Relocating Chamblee Magnets

Would moving the Chamblee magnet program to Southwest DeKalb HS kill the magnet program for Region 1 and Region 2?

The purpose of the Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study is to develop long-term plans for addressing capacity needs of the district’s middle schools and high schools.
Option 2B includes – Chamblee HS: Relocate 650 students (Magnet) to Southwest DeKalb HS
  Pros & Cons
  Cost Estimates
  DeKalb Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study
  Chamblee Magnet Program – Is it moving?
Online Comments
EvanI think there’s a flaw in the thinking around option 2b, in that it assumes that all of the children in the Chamblee magnets will follow the magnet program when it moves 20 miles away.  I suspect that the percentage who choose to do so will be less than 100%, and those that do not choose to do so will end up returning to the schools in their attendance zone, increasing their populations.
Kim – Who benefits from the Magnet being located in differing places. Obviously, Dunwoody residents benefit from it being at CCHS versus say, Avondale or Stone Mountain. But the numbers show that EVEN located at CCHS the majority of the enrollment comes from communities to its south.  I get that moving the DeKalb County High Achievers Magnet for High Achievers from CCHS to really anywhere farther south is a negative impact on transportation for Dunwoody parents. I think it is equally important to consider the improvement it would make for the overwhelming majority of the current enrollment. Let’s agree that wherever it is located will have winners and losers. Right now, yes, Dunwoody is a winner with the current location. That is hard to argue with.
Empirical Data –  There is currently no study on who would be willing to transfer down to SW DeKalb HS if Chamblee moved, so let’s look at the data we do have.  The Non-Resident Attendee Matrices will tell us how many students are currently willing to go to a high achievers magnet across town.

Non-Resident Attendee Matrices
.pdf link icon  ES October 2015
.pdf link icon  MS October 2015
.pdf link icon  HS October 2015

Magnet schools for high achievers
DeKalb County operates six magnet schools for high achievers:

  • Kittredge Magnet School (Region 1)
  • Wadsworth Magnet School (Region 5)
  • Chamblee Middle School (Region 1)
  • Chapel Hill Middle School (Region 4)
  • Chamblee Charter High School (Region 1)
  • Southwest DeKalb High School (Region 4)

Elementary School Summary – Non-Resident Attendee Matrices
These are the number of students from each region that go to Kittredge and Wadsworth magnet programs as of Oct 2015. Looks like very few students from Region 1 & 2 are going South to Wadsworth and very few students from Region 3 & 4 are going North to Kittredge.

Kittredge 321 181 104 23 10 3
Wadsworth 145 1 8 65 52 19
Total 466 182 112 88 62 22

High School Summary – Non-Resident Attendee Matrices
NOTE: These numbers do not reflect the number of students zoned for Chamblee that attend the magnet and zoned for SWD that attend the magnet there. It looks like the high schools tell a different story. Next to nobody from Regions 1 & 2 are willing to go down to Southwest DeKalb High School, while quite a few people from South DeKalb are willing to make the trek up to Region 1. (I think we have our answer)

Chamblee 636 120 223 153 87 53
SW DeKalb 228 0 5 40 82 101
Total 864 120 228 193 169 154

Number of students attending a magnet from each school

Reg High School Chamblee SW DeKalb
1 Chamblee 1
1 Cross Keys 46
1 Dunwoody 74
2 Druid Hills 33 2
2 Lakeside 113
2 Tucker HS 77 3
3 Clarkston 41 9
3 Redan 39 12
3 Stephenson 51 13
3 Stone Mountain 22 6
4 Lithonia 19 20
4 Miller Grove 14 9
4 MLK ,Jr. 36 53
4 SW DeKalb 18
5 Cedar Grove 17 31
5 Columbia 8 24
5 McNair 13 20
5 Towers 15 26

Elementary Schools

Region School Kittredge Wadsworth
1 Ashford Park ES 12
1 Austin ES 18
1 Cary Reynolds ES 5
1 Chesnut ES 14 1
1 Dresden ES 1
1 Dunwoody ES 24
1 Henderson Mill ES 14
1 Hightower ES 3
1 Huntley Hills ES 7
1 Kingsley ES 10
1 Laurel Ridge ES 9
1 Livsey ES 10
1 Montclair ES 1
1 Montgomery ES 29
1 Vanderlyn ES 22
1 Woodward ES 2
2 Avondale ES 1
2 Briar Vista ES 2
2 Briarlake ES 16
2 Brockett ES 6
2 E. L. Miller ES 1
2 Evansdale ES 16 1
2 Fernbank ES 5
2 Hawthorne ES 12
2 Idlewood ES 1 1
2 Jolly ES 2
2 McLendon ES 1
2 Midvale ES 4
2 Oak Grove ES 26
2 Pleasantdale ES 3
2 Sagamore Hills ES 10
2 Smoke Rise ES 2 1
2 Stone Mill ES 1
3 Allgood ES 2 1
3 Browns Mill ES 1 10
3 Chapel Hill ES 8
3 Dunaire ES 2 3
3 Fairington ES 1 2
3 Hambrick ES 3 3
3 Indian Creek ES 2 2
3 Panola Way ES 3
3 Pine Ridge ES 4 4
3 Princeton ES 3 9
3 Redan ES 1 2
3 Rock Chapel ES 6
3 Rockbridge ES 2 3
3 Shadow Rock ES 1 8
3 Stone Mountain ES 1 1
4 Bob Mathis ES 1 6
4 Canby Lane ES 2 4
4 Columbia ES 2
4 Flat Rock ES 4 16
4 Kelley Lake ES 2
4 Murphey Candler ES 6
4 Oak View ES 2 4
4 Peachcrest ES 3
4 Rainbow ES 1
4 Stoneview ES 1 3
4 Woodridge ES 5
5 Cedar Grove ES 2 4
5 Clifton ES 2
5 Flat Shoals ES
5 McNair ES DLA 1 2
5 Meadowview ES 2
5 Rowland ES 4
5 Snapfinger ES 5
5 Toney ES

It is also worth noting that if the Chamblee magnet programs move, there would no longer be any magnet programs West of highway 85. Here are the other magnet programs in the county.
Magnet schools of the arts

  • DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts (Region 2)
  • DeKalb School of the Arts (Region 2)

Other magnet schools

  • Clifton Elementary School (Region 5) – math, science and computer education
  • Evansdale Elementary School – (Region 2) math, science and French
  • Columbia Middle School – (Region 5) math, science and technology
  • Arabia Mountain High School (Region 4) – environment, energy and engineering
  • Columbia High School (Region 5) – math, science and technology

Pros & Cons
Planning and Feasibility Study Options

July 25, 2016 – Committees consisting of steering committee members and two representatives from each of the forty middle and high schools studied and discussed these pros and cons of the four potential options to address current and pending capacity needs.

Cost Estimates
Planning and Feasibility Study Options

July 20, 2016 – Based on 2022 enrollment projections, the Steering Committee discussed these Cost Estimates for the four potential options to address current and pending capacity needs.

DeKalb Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study
July 18, 2016 – The study will identify the challenges and opportunities facing each middle school and high school, determine options to address the needs identified, and prepare regional master plans to implement the options. Here are the problems, the funds and the options.

Chamblee Magnet Program – Is it moving?
July 13, 2016 – Any truth to the rumor of moving the magnet program from Chamblee Middle and Chamblee High? Steering committees discussed the pros and cons of the following four potential options to address current and pending capacity needs.

84 responses to “Relocating Chamblee Magnets

  1. Good information Stan. One thing I would like to know is how many Magnet qualified kids are currently left at the table? We need to look at how to expand the programs before we look at swapping students all around the county so all students qualified receive the same level of instruction. Just as a student does who is designated as gifted. I don’t believe that most people understand the difference in required qualifications and funding for the Magnet and Gifted programs. Maybe it is more of a cluster approach at the elementary and middle school level. My impression so far at Chamblee, which is positive, is that it really does not matter much past 9th grade as classes are mixed, especially AP classes. If I am correct the only teacher at the school funded through the Magnet program is the head German teacher.

