New Doraville Elementary School – Update

The Approved Cross Keys Redistricting Plan resulted in the reduction of approximately 15 trailer classrooms in the Cross Keys Cluster.
Unfortunately, Dresden Elementary and Cary Reynolds Elementary still have a combined 42 portable classroom units on their grounds today.

The 2017-2022 E-SPLOST Project List includes two new elementary schools along the Buford Hwy.
Elementary School Capacity Additions
1. Build new John Lewis ES (900 FTE plus land purchase): $30.0M
2. Build new ES for Cross Keys North (900 FTE plus land purchase): $30.0M

Yesterday the DeKalb County Board of Education approved approximately $8.2 million for the sales and purchase of a 9.7 acre apartment complex at 3630 Shallowford Road in Doraville. DeKalb Schools plans to build its new Doraville Elementary School in 2018.
The new campus will primarily provide relief to Dresden Elementary and Cary Reynolds Elementary.
Monetary incentives will be offered jointly by the apartment complex owners and DCSD to help residents relocate by the end of August. To allow construction of the new 900-seat elementary school by the fall 2020 opening date, current tenants will be provided financial incentives to encourage them to relocate using incentives based on the type of lease in place (month-to-month versus a longer term). However, no tenant will be required to move out of their apartment prior to the expiration of their lease.

Superintendent Stephen Green

Dr. Stephen Green
Superintendent, DeKalb County School District

“We are excited to add a state-of-the-art elementary school that will get our students out of portable units and into permanent classrooms, which is always our aim. At the same time, we are mindful of the impact this work will have on families, many of whom have children enrolled in our schools. We plan to be good neighbors through this delicate process.”

DeKalb Schools buys property for new school; hundreds at Doraville complex to be displaced
June 14, 2017 – The DeKalb County School District late Monday approved the purchase of a Doraville apartment complex, where they hope to build a new elementary school to alleviate overcrowding in the Cross Keys cluster of schools.
The purchase of 3630 Shallowford Road will displace dozens of families in the 104-unit Shallowford Garden Apartments, giving them until the end of August to find new housing.

Apartment property in Doraville purchased for elementary school
June 14, 2017 – DeKalb County School District (DCSD) announced the purchase of 9.7 acres on 3630 Shallowford Road in Doraville on June 13 for the purpose of building a 900-seat Cross Keys-area elementary school, garnering mixed responses from the public.
The property is currently the site of Shallowford Gardens Apartments, a 104-unit complex offering one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 626 to 825 square feet. The majority of residents are served by DCSD’s Cary Reynolds Elementary, Sequoyah Middle and Cross Keys High schools.
The apartment complex is located less than a mile from a MARTA station and serves a population typical of Buford Highway, many of whom are low-income and non-English speaking.

Displaced Doraville apartment residents speak out
Lease holders were informed at a public meeting held at First Baptist Church of Doraville on June 14 that they will receive a $2,250 incentive to move. At the meeting, former owner and seller John Lantz said legal action would be taken if tenants do not find lodging elsewhere.
“Two and a half months is more than adequate,” Lantz said.
At the meeting, DCSD director of planning Dan Drake said the school district considered more than a dozen other sites for the future Doraville elementary school. Drake did not name other properties considered.
According to residents of Shallowford Gardens—many of whom have been there for more than a decade—say the process is unjust.

29 responses to “New Doraville Elementary School – Update

  1. I’m just…speechless. (Strange for me, right??)

  2. Where did you think they were going to find land to build it?
    I don’t mind them buying an apartment complex. My concern is the amount of affordable alternatives for those families. It doesn’t matter if you give each family $5,000 to move if they can’t find some place they can afford.

  3. You know, there’s a huge dirt pit on the other side of the MARTA station…I’m sure something with the TAD could’ve been worked out at Assembly…

  4. I live in those apartments. When my mom’s family moved to America, the settled and live in those apartments in the same exact area for about 16 years now. On this day, they still live in the same building.
    I agree that a new elementary school will benefit our community but it’s something that I would not give up my home for. Moving isn’t easy. Apartments aren’t as affordable as they used to be. Each apartment has up to 4-5 people living or rooming in it. There aren’t many places to rent out since other apartments are being broken down to be renovated.
    It’s one thing to break down the apartments to renovate it and it’s another to break it down just to build a new school. If it was the case then a restaurant or the assembly plant should’ve been the location for this new school.
    I think this proposal will be beneficial but before putting this proposal together, it would have been better to speak with the residents and ask them to vote. It’s the sad truth.

  5. Stan Jester

    What if I was to tell you the apartment complex was having financial difficulties. It’s possible the complex could have otherwise been sold and torn down in completely different circumstances.

