these years of bad decision making, could be at a school right now, enjoying appropriately sized classes, a decent lunch break with a place to sit, and space for them to stretch their wings in sports or the arts, if only we would redistrict.

  12. BarbaraFountain

    I agree they will do what is cheaper, the students always lose. Look at Gwinnett ‘s new Phoenix High School. They want what is going to improve their student’s lives and education, whereas Greene wants cheaper plans. Athletic field on top of a parking deck.yep he is a dictator.his way or not any.and the students can be forgotten. He cares not.i so wish a news program would air this stupidity! What an embarrassment
    A part of the state of Georgia and it sounds like a bunch of idiots planning. I bet the citizens would be shocked to see what he finds to spend taxpayers money meant for their children’s education. Sad, DEKALB once was a respected school district ranked high in school polls give up hope a
    Long time ago since 1972 when I began teaching in DEKALB, I have seen it go to pot with one sorry administrator after another. And weak board members from South DEKALB carrying him, them forward.

  13. I know it’s not politically popular, but maybe some massive redistricting is in order. Why add classrooms up north when we could shift lines and fill these empty classrooms further south? Simple answer…. politics.

  14. The school district has more than 3000 empty seats in high schools around the county. A redistricting that moves small numbers of students to high schools where there is capacity is the most fiscally responsible and expedient way to solve the overcrowding at Dunwoody, Chamblee and Lakeside. The shift down would start with some Druid Hills HS students getting redistricted to McNair HS. The exercise would more than likely make numerous schools more diverse and improve test scores for the schools in aggregate.

  15. Why isn’t the redistricting option (Druid Hills to McNair, etc as mentioned above) being considered? Wouldn’t saving millions and millions of dollars be worth whatever hurdles need to be overcome to get there?

  16. Bill Armstrong, Would you like to answer JCT?

  17. WPI Athletics – For $20 million, WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE built a 534-car parking garage with rooftop athletic fields for softball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, rugby and a variety of other recreational activities.

  18. Stan as you know the issues goes much deeper than the proposed construction. The combined activity space of CMS and CHS falls short of most DCSD middle schools not to mention high schools. The previous construction left the school short at current attendance levels not to mention the proposed increase. I have no confidence DCSD cares what local stakeholders have to say. This was evident with the recent NDS construction when a group of us had hoped to have input and hold the county to the specs in their own directives. A simple request to place the perimeter fence to allow a flow of students between the schools without having to unlock the gates was ignored. I would love to see land purchased between the schools on the north side of the stadium and connecting path to make the campuses more cohesive and easier to use together since both could benefit. In the end though it will not matter as I have come to the conclusion that DCSD does not care what stakeholders have to say. I propose that parents completely “No Show” the upcoming engagements and redistricting sessions as a show of silent protest and use those two hours to spend with their children. I hate to admit it but I’m one last straw from throwing in the towel. The shenanigans are not worth the worry or the time.

  19. Bill Armstrong

    Stan, good call. I had thought about posting this to Witsend. I think it addresses JCT. And to be clear – I’m not saying I agree with the mindset – but I’m pretty certain this would be the fallout, based on years of sitting through meetings & being around parents in private. You force them public they’ll come out – in force.

    Witsend. If by politics you mean that families from the north would push back on being moved south then I agree. Stan – the idea of moving small groups domino style makes sense – if you just do it, without parental input. If you allow people to review & provide input on “these 150 change schools” & they don’t want their kid in the group, they will gladly give you a new group. Going back to at least Crawford Lewis parents have loved line drawing & if they can’t get the lines they want then they’d rather tolerate overcrowded schools than move to the “wrong school.”

  20. I am going to piggyback off of @JCT.

    Between Stephenson (602 seats open) and Redan High (679 seats open) Schools there 1281 empty seats right now between the two schools. Why can’t the county shift some of Clarkston and St. Mountian south to free up seats in their schools. From there you can move some of Tucker to Stone Mountain and Clarkston freeing up room for Lakeside to move students to Tucker.

    Also, is anyone paying attention to the number of empty elementary school seats that are coming online in Region 2 in the next few years when Pleasantdale and Smoke Rise are finished? Between Fernbank, Pleasantdale and Smoke Rise there will be 1174 seats open as of today. If you look at the county’s latest FTE numbers, K-5 enrollments numbers are down this year and have been trending down. Will this mean future school closures in this region?

    The only elementary schools over capacity in Region 2 are Evansdale, Henderson Mill, Laurel Ridge, and Idlewood. The rest are under capacity right now.

