Architect’s Preliminary Report Chamblee Charter HS Building Additions

Hussey Gay Bell (HGB) is the Architectural and Engineering (A&E) firm hired to construct a 600-seat, three-story addition to Chamblee Charter High School (CCHS). This week they came out with a preliminary report. No way around it, this project is going way over budget.

  Chamblee Charter High School – Preliminary Report – January 24, 2019
  2018-10 CCHS proposed addition schemes
  1/30 CAC Presentation
  Traffic Impact Study

If the building additions at CCHS happen, it doesn’t look like there will be any additional parking.

The last Hussey Gay Bell report provided two options: 1) Buy adjacent land or 2) Build a parking garage where the field is and put a field on top of the parking garage.

In this latest report, HGB noted the following:

1. The Original CCHS Feasibility Study (that we based our vote off of) proposed turning the existing parking lot into a multi level parking garage. HGB notes an existing below-grade storm water retention structure under the parking lot. HGB is “concerned that the impact of relocating this structure and associated costs may not be accommodated by the existing SCL of $17.2 million and we do not consider this a viable option.”

2. HGB has confirmed that the city ordinances will not allow for the proposed 116 parking spaces in front of the school along Chamblee Dunwoody Rd.

3. Given the lack of parking spaces along Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, the parking garage where the field is will have to be even larger than anticipated. I don’t see how we can stay under budget and put a field on top of a parking garage.

4. I don’t see any mention of buying land adjacent to the school, so I guess that’s out. The money to purchase land was never in the budget anyway.

Escalating construction costs
The Stated Cost Limitation (SCL) for the project is $17,232,000.00. Escalating construction costs and their impact on the SCL, “we anticipate costs will exceed the SCL.” says HGB.

Construction Advisory Committee

Dear CCHS Community,

Please attend the Construction Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting tomorrow, January 30, 2019 at 6pm in the CCHS auditorium.

The Preliminary Architect Report for the 600 seat addition to Chamblee Charter High School is now posted on the CCHS Governing Board website along with drawings. The date of the report is listed as October 24, 2018 with an amendment dated January 24, 2019.

The links are below:


Architect’s Report:

In a nutshell, the 600 seat addition will be located near the corner of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and Mendenhall Street. A parking deck will be built where the practice field is and an elevated turfed practice field will be built above it. The report identifies items that may give concern about staying within the budget. These may be ordinary concerns common at this stage of design, or not.

If possible, please share these documents with your constituencies.

Related Posts

Chamblee Cluster 7-Year Enrollment Forecasts
January 19, 2019 – Chamblee Charter High School is currently right at capacity with 1,722 students enrolled. Chamblee Charter HS is currently projected to have 1979 students by 2025.

Is 600 More Seats At Chamblee Charter HS A Good Idea?
January 17, 2017 – Please help me understand why adding 600 seats to Chamblee Charter High School is good for anybody in that community? I suspect that any support is driven by redistricting.

Pros and Cons of adding 600 seats to Dunwoody HS
January 7, 2017 – Moving forward, I’m trying to understand the support for the building addition at Dunwoody High School. The speculation that some Dunwoody residents would be redistricted out of DHS seems to be the only reason for any continued support of the building additions.

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…

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…

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…

21 responses to “Architect’s Preliminary Report Chamblee Charter HS Building Additions

  1. Rebekah Cohen Morris

    Thanks for the update, Stan. Super important for people to be there tomorrow to hear what’s going on and how they plan to address these concerns.

  2. DeKalb Doesn't Care

    My kid can barely get through their hallways. Their plans have always been screwed up. Now we see they can’t even pay for it. They can’t seem to manage their budgets. The only solution is to build a high school in Doraville. Why is this so hard to understand. These expansion plans are ridiculous.

  3. DeKalb is clueless

    A school board has to redistrct. Quit being afraid of the super vocal parents and do your job. Stan you usually are are very even handed in your approach. Your colleagues need to have the fortitude to do what they were elected to do.

  4. DeKalb Doesn’t Care,
    The cost of steel went up over 30% because of Trump’s tariffs and trade war with China. That is what had driven up the cost of construction materials.

  5. @Kirk, after getting burned in SPLOST III with the end of the recession and rise of construction costs, DCSD began adding in $ for possible construction increases. Friends in the construction business tell me the 30% steel tariffs line by DCSD is not totally accurate. Either way, the costs shouldn’t be off as much as the district is suggesting if indeed they continued the practice of adjusting for inflation. My guess is the feasibility drawings that were used to get rough prices for the BOE to vote on were grossly inadequate: remember, they were “architect reviewed” for feasibility and were box graphics showing a building could be set on a piece of property without regard to any other factors/property limitations.

