Yesterday the DeKalb Board of Education voted to approve (6 – 1) the 2017-2022 E-SPLOST Project List. Before doing so, the board listened to numerous heart felt comments from both sides. Here are the notes from the public speakers that I have collected so far.
Chairman Johnson, Board Members and Dr. Green:
My name is Bill Armstrong and I am a Chamblee Parent. I have one child at Chamblee High, one at Chamblee Middle and my youngest at Huntley Hills, where I am the Chair of the School Council. But tonight I am a Chamblee parent.
I am here to urge the Board of Education to vote tonight to approve the Superintendent’s plan, without delay.
As a parent I’ve been “dealing with” with DeKalb schools, the board, superintendents, the central office, for over 12 years. And by “dealing with” I mean “fighting against,” or at best advocating against their policies and plans. That’s a lot of emails, calls, and coming to these meetings. To me, so far, Dr. Green is not like any of those others. Far from it. It is early, but I have newfound confidence in our system under him and the team he is building.
I came back from the School Council meeting last month thinking & telling others “if he (Green) can pull off half of what he’s planning, we’ll be far ahead of where are now. My kids will be better off, yours will too.” I bet he gets it all. If permitted, I think he’ll get more.
And that meeting was evidence of an improved opportunity for true input from parents, especially from the “organized bodies” level, such as the School Councils. I can say that in the past I felt our input was valued by the Principal & was effective locally in our own school, it didn’t reach anywhere beyond that.
But now, under Green, there is a true mechanism, an actual department with real people set out to interact with the councils. I look forward to working with Ms. Champion as the School Governance Liaison.
And this role of the Councils is only a small slice of his Five-Point Turnaround Plan. The more I look into Dr. Green’s plan, the more I listen to his vision for the schoolchildren of DeKalb – ALL of them, the more impressed I am.
This Chamblee parent, for the first time in 12 years, I am buying in.
The notion of something being different this time really built in me after a great discussion I recently had with the interim Superintendent for region 1 – Sherry Johnson. She spoke of the “buy-in” of the teachers and school community as playing a vital role in the success of Huntley Hills. She was right. And I see an opportunity for a larger “buy-in” leading to success for Chamblee Cluster, all of Region 1, the entire system. I for one, I’m buying in.
This system, under Dr. Green, it feels different to me, it looks different. I am convinced is different. Things are finally working like they should. Board, you hired the right guy. You, the board, need to buy in with your guy. Let him do his job.
This plan – it is part of that job. No delay today.”
Good Evening Dr. Green and Members of the Board,
My name is Stacey Godwin and my children attend Montgomery Elementary School in the Chamblee cluster. This process started with the optimistic approval of ESPLOST V in record setting fashion back in May. What started out with broad community trust and support has sadly turned into mistrust. This sentiment change is the result of some controversial activities that have occurred since the May “Yes” vote. Some examples are: 1) the questionable survey results, 2) the delayed release of affected high school addition plans and 3) an ever changing project list, with substantial changes as recent as last Thursday. To say there is voter’s remorse from ESPLOST V supporters is an understatement.
With such fierce public backlash over the proposed Option before you tonight, I believe a “Yes” vote would be detrimental to not only the public process we were supposed to be engaging in, but would put ESPLOST VI and beyond in jeopardy of voter approval.
Fast forward to today, as I stand before you requesting a vote deferral on Category 2 of the project list, I don’t think these hurdles are insurmountable. I still believe collaboration and compromise can happen between those who are so divided over which Option should prevail….Option A or Option B? Coming from the Montgomery Elementary point of view, our original position paper stated a desire for a combined Option A + B approach and that position hasn’t changed. This recommendation sought to satisfy the desire for a rebuilt Cross Keys High School and a desperately needed fourth cluster in Region 1.
You might wonder, what will be accomplished during the deferral period? I have been encouraged by hearing about positive conversations within the last few days between those with opposing viewpoints. We will never make progress without overcoming these impasses. We must put aside our differences and work toward the common goal of the best possible education for all children in Dekalb County. There will be some compromise in this process, but I believe we can come together as a broad community during the deferral period and formulate a solution which all communities and stakeholders can support. Imagine how successful such a plan could be!
Not only does this provide an opportunity for opposing sides to work together, but the public will expect no less from County planners and administrators engaged in these decisions and processes. We will expect those officials to hear and answer our concerns, be transparent and forthcoming with information and truly consider all of the options available to address the severe overcrowding Regions 1 and 2 are facing.