  2. Stan Jester

    PatW … good questions. How many people are qualified for the magnet program but don’t get in? What are we doing to expand and replicate the current magnet programs?
    I don’t have any numbers for this year, but last year Pat Copeland, director of the district’s school choice program, said as many as 4,000 students apply each year for about 400 available openings. Here are some of the waiting list numbers for charter schools last year:
    DATE – 317
    DeKalb PATH – 233
    GLOBE – 400
    The Museum School – 437
    What are the required qualifications and funding for the Magnet program? I believe the state funds the school school district for a gifted credentialed teacher that teaches a gifted qualified student in accordance with the QBE Weighted Table. The school district Funds The School House pursuant to the DeKalb Allotment-Master spreadsheet and a Staffing Formula spreadsheet.
    I don’t see any special funding for magnet programs. Generally speaking, magnet programs have more gifted students and will therefore get more funding if they are provided gifted services. Interestingly, Chamblee Charter HS has an alarmingly low number of gifted certified teachers. Principal Sauce and the governance team over there are working on changing that.

  3. Dekalb Inside Out

    Looks like almost half the school district (Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Tucker, Lakeside …) would be the losers if the Chamblee magnet is moved to SW DeKalb.

  4. Seems this idea would place the bulk of magnet programs in the south end of the county. DeKalb School of the Arts (only about 400 students in grades 8-12) uses the entire former Avondale HS. (BTW-Is there a reason the rest of the facility isn’t being used? Seems the capacity is far greater than 400.) Then you have the magnet program at SW DeKalb, which is pretty large. Add to that an entire school – Arabia HS – that is a math/science/engineering magnet not too far from SW DeKalb. Will any magnets be located in the north part of the county is Chamblee moves?

  5. Does anyone really believe moving the DeKalb High Achievers magnet from CCHS to SWDHS is a serious thing? I do not.

  6. How many qualified students are left out? I don’t know the current number but with the current 75 percentile style qualification it’s a LARGE number. At the high school level, that’s over 3,000 qualified in DeKalb while we reach less than a third of that. Regarding funding, yes, gifted certified is the smart way to go and there’s no magic for magnet funding that I’m aware of at all. All “mainstreamed” children should be taught by gifted certified teachers!

  7. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I go back to Nancy’s statement a few posts ago The district administration and many board members have been trying to move the magnet for years. When I was on the board, they really thought they could get the votes to move it to Avondale. I opposed that and the proposal was defeated. Many in the administration would like nothing better than to tear away the magnet program at Chamblee.

  8. There is no high school in the central or north side that could accommodate the magnet program, so if it moves, it will either be to extreme south or it will be dedicated in an unused building. Neither are options if the administration is serious about keeping the magnet program at its current levels.
    The magnet program would fall apart completely if it were moved to south DeKalb simply because of the distance. There are two magnet programs for a reason – to keep parents from being 25 miles from their children in school because DeKalb County is huge. Moving it to an empty building would not work, either, unless it were largely expanded. The magnet program isn’t large enough to sustain the breadth of programs and offerings a high school needs. The magnet kids would end up in an isolated building with fewer options having to bus to other schools for AP classes, sports, and other extra-curriculars that a small, isolated program school could not support. A relatively small, isolated program would not attract good teachers because it could not support full-time teachers for highly specialized classes.
    Build the Doraville middle and high schools, redistrict to balance the central part of the county with the new building, make a decision on how to consolidate in the southern half empty schools, and analyze the next 5-10 years to see if growth projections are accurate.

  9. Hi Stan – agree on the history. My point isn’t that the DeKalb High Achievers Magnet isn’t again being examined for relocation. My point is that SWD is not a viable location and no one is recommending such.

  10. Amy’s comment, “Moving it to an empty building would not work, either, unless it were largely expanded.” Isn’t the second part of this a very good idea? So many want to see so much more from the DeKalb High Achievers magnet programs in terms of reaching more students. That isn’t going to happen if we keep “hiding” it in an attendance area school. It was moved into CCHS to fill an empty school. Now that school isn’t serving the kids who live with a couple of mile of it. That was an inconvenient truth in 2011. Now it’s kind of impossible to defend, isn’t it????? The seats are needed for Chamblee kids. Rather than admit them we’d rather speculate on the new cluster??? We don’t even support our existing clusters with the needed facilities and maintenance. I think we should be very cautious about what everyone seems to find simple and satisfying in Option 1. I see it has warts that I think others will see when they get down to the level of what’s required to realize it.

  11. Stan, It would be interesting to see the attendance zones for the Arabia Mountain High School. Is it able to draw students from all parts of the county?

  12. Kim, the Southwest DeKalb idea is clearly stated in the materials provided by the county because it is the only area with enough empty space to fully accommodate the magnet program without additional building work and expansion.
    I also think one of the reasons why the Chamblee cluster has become more crowded is because the magnet program is located there. The teachers and programs available for the magnet program are largely shared by the entire school, and magnet parents, in general, are extremely involved and effect positive changes for the entire school. If the magnet program is pulled from that area, I think the school population projections will need to be adjusted; growth will not continue at the same rate. The school scores and rankings will be negatively impacted, which will have an effect on the attractiveness of the area to those who aren’t more intimately familiar with the great things going on in the schools and who focus solely on scores.
    Finally, if the magnet program were moved to an empty building and expanded to the point where it would be a viable standalone program, you don’t think there would be even more complaints regarding the additional brain drain from neighborhood schools? I am not opposed to expansion, but it would need to be a large expansion, doubling, possibly even more, to be able to provide the range of offerings we have in even some of our most limited high schools without busing to other schools.
    Expansion of the program has not been discussed by the county or the company it has hired to propose solutions.

  13. Ann, Arabia Mountain does not have an attendance zone. All students must apply, to either the Magnet program or the Career Tech programs or the DeVry program.
    All DCSD students are eligible to apply. However, Arabia Mountain High school draws 1 student from Region 1 and 11 students from Region 2. (Data from Oct. 2015 matrix at )

  14. Amy I know you probably do not want to contemplate the Magnet moving and I hear your valid concerns. So that leaves the question: how do you recommend DCSD solve the problem of regional overcrowding?

  15. Well, for starters, fixing DeKalb’s population distribution problems is not my job, so the fact that I don’t have a perfect solution doesn’t mean that my arguments against moving the magnet program are invalid. As a parent and habitual PTA president/council president/board member, I can speak to school environments, school programs, and the like, but I am not a population data or zoning expert.
    With that said, for 10 years I have thought DeKalb needed to redistrict countywide, but we’ve never had anyone ballsy enough to get it done the right way. I see every year on Facebook friends around the country whose districts undergo redistricting, and there is complaining and moaning, but, in the end, they settle in and are generally okay. Of course, those are districts where the schools are fairly equitable, so it’s not a DeKalb situation. Unfortunately here, you could be redistricted from a brand new school to a school that leaks like a sieve right next door. We have built new schools that didn’t account for population projections, and we have brand new buildings bursting at the seams. We cut corners by hiring awful consultants, and then we try to make decisions with bad data. Then everyone complains so much that nothing gets done. I sat through every Blue Ribbon task force meeting 8 (?) years ago, and those people were scared to death to make anyone upset because the administration kicked the can to parents and community members to do the dirty work.
    I believe with Dan Drake we have started to gather good data and we could probably start with that. I am grateful that Dr. Green has been so responsive to the Cross Keys situation, and I have stood up in meetings in support of the CKHS kids coming to Chamblee next year. Unfortunately, I am hearing that many of the Cross Keys kids are choosing to stay at CKHS rather than leave their friends and familiar territory. To me, this supports the solution of building another high school within the area so that the overcrowded high schools in central DeKalb will have attendance zones close to their schools. With the amount of money our school system has, the number of buildings we have unused, and the construction that goes on every year, there is no excuse for students to spend their entire high school career in a trailer. Admittedly I am not an expert on the latest figures, but if our high schools from Tucker to Lakeside to Cross Keys to Chamblee are overcrowded and projected to become even more so, our solutions are either to shove the outer rings of those communities to the less crowded schools “nearby” (but not really near) or to build onto existing schools within central or to build a new cluster in the area. To me, building new in the area is the best solution because it will at least be a reward to those who get redistricted away from their schools now, and it will be a longer-term solution than band-aids of moving a few hundred kids around here and there.
    Moving the magnet program is not the panacea people make it out to be – it is political and it’s very easy to villify this group to distract from the hard job of closing schools and shifting attendance zones. I speak from having magnet and non-magnet kids, so I understand the different perspectives and have heard every argument for and against for years. If DeKalb wants to keep the magnet program (and the arts school, for that matter), stop using it as a political pawn. It has already survived the removal of ALL of its funding. Either it is a resident program where attendance zone planning takes that into account, or it is a standalone magnet that is large enough to provide opportunities equal to other high schools, or it goes away entirely. I don’t want to see it treated in a DeKalb half-ass manner (like the poor arts school), and that is for the sake of the students, the parents, the teachers, and the administrators.
    So, long story short, I feel like if the overcrowding in central DeKalb is as severe as all of this data and material makes it seem, then a new high school and middle school would not be out of line.

