Final Recommendation – Secondary Feasibility Study

The strategic focus of the Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study is to address overcrowding in these North DeKalb clusters:

  • Dunwoody
  • Chamblee
  • Cross Keys
  • Lakeside
  • Tucker
  • Druid Hills
  • Clarkston

Stakeholder Engagement
• Public Meetings (Aug 23 and Aug 25): Approximately 700 attendees
• Online Survey: More than 6,000 responses
• Formal Letter Responses from School Councils, PTAs, and Foundations: 20 school organizations
Major Themes
• Opposition to split feeders (keep one‐to‐one feeder patterns)
• Concern over budget constraints
• Anxiety over potential future redistricting
• Consensus to keep Chamblee magnet programs at current locations
• Except Chamblee/Cross Keys clusters, all other clusters asked to keep existing attendance areas intact
Note: The original Key Takeaway from stakeholder engagement was “keep communities intact”. This new theme better supports the final recommendation.

Recommended Plan To Address Overcrowding
Option B

(without the split feeders)

• Re‐cluster existing Chamblee and Cross Keys Clusters
• Build a new 2,500 seat Cross Keys HS at Briarcliff site (or “cost‐neutral” location in Brookhaven area)
• Convert existing Cross Keys HS to new 1,500 seat Cross Keys MS (classroom addition is required)
• Build new 600 seat addition at the existing Chamblee HS (2,400‐seat capacity)
• Sequoyah MS and Chamblee MS will serve as a Chamblee cluster middle schools
• Build new additions in Dunwoody cluster:
• 600 seats at Dunwoody HS (2,100‐seat capacity)
• 450 seats at Peachtree MS (1,700‐seat capacity)
• Build new 750 seat addition at Lakeside HS (2,500‐seat capacity)
• Build new additions in Clarkston cluster:
• 650 seats at Clarkston HS (1,925‐seat capacity)
• 300 seat at Freedom MS (1,675‐seat capacity)
• Build new auditorium at Cedar Grove HS
Total estimated cost: $205 million


Five regional meetings to discus and gather feedback related to the development of the 2017‐2022 E‐SPLOST V project list.
Oct 4 – 18, 2016
Each public hearing will be at 7 p.m. at the following locations:
• Oct. 4, 2016 at Tucker High School (Region 2)
• Oct. 11, 2016 at Miller Grove High School (Region 4)
• Oct. 13, 2016 at Chamblee High School (Region 1)
• Oct. 17, 2016 at Columbia High School (Region 5)
• Oct. 18, 2016 at Stone Mountain High School (Region 3)
Oct 4 – 24, 2016
• Online Survey on draft E-SPLOST project list
Nov 7, 2016
• Board COW discussion on E-SPLOST project list
Dec 5, 2016
• Formal Board approval of E-SPLOST project list

37 responses to “Final Recommendation – Secondary Feasibility Study

  1. With the county’s aging infrastructure in the news and yesterday’s traffic jam on my mind, I can’t help but think that the school system has put the cart before the horse in producing a “final recommendation”.
    Why not first hire an independent, unbiased professional to determine what building projects are actually feasible for the system, beneficial for students, and cost-effective for tax payers, and then engage the stakeholders to ask for their input once they are armed with the facts? This process seems to be flawed, though appreciated by the 6,000 who filled out the online survey, the 700 who attended input sessions, and the 20 school groups who provided input.

  2. I took this picture down the street from Dunwoody High School earlier this week. The students start showing up an hour before school starts to get a parking space on the street. They then sit in their car and sleep, eat breakfast, play on their phone, etc … until school starts.
    I’m not aware of the school district having any conversations with any of the cities or the county regarding street parking and/or traffic. There have allegedly been some studies on the feasibility of adding seats to the schools, but I haven’t seen any documentation.

  3. The recommended plan seems extremely short-sighted. It essentially maxes out capacity of all of the schools with additions now. In the future, when growth demands another high school (in Doraville), property will be even more expensive. Better to buy the property now when it is is cheaper and then add on to existing schools when future demand warrants it because land acquisition is never going to get easier. But he–people don’t want to redistrict so let’s just go with a plan that wasn’t even presented as an option….