This deferral request should not hinder your vote on the other four important project categories, those should be approved tonight so the entire county can begin to feel the benefits of ESPLOST V. This also applies to the site location work for the new elementary school in the Doraville area, this important task should proceed without delay.
I hope all Board members will consider hitting the “reset” button tonight as you choose to defer the vote on Category 2.
Thank you for your time and service to the children of Dekalb County.
Good evening Superintendent Green and distinguished members of the board:
My name is Priya Sampath. I have child at Montgomery Elementary and another that will start there in kindergarten next year. I am speaking today to ask that you Defer the Vote for Category 2.
Here is some additional information to understand the Chamblee cluster response. Our response is grounded in the age-old dictum of “At least, do no harm.”
• I am here because I’m concerned that my child and others from her school will come to a high school that even today is too small for its current population.
• Based on the DCSD 2022 forecast, the three high proposed high schools + additions have 2300+ students coming. Whether those students come from schools in the existing Chamblee cluster or the re-clustered Chamblee cluster, is of less import than the fact that kids will be coming to this extremely crowded school.
• Lakeside HS, Dunwoody HS, and Chamblee HS are projected to be at 100% capacity by the time the proposed additions at these schools are complete. We would like for the board and stakeholders to further consider this proposed solution and determine the most efficient use of our tax dollars – so that we aren’t facing the same situation in a few years.
• The DCSD plan, which adds 600 seats with NO purchase of land, depends upon features that the City of Chamblee did not approve just 4 years ago when the current design was finalized, and doesn’t take into account the need for additional athletic space – fields, gyms, lockers, cafeteria, restrooms, needed to serve the PE needs of 600 additional students plus the features that all other athletic teams from mega-high schools have.
• What we want is a campus that is at least as good as its current campus. Chamblee doesn’t want a crammed in campus on less than half the land the state recommends for a 2400 seat school. Like any thinking person, I do not want this for my children, or for my community. And I hope that you would not want it for the children of DeKalb County.
It is due to these concerns that I am asking you to defer a vote for a period of 60 -90 days.
Goals for the ideally 90-Day Delay
During the 60-90 days, I think Chamblee and all Region 1 and 2 schools would like to have DCSD tell them the advantages of its plan. DCSD data shows that their plan calls for spending nearly $150 million on high school capacity in Regions 1 and 2, yet ending up with only 81 more seats than the projected 2022 enrollment.
Chamblee is eager to collaborate with stakeholders in region 1 & 2 to identify creative solutions.
I think that all Region 1 and 2 stakeholders would support going ahead with other E-SPLOST-V category projects, plus the additions to Clarkston HS and Freedom MS. We don’t want other schools to be delayed because of these capacity issues.
And perhaps, re-building trust could be another goal of the 60-90 day delay.
Good evening Dr. Green and members of the Board, My name is Tapika Howard, I’m one of the Co- President’s for PTSA at Chamblee Charter High School and have been a resident of dekalb county for 20 years. In the summer of 2013 our family made the sacrificial decision to move out of our home of 17 years in Lithonia to the Chamblee area after discovering that our now 12th grade daughter was #75 on the school choice lottery list. The decision to move to the area was strictly so that both our daughters, the other who is in the 5th grade at Huntley Hills, could obtain what we considered a quality education, as well as be apart of a community of students and stakeholders whose sole purpose was to ensure that our students, their educational climate, safety, and their needs would be a priority. Chamblee has been that to us and so much more.
Since it’s inception in 1917, Chamblee Charter High School has undergone several renovations, additions, demolitions and building projects in partnership with the Dekalb County School District. However, there has never been a time when the building size was not conducive to the student population we serve. We recently welcomed 200 students that were redistricted from Cross Keys of which our parents, teachers and school administrators have done an exceptional job with ensuring their transition was seamless. However, my presence at the school during the tornado watch was devastating at best to see that all of their safety was being infringed upon as they all were crowded and crammed on the 2nd floor and just a few others on the 1st floor….this confirmed for me that adding 600 additional seats to an already consumed population with no additional land would simply devalue the quality, climate, and safety that drew my family and I to the school in the first place. If it is accurate that the projected enrollment in 2022 would leave the school 23.39 acres under the recommended state minimum for a school its size, this undersized facility will have a myriad of negative impacts and those we say we are here to serve – the students, will be negatively impacted the most.
