Dunwoody Elementary School Redistricting & Utilization

The Principal’s Advisory Committee (PAC) at Dunwoody Elementary School (DES) sent DeKalb Schools board and administration their feedback on the latest redistricting plan.

The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the plan in February. The biggest concern articulated by the DES PAC is that the most recent redistricting proposal does not relieve overcrowding robustly enough. Below, I’ve included the DES enrollment projections and some of the details of the administration’s changes to the eSPLOST V project list addressing the need for more elementary school seats in the Dunwoody and Chamblee Clusters.


According to the 2019 – 7 Year Enrollment Forecasts – Elementary Schools in Dunwoody, in 2025 DES will have approximately 1,412 students if there is no redistricting. DES school capacity is 955 students.

According to the October 2019 School Enrollment & Capacity Report, DES is currently at 123% utilization.

Year – Total Enrollment – Utilization
2017 – 1,092 – 114%
2018 – 1,173 – 123%
2019 – 1,177 – 123%
2020 – 1,212 – 127%
2021 – 1,245 – 130%
2022 – 1,310 – 137%
2023 – 1,358 – 142%
2024 – 1,378 – 144%
2025 – 1,412 – 148%

The January Round 4 Redistricting Presentation for redistricting the elementary schools in the Dunwoody and Chamblee clusters seems to attempt to minimize disruption.

For Fall 2020, the latest redistricting plan is to move 102 students from Dunwoody ES to Austin ES. If a new elementary school doesn’t open until 2025, then for school year 2024 DES will have 1,276 students at 134% utilization.

A new ESPLOST project list was presented to the board on Monday. It includes turf fields for all high schools and a new elementary school for the Dunwoody/Chamblee cluster.

Timeline – No timeline was given for completion of a new elementary school. The project list also includes $1 million for improvements to the Old John Lewis school for Kittredge.

Location – Opening Nancy Creek as is or rebuilding Nancy Creek to a 950 seat school seems to be on the table. DeKalb Schools also owns the Shallowford site which is an ideal location for a new school. There is also $15 million in the project list to buy new land for a new school in the Dunwoody/Chamblee clusters. That money could be used to buy a new property or expand the small Shallowford site.

DES currently has 1,177 students at 123% utilization. A new elementary school could open Fall 2023 at the earliest. If 102 students are redistricted out now, then DES in year 2022 would have 1,208 students at 126% utilization.

Please comment below with your thoughts on the most recent proposals.

32 responses to “Dunwoody Elementary School Redistricting & Utilization

  1. 123% or 126% at DES can be made to work. Same issue at MES.
    Short term pain for long-term gain as long as DCSD can execute on the Interim Supers vision. Thats the big question.

  2. Stan, the projections are crap, always have been. I don’t see where all these kids will come from High Street is still years away from seeing residents. Vanderlyn had 12 trailers in their front yard for years and those kids all did okay. Abe Lincoln became president and he was self educated in a hand-built wood cabin.

  3. These land use maps show where the school district says the projected growth is coming from. I also wrote a blog about it ..


     2019 Actuals – Dunwoody Cluster – Elementary School – Land Use
     2024 Projected – Dunwoody Cluster – Elementary School – Land Use

  4. @Laptopgirl I love you 🙂

    So in MES due to the additional students my student just told me 4th and 5th grades now combine tables in the cafeteria whereas before they had their own table. She was made to move up on to the stage (3rd grade).
    BUT her class size has gone down.

    I am not disputing the increases in enrollment but the schools are coping. As for the future projections they are always a little off. A ton of people are moving OUT of the MES catchment area due to rising rents and RE prices.

  5. Tameka Osabutey-Aguedje

    Which students would fill the renovated Nancy Creek? What’s the projected enrollment after updates.