  4. allegra johnson

    I believe many of those students you see in the morning are not trying to park but are arriving early to have extra time with their teachers who are dedicated to assisting our students with academic success. Kudos to those DHS teachers who make the extra effort to come early. Also the many extracurricular clubs that have 7:15am meetings. My son personally is a member of 3 clubs with the early start time.There is a parking issue, agreed, but lets share all the facts.

  5. I hope DCSD will release the engineer’s results immediately. If this process was truly transparent and I could see with my own eyes the engineer’s explanation as to how the extra seats and common space expansions will fit on the LHS campus, I wouldn’t be so concerned. I would, of course, still be distressed about the dismal traffic situation on Briarcliff Road, though.
    Stan, who at DCSD thinks a land-locked school like LHS should be expanded, instead of looking at redistricting? LHS had the largest enrollment on any DCSD school last year. Don’t the 400 kids who live 5-7 miles from LHS have a school closer to them? What is the big fear of split feeders? How can DCSD look at their own data and <conclude that a high school in the Doraville area is unwarranted?

  6. Allegra,
    Walk down Vanderlyn Dr about 7:15 or so. The street is lined with cars with high school students in there sleeping, eating breakfast, playing with their phones and talking to their friends. I’ve been walking that street at 7:25 am for 5 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.
    That does bring up a good point. What are they really doing there and why. I’ll try and get up early, knock on their windows and voir dire some of the students … without scaring the crap out of them at 7:15 in the morning.

  7. Stuffed ballots

    Well, Cross Keys gets their shiny new high school and the rest of us pay for it with costly additions and more traffic. What was an easy fix with a new high school in Doraville becomes inefficient additions at every school. Once again DeKalb County proves its incompetence. I won’t be dealing with it. House goes up for sale next week.

  8. LHS, along with its feeder schools have been meeting and taking this very seriously. If you read the letter this cluster sent to the board you can see that maintaining our community and not split feeding were priorities, overwhelming majority.

  9. Well, the planners have spoken. AB, it looks as if the LHS wish list was not entirely honored, with students from both Henderson and Lakeside being moved to the new Cross Keys High.
    I am having trouble reconciling one figure in particular. The recommendation has both Sequoyah and Chamblee Middles feeding into Chamblee Charter High in 2022, and I’m able to somewhat reconcile those projected figures. However, the only middle school feeder I can see coming into the new Cross Keys High in the recommendation data is Cross Keys Middle. The projected 2022 enrollment for Cross Keys Middle is 1,450 and 2,486 for Cross Keys High, a difference of over 1,000 students. Where are the other 1,000 students that will be feeding into the new Cross Keys High coming from? I can’t see that there is any other middle school feeder for that cluster in the recommendation. What am I missing?

  10. Middle school has 3 grades and high school has 4 grades.

  11. So, that makes sense in the Chamblee cluster scenario (difference of 400 students between middle and high), but for Cross Keys, you’re saying that one grade is over 40% of the entire school population (over 1,000 students in a 2,400 seat high school?

  12. You’d have to ask Dan Drake, DeKalb Schools Director of Planning and SPLOST Programming. He asked people to email him with any questions like that. You can find his email address on the dekalb schools online staff directory.

  13. Survey Says- the Chamblee and New Cross Keys feeder patterns will only work if some of the CMS/SMS students then go on to the New Cross Keys High School. So looks like there isn’t going to be 1 to 1 feeder pattern for at least some students. I would assume that some Sequoyah student might go on to the New Cross Keys High. Otherwise, Chamblee High would have more students and Cross Keys would have fewer based on the middle school numbers. the 4 grades vs. 3 grades doesn’t fully explain it.

