Category Archives: Building Additions

1,000 More Seats Are Coming to Dunwoody High School

Adjusting for the latest enrollment projections, the school district will now be adding 1,000 seats to Dunwoody High School (DHS). This is just insane … but it’s the plan.

Clear cutting to make room at Dunwoody High School

Dunwoody High School is a small pocket neighborhood school originally constructed in 1972 and additions to the main school building were constructed in 1973, 1975, and 2011. In 1988, DHS merged with another local high school, Peachtree High School. Peachtree became a middle school and Dunwoody remained as the high school. DHS campus is currently 29.4 acres.

The current capacity for DHS is 1,505 students, while actual enrollment is currently 2,100 students.

DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has updated the long-term enrollment forecasts for each school year from the Fall of 2019 through the Fall of 2025. While I believe the Dunwoody 7-Year Enrollment Forecasts to be woefully under estimated as usual, even with these conservative estimates, Dunwoody HS enrollment is expected to exceed 2,300 by 2021.

Dunwoody 7-Year Enrollment Forecasts

Over the last decade, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the school administration insists that enrollment is going to stop going up. In their forecast enrollment data modeling, DeKalb Schools is currently insisting that High Street will only be a total of 1,500 units.

Richard McLeod, Director of Community Development for the City of Dunwoody, state this week that

There are 3000 residantial untis approved for [High Street] to build. One half (1500) of them will be apartments and the other half (1500) will be condo … I have a meeting scheduled in April with the developers to discuss the plans. They state that they are going to break ground in October or November of 2019.

Over the last 4 weeks, I have sent numerous emails to the Superintendent and Interim Chief Operating Officer Dan Drake asking why they believe High Street will only be 1,500 units. I have not received any explanation yet. If High Street builds 3,000 units over the next few years, DHS is in trouble.

Current Forecasted Enrollment & Addition Size
MGT 2022 Forecast Updated 2025 Forecast Change Original Addition Recommended Addition
Dunwoody HS 2,093 2,337 244 600 1,000
Peachtree MS 1,686 1,513 -173 600 400
Chamblee Charter HS 2,378 2,120 -258 600 600
New Cross Keys HS 2,486 1,739 -747 2,500 2,200
New Cross Keys MS 1,450 1,205 -245 500 200
Lakeside HS 2,619 1,945 -674 750 400
Clarkston HS 2,060 1,510 -550 700 350
Freedom MS 1,630 1,134 -496 400 Cancelled
Dunwoody High School Can’t Handle 2,500+ Students

I’ve blogged ad nauseam how building additions are terrible for the community. The Dunwoody High School Council has pleaded with the board and administration to address the Overburdened Common Spaces.

The DHS band room is the basement dungeon, choir has no room. There will be no additions to most of the common spaces like the gym, locker rooms, fields, storage, or administrative offices. The adjustments to the cafeteria, kitchen and parking are laughable.

In addition to the obvious problems, let’s discuss the issues that aren’t as obvious. Twice as many students means twice as much traffic, twice as many buses lining up the street and around the block, twice as many teams with no space to play or practice, twice as much sewage, etc …

Building Additions Vs Redistricting & Consolidating

DeKalb Schools has 6,167 high school seats not being used. Why aren’t we talking about redistricting and consolidating high schools?

Nancy Jester
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

Commissioner Nancy Jester

Nancy Jester
DeKalb County Commissioner

In 2016 DCSD embarked on a plan to spend eSPLOST V revenue that included large additions to recently renovated schools in north DeKalb and dismissed the idea of building a Doraville/Perimeter area high school to deal with the overcrowding in the area.

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.