Monthly Archives: January 2017

750 More Seats at Lakeside HS? Why?

How will adding 750 seats to Lakeside High School improve their School Climate Star Rating and academic achievement?
School Climate Star Rating
The National School Climate Center defines school climate as “the quality and character of school life” [1]. Research has found that schools with positive school climates tend to have better test scores and graduation rates; in contrast, schools with negative school climates as a result of unsafe or hostile environments tend to have lower academic performance. [2]
Lakeside HS is Below Satisfactory
The Ga DOE recently released the 2016 School Climate Star Ratings​. Lakeside High School (LHS) received a 2 out 5 stars which is considered below satisfactory according to the school climate index. Dresden ES and Lakeside HS were the only two schools out of the Lakeside, Cross Keys, Chamblee and Dunwoody clusters to score below average ratings.
Smaller Schools
The benefits of having smaller schools have been researched and written about ad nauseam. They show that smaller schools tend to be safer and are generally better places for students to learn. Graduation rates are generally higher, greater teacher satisfaction, small schools are more flexible, there is less one size fits all, etc…

Lakeside High School (LHS) is currently squeezzing 2,184 students into a building with a capacity of 1,756 students. Enrollment is expected to grow to 2,619 students (863 students over current capacity) by year 2022. Last month the board approved constructing a 750-seat, 38-classroom, two-story addition extending the current footprint and bringing the new capacity to 2,500 seats. The project will also include

  • Kitchen extension (1,546 sq/ft)
  • Cafeteria extension (2,025 sq/ft)
  • New media center addition (4,391 sq/ft)
  • 3 story employee parking garage (100 spaces)
  • 138 additional student outdoor parking spaces
School Kitchen Cafeteria Media Center
Existing Size Proposed Addition Revised Size Existing Size Proposed Addition Revised Size Existing Size Proposed Addition Revised Size
Lakeside HS 4,258 1,546 5,804 8,560 2,025 10,585 6,466 4,391 10,857

Increasing the capacity at LHS from 1,756 students to 2,500 students is a 30% increase in capacity. The conceptual plans for LHS increase the kitchen by 27% and the cafeteria by 19%. The media center space is expected to be expanded by 40%. Adding a garage and paving over all the green spaces in front will extend parking by 36%.
Guideline for Educational Facility Site Selection
The GA DOE Guideline for Educational Facility Site Selection applies to the existing sites on which a new educational facility will be constructed. In accordance with these guidelines, the minimum useable acreage requirements of the State Board of Education are 20 acres plus one acre for each 100 students in FTE for High School Facilities.
The Lakeside HS School Assessment Report says the site was originally constructed in 1965, has a total area of 33.3 acres. If the new capacity for LHS is 2,500 students, then the total site acreage for this high school should be at least 45 acres.
Not A Scalable Solution
If we add 750 seats, LHS is projected to be over capacity before the next E-SPLOST. In the November FAQ, the administration said “Our buildings will be designed so that, if warranted, we can add additional building capacity to accommodate future student capacity”. We can’t add 750 seats to LHS every 5 years. This is not a scalable solution.
Lakeside HS Cluster Positions
To sum up the various positions, nobody wants to be redistricted to Cross Keys or a new Doraville cluster.
Sagamore ES position – Sagamore doesn’t want to be redistricted to Cross Keys
Briarlake ES Position – Briarlake doesn’t want split feeders to Cross Keys
Oake Grove ES – Oak Grove supports the 750 seat addition but doesn’t say why. They do however have a litany of concerns with the plan.
Lakeside Cluster Summit Position – Aside from Jim McMahan and Randy Faigin David, I’m not aware of anybody else that is a part of this group. The cluster summit advocates for whatever option redistricts the fewest students out of the cluster.

Who’s Getting Redistricted Out of Lakeside High School
In addition to the proposed 750 seat addition to Lakeside HS, the school district has announced it’s intention to redistrict 250 students currently attending LHS to the new Brookhaven High School cluster.
Sources have indicated that school district officials may target certain elementary schools for redistricting on the basis of socio-economics and demographics. Various sources have previously indicated that the school district intended to redistrict Sagamore ES, but I have since learned that other schools are being considered.