  14. Abigail Carlton

    To be fair about the kids in their cars: Unless they are doing Fernbank or Move on When Ready or going straight to work, they don’t really need their cars, they just want them. There is a perfectly decent bus service provided by the county. It’s safer than driving, if less comfy. So, I find it hard to feel too bad for them.

  15. Abigail, I’m right there with you. It may not be “cool” to ride the bus to/from high school but it has to be better than getting to school that early just to get a parking spot. The county provides transportation, it is not obligated to provide parking spaces for students who want (but do not need) to drive. I honestly don’t believe all those kids are there that early for clubs or academic help.

  16. And, like they do around Lakeside HS, the neighborhoods can petition for no parking signs. I’m concerned these parking issues are just symptoms of a larger problem … that the high school campus and surround infrastructure can’t handle the increasing student population.
    This is surely not a scalable solution. What do we do in 7 years when the high school is over capacity again? We can’t keeping adding 600 seats to DHS ever 5 to 10 years.

  17. I’d like to see Dan Drake’s best guess at what the new school zone lines would look like if the new high school is built at Briarcliff. Is that a reasonable request, Stan, or would that cause too much redistricting talk this early in the process (presumably redistricting wouldn’t happen for 3 years?)

  18. It would be too speculative. They aren’t going anywhere near that until a year before the school opens.

  19. Good laugh for the night ” school bus is safer!” FYI 1. There are NO seatbelts on the bus. 2. NOTHING good ever happens on the bus!
    And, if THAT is your biggest concern in all the “Reclustering” I think you have missed the point in all this. Just add more seats,; ugh it DOESN’T work people; never has, never will!

  20. @stuffed ballots, I am guessing that you are moving children on the north side of Dunwoody to the new HS in Doraville? Or the South side? Just wondering why you are so quick to move Dunwoody students to Doraville. Where are you imagining the students are pulled from? My guess is that you are thinking of Chesnut, Kingsley or even Hightower. We live in the City of Dunwoody and we are in the high growth area of town now. Hightower is a part of our cluster. Check your data.
    Your post:
    Well, Cross Keys gets their shiny new high school and the rest of us pay for it with costly additions and more traffic. What was an easy fix with a new high school in Doraville becomes inefficient additions at every school. Once again DeKalb County proves its incompetence. I won’t be dealing with it. House goes up for sale next week.

  21. Stuffed ballots

    Jane – I know this is going to be shocking to you, but people do live in places other than Dunwoody. Including me.

  22. I think the risk of this plan is that it hasn’t made any of the areas previously unattractive to middle/upper middle class families any more attractive. Areas in the Ashford Park and Sagamore school zones (which will probably feed into the new CKHS) may get less consideration from such families now.
    I know when we were looking to relocate last year, we seriously considered both of these schools for our kids. Great locations inside I285, nice communities, and good elementary, middle, and high schools that were diverse (economically and racially). I think if I were buying today, I probably would not give these two areas the same consideration. The elementary schools are still good, but they will feed into a middle and high school that is much less diverse, because incorporating these two schools will not do much to shift the demographics of Cross Keys.
    One person thinking this way is not a problem. If more and more people come to the same conclusion, and I think many will, then we are in trouble. In the long run this will lead to less diversity.

  23. DeKalb Inside Out

    Right now we have a Cross Keys Cluster and a Chamblee Cluster. The final recommendation is to split each of those in half and swap halves … at least that’s what I’m picking up on. Those properties in the Cross Keys cluster right now would arguably become more desirable and those properties in the current Chamblee cluster will probably become less desirable.

  24. DIO, Stan’s best guess was that the north part of the existing CKHS zone would go to Dunwoody HS and Chamblee HS, and the southern part of the existing CKHS zone would go to the new CKHS at Briarcliff. Presumably this means the southern part of the existing Chamblee HS would also go to CKHS?
    There is no question that CKHS and CCHS are bearing the brunt of this massive project. The disruption is nowhere near equitable. That bothers me, but what’s done is done.