  6. Stan, what are the chances that Nancy Creek could re-open as is to the surrounding area (not a rebuild) AND a new 950 seat prototype school be built on the old Shallowford site? It seems to me that more than one school house may be needed to adequately address the overcrowding in both the Chamblee and Dunwoody clusters. Just to remind everyone, the Chamblee cluster hasn’t had the “luxury” of a new elementary school being built within our cluster, ever. We’re sitting with the same three elementary schools AND buildings (actually minus two, i.e. Nancy Creek and Jim Cherry) that have always been there. While I know Dunwoody needs more overcrowding relief too, they just got a brand new school! It’s way past time for the Chamblee cluster to get some elementary attention and relief.

  7. Kittredge has a capacity of 550 magnet students. Probably 600 non magnet students given class size. Nancy Creek would probably take about 600 students if it opened as is and 950 students if it is rebuilt. Nancy Creek would presumable draw from the Chamblee and Dunwoody clusters.

    I have no insight into how many elementary schools the school administration wants to build up here, where they are going to put them, or the timeline.

  8. Tameka Osabutey-Aguedje

    What are you proposing as solutions to decision makers?

  9. @ Laptopboy. “A ton of people are moving OUT of the MES catchment area due to rising rents and RE prices.” Just because you say it multiple times… doesn’t make it true. In fact, this statement is absolutely false. Further, your anecdotal evidence regarding the consolidation of lunch tables at Montgomery is… just that.

    It is great that your kids are comfortable with the amount of space that they have during lunch this year. Maybe they are also fortunate enough to be eating at normal lunch hours too? Unfortunately, my kids are more concerned about being forced to eat lunch at 10:30 am, when they aren’t really interested in eating lunch. Yet, due to overcrowding the school must start sitting kids down for lunch at 10:30 because the lunchroom isn’t big enough to accommodate all of the students during normal lunch hours. This analogy applies to all of the common facilities at these overcrowded schools.

    Maybe we should dig into the reason that you (and LaptopGirl) are working so hard to persuade us that a school at >140% of capacity isn’t a problem for you, and it shouldn’t be for us. Could it be that you are one of those homeowners that is at risk of being redistricted to another elementary school? Maybe you are being a little self-serving?

  10. I thought the old Shallowford site couldn’t be used because it’s too small for the state mandated acreage?

  11. Hello Amanda, The school district could purchase land around the Shallowford site.

  12. @PSDad – fair points you make! My evidence is anecdotal but accurate. I am admitting the lunch situation (and times) are not ideal. I am working hard not to get redistricted but only because my kids and I love MES and are happy with it. We went to every DCSD meeting and are backing the interim supers new plan which means the next 2-4 years won’t see much relief but hopefully the kids following in our footsteps will have it better. I would back that plan regardless of where my kids go to school.
    If the timeline doesn’t suit a family then they need to go private or move district as it will not be solved overnight.

  13. One problem that isn’t mentioned here is that at 123% capacity and more, the school does not have enough bathrooms to accommodate the student population which disrupts the instructional time. This is especially true in a school with a large enrollment, because whole grade levels are trying to utilize transition time to and from specials for restroom breaks.
    Another problem is safety during inclimate weather such as a tornado warning. It is extremely difficult to get the whole school evacuated and all students a safe distance from the building in case of fire drills or a real fire. The hallways do not have the proper capacity, the common spaces do not have the proper capacity, the counseling department and clinic end up in a closer, and special populations do not have proper accommodations to serve their students without being out of compliance if federal law.
    It’s about more than trailers and classroom space being “good enough,” because previous students did “just fine.” Every year the students are different. Just think how much more teachers could accomplish if they had proper instructional space, schedules, and support.

  14. And with 1,200 PK-5th grade students in her care, you cannot imagine how busy the DES school nurse is…and the counselors and other administrators…

  15. Concerned Dunwoody parent

    The concern here is that a brand new school is opening and it will be under capacity day 1 with the current plan. The plan says it at 100% of capacity but that includes a 100 kid theoretical new school bump that may or may not materialize but certainly not overnight. In the meantime, there is twelve trailers over at DES with over 200 more students than Austin begging and pleading for relief. The board needs to move additional students right next to the area A that is closer Austin to provide some relief and not put the burden of overcrowding AND projected growth entirely on DES. It is incomprehensible to think this beautiful school won’t be at capacity on day 1 when a school 2 miles away has 12 trailers and is begging for relief.