[1] National School Climate Center. (2014). School Climate. Retrieved from
[2] Thapa, Amrit, Jonathan Cohen, Shawn Guffey, and Ann Higgins-D’Alessandro. 2013. “A Review of School Climate Research.” Review of Educational Research 83(3): 357-385.

DeKalb Schools – News & Updates

  1. DeKalb Schools Lobbyists
  2. Winning Artwork from Austin ES
  3. Chronically Failing Schools
  4. Construction Committees
  5. DeKalb Schools Suing Atlanta Over Annexation
  6. Supt Green – More Money – More Services

The superintendent has engaged Dentons to provide awareness and advocacy for what he wants to get done. Dentons, among other things, will provide the board and administration with regular legislative reports during the session.
It’s challenging to fully understand the nature of Denton’s engagement. The Superintendent’s contract with Denton’s is $99,900 … $100 under the limit before it has to come before the board and discussed publicly.

ARTWORK DeKalb’s 2017 Art Calendar Contest
Three Austin Elementary school students were among the winners of an art calendar contest sponsored by the DeKalb County Watershed Department. Their art will be featured in the department’s 2017 calendar promoting water conservation. Shown with Commissioner Nancy Jester are Audrey, Scarlett and Lindsay.

In December, the 2015-16 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores were released. Last year three schools were removed and six schools added for a net gain of three schools totaling 28.
This year DeKalb Schools is the only metro Atlanta area school with fewer schools than before. DeKalb removed seven schools from the list but added five, for a net decrease of two. Unfortunately the DeKalb County School District still has more schools on the chronically failing list than any other district in the state.

In December the board approved the 2017-2022 E-SPLOST Project List. The project list includes $200+ million for middle and high school capacity additions for schools including Chamblee Charter HS, Clarkston HS, Dunwoody HS, Peachtree MS and a new Brookhaven HS for their new cluster.
Moving forward, in order to support the building improvements, the district’s School Governance Team has been working with Operations to formalize the input of School Councils in the building design process. When a school is approved to have significant construction at the campus, the School Council (or governing board if a conversion charter school) will be informed by the principal and DCSD Operations Division, of the general scope of the project, the project budget, and the related timeline.
The announcement of timing and selection of construction committees for the new Cross Keys HS and major additions of middle and high schools is expected in February.

Interestingly, nobody can tell me how Chamblee Charter HS and Dunwody HS will be better off with these capacity additions. From what I can see, the district will be shoving more students into these schools like sardines with little or no relief to the gym, locker rooms, fields, cafeteria, and other common spaces.

As reported by Decaturish, DeKalb County Schools is suing Atlanta for annexing homes near Emory University. The annexation, approved by the city last year, took in more than 100 residents on 16.31 acres. County leaders have publicly voiced concerns that Emory’s annexation push could prompt other neighborhoods to petition the city.
If Emory is annexed into Atlanta, it is only a matter of time before the adjoining neighborhoods, which contain Druid Hills High School and two other elementary schools, are annexed as well. I go into more detail in Emory Annexation Dominos.  If these areas get annexed, the students within the new City of Atlanta will go to Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and the schools within the new City of Atlanta boundaries will become the property of APS.

In this essay published by the AJC, DeKalb Superintendent Steve Green offers Gov. Nathan Deal suggestions on creating an effective school reform plan. “How do we give students what they need to succeed” is the question Superintendent Green is asking. Dr. Green believes the path to higher academic achievement is “Providing each student – gifted, mentally challenged, expatriated, or burdened by distracting socioeconomic or family needs – with the foundational elements to succeed in schools should be the real issue at the center of new legislation.”
The DeKalb Schools budget has increased by 20% over the last 4 years. Among all the new employees and departments, DeKalb Schools has created a Student Support and Intervention Division to provide “Wrap Around Services” to address the diverse needs of students and families.