  16. Amy, I think you have summarized it fairly. The proposals that are likely to surface will include options for new HS and MS buildings in the Region 1 with or without a new “cluster.” It will include some kind of significant redistricting by necessity. I have been looking at the data in detail. The seats at CCHS will still be needed even after both new construction and redistricting. The only scenario where that might not be the case is if we over build at all current and planned HSes in the region. That seems not only irresponsible but unlikely simply due to the $$$ required.
    So while you, I and other Magnet parents may not want to contemplate it, we are forced consider the options for the future of the Magnet program. I also agree that it should be expanded or disbanded. Moving to a building that does not house attendance area students _might_ be a way to position it for future expansion and investment. That is where leadership comes in; both from the community and from Dr. Green’s office. There’s no vision for the Magnet and there needs to be.

  17. Stan, would you mind fixing the link to the HS sending and receiving pdf above? The comment code is stripping the hyperlink short due to the unfortunate choice by DCSD to use parentheses in the name. I think everyone should examine this data as part of the dialog.

  18. Stan Jester

    The blog doesn’t like the parenthesis … so I changed it to this
    October 2015 Non Resident Attendees by Sending Area and School Attending (High School)

  19. I believe that these numbers do not represent Magnet only kids at CCHS as many are attending on the charter. The dialog has circled back to what I mentioned in the very first post. The county needs to address the way it administers the Magnet Program and make opportunities available for all qualified not just ones lucky enough to have their ping pong ball make it out of the cage. Any major decisions prior to addressing this would be a huge disservice to our students.

  20. Pat, if anything done by lottery needs to be done away with b/c lotteries are inherently unfair, then there are many academic programs in DeKalb that need to be addressed, not just the magnet program – Montessori, charter, school choice, IB, Coralwood, GLOBE, Tapestry, and more I don’t even know about. Don’t villify the magnet program alone. Again, I say this as a parent with magnet and non-magnet kids in my own home. If you want no more lotteries, then more than the magnet program will be impacted.
    Kim, any relocation of the magnet program to a standalone building would have to include the massive expansion at the same time because just a few hundred kids in a building would not be eligible for enough staff to offer even basic programs, much less the AP programs that the magnet kids are heavily involved in. You cannot disrupt college-bound kids to such a degree that they have to travel to multiple other buildings in the county to get what used to be a basic offering within CCHS. I am not necessarily opposed to a massive expansion of the program, but I do not think it can be done in the time frame that people want to make an impact on our current situation. It would be akin to building and staffing an entirely new school.

  21. Amy, again, I think you have summarized it well with valid points. As for the time frame the recommendations we are all waiting to see put forth on 8/23 are for implementation by 2022/23. I agree any changes would require major investments of more than money.

  22. Good to have the conversation with you, Kim! We used to agree on the old school blog with Cerebration, too. 🙂

  23. I appreciate anyone who engages in good faith efforts to solve these very thorny problems in front of us. So, thank you.
    Civil dialog on the most important civil investments we all make? This must stop. Who are you voting for in the Presidential election, Amy? (rhetorical) 🙂

  24. William Blackwood

    The competitive public high schools in New York City offer what is widely considered to be the best model for promoting and sustaining truly serious, college-preparatory public education that legitimately ranks in the same category as even the top boarding schools (with a much more self-evident element of meritocratic egalitarianism, nota bene). Admission to Stuyvesant, Bronx School of Science, et. al. is based solely on the SHSAT, which is similar to the SSAT used at places like Andover and Exeter. The NYC system enrolls around a million students to DeKalb’s 100,000. No question, however, that the NYC model of “magnet schools” works to depoliticize stuff and thus to efface pretty much the distinction between the private and public spheres. The creation of a single high school in DeKalb based on that kind of model would, needless to say, constitute a profound break with the established way of doing things.

  25. Maybe Time To Go?

    The fact of the matter is that many kids who qualify are left out of the magnet program. These kids in some cases have HIGHER qualifications than some of the kids that are granted entrance into the magnet program. Secondly, the lottery is a stupid and outdated manner of placing kids. If the program cannot accommodate all that apply, then there are three options: 1) Expand the program so that every qualified kid gets in who wants in, 2) Raise the credentials to accommodate the supply, or 3) Get rid of it altogether. It is not fair (and one could argue illegal) to provide some kids services and not others, both of whom qualify. One could argue that the magnet program has outlived its useful life. Given that it was an attempt to encourage desegregation some 40+ years ago, maybe its time for a new model. Today, it has this aura that its the school for the most academically talented kids in the county. Well, there are plenty of kids that are left behind not because of their academic prowess, but because they weren’t lucky enough to have their name drawn out of a hat. That is absolutely ridiculous. Let each neighborhood school satisfy the gifted/high achieving kids in their district and let’s stop busing kids half way across the county so that they can attend a “special” school simply because they won the lottery.

  26. If we get rid of the magnet program, who benefits from that?

  27. The only way to do that would be to rank all of the kids in DeKalb County by x criteria and take the top 400, 500, whatever kids. If you did that, you would get complaints from parents whose kids would have qualified last year but didn’t qualify this year b/c there were more kids above them with better scores even though their score would have gotten them in last year. If there is a magnet program, there will be unhappy kids and unhappy parents. Having someone be unhappy is not a reason to abolish an entire program. Again, if the argument is that lotteries are inherently unfair, then DeKalb will need to abolish magnets, charters, Tapestry, Globe, Montessori, Evansdale’s French program, IB – all of them. You can’t say a lottery is unfair for magnets and then fair for other types of popular programs and schools.
    I have always thought an interesting approach would be to only let kids apply who attend schools that have less than x% of gifted in their home schools (a fair number could be gleaned from studying the county-wide percentages). In other words, if your kid’s home school has a high percentage of gifted, then there’s a good chance that the gifted are already being serviced well at that school. On the other hand, if your child goes to a school where there aren’t very many gifted, then they are way less likely to be served; there are many ways around the laws we have in place to NOT serve gifted kids. That was the situation with one of my kids. The principal did everything she could do to NOT serve the gifted kids; she chose the least involved methods of meeting the state qualifications. At a different school, another of my children had many more gifted kids around her, and the offerings and variety was much better. In this model, the magnets would truly be pulling the kids who are high achievers who aren’t getting the challenge they need at their home school, and spots would not be taken by kids who are already surrounded by bright kids like them at their home school and get plenty of attention to their needs.
    Magnet programs, in general, are becoming more popular in school systems, not less. A large urban/suburban school system like DeKalb (that is in the top 30? in size in the country) should be offering MORE options, not fewer. There should be a more robust and larger arts school a la LaGuardia HS in NYC, there should definitely be a completely engineering-focused program or school a la Bronx Science, and a large vocational education school. There should also be special programs targeted to each sub-community. Something very creative in Clarkston, for example. DeKalb is not equipped to be and cannot run as a neighborhood school system – that is for systems with 20K or fewer. The problem is we are stuck in the middle of how we implement with a variety of programs, but they are not large enough to serve all those who are interested. Expansion, not cutting, should be the go-forward plan.