  16. Outraged Momma

    Why should any parent at DES believe anything that the BOE has to say after going through this redistricting process and the answer being to just kick the can further down the road and figure it out in a couple of years? How many maps were drawn, hours invested and surveys taken to offer community feedback, whilst none was taken? If, and only if there is reasonable relief at DES now — with next month’s board vote — will any parent believe the BOE is going to do anything to fix the growing problem.

  17. Every school in the cluster but AES is over capacity. But since you’re focusing on DES, and AES is the only school with the ability to relieve DES’ overcapacity, (especially considering that schools like VES have even higher over utilization numbers than DES) the only logical conclusion is that you are proposing that AES take more DES students than what was proposed in the recent plan. For once, I’d say the vast majority of people would agree with you.

  18. Thank you Stan for posting this summary. It seems very clear to me that 100 students is not enough relief from growth even in the short term. With this plan by 18 months from now (fall 2021) we will be in the same spot we are now, and in fall 2022 we will start adding trailers again at DES. This is not sustainable. As you have said multiple times one of the main goals of this process is to keep DES from having “1,000,000” kids in 2025. With this plan we are well on our way.

    If this is just step 1 of redistricting, let’s talk timelines for step 2. The plan now seems to be to do a CMP in June 2021. If that plan states we should re-create Nancy Creek as a 600 student school, we could redistrict in for fall of 2022. That is the best case scenario. However, if the plan calls for new buildings, or rebuilt buildings, or is controversial, or doesn’t truly address the districts needs then we are looking at 2025 and beyond. The point is, DES needs something more than a 1 year stop gap, because in reality the wait for relief could be much longer.

    Austin can comfortably accept more students from DES. This will give DES more breathing room, and allow a long term plan to be implemented. If we don’t move those students, AES will open with 100-200 open seats while DES plants flamingos next to their trailers. There is no reason to leave a child at an overcrowded school to make room for a child that might or not show up.

    We can fix this!

  19. Ben Greenwald

    Our students should not have to cope!

    It is unconscionable that Austin will likely open with 50+ empty seats when every other school in Dunwoody is over capacity.

    Where is this new school bump coming from? There are not enough homes for sale in the attendance area. If it’s private school students coming to Austin I want names of every one. They are nonexistent.

    Austin needs to be taking a minimum of another 100 students from DES and/or Vanderlyn.

    When do the renovations start on John Lewis so it will open for Magnet school students in less than 7 months?

    When do we get the attendance area that will be going to Nancy Creek?

    What exactly has Dunwoody received as a result of ESPLOST 4 and ESPLOST 5? I would like a list of projects completed.

  20. SuzzieFromAustin

    @Ben. My name is Susan but my mom calls me Suzzie. I am at The Jude and don’t really like it. I am going to Austin to save my mom and dad money. I will ask around at school for more names for you. Do you want my Instagram as well?

  21. Ben, my son was in a trailer for two years at Vanderlyn. Ate lunch at 10:40. Went to the 4-5 academy, which is now k-5 DES. Then was in trailers at PCMS and DHS. He’s at UGA now on Zell Miller scholarship. Tell your kid(s) to suck it up and not be a snowflake.

  22. After being a part of numerous meetings and conversations, there are some key issues that i believe can bd solved with a strategic multi-year rebuild of Chesnut.

    -Chesnut sits on somewhere around 10-11 acres (estimated since I don’t know who has the true number)

    -Chesnut has one of the lowest facility scores in the county

    -Located just outside 285, Chesnut can provide cross cluster relief for Chamblee.

    I think that based on the topography, acreage, location, and cost (existing county land) a new Chesnut that consists of either 2 separate buildings or one buildings that eventually connect.

    Phase 1
    While the current Chesnut kids remain in the old existing building, a second building can be build- for about 450 kids.

    Phase 2
    Once the new building has been constructed, the same Chesnut students all move there.
    New attendance lines drawn in preparation for the 900(ish) school.