  25. Strange … the school system says “Build new 750 seat addition at Lakeside HS (2,500‐seat capacity)” … but according to the chart presented by AM in the comments here, the current enrollment is at least 2,042 (resident students — do we need to add transfer students? Not sure of the actual current enrollment right now at Lakeside). Add 750 to this number and the new capacity will be 2,792. Wowsa!!

  26. From the handouts it looks like the way this will work is that Ashford Park (350 from CHHS), Woodward, Montclair, Sagamore (250 from LHS), the new John Lewis ES, and maybe a portion of Dresden will go to CKHS. So 600 students from two diverse elementary schools will go into a high school where the other 1800+ kids are mostly Hispanic and poor. Even if most of those 600 decide to go to CKHS (instead of private school or moving elsewhere), it won’t move the needle enough to help that area become more desirable.
    Cary Reynolds (400 from CKHS), Montgomery, Huntley Hills, and Kittridge will probably go to CHHS. The students from CRES (276) and DES (183) that were zone into CHHS this year will probably stay there. You have two strong feeders in this cluster, which could help. But I agree with you that this area might become less desirable.
    If we really wanted to balance things then Dunwoody and the rest of Lakeside should be considered. There are 8 really good elementary schools among these 4 clusters that could be balanced against the 6 current (8 if we count the new JLES and the other new ES) less desirable elementary schools. The attendance zones might look a little funky though…

  27. I think they add 750 seats to Lakeside but take away trailers. So it adds 750 hard seats but not 750 new students.
    As for Chamblee and CKHS bearing the brunt of redistricting, that would certainly be true with the proposed plan. As for effects on demography, I believe the effect would be to make Chamblee High more Latino and less white and to make CKHS more white and less Latino. Based on the demographic changes and just the burden of significant redistricting, we may see a lot of resistance out of current Chamblee cluster (especially out of Ashfor Park ES which will surely got to CKHS cluster).
    My issue with the plan is that real estate in North DeKalb is not going to get cheaper and we will certainly need a Doraville high school down the line. So the county should bite the bullet and build the school now which will be cheaper in the long run. They can add seats to the other schools in the future if needed with no land acquisition costs when prices are higher. That would be a better long-term plan IMHO.

  28. I think LHS is tentatively slated to lose 250 students to the new high school.
    If lines are drawn for racial balancing, there will be an uproar, as that was not stated as a goal and is pretty much impossible to do countywide in DeKalb County. Did the Cross Keys community have an issue with their demographics or the fact that they were jammed into an old building and had too many trailers? I thought it was the latter.
    No idea on why Doraville wasn’t considered as strongly as a Briarcliff site, but it seemed to be eliminated pretty quickly.
    CCHS’s demographics, according to the state DOE website, are: 40% black, 31% white, 14% Hispanic, 12% Asian.

  29. Amy, this editorial will give you a sneak peak into how we’ve gotten to this point with the planning study.

  30. Sounds about right! We could have saved everyone’s time, effort, and stress in this entire study and just gone to Kim and asked him what he wanted. Then we would have all of the money we spent on the consultants to fix up the schools that need it.

  31. Stan,
    Is the cost of the Cedar Grove High School auditorium included in the $205 total?
    Also, in another post you state that DCSD has an operating surplus of almost $400M. Can the BOE use these funds for construction, or is this strictly for operations?
    Thank you.

  32. Joshua Williams Dekalb Schools Chief Operating Officer

    sent via email
    Question: The final recommendation estimated 1,200 students at Cross Keys middle (400 students per grade), and 2000 students at Cross Keys HS (500/grade) – where are those extra 100 students per grade coming from at Cross Keys HS?
    Answer: The final recommendation estimates 1,450 students at Cross Keys Middle and 2,486 students at Cross Keys HS. In some areas, we see an increase in high school students (students per grade) as compared to middle school students. For instance, in the Cross Keys cluster, we see students re-turning from the International Student Center (7th and 8th grades) and PATH Academy that attend their neighborhood school in 9th grade at Cross Keys HS.