    Watch for SPLOST V funds to be used to complete all these SPLOST IV projects that aren’t done, just like the SPLOST IV dollars were used to complete SPLOST III projects.

    Any construction folks out there that can say for sure how much the steel tariffs are affecting construction in Atlanta?

  6. Joe Arrington

    Thanks for the update, Stan.

    I am getting some of your information, thanks to a friend that forwards them to me.
    I am not aware of any other sources for your type of briefings.
    Please add me to your list of email recipients.
    Nancy can vouch for me.
    Thanks to both of you for all you do and willingness to serve DeKalb.

    Joe Arrington

  7. Let’s think about this.

    In December, DCSD told Lakeside HS that instead of getting a 750 seat addition they will get approximately 350 seats. Yet DCSD still needs all of the funding for the larger project. HALF the seats and ALL the money.

    For CCHS, the DCSD report last week still shows a 600 seat addition. So it doesn’t seem out of the question that CCHS will be ALL the seats and TWICE the money. Perhaps we will find out tonight.

    Especially since the plan now includes an elevated turf practice field, which sounds like an expensive headache if it has to be done on a shoestring budget.

    The E-SPLOST-V project list totaled $561 Million. The program contingency amount is only $50 Million, or about 9%.

    New buildings and major additions in E-SPLOST-V total $291 Million. A 30% increase in steel prices has to have a major impact in each of these projects, eating up much of the contingency budget before we get any more surprises like an elevated practice field.

    The public wants good, cost-effective, equitable solutions for our schools. But when there are unexplained, significant changes in cost and enrollment projections from DCSD, the public becomes skeptical. It becomes very difficult to try to work together for solutions when credibility is lacking.

  8. Honestly, I do not believe any numbers that DCSD gives out. For example, Cobb County is building a brand new 76 classroom for $26 M. CCHS is 31 classrooms for $21M, the new Shallowford ES is $30M and is small than the new Cobb County school. Am I the only one that sees a problem with those numbers?

    Also, the 30% tariff was thrown out to start selling a smaller addition at LHS IMHO.

  9. Dekalb County Schools Quandry

    You all realize that the ONLY reason why a Doraville High School was not approved was a very vocal minority that rigged the initial voting and had the Superintendent’s ear making a very false claim that the new Doraville High School would be Cross Keys 2.0 and was “just another way to separate out the brown people” (their words, not mine). This has activist types written all over it. The county bowed to that way of thinking and here we are.

  10. Lynn, thank you for those numbers. Those are very interesting and suspicious. 76 classrooms for $26M vs 31 classrooms for $21M. Stan, is this something you could bring up at the Board meeting when they bring you the increased estimate for Chamblee?

  11. I am NOT an apologist for DCSD, but the DCSD E-SPLOST-V projects include 2 new elementary schools, each with a $30 Million budget.

    This is 12% higher than the $26.8 for the Cobb County elementary school that Linda King linked to. So at least it’s in the same ballpark, although an extra $3 Million would go a long way…..

    I’m guessing that much of the cost for the new high school additions is because they have to shoehorn the addition onto under-sized campuses while school is in session. That’s got to be a lot more challenging than a clear piece of land with no “civilians” allowed.

    Another thing. Dan Drake said at the Chamblee Charter High School CAC meeting last night that the COST OF LAND ALONE for a new school in the general Region 1 area would be $50 – $75 MILLION dollars.

    Can that be right? CCHS is less than 21 acres. So is it reasonable that DCSD can’t buy 21 acres in the general Region 1 area for less than $50 – $75 MILLION dollars? Is land really more than $3 MILLION per acre?

    Sounds like Region 1 will never have a new high school, no matter how many students move into the area.

    On the other hand, Dan Drake did say that DCSD doesn’t envision enlarging CCHS beyond the 2300 student capacity that this addition will bring. I’d like to believe that but remember that CCHS was just rebuilt in 2014, with apparently no thought that it would ever go above 1800 students.

  12. Chamblee in trouble

    Drake also said that ALL of Sequoyah and Chamblee Middle would be feeding into Chamblee High School. Get ready for a mega school starting around 2022 folks!