  6. I completely understand that, Stan. But that doesn’t mean the district needed to move on that.
    I’ll give you a personal example:
    A few weeks ago, my husband and I were looking to buy another house in the Cross Keys cluster, and our realtor drove us up to a potential house on the market that I knew belonged to one of my students. Her family rents from the seller of this house. The minute I recognized it, I told Andrew, and I stayed in the car with my kids. He told the realtor, and we quickly drove off.
    Neither of us, for even one moment, considered purchasing that house.
    Perhaps we would’ve been great, kind people to work with during the sale and transfer of the house. No matter. The important thing was preserving my integrity and my family’s integrity. I know that many students are experiencing landlords selling houses and apartments out from under them all the time, and I can’t stomach the idea of benefiting from someone else’s hardship.
    Obviously someone else will buy that house, but it wasn’t going to be me.
    Someone else would’ve bought Shallowford Gardens; it shouldn’t have been DCSD.

  7. The owner of the apartments has a family to support! Why should he/she pass up the opportunity to make money off of his/her investments? It may have cost too much to renovate and properly update the apartments. Everyone invited loved has taken a risk at some point. Isn’t this how they are acquiring land for the New Cross Keys High school? I know it was proposed by those that were in favor of all the redistricting. The Mayor of Brookhaven stated “Bufor Highway is changing. Those apartments are all coming down!” Wonder what’s behind his motives? Hmmm

  8. When did Mayor Ernst say that?

  9. Survey Says

    The only response I can come up with after reading both the article AND comments is you’re d%$#ed if you do…..and d@!&ed if you don’t.

  10. Stan,
    We noticed that you never answered our questions from a couple of weeks ago re: difficulty finding a professional HR Manager, the top 3 executives in HR, and the duties of the Regional Supt.Why is that? We have been looking @ discussions on this blog since Green’s arrival. The discussions continue to be,inadequate teacher salaries, retaining the best teachers, bloated central office salaries, poor academic performance, trailers used as classrooms, which is pathetic and dangerous, overcrowding @ some schools and the deterioration of older schools, lead in the water, and the allocation of funds between the northside schools and southside schools…Now a billion dollar budget..History is repeating itself in this administration..lipstick on a pig..Is still a….We are watching and reporting..Enough is enough!

  11. And this is why we don’t need to be adding on to all these schools. These apartments are going to be replaced with better options and the population will be decreasing. That is what the free market provides. I know some on here aren’t advocates of the free market and would rather have the government (or school board) dictate how land is to be bought and sold, but as long as we have a free market, the owner of the apartment complex has every right to sell it to whomever they want it to sell it to. Apartments (as are all rental agreements) by their very nature are transitory housing, so when one enters into an apartment lease, one should know that more likely than not, that within a few months or years, that circumstances will change. That’s part of a free market system.

  12. The Mayor has been VERY open about changing my Bufir Hwy

  13. @Eric Green,
    Please be sure to ask other BOE members these same questions. Be as persistent with them as you are with Stan. If not, then Stan may lack support when he asks Dr. Green these inconvenient questions.
    All BOE members represent all of us. Don’t make it easy for other BOE members, or Dr. Green, to ignore Stan, who often is the lone “no” vote.

  14. DCSDumpsterFire

    So you can find land for an elementary school but not for a high school?

  15. Stan Jester

    Why is it so difficult to find a high performing professional to head the HCM Dept? – I don’t know either.
    Who are the top 3 people in the HCM Dept? – Mr. Everett Patrick, formerly the Director of Employment Services – Certification and Recruitment, has assumed the role of Interim Chief Human Capital Management Officer. I work with him and the Superintendent for all HCM related issues.
    You would need to check the latest org chart to see who the other employees are and discern any existing pecking order.
    What are the duties of the Regional Superintendent? – You should be able to find that on PATS, DeKalb County School District’s Paperless Applicant Tracking System.
    Note: – If you would like to start a conversation, you are welcome to write an article. I’ll post it and we can all discuss it. You are also welcome to join the administration and/or board members at any number of public meetings.
    And … thank you for being such an avid reader of my blog.

  16. Stan,
    May I ask, in all seriousness, what good it does to join the superintendent and BOE members at public meetings? I have spoken to the BOE at public input meetings as much as anyone and none of the issues I brought up have been addressed. Dr. Green says one thing in public then does something else when he isn’t “out there.”
    For four years, I have asked for the revenues earned by schools to be included in the detailed budget. Nope.
    For four years, I have asked for phone numbers to be posted in the online staff directory. Nope.
    For more than a year, I have been asking for the roof to be fixed at Midvale. Nope.
    Last November, Dr. Green said someone would answer my question about RFPs/RFQs. Hasn’t happened yet.
    Please, tell us how being engaged with the administration is a positive experience.
    Also, I was told last night the SPLOST IV renovation project at Henderson Mill ES was scaled back and the HVAC is not being replaced. The explanation given to the PTA is SPLOST IV is running out of money. I know that isn’t true. Have you heard anything about SPLOST IV running out of money?