  21. When and if DCSD redistricts south, I would imagine that it involves a lot of changes all at once. It would seem to be effective, I-285 and I-85 couldn’t be seen as some type of barriers that can’t be crossed. I don’t think elementary zones would be unaffected, either. I can see why everyone has an interest in not doing that redistricting, the issue is really how much are people willing to pay to not do it.

    It seems like Avondale ES would move to Towers, not McNair.

  22. Bill Armstrong

    Lynn. Not bad in a vacuum. But if the idea is to free up space to ultimately reach all the way to Region 1 where the overcrowding exists, as well as address Cross Keys (with the most gerrymandered lines in the county – certainly not by mistake) which is the context this is being discussed = “move students southward instead of adding on to the 3 high schools,” then you hit the problem.

    Sure, you’ll find parents in these schools that would endorse such a move, so long as it’s not their own kids. Or at best if it’s a scenario they can live with = control.

    I’ve heard parents in Chamblee refer to the kids coming to CCHS from Cross Keys as “those kids.” The feeder schools as well. And I’m talking high profile parent leaders. Of course this is generally not in “mixed company.” You think they want to “send them back to where their needs can better be met” – well, sure some would like that, BUT also pull their own kids with them? No way. Now, could they draw lines that avoid that? Sure they could. Could they carve out the hot potato “apartment kids?” They have for years when needed. Those that have language barriers? Check. Can’t we push those “Title 1” students over “there” – where they’d be more “comfortable.” Just give them a map and some demographics.

    And in deciding which schools to avoid? They’ll pull up the test score charts, if they haven’t memorized them already.

    And that mindset would stretch wherever it is needed. It already is. Anonymously they’ll say it online. In person, if they think you agree, they often will too.

    Anyone that attended any meetings for Crawford Lewis’s infamous school closing, redistricting efforts “too many empty seats & gotta cut the budget” – knows exactly what I’m talking about. It hasn’t changed.

    I agree with Stan, diversity would improve. Maybe academic performance would too. But private school migration would hurt that in some places. People not only threatened it in Chamblee with the Cross Keys move, and the current plans approved, I know some that did. I bet some here do too.

    Listen. I get it. It makes sense. Too many here, too few there. Depending on the plan the numbers might actually work. People have been putting out maps & charts with numbers that work out. But they never include their own kids moving somewhere they wouldn’t want. I’m talking reality. Take the parents out of it. There you go. But then people’s heads would collectively explode. You want signs and banners & coordinated t-shirts at public input meetings, board meetings, Facebook pages, do that.

    Again, I’m not saying it’s not a reasonable solution. I’m stating why it hasn’t happen during the last 15 years to the extent it’s really been desperately needed. Funny thing is that’s part of the plan now. “We’ll build & add on, and then we’ll redistrict down the neighborhood, apartment complex, street levels.” Can’t wait to see those maps. And all the alternative maps the parents will show up with. And the t-shirts.

  23. Bill,
    I agree that the solution to Region 1 overcrowding was more about the Cross Keys district than anything else. That cluster has been woefully neglected for years. But the “cure” has a lot of negative side effects, and it is sad that you believe that pointing these out means that I am prejudiced against “those kids” and my opinion doesn’t count.

    From the beginning it was clear that a shiny new Cross Keys High School had to be part of the solution. Because so much capacity was needed, adding a new high school to Region 1 is a good idea. Except that the District chose to locate this school in Region 2. Huh?

    This also favors the southern part of the Cross Keys district. Those kids get a shiny new school, while those unfortunate enough to live outside I-285 will be squeezed into Chamblee Charter High School. CCHS is already on a campus that is much too small for its population.

    As Stan’s architectural drawings show, the already too-small campus will be even tighter with a new building and 600 more students. We’d better hope that not many of these 600 expect to be on an athletic team, because the athletic facilities at CCHS are already substandard and will be even worse when these 600 students are added.

    I don’t think the former Cross Keys students necessarily are happy that they will be redistricted into the Chamblee district. Besides the substandard athletic facilities, CCHS has a lot fewer ESOL resources for the students.

    The District could have addressed this immediately in 2015, when it began redistricting Cross Keys students to CCHS. It could have flooded CCHS with appropriate resources to help students and to help create community. But they didn’t, and since it has been 3 years already I doubt that they will. Dunwoody and Cross Keys offer several ESOL-support classes in each of the core disciplines. But CCHS still doesn’t, after 3 years. The new CCHS Continuous School Improvement Plan doesn’t even contain the phrase “ESOL.” How can that be?

