DeKalb Schools has 6,167 high school seats not being used. Why aren’t we talking about redistricting and consolidating high schools?
Nancy Jester is the DeKalb County Commissioner from District 1. Prior to being elected to the Board of Commissioners, Nancy served on the DeKalb County Board of Education.
Redistrict and Consolidate DeKalb Schools High Schools
DeKalb County Commissioner
The main themes DCSD used for spending eSPLOST dollars in north DeKalb included building a new high school for Cross Keys and no redistricting with the building additions. The idea that redistricting would not be a part of the plan to deal with overcrowding was ridiculous and a deception, in my opinion. Once CKHS is completed, there will be a redistricting.
Now the district is pausing because the plans for these additions have larger than anticipated costs that are not within the eSPLOST budget. The district also indicated at a recent meeting that one of the reasons they have rejected building a new high school in the northern perimeter area is land cost. The district went on to discuss that they see the additions, now paused, as the final additions to Chamblee, Lakeside, and Dunwoody. I thought that was humorous as they only recently expanded and rebuilt these schools and their projections have always been so spot on. (Sorry – that was me being sarcastic.) Now that things are paused and the district is going back to the drawing board to determine how to deal with the overcrowding issue, I thought it would be a good idea to take an inventory of the variables we should all be considering.
DeKalb Schools has 6,167 high school seats not being used. There are 10 high schools at less than 80% utilization. McNair is only 41% utilized.
In the 5 schools with overcrowding, they have a total of 1,305 more students than capacity. We can redistrict all the schools with overcrowding for free and still have 4,862 high school seats not being used.
Here are my thoughts and concerns:
1. The building additions have always been an unwise idea with poorly estimated construction costs. Now those costs are ballooning, meaning that any upgrades some parents thought they could get for their schools are even less likely.
2. Needed parking improvements might be on the chopping block.
2. Redistricting is unavoidable no matter the path.
3. Land cost in the Doraville/Perimeter area are not going to get cheaper while that region will continue to add residents and students.
4. It is unfair to the students and taxpayers to have extremely low enrollments at some schools.