Location of New Cross Keys Brookhaven High School

So much for the Brookhaven Cluster. The new Cross Keys Brookhaven High School will NOT be in Brookhaven.
SPLOST V includes “Build a New Cross Keys HS (2,500 seat capacity) at Briarcliff site (or cost-neutral alternative site)” with a budget of $84.8 million.

Over the last several months, the administration has brought to the board potential candidate sites ranging from 25 to 35 acres in size along the Buford Highway corridor (between North Druid Hills Road and Clairmont Road), as the potential location of the new Cross Keys HS.
The DeKalb County Board of Education voted to build the new Cross Keys HS at the former Briarcliff HS site this past Monday at the monthly board meeting. The 26.7 acre site includes the temporary John Lewis ES and North DeKalb stadium parking areas.
The vote was split 3-4. The thee board members who represent the Cross Keys community (Orson, McMahan and Jester) were opposed to the Briarcliff site for the same reasons (more or less):
1. It is difficult, if not impossible, to have a high school out of the attendance zone and on the opposite side of I85 from the community it serves.
2. North Druid Hills is one of the top 10 worst congested streets in Metro Atlanta and will only get worse when the new Childrens Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA) opens.
3. The Cross Keys community has been neglected for far too long.
The other four board members voting for this project did not say why they voted to proceed at the Briarcliff site. The school district put out a press release saying:
1. None of the sites reviewed were cost-neutral, and based on the additional factors shown below, the Board of Education decided to terminate their search for candidate sites and build the new Cross Keys HS at the former Briarcliff HS site.
2. The cost for the purchase of the land (not including finance costs nor the sale of the Briarcliff property) along Buford Highway would have ranged from approximately $36 to $54 million; with the finance costs and the sale of the Briarcliff property, net costs would have totaled approximately $19 to $38 million (land acquisition plus relocation and financing costs less the sale of the former Briarcliff property).
3. The candidate sites along Buford Highway included would have required the relocation of apartment units

Additionally, the school district press release attempted to address the traffic situation saying:

DCSD is coordinating a review of traffic conditions around the Briarcliff site in collaboration with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA):
* CHOA, through its Community Investment Agreement with the Brookhaven Development Authority, has already committed $200,000 to the Interchange Modification Report (IMR) soon to be initiated by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
* CHOA has committed $10 million for the local match for the City of Brookhaven for the interchange improvements to support the growth of traffic in the area due to its new facilities—this $10 million is a 20% match that will bring down an additional $40 million in federal funds for the roadway improvements.
* CHOA is conducting a detailed traffic study as part of its application to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) for its Development of Regional Impact (DRI) study that reviews the traffic improvements needed in the area for the new expansion of the hospital campus situated at North Druid Hills Road and the I-85 interchange.
* DCSD is also conducting its own traffic study this spring, in collaboration with CHOA, as the architect for the new Cross Keys HS will initiate its design process for the new Cross Keys HS at the Briarcliff site.

29 responses to “Location of New Cross Keys Brookhaven High School

  1. Dianne Medlock Joy

    The BOE needs to re-vote on this after the other 4 BOE members do their homework. Each of them needs to go drive from Buford Highway at 4 pm across I-85 on North Druid Hills Road to Toco Hills. This decision is possibly the worst ever. I am not sure any teachers will even want to work there. This location IS different from other DCSS HS locations. It is dangerous and the money saved may be used to settle future lawsuits the first time a student is killed there. This cannot be overstated. All the other reasons stated against utilizing the BHS site are more than valid. The amount of density and growth is not happening on the BHS side of I-85. It is occurring on the Brookhaven-Chamblee-Doraville side. No sane person would ask an entire population of students to criss-cross the traffic disaster of I-85 when there are potential alternatives on the other side–where the students live and where the rapid growth is occurring. I live barely a mile away from North Druid Hills Road and I avoid it by often driving a mile or two out of the way. This decision may be one of the worst decisions made by this board. I have no idea where the justification is–unless CHOA and everyone else has some kind of divine connection with the gods, there is NO solution to lessening the traffic. They redid that entire intersection a few years ago and it did NOTHING but encourage more cars to use the area. Please consider a re-vote. We have put our trust in your power to make good decisions for students and teachers. This was NOT one of them.

  2. Angela Barnett

    sent via Facebook
    This is a bad idea and I am writing to the 4 yes voters to request a revote.