    This is a mess, and has been a mess for years. I admire those who still have energy enough to fight for what is best for students. I think DCSD counts on attrition, as parents become weary. Because DCSD has all of OUR money they can just “wait it out.”

  24. Bill Armstrong

    Anon. My basic main point is that most parents in the north would strongly resist their kids going southward – regardless of how much sense it makes for the system as a whole. I’ll stand by that. My description of how some CCHS parents view the prospect of moving schools to help balance the system might not apply to you – but it does to others.

    Sure people say they want to help – I believe many do. But doing that isn’t going to happen – voluntarily. There have been other solutions put forth – building a new school in Doraville, maybe that could do it, I know many here want it. But just about anyone I heard pushing that at CCHS or DHS, while insisting it would be best, lived in places that were very unlikely to get moved that far. Easier to push for I’d say.

    Or they were magnets – “push out some residents hopefully leave us here” they think publicly & privately. As moving the magnets out of CCHS has been offered up & rejected by parents, although it would reduce the #s at CCHS.

    But today we’re discussing a big picture domino push to the South via mass redistricting. I’m not sure how more clearly I can put it – people would fight it if it involved moving their kids to what they perceive to be lesser schools. They would offer up lines that move those families less organized than they are. They always have.

    As for poor athletic facilities – I read that as I watched the end of Chamblee football practice. The field is nothing special that’s for sure. But you could certainly fit more players on that field (and lockerroom) – they are desperately needed in fact. But that’s another story. The point on athletic facilities isn’t so much it’s not enough for the players on the teams, it’s really for PE, just like inadequate room for more art & music students.

    As for putting more resources into schools for the services they need based on situations the system has created – you’ll get no argument from me – 100% agree.

    Again that’s a different question.

    As is the CCHS principal for that matter.

  25. Bill Armstrong

    Stan. Looking at that picture & then back at the plans, looks like you could put the tennis courts on top of a decent size academic building too. Maybe fine arts, photography, that sort of stuff, & let the performing arts take over those current areas, stay close to the auditorium. Only half joking.

    Hey, now I’m seeing a roof top expansion of the cafeteria.

    One question on that WPI facility – who’s in charge of chasing the balls that go over the fences?

  26. Bill and Stan,
    Let’s not forget about the large elevator needed for access for equipment, folks in wheelchairs, and injured players with that elevated practice field.

    Let’s not forget that the street where the new parking deck would exit has no traffic light onto Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. Since that intersection is already stop and go at “shift change,” I wonder how it would be with 198 more cars using that intersection.

    Let’s not forget that adding that parking deck will completely cut off the CCHS Arts department from natural light. It’s bad enough now that the Fine Arts classrooms have no windows, and can see the outside world only through the glass-walled hallway outside their door. Adding a covered parking deck just a few feet away adds insult to injury for our art students.

    Let’s not forget about how likely it is that 2400 teenagers will find some sort of mischief to get into with a 198 space covered parking deck. Is this a good idea?

    But mostly, let’s not forget that neither of the Schemes fits within the approved budget!! Back in 2016 DCSD insisted that no additional land would be needed, so that cost isn’t included in the budget. And the cost of an elevated practice field built on top of a parking deck that will sit on land that hasn’t drained properly for 4 years has to be more than the “conceptual cost” of adding a nominal 3 story building.

    So while Bill keeps questioning whether it’s realistic to think that this terribly misguided plan can be halted, all of us taxpayers need to ask whether it’s realistic to proceed with either of these Schemes, knowing that budget increases will occur.

    Dr. Green is in a tough spot here, but it’s one completely of his own making. But it’s not too late to acknowledge the problem, turn the ship around, and be a hero. We are counting on you, Dr. Green.

  27. $20 million parking garage with athletic field on top … over budget … to say the least.

  28. DSW2Contributor

    “The shift down would start with some Druid Hills HS students getting redistricted to McNair HS. The exercise would more than likely make numerous schools more diverse and improve test scores for the schools in aggregate.”

    Try that and test scores will improve in APS when Druid Hills and its schools get themselves annexed into Atlanta.

  29. I would support full scale, full district redistricting because if EVERYONE is being shifted, I think people would stick it out to see what it looked like after all of the shifts. Doing it by region or sub-regions as they have tried in the past limits options and has small groups of people being moved, which is when they object. I just don’t trust DCSD with that job, though, and I never will. They have failed at too many things for too many years for me to think the redistricting process wouldn’t be rife with politics, favors, and retribution.