  28. “Maybe” and Amy, I think you are both right. And, it’s not either/or in my view. In one of the long-ago debates on DeKalb School Watch blog, I got into a pissing match with a CK hater who was blathering about AP offerings at CCHS. We went tit for tat and then they said, “What about AP Calc?” CK offered it. Then they quipped, “What about AP Calc-Multivariate?” When it got down to tacks the only difference in the offering at the time in the two schools was AP Calc-Multivariate. Game, set, match, right? Nonsense. We are talking about perhaps 20 students at that point. We have to stop viewing these type offerings as “all or nothing.”
    Stan asks a great question in who benefits from ending the DeKalb County High Achievers HS Magnet. I think one could look at the sending schools and figure that out pretty quickly. If the 50 kids CKHS sends remained at CK, then perhaps that AP Calc-multivariate actually gets offered, no? And the hundred that return to Lakeside, the eighty to Tucker, etc., what effect would that have on the sending school? It’s hard to imagine a sending school NOT benefitting from the return of dozens of motivated young scholars. I think these are legitimate questions and we need to soberly consider them. There are schools in south DeKalb that send more kids out of their school to “choice” programs that attended my poor old Lakeshore HS 8-12 grades in south Fulton.
    What is an example of us not looking at this as either/or? One of the questions we should add to the mix is how DeKalb manages CTAE. In my view, the programs like Health Sciences (CNA-cert pathway at CKHS) and Dental Science (DA pathway) provide an interesting twist. The 1/2 day programs serve kids from a seven high school region, including transportation. I personally believe that we need to be more creative with our specialty academics like AP and make them available to ALL qualifying and interested kids regardless of where they live. This could be accomplished by having hubs that are inclusive, rather than exclusive.
    I’m rambling at this point. In the debates that are sure to continue to heat up I ask all fair thinkers to not limit themselves to either/or thinking, please! Because it is not either/or. Personally, I have mixed feelings about whether the Magnet should be shuttered, or expanded or become something else that doesn’t even exist today. One thing is clear to me, though. The Magnet status quo can’t hold. So let’s ask the tough questions in good faith and find a new way to serve more students better. How’s that for a slogan?

  29. Kim, So, what conclusion did you come to on DSW? Aside from AP Calc-multivariate, are Cross Keys HS and Chamblee HS programs the same? How would you say the entire Chamblee Magnet feeder program compares to other cluster feeders?

  30. Like most subjects on DSW there is no one, consensus answer. 🙂 For me, having more AP is better than having less AP offerings. CCHS due to the Magnet’s presence will ALWAYS have more stability in AP offerings. The pull of likely AP kids to the Magnet is one of the negative consequences to the sending schools. At one time, CK had only 900 kids and AP offerings were hard to support. So, is the Magnet awesome for those of us with Chamblee attendance area kids that also might want AP? Absolutely. That larger and stable AP offering comes at the cost of some of the sending schools opportunities, though. And it’s not static: each year the number of AP courses offered at attendance area schools like CK will vary highly based on available teaching resources and students who are ready and motivated to enroll. My goal always has been to achieve methods and practices such that any kid who wants to take virtually an AP class can do so.

  31. Again, are we going to shutter every program in DeKalb that is exclusive?
    Kim, the idea that every magnet student would go back to their home schools is a pipe dream. DeKalb is NEVER going to be a system of neighborhood schools. It needs to be managed like the massive urban/suburban system that it is. Neighborhood schools need less centralized management, that is for certain, but a system with 100K students needs all of the specialized programs it offers because economies of scale pretty much dictate that this wide variety of kids will not and cannot be served in neighborhood schools. Maybe something to consider would be cluster programs. Offer a magnet, engineering, arts, IB, language immersion in each cluster.
    I don’t agree with the fact that the magnet status quo can’t hold. First, it vilifies the magnet program alone based on reasons that apply to all other specialty programs with waitlists and that take up space in shared program schools. Second, until DeKalb determines a fair and reasonable path forward, the status quo will have to hold. These are kids, many of whom are just a few years from college. They are on certain paths with certain requirements, and they aren’t pawns in some sort of political game. The ills of DeKalb do not all fall on the magnet program and, if it were abolished tomorrow, the net effect would be negative, not positive.
    As far as programs, just one example is that CCHS offers a nationally-ranked German program with multiple relationships with various German governmental and business entities offering three (maybe four now) exchange and work opportunities. A large number of magnet students are taking AP German sophomore year and take 2 more years of advanced German after that.
    Why isn’t the focus to build others up (massive expansion of the program) instead of tearing others down?

  32. Hi Amy. We don’t really have an argument. My point about “status quo” as nothing to do with whether the program is appropriate or not. My comment is relative to the need for the seats at every level. I’m not vilifying the Magnet program. Stan asked a simple, direct question and I answered it as I see it. The Magnet does help concentrate AP offerings where it is and I think it is self-evident that it drains potential for AP offerings from sending schools. So please don’t say (imply) that I am villying anything. DeKalb High Achievers is wonderful and I personally benefit from it.
    As for German “vertical” in the current alignment, I see no reason for that not to continue in whatever configuration emerges in the region or for it to spread to other regions in any second language focus. I think second language should be mandatory as a developmental matter for our children – science has established that the brain is wired differently with more networks when a child learns more than one language. Again, I have no argument with you on the value of studying second languages.
    We need more HS and MS seats in Region 1 than we have. That’s the issue I have with the seats at CMS and CCHS dedicated to the Magnet. In SPLOST III and IV I advocated for a higher capacity at CCHS to support both the current Magnet and the needs for attendance area growth. The community rejected that idea. Now here we are again. What shall we do?

  33. We are generally in agreement. The magnet program is not causing DeKalb’s capacity problem now, nor is it the key to resolving all of the problems. That is why I am so frustrated. It is only 600 kids. The overcrowding in the region is many times that. Region 1 needs another large high school, another middle school, and probably an elementary school. Henderson Mill Elementary is horrendously overcrowded, and Henderson Middle is, too. The high schools in the north and central regions that send the most kids to CCHS magnet are already overcrowded, so sending them back to their home schools would distribute but exacerbate the problem across the same set of overcrowded schools. A large new high school and redistricting should be a good start. The magnet program needs to live somewhere, and it needs to be central for accessibility.
    I will be interested to see the proposals in late August. Then we will hopefully have a true, accurate picture of the pros and cons of these various options.

  34. Maybe Time To Go?

    Stan – How can you say “Who will it help if we get rid of the magnet program?” Yet, you and your fellow board members have not done ANYTHING in many years to solve the issues associated with the inequities that exist in the system. Time for you all to solve this problem and arrive at an equitable solution. The fact that some kids get pulled and others don’t borders on being illegal – providing services to some children and not to others. That is ultimately your downfall. Unless you all can figure out a way to expand this thing to make it more equitable, take it back to the home schools, or raise the scoring standards to limit the demand, it needs to be blown up. This is the very definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over an over and expecting a different result. Show some leadership here Stan. Use the redistricting to fundamentally change a flawed system.

  35. Just want to make sure you are advocating for this to be applied to all DeKalb programs that currently have a lottery and/or waitlist – magnet, charter, IB, Tapestry, GLOBE, school of the arts, language immersion, STEM?

  36. Maybe Time To Go?

    Stan – How about just offering magnet-like education at the resident schools instead of all this busing? That means smaller classes and separating out gifted education. Looking at your list, arguably the top Elementary schools in your district are Vanderlyn, Austin, Montgomery, and Dunwoody. All score very high to begin with. But Montgomery has 29 at Kittredge, 24 at Dunwoody 22 at Vanderlyn and 18 at Austin. Of course, many in those four schools who qualify for magnet can’t get in because a BUNCH of students in those schools qualify for magnet. Can you imagine even how much stronger those schools would be if they kept those students within the 4 walls of the school? Can you imagine how much less of a social burden it would be for both the kids that are removed and the kids that stay not to be ripped out of a school with all their friends and fellow neighborhood kids? Do you realize that if I have a child at MES, VES, AES, or DES that the odds are much less for one to get into the magnet program? Let’s rethink the entire model here. Let’s not separate the haves and the have nots simply because a name gets drawn.