  33. Mr. Williams,
    You mentioned that students returning from the International Student Center and PATH Academy for high school were a factor in estimating the size of the new Cross Keys High School.
    Were these returning students also factored in to the seats needed at Chamblee Charter High School? It is my understanding that students in the International Student Center and PATH Academy may reside in the zones that will remain with Sequoyah MS, and thus feed into CCHS per the DCSD plan.
    Thank you.

  34. Yes, this is true. Most of those kids will be going to Chamblee under the new re districting. And then they will move magnet out of Chamblee because there will be no more seats. Where might those seats be? Hmmmm….maybe the new Cross Keys?!? These Chamblee parents who were so hell bent on keeping the magnet program at all costs, have likely dug their own grave. Without the magnet, Chamblee will lose anyone west of Peachtree and ultimately become Cross Keys 2. This was a scam and people bought into it. I am amazed at how easily the wool was pulled over some people’s eyes by some politically savvy Cross Keys foundation people.

  35. The question came up again, and I did some more analysis that I wanted to share with you…
    Question: The final recommendation estimated 1,200 students at Cross Keys middle (400 students per grade), and 2000 students at Cross Keys HS (500/grade) – where are those extra 100 students per grade coming from at Cross Keys HS?
    Answer from Joshua Williams:

    The final recommendation estimates 1,450 students at Cross Keys Middle and 2,486 students at Cross Keys HS. In some areas, we see an increase in high school students (students per grade) as compared to middle school students. For instance, in the Cross Keys cluster, we see students re-turning from the International Student Center (7th and 8th grades) and PATH Academy that attend their neighborhood school in 9th grade at Cross Keys HS.

    I’m not validating his answer, just letting you know what he told me. You can see what he is referring to by looking at these two documents. They show for the district all the students this year zoned for one school but go to another.
    Non-Resident Attendee Matrices
    At Sequoyah MS 357 students this year are zoned for that school but go to some other school. It looks like most of them go to the International Student Center or DeKalb PATH. In the other document you’ll see that at Cross Keys HS only 159 students go to some other school.
    So, roughly 120 students per grade at Sequoyah MS go somewhere else. Roughly 40 students per grade at CKHS go somewhere else. That makes for an additional 80 students per grade at CKHS … they are still off by 20 students per grade.
    In conclusion … the numbers don’t match up. They are closer than when we started, but they are still off.

  36. Stan, thanks for the follow up on this. It’s really been a nagging question in my mind.

  37. While this information does put the numbers at CKHS closer for sure, I am still concerned that the numbers don’t work at all on the CCHS side of things as I don’t see how CCHS does not end up immediately over capacity under this proposal.
    Specifically, I can’t seem to reconcile how two middle schools will feed into CCHS while allowing CCHS to maintain the magnet program. It is my understanding that CMS has a seat capacity of 1077 and the SMS has a seat capacity of 1266 (for 3 grades). Total MS seat capacity for both schools of 2343 for just 3 grades. After the 600 seat addition to CCHS, CCHS will have a seat capacity of 2300 (for 4 grades). Under the current proposal, both CMS and SMS will feed (with no split feeders) into CCHS.
    Now, I understand that some of the students currently zoned for CMS and SMS will be redistricted to the new CKMS so that the middles schools feeding into CCHS presumably won’t be at capacity but with the projected population growth, I can’t see how they would be so significantly under capacity that both schools would still be able to feed entirely into CCHS with a total seat capacity of 2300 after the addition and including the magnet program.
    In addition, some of the SMS student population that attends school elsewhere in MS but return to their cluster in HS would now be returning to CCHS instead of CKHS. It appears almost a certainty that CCHS will be over capacity immediately upon completion of the additions. This would not surprise me as the current proposal puts DHS and LHS at capacity immediately upon completion of the additions with no room for growth.
    Unfortunately, I fear that the ultimate goal is to move the magnet program from CCHS to the new CKHS once the additions are complete and CCHS is over capacity and then once the magnet program is moved, have CCHS, DHS and LHS at capacity with no room for growth and have the new CKHS full as well.