  30. Tim DeBardelaben

    How big of a joke has DCSD become?????
    In July of 2015 Michael Thurmond put out a proposal to help relieve the overcrowding in the Cross Keys Cluster. Three years later everybody has forgotten about the problems with Cross Keys Cluster. Now all you hear is “Better not bigger”. Let’s face it, Cross Keys is going to be recycled and crapped on again. The Planning Dept. under Dan Drake has once again failed the citizens of Dekalb County. We keep spending money on tha same schools with no end in sight. We are now talking about parking decks like that will actually improve the education of the students . What’s next???? Building high rise High Schools???
    DCSD needs a new cluster that would actually improve the performance of our school. Dekalb student excel when given the opportunity. Why not make the new High School a Charter Magnet School that has enough seats to handle the number of students who want a better education. From what I hear many students are turned away from the best programs that DCSD offers. So why not make more seats available? One other thing I would like to ask……What is a “Stakeholder”? If DCSD takes my tax money, does that make me a stakeholder?

  31. Did anyone go to the John Lewis redistricting discussion last night at Cross Keys? I noted that the alternative plans aren’t on the website yet, however, my understanding is that they would have been presented.

  32. Hey Chad, the redistricting meeting was rescheduled for tonight. I’ll post something in a couple of hours including all the options they have come up with.

    Public Input: Round 2 (October 24, 2018, 7:00 PM at Cross Keys HS)
    The purpose of this meeting is to present two – four options for possible redistricting, and to solicit community input/feedback on the various elements of each option.

    Note: Comments from this second-round meeting will be used to create a single staff-recommended option for possible redistricting, which will be presented for public comment and input in the third round.

  33. I thought it was awfully quiet! I was regretting not going this morning, so glad it got rescheduled.
    Thanks again for all the information, Stan.

  34. The unanswered question in this discussion of additions, moving CKHS, redistricting, etc… is this:
    What is going to happen to Sequoia Middle School?
    Will it remain a middle school? Will it be returned to a high school? With which other high or middle school will it be partnered? If there is no school for it to partner with, will it become a Secondary school with grades 6-12? What elementary schools will feed into it?

  35. Sequoyah will remains a middle school an after that who knows. Does it become a split feeder for CKHS and CCHS. What I want to know is where all the extra kids coming from to fill that school. Does this mean that HMS will move students to SMS?

  36. DCSD said that Sequoyah Middle School will be a feeder school for Chamblee Charter High Scbool.

    CCHS will be the only high school with 2 feeder middle schools.

    CCHS will be the only high school required to build a unified school from 2 populations which have spent their K thru 8 school years completely separated.

    There is probably a reason that this structure has been avoided.

  37. With so many seats open towards the south, I don’t see the benefit of spending all the money it would take to build a Doraville high school and make a new cluster at this point, or do mega expansions to the current schools. If a costly new Doraville High is built then students will be redistricted anyways so why not just redistrict the overcrowded North districts towards the South. This would affect a lot of students, not just one or two schools in a cluster. Also, why not move the magnet program at Chamblee to the new Cross Keys High School on Briarcliff since Chamblee is overcrowded and the new high school will probably have seats available. Then those in the north section of the current Cross Keys zone can shift West into Chamblee High. It seems like we have a LOT of options without building any more than we have already started (ie. Cross Keys). Either that or we all bunker down in overcrowded schools/construction zones and don’t redistrict anyone. Real estate prices are really high and our projected growth numbers are down as estimated from two years ago. We don’t need to convert middle to high schools or vice versa or build a new Doraville school. Move the magnet, shift some kids south to open seats and do proper sized additions and improvements to Chamblee, Lakeside, and Dunwoody as budgeted. We have been having this specific conversation for 3 years. If the county would just present a few clear cut redistricting options, we could rally behind them (or reject them) and plan for what works best. Instead they send everyone in differing directions with all these pseudo options and it ends up fend for yourself (or your cluster). They can allow kids rising 5th, 8th, 11th and 12th to stay at the home school without transportation and give at least 2 years notice (when CKHS will be finished) to allow those to move or make other plans. Stan, has the Dekalb School District ever hired a strategic analyst or planner to objectively crunch the numbers and work on some redistricting patterns to see what is possible? Seems like that would be beneficial for where we are at in regions 1 and 2 and save us a lot on building costs. Then they could present the redistricting logistics that could work and get parental /community feedback, then tweak accordingly… I would at least like to know what the redistricting options for my area would be before making major construction decisions. It is hard to keep postulating building ideas, when we don’t have the whole picture or know our complete options.

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