It is my sincerest concern as a parent and stakeholder that this plan does not provide a long term resolve for the overcrowding issue in this county, but will serve as another band aid for a bad wound that will continue to grow, impact and eventually infect other areas. In essence, I believe that this plan would oppose the destiny of so many students like our daughter whose pathway of diversity, educational climate and size control were the very ingredients that were vitally necessary to her educational success today.
Furthermore, It is not appropriate, fair or equitable for the Dekalb County School Board to vote on a proposal that would add 600 additional seats with no additional land, and leave us without the necessary resources to continue to provide the world class care and service that our parents, students, teachers and the community needs and so deserves. Not to include, our community has not had sufficient opportunity to understand and provide feedback. I am respectfully requesting that you would delay your vote on Category 2 of the Esplost V project list for 60-90 days and allow our and other affected communities ample time and an opportunity to comment further and assist in providing feasible alternatives to the recommended plan. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration, as well as all you do to ensure the success of all of our children.
Just for my own clarification, does this mean Option B has been approved and the feeders for Chamblee Middle School will now be Montgomery ES, Huntley Hills ES, Carey Reynolds ES, Dresden ES and Kittredge ES?
As the additions and new schools are built, we will have those redistricting discussions at that time.
From Terri Maxwell
Good evening, and thank you for this opportunity to speak. My name is Terri Maxwell. I have children at CMS and CCHS. I am also the Co-Chair of the Chamblee Middle School Council.
I am respectfully asking that that the Board defer its vote on Category 2 for several reasons.
First, the Chamblee Cluster has not had a fair opportunity to provide input and have its questions answered.
The Chamblee community has been repeatedly tried with no luck to engage with the district on our legitimate questions in public meetings at CCHS. Details about the proposed construction plan were not provided until November. Most recently our meeting scheduled for 11/14 was canceled on short notice, and the FAQs we were promised not only were not published prior to Thanksgiving Break, but raised more questions then they answered.
Second, we are concerned that the plan does not in fact demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed addition.
I would like to refer you to the photo rendering of the proposed addition. The proposed addition would be constructed on our only outdoor gathering space in an active walkway between our two buildings. We do not see it as a feasible plan for a thriving successful high school, either during construction or after completed. We have been consistent since our input was requested in September that additional land is critical. Without it, we will be more than 50% under the acreage recommended by the state. But it is more than just land — with no increase in our gym, auditorium, lockers, fine arts rooms or athletic fields, academic and extracurricular life will suffer. School climate will suffer. And other critical aspects of the plan were rejected by the City of Chamblee when our high school was built only several years ago.
Third, we are concerned that the plan does not advance our Region or District toward a long term solution to overcrowding.
The proposal spends nearly $150 million to add HS capacity in Regions 1 and 2, yet results in only 81 seats total combined for both regions over projected 2022 enrollment. What if these projections are low and/or continue to increase after 2022? Do we add onto the same schools? Where would we even put trailers? Is it really possible that there is not a better solution? How will our taxpayers feel when they truly understand this plan and where it leaves us, since we have not seen any attempt to engage with the greater community? We continue to believe that a 4th high school should be considered as the least disruptive option, most likely to preserve and foster educational and academic excellence for all students.
Fourth, the Plan has an Inequitable, Disparate Impact on the Chamblee Cluster
Quite frankly the Chamblee Cluster is being asked to bear the brunt of the proposed plan. Under the recommended plan Chamblee would:
• Be the ONLY HS recommended for an addition that did not request one
• Be the ONLY dual feeder high school in the county
• Have one of if not the smallest acreage per HS student in the county
• Experience more disruptive redistricting than any other county high school.
The plan tears apart our cluster without commensurate benefits – we are legitimately concerned that we will end up with an unprecedented mega-school on insufficient acreage with inadequate facilities.
We propose that the delay be used to actively engage with the District and our neighboring Clusters toward one of two ends:
• Be convinced that our concerns have been addressed and that the recommended plan will allow us to continue to provide the outstanding educational and extracurricular experience our children deserve or
• Develop a revised plan that better serves both the Chamblee cluster and our greater DeKalb community.
Can we please just slow down, take a collective breath and make sure we are doing the right thing for our children and or communities?