    Phase 3
    With both buildings now built, at the start of the following school year, a 900 student Chesnut begins. (Upper/Lower school…Or connect buildings over the summer

    If I had my wish, Chesnut and it’s size would never change. The reality is, if we don’t get creative and look ahead, we won’t see relief.

    One last point is this- current Chesnut is one floor with a small “basement level.” We have 450 kids on one floor of 11 acres. We could have a second floor and leave more room for outside playground and learning.

  23. FormerDekalbTeach

    @Ben Greenwald,
    New school bump numbers are actually a thing. I worked at a DCSD school that opened in 2007 with a projection of 800-900 kids- we ended up with over 1200 kids that first year. Why? Everyone thinks the new school is going to be better than the school they are actually zoned for. Faked affidavits are a huge issue in DCSD. In my 20+ years working there I never witnessed one challenged.

  24. Ben Greenwald

    @VandyProud why should my child have to suck it up while seats in real classrooms go empty? I display my real name while you hide behind your “pride” while throwing stones.

    I don’t doubt a new school bump will happen, I doubt the size of that bump and how quickly it will happen. And if the bump happens, bring in the trailers to Austin.

  25. Jeff Guggenheim

    @Ben- I hear your frustrations about the empty seats but the main focus Tyson stated was she didn’t want to move kids and the. Move them again when any new plan comes out. I wouldn’t want my kid to be moved repetitively. Thus, I can understand the current plan.

    That said, I think the timeline to hire a consultant, create a plan and then implement a plan needs to be reviewed. I feel waiting til mid-2021 to receive the comprehensive plan is far too long. If we (county tax dollars) are spending for this plan, we should be far more aggressive and shoot for a deadline of EOY 2020 for the plan. Then we can truly start executing the plan for school year 2021-2022.

    If I can plea for anything, ADP I ate for more aggressive procurement of this consultant and the delivery date of the plans results.

  26. Ben Greenwald

    @Jeff I agree that the timeline seems too long. I think DES parents are simply asking for another 100 or so students to be moved from DES to Austin. That would give the two schools roughly equivalent populations if Austin gets the forecasted 100 student new school increase.

    The farther out future relief happens, the fewer the number of students that could potentially have to move twice. My assumption is that students that move will be somewhat evenly distributed across K-5. If 200 students move that means about 35 students per grade.

    If a new school could be built by 2023, we really are only talking about current children in Kindergarten and 1st grade that even have the potential of moving twice (Current year at DES, move to Austin this August and new school in 2023. I suspect we are taking about a handful of kids that would be asked to move twice. Meanwhile 1,200 students live with an overcrowded DES.

  27. Hey as long as Austin is happy and they do not have to take any kids from apart…… oops I mean “Mobile students”. Cause everyone knows that by next school year there will be 100 new kids whose parents are buying all the vacant single parent homes in the Austin attendance area.

    All is good in the world.

  28. Tameka Osabutey-Aguedje

    Logistics issues from the trailer acceptance (no pledge, no updates, no character education, or celebration of peers):
    WDES Tiger TV News is DES’ morning announcement show. The morning announcements start at 7:45, which is the time we are lining up to go to specials. This leads to third grade being unable to watch the announcements.
    Here is the link if you would like to watch at home: https://livestream.com/accounts/26412464/events/7915830

  29. DSW2Contributor

    ^During bad weather, the trailers are supposed to be evacuated and the children brought into the main school building. For that reason alone, I don’t think any children should be in trailers while there are empty classrooms elsewhere in DCSD.

  30. Ben Greenwald

    Stan, Since the promised new Elementary school would also be designed to help overcrowding with the Chamblee High School cluster schools, what do enrollment projections look like for those schools through 2025? In particular I’m thinking of Montgomery, Ashford Park and Huntley Hills. I suspect that parents at those schools are expecting that their overcrowding problems will be solved as well.

    The wildcard in all of this is how many new students will be living in the multi-family units that are approved but are not yet constructed adjacent to Perimeter Mall. I know that many believe that there will be few children living in those units but what if DCSD planners are wrong? It is potentially an entire elementary school population just in those developments.

  31. 2019 Enrollment Forecasts For Chamblee & Cross Keys Elementary Schools