  3. Angela, I don’t think a re-vote would help. It’s like 2 wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.

  4. Please require board members to drive the routes they are asking of bus drivers and parents before voting again on this location and all the expansion plans for the high schools in Regions 1 and 2. No students should ever be bused across I-85. Another problem is that there is no room for the parking needed at the Briarcliff site for a large school.
    How will students and parents be able to participate fully in their school? They won’t.

  5. Tim DeBardelaben

    Traffic will be a problem anywhere DCSS builds in that area. The alternative to building a school at Briarcliff location is allowing more retail or another Emory clinic on the property. Both of which will hurt the community surrounding the Briarcliff site. Know DCSD does not care about the communities surrounding their properties by the way they treat all their abandoned properties. Think I would prefer having a school there where its traffic impact will be finished by 7:30 in the morning and finished by 4:00 in the afternoon. Both times the peak traffic has not yet started. Also under the Brookhaven location plan everybody talks about crossing the expressway like this is running a mine field. The Brookhaven people talk west versus East of I-85. They do not mention that under Brookhaven plan Sagamore Hills and possibly Oak Grove E.S. will have to cross that very same expressway.
    DCSD needs to recognize that Cross Keys Cluster has TWO major issues that need to be addressed. One is overcrowding. The second major issue they need to address is how the entire Cluster was gerrymandered to isolate the lower income families. Under the Brookhaven plan the rich get richer and the students who need the most help get the crumbs.
    The BOE needs to wake up and realize their plan is leading them Dow the same path as before.DCSD two newest High Schools are already overcrowded. Lakeside was overcrowded the day they opened after their last $24 million remodeling. Same with Cross Keys and Druid Hills. Personally I am tired of seeing Esplost after Esplost money being spent on the same schools.
    DCSD needs to wake up and realize that people are getting tired of their poor performance in planning. The Administration should step up their performance and realize they need to form a new cluster around the Briarcliff site to relieve overcrowding at Cross Keys, Lakeside, Druid Hills and Chamblee H.S. Which by freeing up seats at Chamblee H.S. and Lakeside H.S. could help Tucker H.S.
    Unfortunately I think the 3 no votes want to maintain the segregation of the Hispanic student population. Pleas do not talk about community schools in Brookhaven when some students who would have to walk to Cross Keys are being bussed to Chamblee H.S.
    Also new school should be named Briarcliff. Cross Keys makes as much sense as naming it Brookhaven. Where Cross Keys is located now is not that close to where the area Cross keys the community was located and Briarcliff site is even further away.
    Time BOE does it job and redistrict many of the schools.

  6. Dianne Medlock Joy

    Tim, this is where you and I disagree. I don’t think that building a new high school on the Brookhaven side is isolating those students but is responding to the desires of those students and families that want easy transportation to and from the school. It is also responding to the rapid growth in that area. I am not sure that the resident population in the Lakeside and DHHS districts is growing as much as is claimed; extra seats in those school are given to school choice–even though I am a huge supported of school choice. I don’t think there is a perfect answer but I agree that the Cross Keys cluster has been ignored too long. I do know that the population at DHMS is very diverse and my 8th grade grandson considers to that to be one of the best aspects of that school. I don’t think anyone is working to isolate any cultural group into one school.

  7. Dianne Medlock Joy

    I support CD and Angela. Push for a new vote, after the other BOE members have driven that route–in the morning and afternoon–before school ends.

  8. Based on the data that Stan provided, I estimated that the offers along that stretch were around $1.5M per acre while our estimates for the Briarcliff site were only around $600k/acre. I personally feel that access to I-85 is more valuable than access to Buford Highway. However, if land owners on that stretch of highway feel that $1.5M is the right price, then they should probably just go ahead and try to build townhomes on these properties.
    We should expand the search to more reasonable land further north on Buford Highway. The problem was always we started with the plan and said we would find the land afterwards. We need to find the land and build the plan on that.
    This is very helpful information, Stan. Much appreciated!

  9. This is fine, IMHO, as we do need a high school on that property. I think it’s the perfect set up to eventually change the planned attendance for this high school to address over-crowding at Lakeside, and the soon to be displaced Druid Hills students. Plus – Cross Keys houses the ONLY vo-tech programs in the north end of the county. Stan, will these programs be moved to the new site as well? It would be nice to eventually convert at least one full building on the Briarcliff site to a Vo-tech school. Perhaps the rest of the Briarcliff school buildings could house a true magnet school for high achievers? That could pull about 1,500 students from Chamblee, Lakeside and Druid Hills, plus others.
    All in all, building a high school on the Briarcliff site will never negate the need for an additional high school(s) (and likely feeder schools) in the Doraville/Brookhaven attendance zones. The growth in these areas is off the charts! The school district planners need to get on the stick and start building for the growth that’s coming in the north end of the county or they will continue to be perpetually behind the 8 ball, continuing in their tradition of relegating classes to trailer ‘villages’ for the foreseeable future.