It was my understanding that CCHS will have two feeders: CMS ans SMS. MES, HH and KMS will feed into CMS, and CRES and DES will feed into KMS.
In other words, you can get through middle school. It goes to hell for these kids in 9th.
I just don’t understand how the board could proceed last night. These are all legitimate reasons to at least delay the vote so details could be flushed out further and communicated to the public. I can’t believe there was just 1 person on the board who supported the delay. Jim McM is my representative – super disappointed both in his lack of communication with his constituents and his vote last night. Lesson learned…I will not be voting for him in the future.
To correct, these notes on feeders are misleading and incorrect. Dresden for example won’t even be the school that it is now. Nothing has been even considered yet about where all of the elementary lines are drawn vis a vis middle schools.
From Lara Baldwin
Hi, my name is Lara Baldwin. I have two children at Sagamore Hills Elementary. I am speaking today to ask that you Defer the Vote for Category 2. However, everyone says that you made up your minds months ago. So I’ve been told I’m wasting my time asking for a deferral. I’m wasting my days and my nights. I’m wasting my precious three minutes right now standing up here in front of you.
Well, here it goes. I’m a positive person. I’m an optimist. I see the good in things. I see the good in DeKalb County Schools. I see its potential for giving every student a good school and a good chance in life.
Every day people say to me, “Lara, why are you even trying at this point? DeKalb County Schools, Lara. They do what they want. They don’t listen. Nothing has changed. Back room deals. No transparency. Blah blah blah. Dekalb will never change.” People laugh at me when I say, “This time is different. The district almost lost its accreditation and then board members were removed. This is the NEW board. It’s a NEW superintendent! This is DeKalb’s big moment to make good decisions, for all. To change its reputation.” People roll their eyes at me. They stop listening.
It’s not easy being an optimist during this whole thing. But I believe that you guys are listening. I really do. I feel like each one of you knows you should delay this vote and give us our chance to be heard. “Oh, we were heard,” you say? “The community got to fill out surveys!” No. We were not heard. Those surveys were vague and confusing. If that was our chance to be heard, we feel cheated. But we want to trust you! We want The Plan to be a plan that makes sense. You have yet to give us solid reasons as to why Plan B makes sense to solve overcrowding. So what are the reasons?
To solve overcrowding issues, Doraville clearly needs a high school. Yet we are dismissed with “There is no land and there aren’t enough students to fill one.” But there is land. Sequoyah Middle is the land for a Doraville High School. And there are students to fill it. All of the overcrowded Doraville elementary schools. Build Doraville NOW. Build it now so it’s ready for these students.
Look, if one area is out of balance, it affects all of us. All of the clusters can work together to find that balance. Please hear us. We have ideas that can keep most of what is great about Option B and also make parts of Option A work too. Why not try it? Why wouldn’t you?
The next, roughly, 90 days could be amazing for DeKalb. A turning point. Will you give it to us? Or will you prove everyone right? That “DeKalb is still DeKalb” and you’re just going to push on without listening. You can change DeKalb’s reputation for the better. Now.
You have the power to vote or to defer. Please defer the vote. I truly believe you will.
Why does it go to hell in 9th?
The DCSD Plan, announced on September 27, 2016, specifically states that Chamblee MS and Sequoyah MS will serve as Chamblee cluster middle schools. This is on page 14 of the presentation at http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/documents/building-spaces/informational-meeting-presentation.pdf
It is not clear what elementary schools will feed Chamblee MS, Sequoyah MS, and the new Cross Keys MS, but it is abundantly clear that Chamblee MS and Sequoyah MS will feed Chamblee Charter High School.
Current Elementary Attendance Zones with High Schools.
Peachtree MS is next to Chesnut ES
Chamblee MS is next to Chamblee Charter HS
Sequoyah MS is next to Cary Reynolds ES
From: Matt Ritchey
Good evening. My name is Matt Ritchey and I have three children within DeKalb County schools.
When my wife and I moved to Atlanta 4 years ago, one of our main criteria for identifying a community to establish roots in was that it have a strong school system. We had heard about the county’s history, both good and bad, but were reassured by what we learned about our home elementary school of Montgomery, the county’s rich magnet program, and about the diverse and continually improving Chamblee Middle School and Chamblee Charter High School.