  37. What does an equitable solution look like?
    What does a magnet-like program at the resident schools look like?

  38. There can’t be a magnet program that is as granular as school-level because so many schools do not have a large enough number of those kids to justify separate classes and programs. I know b/c my kids went to one. They were asked to teach other kids during class, “read ahead”, etc. That is why “sending them back” isn’t always a solution. It’s a solution for adults who think the magnet program is unfair, but it’s not a solution for the kids, who are the real losers.
    Should the magnet program be available to kids from schools that already have a high concentration of gifted and high achievers? Some elementary schools in DeKalb claim 40-50% gifted. A high concentration would assume those kids are being served at those home schools. At least a system that looks at the home school concentation would recognize kids who aren’t being served in their home school.
    I abandoned the notion of a system of neighborhood schools years ago when I truly realized the vast difference in offerings, interests, skills, etc. across this insanely large county system and how that just doesn’t translate to “offer everything in every school”. It just isn’t possible in this “run schools like a business” model. When I grew up, I sat in a gifted class with 10 kids. That just wouldn’t be allowed today because of budgetary constraints.
    Shifting choice programs (notice I am not limiting this just to magnet) to the cluster level *might* be workable, but I would guess some geographic areas are more interested in certain programs than others and, thus, there would be kids who would want to go to another cluster for an offering that is more well-attended. But it would be a good start. It might be large enough to justify the staff, it should be able to support everyone who was interested, and it would not have people driving all over the county.
    The fact is that every magnet program (or highly desirable program of any type) in every school system nationwide has a lottery – Charlotte, Nashville, Baltimore, suburban DC, NYC, LAUSD, and these are just the ones I have friends in that I can think of off the top of my head.
    Maybe if choice programs were expanded and improved, kids who might have just chosen the high achiever magnet program would go elsewhere because their primary interest lies with a particular program, not just general high achiever. If we had a true engineering program, a larger arts program, more language immersion than just GLOBE, more autistic support than just Tapestry, a vocational educational school, then kids would be CHOOSING, not just ESCAPING. Then the high achiever program would be that school that appeals to kids whose interest is primarily academics, sort of like a high-level liberal arts school.
    I think DeKalb is capable of this, I think there are enough skilled and talented students to fill all of these choice programs if expanded, and I think there is enough parent and community support to keep them going. We are one of the largest systems in the entire country.

  39. It would seem that the magnet program, especially at the 4th-6th grade level, is producing the top students in the state, so the model is working. Both Wadsworth and Kittredge are performing well. Dekalb should be investigating how to reproduce this education and absolutely expand the program at all levels.

  40. Maybe Time To Go?

    Stan – You ask me what a magnet-like program at resident schools look like? This is what frustrates me about politicians. Is this not something you’ve thought about? It seems to me like we have politicians – whether in Washington DC or locally – that prioritize arguing with the other side vs. finding solutions. I don’t care if its Democrats vs. Republicans in Congress or North siders vs. South siders in Dekalb County, the fact of the matter is that it’s easier to just argue and go nowhere vs. trying to iron out a solution. That’s a shame. Why can’t the board work together to come up with compromise solutions here? Isn’t that why the school board was blown up a few years ago? Do we still have the same problems?
    A magnet program at resident schools should be simple. Students at residence school should get the same class sizes and the same innovative curriculum that the magnet students get. That way, you don’t need a magnet program – at least not as those high performing schools. There is no reason why a 4th grader in the Vanderlyns, Montgomerys, and Austins of the world need a magnet program. Those schools are equipped to handle and educate the high performing students in their area. Then you don’t split up and yank random 4th graders from their friends. Now, you might argue that there may be a need for a magnet program in lower performing schools or a school that groups high achievers. But someone needs to explain to me why that is needed in high performing schools. And why is it only offered to some? That is blatantly wrong.

  41. Maybe Time To Go?

    Ann Smith – so what about the students whose names aren’t drawn. How is this fair to them? Are they now not the top students in the state simply because their names weren’t drawn? The magnet program creates an aura or an illusion that those chosen for magnet are superior students when, in fact, there are resident students, particularly in the higher performing schools that physically cannot get into the magnet program simply because their names aren’t drawn. And it cascades down to the kids too. Not trying to generalize, but I’ve seen it with my kids in high school, middle school, and even elementary school. Some of the kids in magnet think they are the bees knees and make kids who aren’t selected, but yet still have the scores, feel inferior. It happens all the time and it shouldn’t have to. Its an outdated system that needs to be fixed.

  42. I had written to the consultants listed on the study documentation about my concerns with relocating the magnet program and here is a response from one of them:
    After hearing the feedback from the community, the option to move the magnet programs is no longer on the table. Our recommendation is to leave them where they are. Please feel free to share this with other concerned parents and students.

  43. Well that’s a relief! For a moment I thought DCSD was actually acting on open dialog and open solutioning. This also simplifies the solution domain so we can make quicker, sub-optimal decisions.
    Perhaps your contact can also confirm for us that the current attendance area for CCHS will remain intact. Because as the Magnet is untouchable due to untold value surely we can’t expect anyone to allow themselves to be removed from the cluster, right?
    Heck, while they are at it please ask them to just publish their plan so folks in the region can stay home on 8/23 and 8/25. We all have better things to do than play along with the appearance of public engagement and change, I think.

  44. Maybe time to go,
    You keep talking about a solution for elementary schools with a high number of gifted kids, like Austin, but I don’t see you offering options for schools who don’t have enough gifted kids to create separate classes. So then kids only benefit according to their attendance zones? How it that fair? The school my son attended in grades k-3 offered one hour a day of gifted instruction, and it was pretty much a joke. And this idea that kids are being ripped away from their friends has no place here. It has nothing to do with academic offerings.

  45. How about just offering magnet-like education at the resident schools instead of all this busing? – Different communities tend to need and want different things. I don’t think a one size fits all solution will work for 130+ schools across the county. Stop rationing and expand the programs in high demand seems like a simple and logical solution.

  46. Holly, I inquired with Joshua Williams regarding the communication you shared and here is what I was told in reply. I also verified that it was ok to share this around the community to stop the spread of misinformation. Sorry to say it was a very serious mistake by the consultants.
    “On Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 6:07 PM, Joshua Williams (Operations) wrote:
    Mr. Gokce,
    The email from XXXXX with Educational Planners was completely inaccurate and inappropriate. The District will be presenting options which incorporate the community’s feedback to consider the relocation of the District’s magnet programs, in addition to other strategies to help address the overcrowding concerns throughout the District. Various options will be presented during the upcoming public meetings scheduled to take place on August 23rd (at 6:30 PM at Clarkston HS) and August 25th (at 6:30 PM at Cross Keys HS) for the community to weigh in on which option(s), or combination of options, should be used to develop a final recommendation for the Board’s consideration.
    I apologize for the confusion and assure you that the District is committed to being transparent, collaborative, and open to stakeholder and community input as we work together to develop a recommendation which supports all students and communities. We look forward to your participation and hearing your feedback at the upcoming public meetings.
    Joshua L. Williams, MBA, MSM, PMP
    Chief Operating Officer
    Division of Operations
    DeKalb County School District
    1780 Montreal Road – Tucker, GA 30084
    678-676-1446 (O) | 678-676-1350 (F)
    Our mission is to provide exemplary support services to enhance student growth and achievement.

  47. What’s strange is that they apologize for the confusion and yet do nothing to correct it. I was at the central office for board meetings all day on Monday and nobody said anything. Seems like the board would be a good place to start.