  10. Disappointed again in DeKalb

    DCSD has demonstrated once again their bad habit of first calling for a BOE vote and later trying to figure out how to make their decision work. Case in point – purchasing 4 metal detectors for a school of 2,200+ students, 20+ exterior doors, and a field full of trailers. When asked how that would work, they have no response, except that they are working on it. Umm… aren’t you supposed to figure out how the plan will work before you vote on whether or not to fund it? That’s how it works in the real world.
    DCSD has a responsibility to the BOE to provide them with thoroughly-researched options that take into consideration the unique assets and challenges that exist in any given community and will allow our students and staff members to be successful. They didn’t do that. The BOE has an obligation to the citizens of DeKalb, as well as DCSD students, parents, and staff, to listen to the options presented and discern which, if any, will best allow our students to achieve and our communities to be successful. They didn’t do that. Four BOE members failed to listen to their colleagues, and now their silence on this matter is deafening. We all want to hear from those four board members, not just DCSD.
    Sadly, nowhere in the press release from DCSD is concern for student achievement mentioned. Not once. Correlations between students’ close proximity to schools, good attendance records, positive parental involvement, and good student achievement are well documented in the academic world. How did this knowledge escape DCSD staff and the four BOE members? The press release seems overly concerned with money, but not concerned at all with student achievement. Isn’t student achievment supposed to be the motivating factor in determining how the BOE and DCSD allocate tax dollars?
    As to displacing families, any property owner on Buford Hwy. or elsewhere has the right to sell their apartment complexes to the highest paying developers at any time. DCSD isn’t protecting the community with this terrible decision. It’s neither within DCSD’s ability, nor is it their responsibility to protect residents from displacement. It is, however, the responsibility of the BOE and DCSD staff to use tax-payer’s money to provide clean, safe, and well-maintained schools of appropriate size, safe and reliable transportation, competent and fully-vetted staff members, a quality instructional program, and all possible support to allow students to be successful today and in their future careers. How are they doing?It’s a good thing that we still have a lot of great educators and support staff in our local schools, because they manage to serve our children in spite of their incompetent leadership at the Palace.
    *****I love my local school, but I DON’T love DCSD.*****

  11. The BOE approved plan already includes redistricting 350 CCHS zone students and 250 Lakeside zone students to this new high school at the Briarcliff location as well as housing almost all of the Cross Keys attendance zone there.
    400 Cross Keys students will be redistricted to CCHS and 125 Tucker students will be redistricted to Lakeside.
    Obviously the redistricting lines haven’t been drawn yet but LET’S BE CLEAR that this plan has no provisions for housing any students who might be displaced from Druid Hills HS. DCSD already expects this new high school to be at 99% utilization when it’s complete.
    Probably what DCSD will do is wait until real estate prices soar in the Doravile area and then decide that they need to buy land for a new high school – surprise! – to house all the growth in that area.
    This is just so sad, preventable, and harmful to our children and our community.

  12. Anonymous, Druid Hills High School is just a few feet from the border of the City of Atlanta. Two questions …
    1. How long before Druid Hills High School is annexed?
    2. When DHHS is annexed, where do you think those students are going to go? (aside from McNair)

  13. Stan, I agree that DCSD should be planning where to educate the Druid Hills HS students if that building is lost to Atlanta. I think that area will vote to join Atlanta sooner rather than later, perhaps before the E-SPLOST-V period ends in 2022.
    So I also would like to know where DHHS students will go if annexation happens.
    In the earlier post I meant that the new Cross Keys HS is already full with students from elsewhere. There isn’t any room for the DHHS students.
    Also, I don’t think the public will tolerate redistricting students at the new Cross Keys HS back to the north to make room for displaced Druid Hills HS students.
    The Druid Hills zone is bounded by overcapacity schools (new Cross Keys, Lakeside, and Clarkston) as well as schools with many open seats (McNair, Columbia, Towers).
    Perhaps Dr. Green will decide that this would be a perfect opportunity to split the diverse Druid Hills HS population (13% Asian, 46% Black, 13% Hispanic, 23% White, 4% Multi-Racial) as a way to increase diversity at Towers, Columbia, and McNair rather than making an effort to keep the DHHS community together.
    It’s a problem of DCSD’s own making. Some of it was done long before the current staff was in place but much of the problem can be laid squarely at the feet of Dr. Green and BOE members who supported his plan.