When we had the opportunity to vote for this last round of ESPLOST funding, we voted in the affirmative, believing that making these funds available could be a game-changer for the schools in our county. I have been actively engaged in the ESPLOST allocation process, including participating in many of the meetings hosted by the county. While I applaud the county for setting up opportunities to share information and collect feedback, I always found something lacking when I left those meetings. In particular, during the small group sessions the moderators, who were well-intentioned staff and consultants, were not able to address many of the fundamental questions that were asked. Those were the answers I needed—we needed—to provide informed feedback.
So, many of us kept in dialogue with others in the community and with county staff to try and discern fact from fiction among all of the information circulating about the pros and cons of each option. Through this process I came to two realizations, which I believe are shared by many here today: first, both Options A and B had real strengths, but that a modified, combined strategy would maximize the intended effects and best position us for the future; and second, making substantial additions to multiple schools to address the overcrowding issue is a seriously flawed plan, as it would be done at the expense of our communities, risk creating school environments that are not conducive to learning and are potentially unsafe, and, based on the county’s population projections, won’t adequately address our over-crowding issue.
I am in strong support of Dr. Green’s stated goal to eliminate portable classrooms over the next 5 years. However, I don’t believe transitioning us from a portable-school to a mega-school model is a game-changing course of action to take. These schools lack sufficient land to host these types of additions and the current plans don’t ensure appropriate cafeteria, gymnasium, auditorium, parking and green space will be made available, and they attempt to shoe-horn these mega-schools into communities that don’t have the infrastructure to support them.
While I think you should vote to move forwards with many of the Superintendent’s recommendations to expedite schools getting the resources they need, I urge you to defer your vote on the secondary schools facility component and charge Dr. Green and his staff to work with engaged community members and elected city leaders over a set period of time to formally assess the feasibility of a plan that establishes two new high schools, one in Brookhaven and the other in Doraville, and that limits additions to schools.
We are at a critical juncture. Let’s take a moment to ensure that we are setting ourselves down the correct path towards achieving our collective goal of developing a school system of excellence.
Thank you to the Board, to Dr. Green and his staff, and to the other residents speaking today for your service to our community.
Where would Dresden be Fact Checker Amy? Doesn’t take thousands of dollars to analyze what schools should go to what middle schools. Why wouldn’t they stay at current middle schools? Hmmmm maybe you like others have “backtoom deal” knowledge?!
Just simply suggesting that people not spread information that they are making up via this forum. Several elementary schools currently go to Sequoyah. Several of those same elementary schools will not go to Sequoyah in the future. That is the point of this process – to alleviate overcrowding. I don’t have any particular information, I just went to all of the public meetings that anyone can go to. There is nothing that has been presented about elementary school feeders. I fear that people who make up assumptions, etc. and post are not helpful in this process. Best for people to wait, participate, and work with DCSD which as real information – not parents posting their assumptions. Many high schools across the 2 U.S. have 2 small feeder middle schools instead of one large feeder middle school – mine was that way (it’s a common model nationally.)
But I think it’s wrong to also make the assumption that schools currently attending CMS won’t be going there. Of course SMS has other elementary schools that won’t be attending after the new CKHS because they will attend the new CK middle school. No one is arguing the 2 middle school feeder. What I think is irresponsible is suggesting in any way that they are going to “turn the apple basket upside down !” Until some thing is done certain assumptions can be made! Unless you like Me. Gokce would like to see ALL of us shifted to SMS. That I can tell you the area will fight! No way are we handing over a neighborhood school to a whole Magnet program. Never. Neighborhood kids before a school choice program.
All I can say is thank goodness for the establishment of Brookhaven Innovation Academy. It will provide a way out for my children when things go wrong. It is sad to think that there is only 1 logically-thinking board member arguing futilely for his district, but thank you for pressing on, Stan. I shudder to think where District 1 would be without you! Thank you for your tireless service.
Brookhaven Innovation Academy. K-7th grades for 2017-18. Open House and Project Exhibition Night: December 15th. Open to all in State of Georgia. Free tuition.
From: Amy Holmes-Chavez
My kids are at Chamblee High School & Chamblee Middle School & have been in Chamblee cluster schools for the past 11 years.
I am here to urge the Board of Education to vote tonight to approve the Superintendent’s recommendations for school facilities planning and SPLOST V investments without delay.
I have been impressed with what has been a thorough and transparent process – unprecedented in the 20 years that I have lived in DeKalb County.