  48. I don’t think they were aware of it until I inquired. Very, very serious mistake by Education Planners… ugh!

  49. Kim, your bias against the magnet program is showing, and it’s ugly. I’m sure you’re hoping for some sort of “thank you” from the county for being the one to show them the consultant’s email.

  50. I don’t see this as highly dramatic an event as others on this blog. I think the consultant apparently erred in sharing the information; I thought it was strange when I first saw it. But I am not surprised that the consultants have begun to (or even completed) making their decision, and I certainly don’t interpret it as any sort of favoritism. As I understand it, the next meetings are their presentation of their recommendation. Presumably that means ONE option that they recommend. If they haven’t started to definitively eliminate options at this point, they are frighteningly behind. So what if they have decided their recommendation doesn’t include relocating the magnets? What if it also doesn’t include using the Briarcliff property? Would that be as shocking? No. Again, any mention of the magnet program whips people up into a frenzy. And why people are assuming that removing the magnet relocation from consideration means bad things for the CKHS and CCHS district is beyond me. You haven’t seen the rest of the recommendation. The consultant’s feedback was about one small part of this big puzzle, and again, I would assume they have already had to eliminate certain things from the plan just to be able to get to a thorough, well-researched and documented presentation in just 2 weeks.
    The drama continues and is exacerbated by people freaking out over non-events.

  51. Amy, we’ll have to disagree on this one – the consultants aren’t there to make the decisions and certainly not there to be the spokespersons for Planning Dept much less DCSD. It is important that “we” believe that DCSD is truly deliberating on all reasonable remedies. The expectation that has been widely set and that I personally hold is that there will be many options to examine and to continue gathering input from the public. If “the fix is in” on certain options as this email explicitly stated, the entire process is a glorious waste of everyone’s time. It also smacks of backroom dealing that we all have despised and decried in DCSD’s past. The consultant state that “… after hearing from the community…” they made their decision. Really? What community? When? The input is _supposed_ to be ongoing through September 10 and based on what DCSD hears from Aug 23 forward, no?
    I think it is far from freaking out to cry “foul” on this consultant’s edict. It’s outrageous. It doesn’t matter to me what the subject was – what matters to me, and I hope you and all reasonable people, is that a consultant is “making decisions” based on some vague referenced “community.” I remain very troubled about the incident and believe it undermines the credibility of the process.

  52. Anon, yes, surely Mr. Williams was appreciative of being told that his hired consultants were making decisions for the Superintendent and he already offered his thanks. The great thing about openness and honesty is that it is free of charge.

  53. Kim, I think you’re being overly dramatic. It is 2 weeks before they are to present their recommendation. They had better have some things eliminated and decided by now. Josh Williams just doesn’t want this coming out before the meeting because they want to present the whole picture and handle the message in its entirety.
    Now if this had come out 6 months ago then, yes, this would have looked like the “fix” was in but not two weeks prior to the presentation. As it stands now, if they didn’t basically have the decision made, I would think they were incompetent. It should take them 2 weeks to finalize their materials for the two meetings later this month.

  54. Kim, you stated, “The consultant state that “… after hearing from the community…” they made their decision. Really? What community? When?”
    As a reminder, the schedule for public input is below. As you can see, there have been TWO full rounds of public input starting in April, so I think EdPlanner can speak confidently to having received input. The input they receive in late August through September 10 is about their AUGUST RECOMMENDATION, not to start the process all over with new suggestions. So, as far as I can see, they are still following the schedule as they laid out and, again, it isn’t surprising that they have eliminated some things from consideration. You are letting your emotions cloud your ability to see that they are following the process they clearly laid out.
    Please see the timeline below:
    Round 1 (Gather input on the challenges and opportunities facing the region)
    Tuesday April 12th at Tucker HS at 6:30pm
    Thursday April 14th at Southwest DeKalb HS at 6:30pm
    Round 2 (Present considerations for public input)
    Tuesday May 10th at Dunwoody HS at 6:30pm
    Thursday May 12th at McNair HS at 6:30pm
    Round 3 (Present Recommended Plan)
    Tuesday, August 23 in the auditorium at Clarkston HS at 6:30pm
    Thursday, August 25 in the gymnasium at Cross Keys HS at 6:30pm
    I will say your response to Anonymous makes you sound a little smug, like you have some inside connection to Mr. Williams, and THAT smacks of a fix being in.

  55. Amy, again we’ll have to disagree. I have been participating every step of the way of the process you’re outlining. And, yes, of course, the options have to be vetted for feasibility in any recommended options. And that is the ultimate point: moving the High Achievers magnet is absolutely a viable option and that is why it has been part of virtually all the major option themes DCSD has been vetting. So, yes, I think it is a problem if it’s arbitrarily pulled from the dialog when so few people have actually been paying attention.
    The Aug meetings are the FIRST time the general community will have the opportunity to weigh in. So I disagree that DCSD has already gathered community input on these options and fully expect the Magnet options of some sort to be in those presentations. We’ll find out together on August 23.

  56. Amy, there was a point of fact published here that was highly questionable in my view. I asked the one person who I know could answer the question definitively. The “inside connection” is his published email and telephone number above. I have been insulted many, many times for simply being direct, committed and honest. So, I’ll take smug if I must to expose the truth of a question. The question was whether or not the “magnet is on the table.” The answer is, “yes.”
    I have been very concerned about people’s expectations and this bit of misinformation was going to have a bunch of people tune out right at the time they should be tuning in. That’s wrong and I’m glad I helped right it – smug or not.

  57. Then you’re right; we will have to agree to disagree on the process. To me, I feel like we’re coming to a close because their final recommendation is coming in 2 weeks, and they have gathered public input 4 times along the way + online feedback surveys for each specific round. They even title August’s meeting as “FINAL PUBLIC MEETING”. To me this means we will have time to provide input on the final recommendation and also potentially lobby the board to follow or not follow the recommendation. It is not, as you said, the first time the public could weigh in. I have weighed in during every phase in person and online.
    You apparently interpret the process to mean that all options are still open throughout the process.
    I equate the magnet relocation option to reopening Briarcliff to adding onto Tucker and Lakeside to opening a Doraville HS. They are all options that have been discussed. Again, I would hope they have narrowed things down by now.
    The only answer the consultant gave was about the magnet program, but it’s likely other options have been eliminated, as well, that just weren’t in that email. Nowhere is there any indication that this was arbitrary. The only reason the email only talked about the magnet program was because that was Ms. Seel’s specific question. I don’t think you would be freaking out if the option the consultant mentioned as eliminated was the Doraville HS.

  58. I would also like to re-iterate that the Round 1 and 2 meetings above where not to bounce ideas off the public – those were the meetings where they asked the communities what ideas they would like to see as part of the consideration. That is how the the magnet “got on the table.” The upcoming Aug meetings are supposed to be the “readout” or synthesis of what they have accumulated from around the sessions in Rounds 1, 2 and in the Steering Committee meetings and focus groups and their own analysis. So, it’s only my opinion but it is my view that we should expect to see scenarios presented where the Magnet is directly affected.

  59. Amy, I agree with you that the “news” today would be equivalent to Briarcliff, or “new Doraville HS” being tabled. And I would also view that as completely unacceptable. Perhaps I am completely misunderstanding the situation but I don’t see how any of these “big rocks” that are under consideration could be eliminated – virtually all of them are needed. At this point we are just debated whether or not I’m emotional, smug, or just have bad judgement. I was stunned by “the news” and it turns out it isn’t actually true.

  60. I read “Present Recommended Plan” to mean that they would be presenting their recommended plan, not multiple plans or options. They already have 3 primary options out there: new cluster, expand existing capacity, maximize existing capacity. My understanding is that they have vetted all of these options with focus groups this summer and will use that input to formulate a recommendation that will be presented in August. The superintendent can then accept that recommendation or modify it before he presents it to the board.
    If your interpretation is accurate and it is still fairly early in the decision process, then I can understand why you would be surprised that they would have eliminated anything.
    My interpretation is that this process is winding down, so hearing that things are being eliminated was not a surprise to me. Thankfully we only have to wait 2 weeks to see what they are going to give us.