  17. Stan Jester

    I empathize with your dilemma. Engaging the Superintendent, administration and BOE moves the needle. While it might not move the needle enough to fix Midvale, it makes a difference. I just looked at the Online Staff Directory and I see phone numbers.
    SPLOST IV – The SPLOST oversight/advisory committee dives much deeper into the capital projects than the board does. Ask Redovian, Rogers or anybody else who is or was on the board. Chris Avers is a good person too. Let me know what they say because I’ve heard the same rumors as well.
    The school district puts out a monthly Capital Improvement Program status report. It gives you the budget, amount paid and status of every SPLOST project. If projects are over budget, it should be there.

  18. Max Baerman

    Fyi, this property is already in the Doraville TAD. It would have been torn down in the next few years.

  19. Mr. Jester,
    Would you please post a link to the organizational chart? When I was stuck in traffic yesterday around 5:00 , I was shocked to hear an interview with a DeKalb Community Adovcate . She stated that she has had a difficult time getting information from the county office.
    She stated that based on the DeKalb Organizational Chart it looked like there has been an increase in the number of county level administration. She based this on looking at the organizational chart. I have not been able to locate that chart.
    She also discussed how difficult it was to find the budget on the DeKalb web site. I noticed tonight it is easy to find.
    I noticed that the job for the HCM Department Head is now posted. This is just my point of view, but most school systems are involved in hiring for the next school year. This is a very important job. It seems like it would have been better to post it earlier. The position has been open for a while. That may have allowed the person to be in place now to guide the hiring for next school year. I appreciate all that you do to keep us informed.

  20. Stan,
    There aren’t phone numbers for everybody. Human Capital Management is responsible for that information and they don’t provide it.
    The SPLOST Monthly Status Reports were shortened two years ago with the removal of specific information regarding each project. According to the April 2017 report, no project is over budget and the revenues are $133.4 million over planned obligations. No project should be scaled back.

  21. What other dilapidated apartments in the area are on the chopping block?

  22. @ Stan:
    Why is it so difficult to find a high performing professional to head the HCM Dept? – I don’t know either.
    I can tell you because they do not call them back. Several years ago, I had a friend who applied for the HR position when T. Ward-Smith was ultimately hired. A friend who was one of the head HR people for Price Waterhouse Cooper. I thought they were crazy for leaving such an awesome job to come and work for DCSD for a major pay cut, but they wanted to. Needless to say, my friend who has worked in HR for several Fortune 500 companies, and has a Masters in HR, never received a phone call back about their application.
    Instead, the county hired Ms. Ward-Smith and now Mr. Patrick (two former DCSD principals) that have no training in HR what so ever.

  23. chamblee getting screwed

    Save us the snowflake sob stories….build the school. And then build a Doraville High School!!

  24. When there was an apartment fire last year and several Dresden families lost their homes, DCSD and the apartment management found another apartment complex in Gwinnett and agreed to provide transportation for the students. No families accepted the offer and instead moved in with friends in order to remain near their community and support systems/jobs. It is unlikely those being displaced through this purchase will feel they are being “helped” by DCSD, even when offered “financial” incentives. Shame on DCSD when there seem to be a number of non-residential properties that could have been pursued.

  25. The City of Doraville website has this quote from its mayor about selecting a site for the new elementary school:
    “We are very excited with this news,” says Doraville Mayor Donna Pittman. “We’ve all been aware of the overcrowding issues in DeKalb County for some time and are elated that the school board and staff has taken the initiative to build this new school. And what better place than in Doraville!”

  26. What non residential properties?

  27. Joel Jackson

    When will you post the Board minutes/summary? Will classroom teachers get the 2% raise? Are there any beginning of the year bonuses for classroom teachers?

  28. Per Dan Drake, more than a dozen properties were considered before signing this contract (Ajc article). Also, I stated “there seem to be non residential properties”- that is based on observation when going through the area on errands, etc: properties that appear abandoned, industrial spaces that seem partially occupied, and as Ms. Cohen mentioned, the dirt pit near the Marta station. Per the Ajc, residents involved stated they didn’t want to move to Gwinnett where they can find affordable housing….that is exactly what they said when DCSD tried to relocate Dresden families last year after an apartment fire (as I shared earlier before seeing the article), which also highlights that DCSD had prior knowledge of that sentiment.