I am confident that issues like land acquisition and parking challenges will get worked through at the local level, in local Construction Committees – in fact, I understand that’s what’s planned for the next phase of this process.
I want to thank Dr. Green for his leadership. We’re seeing Dr. Green allocate money to the right causes (like teacher raises), streamline and reduce bureaucracy, and eliminate some of the cronyism of the past.
I also want to thank Dr. Green for leading the way in addressing the terrible inequities and injustices that have been allowed to continue for decades in the Cross Keys Cluster, in Region 1.
There are lots of folks here, and at home, who are in full support of moving forward. Many are wearing white – as a symbol of County unity, and support for the Superintendent.
Parents from Doraville felt they needed to paint the letter “B” on their shirts tonight, to avoid any confusion.
I want to share with you a comment from an 18 year County resident who lives across the street from Sequoyah Middle School. He is on the School Council of Cary Reynolds:
“For the first time in 18 years, I have hope.” That is huge!
Here’s a comment from a Chamblee High School dad:
“Getting buy-in is one thing. But in this process, the Planning Department and the Superintendent truly listened. The County took entirely new directions several times based on insights from parents on-the-ground. We met with people in our own schools and clusters, but we were also encouraged to meet with neighboring clusters, and we did. We were really part of shaping the recommendations.”
Last – the Superintendent’s Planning Department – simply ROCKS! Even if you aren’t a data geek, check out the their website – you can see maps of all kinds, and delve way deep in the data behind all of their graphs, estimates, and projections. Dan Drake & Hans, the GIS guy – my hat is off to you.
A delay to this vote is not necessary, and would be disruptive.
There is not another rock to be turned over, or another data point to be found, that hasn’t already been looked at several times over the past 9 months.
Any delay would also put schools that have been waiting for urgent improvements for a long, long time to be put on hold – once again. Those schools cannot wait any longer.
I want to thank the Board of Education for all your hard work and service. I would encourage you – for this and future votes – to continue to base your decisions on solid planning, facts, principles, and need – not politics.
I urge you to move forward and vote tonight without delay.
That’s a well reasoned argument by Matt Ritchey and presented the best case for the against side IMO. But it also points out the primary reason the defer side failed. It will be more expensive. Of the $290M in Category 2, all but $57 is going to either District 1 or Lakeside. That’s where the need is, but it’s still 7 board members that vote. Dr. Green doesn’t just make up the numbers, he has to negotiate with those 7 board members. Indian Creek rebuild was clearly something that got added that was requested by the other district board members. I think there is a lot of skepticism of the growth projections as well, and subsequently, resistance to going to the 4 high schools with the added operating costs.
I definitely think there are some serious drawbacks to having such a large district. Due to the sheer size, the system will seem very unresponsive to many. I like the idea of each District having more autonomy within a larger framework. That seems to be a goal and is something that appears to be working well in the City of Atlanta. I’ve been very impressed with their North Atlanta cluster.
BIA is a very good option. I’ve heard good things from friends that started Kindergarten there. And with state charters, the state money (which is roughly half of the total) does follow the child. I also toured the International Charter School of Atlanta out in Roswell and it was impressive. Native speakers as teachers with 80% immersion (compared to 50% at Ashford Park). You basically give up the convenience of being close (or move) and the grassy areas (they have a playground in a portion of the parking lot). I could care less about grassy areas personally. I’m personally very glad that I have options as my children approach Kindergarten (APES German, ICSA, Globe, a move to any of the North Atlanta cluster Spanish programs, we obviously are focused on the language).
It’s a good plan if Dr. Green can find the property west of I-85 that is needed and works with the Chamblee, Dunwoody, and Lakeside communities to make those additions a positive contribution (DHS and LHS did request additions). I think the budget numbers are low to actually do that last part, but again, I believe Dr. Green was facing resistance to this plan behind the scenes and had to get what he can get passed, passed. And then work to improve during the process.
I personally feel like Option B has the benefit of doing more to improve property values throughout District 1 than Option A. Obviously, Ashford Park had the most potential which is why it got developed first, but I feel like there a lot of neighborhoods in District 1 and 2 with similar potential. There are a lot of neighborhoods with very old houses. It’s in everyone’s interest to improve the school offerings as people really do want to move back in town. Any area districted to a new Doralville HS would have faced a pretty uphill climb to have a lot of redevelopment and investment (again just my perspective). I guess that would have been different if the magnet had been moved to Doralville, but that may not have been a successful move. I think it’s better to keep the magnet at Chamblee.