  61. Amy, I think your interpretation is perfectly valid. I have a different one. I’ve been in one of those focus groups and have taken away the personal perception that more than one scenario will be presented and THEN they will refine down to a final, consolidated, single recommendation. You are right. We’ll find out in two weeks. I will buy the first round whether I have presumed this incorrectly or not. 🙂

  62. It may have been inaccurate for the consultant to say that moving the magnet program was “off the table” since the district makes the final decisions but I would guess Educational Planners still stand by their recommendation to not move the program. If the district ultimately decides to move the program, it will be against the recommendation of the group that talked to the community in previous meetings and received input directly from concerned parents (including myself).

  63. Holly, I was at those meetings and there was plenty of input related to doing something different with the magnet programs.
    I will say I never heard anyone say move it to SWD — but rather I heard find a centralized location and build a better magnet program. And at least some of these comments came from current Chamblee magnet parents. The program isn’t what it was 15 years ago, heck it isn’t what it was 5 years ago. One centralized true secondary school high achievers program would be a real choice. More and more kids are leaving the magnet program because they can find what they need at their home high schools.

  64. Given the demand, how about add a centralized program?

  65. Stan, good question. I think many readers may not understand what DeKalb High Achievers actually consists of at the HS level. If you frame the question with that defined, you might get feedback from folks who otherwise don’t chime in.

  66. No offense to those who have children in the high achiever magnets but the original gifted magnet program required applicants to score in the 99th percentile which was later lowered to 96th. It was not the 75th percentile which is the current standard (a 75 being average by other academic measures). DeKalb does a poor job of meeting the needs of the students at both ends of the spectrum (truly gifted as well as those with special learning needs). With the current lottery process, students who are truly gifted often are unable to attend the magnet while peers with lower criteria get the luck of the draw. The Blue Ribbon Task Force recommended either giving every elementary school the same resources as Kittredge or creating a Kittredge in each region. Wonder what the district would be like if their recommendations had been heeded.
    At both community input meetings I attended, groups recommended moving the high achiever magnets to parts of the county where there were empty seats to free up seats in the overcrowded regions. As a parent of kids who have and have not benefitted from the magnet, if you are invested in the program, you will go wherever it is and find a way to make it work – those in other magnets and charters (Arabia, DSA, DESA, Globe, etc) make it happen. Why should the high achiever program be any different? Unlike the charters, the county pays for/provides a shuttle for the magnets.
    As for the high school high achiever programs, high schools have the advantage of having other options: AP classes, joint enrollment, IB, and move on when ready so the need for a high achiever magnet may not be as crucial and parents are more willing to return to their home high school. That being said, the county doesn’t have the guts to move the high achiever magnets. They remain afraid to make hard decisions related to the high achiever magnets.

  67. I get so sick of the hate spewed at what amounts to a group of children who are taking advantage of an opportunity, completely legal and moral, offered to them within this county, and I also get so sick of the hate spewed at them for wanting to continue in a program that has served them well. Why do people want to tear something down that works instead of building it up? This is how DeKalb stays status quo. It pits parent against parent and lets a discussion about COUNTYWIDE REDISTRICTING that has been needed for 10 years devolve into an attack on what amounts to 600 kids out of 100,000. Let me tell you, the 600 kids in this program are not the cause of the major ills in this county.
    CCHS and the Chamblee area have been HELPED by the magnet program to this point. Does something need to be done about the overcrowding now that the magnet program and its ripple effect on the high school have drawn more families into the region? Yes. Does that justify tearing down the program and criticizing the parents and families within and wanting nothing but to take that away from them? No.
    Everyone assumes participation in the magnet is some program of perfection where children are picked up from their homes on magic carpets and transported to magical fairy land. No, there are parents like me who have magnet and non-magnet kids who struggle with transportation and inability to participate in after school activities and juggling multiple schools while managing our own jobs and lives because we are doing what we think is best for our children who were not being served in our home schools, despite our having dedicated hundreds of hours to those home schools in an effort to stay there. It’s easy to sit behind your computer screen and imagine magnet parents as spoiled parents with spoiled kids, but that isn’t the case. They are kids just like every other kid around the county whose programs have been cut, whose buildings leak, who have parts of their programs cut without notice, who have teacher vacancies, who have long-term sub problems, who are making lifelong friends, and who are doing their best to learn in a challenging county level environment.
    This county is plenty big enough for a much larger program. I don’t have a child in the arts school, but I advocate for its expansion instead of whining about how entitled they are to have tiny class sizes (much smaller than the magnet). No, as someone who has zero connection to the school besides friends, I want the BEST for those kids, and every kid in every neighborhood school and specialty program in the county. I don’t hold any anger for the kids who got in when my kid didn’t. I want them to succeed, and I continue to do my best on the neighborhood school level while being realistic and knowing that DeKalb County is too large to be a system without specialty programs.
    I support expansion of the programs that work and are successful. I support the building or renovation of a new large high school to support the massive overcrowding in central DeKalb, and I support the countywide redistricting that needs to be a result of that. Like it or not, the magnet program is not the devil you like to make it out to be, and I will never understand why it alone is criticized and argued about over all of the other specialty programs and schools that receive extra funding, have smaller classes, have large lotteries, and have plenty of people who have been rejected from them. It is the easy and lazy way out to focus on the magnet when there are thousands of kids not getting their names drawn for other programs, too.

  68. I don’t believe Magnet programs were ever strictly for gifted students. So, I don’t think it’s accurate to conflate the eligibility for the Magnet Program and eligibility for Gifted Status.
    Magnet Program – In an effort to desegregate schools and attract students of all races across housing lines, in 1989 magnet programs were established in DeKalb at centrally located schools. By having a relatively low bar from day one, parents from across the county entered the lottery and freely chose to integrate.
    Gifted Students – Georgia Department of Education Rule 160-4-2-.38 defines the eligibility for gifted status. That includes but not limited to Grades K-2 must be in the 99th% percentile composite score on a nationally age normed mental ability test. Grades 3-12 must be in the 96th percentile composite score on a nationally age normed mental ability test.
    If you are invested in the program, you will go wherever it is – The opposite of that seems to be the case. The chart shows that while hundreds of students from Region 1 don’t get into the high achievers magnet program at Chamblee, none of them are willing to go to South DeKalb for it.

  69. Amy, you are right. The DeKalb High Achievers Magnet has been a lightning rod for criticism for a long time and a political flashpoint. There is an option for countywide redistricting that would take this off the table in this current process. Everyone looks at it and says it is DOA because it would require moving kids from central DeKalb to south DeKalb attendance areas to create space for Druid Hills and Lakeside kids so Chamblee and Cross Keys could move into those schools so Dunwoody kids could move into Chamblee area schools. How’s that sound? To everyone I’ve heard comment so far that is 100% not supportable.
    That’s my problem – no one wants any change and yet change must come. So while I’ll agree with you that redistricting alone could solve the problem. But it seems there’s not a soul willing to advocate for it.
    If then we have to “solve the problem” within more or less Region 1 and 2, the question for our communities, especially in Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, Tucker and unincorporated DeKalb of Lakeside area, is what do we want our region’s public education MS and HS infrastructure to be in the next 5-25 years.
    There is a lot of “hate” for the Magnet but that’s not really productive and neither is insisting that the only option is no change. I’m still waiting for someone to put forth an alternative that solves the regional problem and does not leave some kids with the “short stick” again.

  70. Stan, you must realize that the choice of SWDHS vs CCHS is a red herring. Of course there are very few souls who would travel from our Region 1 neighborhoods to SWDHS for High Achievers. I think a more interesting question is where would they be willing to travel to?
    Is CMS too far at one block away? Is Briarcliff too far at 3mi away? Is Stn Mountain or Avondale too far? I think many families in Chamblee, Tucker, BuHi area (aka Cross Keys), Lakeside, Druid Hills and all other feeders south of Dunwoody might not find these destinations so bad at all.
    If I live Perimeter North or in Dunwoody, do I want it anywhere else other than Chamblee or closer? Absolutely not.