  13. Yeah. I had two big takeaways. 1). Chamblee MS and Sequoyah MS will feed into CCHS. 2) CCHS additions are in hold pending board evaluation of the SPLOST program budget. I’ll see if I can get out a post tonight.

  14. Chamblee Getting Screwed

    Hmmmmm and who warned about that one?

    Sorry Chamblee High, you got screwed.

  15. Hey folks, moving Sequoyah Middle School to the Chamblee cluster has been part of the DCSD plan since the plan was finalized. It is stated clearly on page 8 of the September 26,2016 DCSD presentation.(

    Maybe the BOE didn’t realize this since this was an admin decision rather than a budget item that they had to approve. But the whole Regon 1 plan hinges on this.

    The BOE approved a new Cross Keys Middle School and a new Cross Keys High School. So where do the students who remain at Sequoyah Middle School go to high school?

    The DCSD solution was to send them to Chamblee Charter High School, rather than building a new Doraville High School.

    CCHS will be the only DCSD high school that must welcome 9th grade students from two middle schools. These students, from Chamblee MS and Sequoyah MS, have had completely separate K-8 experiences. Somehow CCHS must help these two groups “bond” and become a cohesive class.

    This can certainly be done, but it is clearly the District’s responsibility to provide the resources for this. CCHS will need summer bridge resources, resources to coordinate with 2 rather different middle schools rather than just 1, and probably more ESOL resources.

    Yet the District hasn’t stepped up with resources for the minor redistricting from Sequoyah that happened in 2015, so I am not hopeful that they will do a better job when the full redistricting actually occurs.

    Again, this can be successful but not if the District doesn’t take ownership and make sure this is an improvement for the students, rather than just a shorter bus ride.

  16. The feeder patterns are all just tentative administrative plans.

  17. BendOverChamblee

    Not to be rude, but I have to say that your optimism “Anonymous” is misplaced. “This can be successful but not if the District doesn’t take ownership…”

    What district do you want taking ownership? The one that just let go a former HR head who was overpaid? The one that found a spot for Braaten in the administration? The one that can’t seem to figure out teacher pay raises?

    I agree, this could be successful…if Gwinnett or perhaps Cobb took over. But with the mismanagement going on in the central office right now, there’s no way they could lead blind-folded.

    My question – how can this ridiculous over-budget building addition be stopped? Lawsuits? Anyone? Anyone?

  18. Chamblee Getting Screwed

    I’ll be done, but expect major additional disicipline problems, including more drugs and gang activity in trying to mesh two very different middle schools together along with a magnet program. What a cluster. I certainly wouldn’t send my kids to the future Chamblee High.

  19. AB,
    SPLOST IV took in more revenue than was anticipated and there was over $60 million of budgeted money that was not spent. (Don’t get me started on that.)

    There shouldn’t be any need to use SPLOST V money to complete any SPLOST IV projects. In fact, I would like to see an audit of SPLOST IV that is more recent than 2015.

  20. @Kirk – Remember that SPLOST IV projects had to take cuts to pay back SPLOST III projects. Also, why is Coralwood getting a 10 million dollar pool? Couldn’t that money be better used at other schools?

    The whole county needs an online open checkbook. How many times have you heard Dan Drake say, “well this comes from this pocket of money, and that comes from that pocket of money.”

    Also, I would love the county to sit down and talk with DHS, LHS, and CCHS all in the same room. Depending on what meeting you are in, you are getting a different story. For example, LHS has asked about “movement from one side of the school to another and would the time between classes be extended due to the distance traveled and the crowded halls once the addition is finished,” the county did not have an answer because they had not thought about it. Transition to the other night at CCHS. The same question was asked, and the county said that they had not thought about it. Well, you should have since the same question was asked only a short time before. Also, when having meetings, the county also needs to come better prepared. Mumbling and stumbling through answers, and saying that we haven’t thought of that is not acceptable.

  21. Lynn,

    The school district does have an online checkbook. Every month the “Vendor Spends Report” is attached to the “Monthly Financial Report.” Every check is listed.

    Good luck figuring out who is actually getting paid and from what “pocket of money” it is coming from. Many vendors have checks written to their dba, but the contracts approved by the BOE are for the incorporated entity. Also, the budget codes are (approximately) 24 digits long. The detailed budget breaks the codes down into parts. So, you can’t search the budget to see where the money is coming from.

    Even with the “online checkbook” DeKalb Schools is all smoke and mirrors with no accountability.