After attending prior meetings and then this last meeting on Tuesday evening, I simply cannot understand the almost complete lack of understanding on the part of the Board.
The comments that were heard on Tuesday night requesting a modest deferral were clearly, and by far, in the majority. And those comments were from the citizens whose children will be most affected by the decision of the Board. The “approved” plan was the only one offered that failed to meet the criteria originally set forth by the planners, to evidence the intent of how the needs would be addressed.
At the preliminary meetings, conducted by planning staff, all questions were met with a virtually non-response – only a “we are here to catalog the questions and comments, and you can vote on A, B, or C.” No further discussion, no further input. This was followed by a period in which a significant volume of opposition was offered, a significant volume of requests was generated for additional information, response, and transparency on the part of the Board.
From the perspective of the Chamblee cluster, the one real opportunity to engage was met by a late cancellation and No-Show. From my perspective as a member of the community, a stakeholder, a taxpayer, this is simply not acceptable performance, not acceptable governance on the part of either the planners who conducted this effort, or the Board. This performance has all the aspects of back-room deals that have been detrimental to DeKalb County and the DeKalb County Schools for all too long.
I do have to ask this: what is the recourse for the large number citizens who asked to be included in this process, but were in reality denied the opportunity to do so.
Good questions Al. You bring up quite a few good points. I should write a couple of articles just from your comments.
1. The gathering of public input doesn’t pass the smell test.
2. What now?
Stan, I had a thought in regards to the addition proposed for CCHS. Without additional land acquisition, which is not part of the proposed project list that was approved Monday evening, the acreage of the site for a high school the size slated for CCHS is grossly inadequate as recommended by the State. Is this concern something the Chamblee cluster could and should raise to the State Superintendent’s office? It’s a true safety concern, as demonstrated by the recent tornado drill at that school and the way students were crammed into less than ideal spaces.
This document is old (May 2012), but I think it still applies: Guideline for Educational Facility Site Selection
The minimum useable acreage requirements of the State Board of Education are:
Elementary School Facilities – five acres plus one acre for each 100 children in FTE.
Middle School Facilities- 12 acres plus one acre for each 100 children in FTE.
High School Facilities- 20 acres plus one acre for each 100 students in FTE.
From: John Ayoub
Intro: Defer Vote
Problems with Plan B’s new High School Proposal:
1. Traffic will horrible for both Cross Keys and Sagamore parents
2. The intersection is dangerous for our children.
3. Mega school in high traffic area will reduce participation in after school activities and as a corollary increase dropout rates
4. Sitting in cars all day is bad for the environment
1. Build a Doraville High School as suggested by Plan A.
2. Maintain I-85 between North Druid Hills Rd and Shallowford Rd as the natural boundary of the cluster.
3. Consider using The Briarcliff site for a new Magnet school – much smaller and centrally located near the expressway for all people in the County.
Law: Plan does not meet rational bases standard. If you read the case law, (b) minimizing travel time and transportation costs, (c) fostering educational continuity, and (d) fostering walkability. Are all critical.
My name is John Ayoub and I am here as a member of the Sagamore Cluster and the parent of 3 children who have attend school in Dekalb County, and a 4th who will. I am here asking that the Board defer the vote on Plan B today and perform a true traffic study. I also want to give my perspective as an attorney on the legal ramifications of Plan B.
As a Lifelong DeKalb Resident who was both a student and an employee of the county, I know Dekalb well. I am now an attorney practicing law in the metro Atlanta area.
I attended Briar Vista Elementary K-7 and Druid Hills High School. Ironically I was supposed to attend Briarcliff High School but 2 weeks before school started they announced that Briarcliff would close as a high school and that I would be attending Druid Hills. Briarcliff would become the Jim Cherry center which was Dekalb County’s open campus.
PLAN B PROBLEMS
1. TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC AND MORE TRAFFIC!
2. BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
NOW Exactly 30 years later we are here again discussing reopening Briarcliff high school and the creation of new a mega-school at one of the busiest streets and intersections in Atlanta. The plan calls for 250 students from the Lakeside cluster probably the Sagamore cluster to be uprooted from its community and sent across I-85 to attend middle school at Cross Keys. It also requires that the majority of the current Cross Keys community to be sent across I-85 to attend a new high school at Briarcliff. Let us not beat around the bush – this is what plan B ultimately proposes. Plan B was a plan conceived secretly by a consulting firm from Cobb County, and pushed by a vocal minority of people in northern DeKalb.