  71. I wouldn’t characterize “Relocating 650 magnet students to Southwest DeKalb HS” as a red herring. I would characterize it as Option 2B.
    The data and history suggest that the further South the magnet is, the fewer people from Region 1 & 2 will be willing to make the trek. Given the high demand for high achiever programs, making access to these programs more difficult is not the direction I would like to see us go.

  72. Stan, “Option 2b,” as published here doesn’t exist. If SWDHS ends up being revealed as an option for HA on August 23, I’ll eat my hat and post it on YouTube.
    I agree that people want to minimize their travel time to/from their school site. That is uncontroversial to me. You’ve nailed it with “the further South the magnet is” … but what is too far and for whom? I don’t think there is a homogenous answer for all of Region 1 and 2.
    All I want is for an open and fair discussion of the question. All we seem to get is haters and boosters arguing about the benefits/demerits of current location and program. That is a decade long and tiring debate (and unproductive).
    The only question that is relevant to the current Secondary School planning is whether or not it makes sense to consider a move at all. I think it is reasonable to consider and unreasonable to suggest the other side of the moon (SWDHS).

  73. Maybe Time To Go?

    You do realize that once magnet leave CCHS, all the AP classes go with it? CCHS will be like any other high school in the county – offering a minimal number of AP courses.

  74. Minimal? Which ones go away beside AP Calc-Multivariate edition? This is getting down to facts of the matter. And the facts of the matter (at least as of my last check a few years back) the AP offerings at surrounding HSes are on par. Cross Keys, particularly, has struggle in recent years due to enrolment levels dropping as low as 980 in 2009/10. The key is to have a large enough enrollment of kids to generate demand. Anyway, in a static analysis “losing AP” sounds feasible. The trouble is that it isn’t a static reality. A robust offering of AP can be accomplished at any HS with enough enrollment. How much is enough? Great question. On average, I think it’s fair to say that the 75th percentile isn’t a bad reference for possible AP interested students. So, for every thousand kids there might be 250 possible AP interested kids. Is that enough? Probably not to offer all the combinations such kids would like to take. So we need more kids. And not only more kids but enough kids to justify offering two or three instances of that AP offering, no? So really any average high school that is below 2,000 enrollment is at a disadvantage. Guess what? That’s virtually every HS in DeKalb. We have a broken model with our “neighborhood scale” high schools. North Gwinnett HS has around 3,400 kids and they had up to 85% of the enrollment in one or more AP classes. Size matters. All things equal, AP offerings can happen at any school that has enough kids.

  75. More students doesn’t necessarily mean more AP classes. You need more people who are going to be interested in AP classes. I think “Maybe Time To Go” is saying that taking the magnet students out will most likely eliminate the more specialized and higher-level AP classes that are able to be supported by the concentration of higher level students that the magnet program brings to the school. At last count, CCHS offers 23 AP courses. I have no idea how this compares to other high schools, but I know that some of the more advanced courses have multiple offerings.

  76. Amy, I totally agree and viewed the comment in that light. What I am saying is that this isn’t the only way to accomplish the goal. This point just becomes a two-edged argument for (if you are CCHS) or against (if you are a school sending your AP kids to CCHS). I know this is a tired, old argument but I think it is obvious that kids at CCHS benefit from the Magnet’s presence. That’s really not in dispute.

  77. Right, so CCHS supporters are trying to ensure that any moves made by the county don’t degrade the experience for the kids who are there. DeKalb is capable of lifting those who need it without tearing down others. That is the fear – that the county helping others automatically means hurting them because of the hate they get from others in the district, as if there needs to be retribution on the magnet kids for having had something they didn’t. The hate for the magnet program is going to have to turn into a more cooperative spirit for magnet parents to trust that others’ goal is not to just get rid of it.
    I trust the more forward-thinking members of our school administration to come up with a solution that improves the situation for the thousands of students who need it without diminishing the opportunities for the kids who are already on a clear path. I say this knowing there is a lot of RAISING to be done for members of our community. While the AP offerings might be fairly consistent across high schools (although even a difference of 4-5 offerings makes a big difference), the “living conditions” are not. DeKalb owes it to offer a core safe, accessible, consistent educational experience to all of our kids. That doesn’t mean the kids in the magnet program or any of the other tens of specialized program are the evil guys; there doesn’t always have to be a villain.
    Again, I am cautiously optimistic that the powers that be will work to raise kids and teachers up without having to push others down.

  78. That all sounds great but does that mean creating a Magnet HS is or isn’t a good future approach?

  79. That may have sounded curt and i don’t mean to be. Ignoring my own “High Achiever” at the dinner table – bad role modelling. ..

  80. I was going to say – that sounded snippy. 😉 Because I don’t see the magnet program as the cause or cure for the overcrowding, I don’t see the urgency. I think resolving the overcrowding problem is very high priority. I think lumping in an entire reworking of the magnet program is muddying the waters and creating more havoc than it will resolve. I am not opposed to leaving the magnet as-is or creating a magnet high school as long as it offers the same breadth and depth of academic and other opportunities.

  81. That’s way too reasonable. I’m offended. 🙂
    I think the final analysis will include the very serious question regarding kids who live in Chamblee and basically are denied access to Chamblee. What I mean to say is that all the arguments that support the value of the presence of the Magnet at CCHS are valid and I understand the resistance to change.
    Now we are in a situation where soon there will be no seats for kids who live within a mile or two of the school. And this is right in the middle of clusters that are all already over capacity. I personally am not “picking” or “hating” on the Magnet but I do see the big picture demanding that we ask if there’s a way to preserve it and still provide seats needed for attendance area kids. None of the proposals I’ve seen seem to even come close without affecting the “Magnet seats” at CCHS and CMS.
    The best guess I have (since the data isn’t published for CCHS area students) is that something along the lines 75-100 attendance area kids were in the HS Magnet last year along with 645 other HS kids from every corner of DeKalb. That’s half the enrolment and alone more than was the total population just a few years ago. This is putting attendance area kids from Chamblee zone in competition with Magnet students for seats. When the trailers come who are we going to put in them? When those are full who are we going to district to Cross Keys or a future Doraville HS?
    Isn’t this begging for a dedicated facility? I think it is. And I don’t care if it’s CCHS or SWDHS or anywhere in between. I am a property owner in Ashford Park (CCHS) and in HillsDale (CKHS) in Brookhaven with a kid in the Magnet. I’m following the darn thing to Timbuktu, if needed.

  82. That 645 number is probably charter and magnet combined and I bet the 75-100 number is closer to 150. My two older students were/are resident gifted but never did magnet high achievers program but had classes with them. One has been able to take advantage of the science offerings at Fernbank. There is really no quantifiable funding for the magnet program that I can see and the teachers at CCHS are not tied to it if it moves. The charter at CCHS was just renewed and started a new five year run 1 July. Many of the current out of area students could apply to stay through the charter.
    FYI, Multivariable is not an AP class at CCHS. My resident ’16 grad took it this past year. The highest AP math is Calc B/C. My resident ’18 kid is in it now. Only has one section of about 20 students this year and would probably not be able to be supported without the Magnet population unless they did a combo type class. Other than that AP Govt seems to be the only other one that struggles for numbers. There is no Gifted or Magnet requirement to take AP. The biggest issue if the magnet is moved is finding someone to administer the program. My impression at Chamblee is that the AP for Instruction and the Head Counselor are probably the only two that know how to code and balance Magnet and Resident Gifted/Accelerated and that the county would not know where to put their pen to paper. I think the SWD proposal is so “out there” for a reason but that the option had to be there.

  83. Expand magnet!!

    Do this – if you have to move the magnet out of CCHS, expand the program to let in the resident qualifying kids in CCHS district whose parents bought houses there due to the access to CCHS magnet classes. It gives the resident gifted/high achieving Chamblee kids the option to join magnet and still gives them the ability to take advantage of the magnet classes they would be losing if magnet moves.