Now that the plan has come to light, it is apparent that this plan does not work as it pertains to building a new high school for either the Sagamore Community or the Cross Key Community. First, the plan endangers the lives of the parents and children attempting to get to and from school at rush hour traffic. North Druid Hills Rd and I-85 and Claremont and I-85 are some of the busiest intersections not just in Atlanta but in America. Simply put I-85 between N Druid hills Rd and Clairmont is a massive traffic border that must be maintained. Our children’s lives depend on it.
THE NUMBER 1 problem in Metro Atlanta today is crippling Traffic. While PLAN B fails to present a single traffic study I can tell you that building a two to three thousand seated mega-traffic-school at that location will be a disaster of epic proportion.
Our communities will be spending hours a day in our cars trying to get our children from school and after school activities. Many will not be able to participate in after-school activities, or even make it to school on a timely and regular bases. (My oldest Daughter’s school bus was regularly late to Henderson. Imagine sending kids the same distance across I-85 at those intersection). Your dropout rate at such a mega-traffic school will be high and unacceptable. Finally, not only will these proposed cis the horrible for our children’s health but it will be horrible for the environment.
We must defer the vote today and get a real traffic study. Second, let me make two suggestions that will accomplish the goals of the County with regard to the projected overcrowding problem:
1. Build a Doraville High school and Cluster. This will alleviate the overcrowding and provide a new school closer to the Doraville population – the only city in dekalb without a high school.
2. Use the current Briarcliff site as a much smaller magnet school – just like the Jim Cherry Center use to be – the Briarcliff location is a more central location then Chamblee and it is near the expressway so that students from all over the County can go there.
This is actually a chance for Dekalb County to do something great and not screw up the lives of hundreds of families that live in Sagamore and Cross Keys areas. We have some of the greatest parents on earth (standing behind me right now) who are ready to work tirelessly for our children, our community, and our schools, but if you make getting to school impossible through Atlanta traffic we will not stand by idly. As an attorney, I have reviewed the standard for redistricting and what constitutes a rational bases for implementing redistricting. They include:
(b) minimizing travel time and transportation costs, (c) fostering educational continuity, and (d) fostering walkability. Are all critical elements to justifying redistricting. None of these are met with your current plan.
DO the right thing – defer the VOTE – get a real traffic plan and build schools that foster community, the environment and the health of our Children! LETS STOP USING OUR CHILDREN TO RESHUFFLE THE DECK AND INSTEAD LET’S BUILD A NEW DECK that really works for our children!
al weidenmuller “The comments that were heard on Tuesday night requesting a modest deferral were clearly, and by far, in the majority.” That a majority of the speakers were from 2 schools (Sagamore & CHS – mainly MES area) only means they were more-quickly organized & mobilized to sign up for the slots before they filled up. We had 3 from Huntley Hills – 2 of which are both CMS/CCHS – but didn’t move as quickly. No biggie.
Now – I have no issue with it, we’ve done it before. Those who’ve been around long enough might recall during the Lewis years we used to sign up for many slots and all wear red shirts – when we were trying to maintain Montessori at Huntley Hills. But it doesn’t mean that any group dominates the speaker lists represents a majority of anything, including ours. They very well might, but it certainly indicates the level of coordination, organization & communication.
If we grabbed 11 slots as “no delay” (we’ve done it before as HH) that doesn’t mean we represent the majority opinion of Chamblee.
But I can also add that it does allow you to present a MUCH more detailed presentation – picture many red shirts in a row, each presenting a portion of a larger presentation in sequence, instead of arguing the same thing over & over. Then handing the super/board a printed version of the same presentation, including detailed supporting documentation – ours had budgeting details for Montessori.
THAT can be effective. Oh oh. Maybe planted a seed for the future. Sorry Stan.
No, we didn’t have nicely printed t-shirts. Nice touch.
Wait! Amy Holmes-Chavez! Maybe we should have worn green instead of white – “Team Green!”
Oh Well. Maybe next time.
But this time, we had 3 – agreed perhaps best to simply have us each cover a general theme, which we individually had the most connection to. Mine was “buying in.” Still is.