  14. Well, ‘most’ of the Druid Hills students will become students in Atlanta Public Schools. The only ones we need to think about are the ones who live outside the annexed zone. I’ve ‘heard’ in the past that this may be 1,000 students – which is strange … as it means that most of the Druid Hills students don’t live in the area that will be annexed to APS. True?
    Also – I keep asking – and I have never gotten an answer — will the Vo-tech programs at Cross Keys move along with the high school? These are some very high tech automotive, etc programs that were really just built out with SPLOST dollars. It used to be the High School of Technology North but was moved in with Cross Keys when the land it was on was traded to GPC for land to build Dunwoody ES. It was then counted as improvements (lots of $$) to Cross Keys HS, but it was actually a magnet sort of program contained within CKHS buildings. Any student can attend – and the programs are only half days. Stan >> Has this even been discussed?

  15. Historically, city annexations aren’t that big. Chamblee and Brookhaven have been annexing a few neighborhoods at a time. I don’t know if the administration is planning on moving the Vo-Tech program to the new school. I don’t believe this has been brought before the board.

  16. Someone has to ‘bring it’ to the board? Hmmmm. So, no discussion whatsoever about the ONLY vocational program in the north end of the county? Seems inequitable. They should have their own school – something that is all day every day for the junior/senior year. These are very successful up north and in the midwest. Sends kids out into the world with real job skills.
    ps … on the issue of the DHHS building … wouldn’t APS have to pay DeKalb schools something for this? Wouldn’t they have to financial make up for displacing so many students?

  17. I can’t say if Vo-Tech has been discussed among the administrators. It’s an operational issue and not a policy issue. Nobody from Cross Keys has come to me about it. Cross Keys HS is not in my constituent area.
    When cities annex, the city takes over the county property and the city school district takes over county school district property. They effectively pay pennies on the dollar. Think of the school district as a pizza and each school is a slice of that pizza. The people have paid for their school (or their slice of the pizza). If they want to go somewhere else, they take their slice with them. You wouldn’t make them pay again for a slice of pizza they already paid for. That’s the theory.
    Here’s the settled law on it: Annexation – What happens to the Property
    “A similar question was raised involving the court case Board of Education of Fulton County v. Board of Education of College Park. 147 Ga. 776. 95 S.E. 684 (1918). Fulton BOE v College Park BOE seems to be the controlling ruling for the past century…”

  18. If the 4 BOE members who voted for the Briarcliff site did so due to the $19-$38 million extra expense of a land purchase, why are they allowing the administration to retain the high achiever magnet at Chamblee High? They could save the entire cost of the addition by moving the magnet to a school with empty seats or to the new CKHS. That would have provided the needed money for a site west of I 85?

  19. Stan, with this location having been finalized, when you do think the school administration will be honest about shifts in attendance zones and the timing for such? And don’t you think it is a lot more likely that the magnet program will be moved to this location?
    While I agree that DHHS might eventually become part of APS, I’m pretty sure DeKalb will tie them up in lawsuits for years. Michael Thurmond will get involved, and he will team up with Green. I don’t see any impact on DCSD for many years.

  20. Cere, you write that “‘most’ of the Druid Hills students will become students in Atlanta Public Schools.”
    If you look at the DHHS attendance zone, I think you might change your mind.
    DHHS is located on the western part of its attendance zone and shares a property line with Emory, which now is part of the City of Atlanta. It wouldn’t take more than a handful of streets to join Atlanta for the DHHS site to be swallowed up.
    However, the DHHS attendance zone extends all the way out to I-285. It goes up to the Lawrenceville Highway/I-285 intersection, then south to Memorial Drive.
    I think it’s very likely that the DHHS property and a small neighborhood surrounding it will go to Atlanta, but I do not ever think that Atlanta will swallow up all of the DHHS zone.
    So my concern is that the DHHS facility will go but the majority of its students will remain in DeKalb county.

  21. Good work, Stan Jester. The outcome of the vote was horrible pathetic but I sincerely appreciate you and the two other board members doing the right thing. Count on me for support, please, and your continued re-election.

  22. Good work, Stan Jester. The outcome of the vote was horrible but I sincerely appreciate you and the two other board members doing the right thing. Count on me for support, please, and your continued re-election.

  23. This was probably already covered, but I’m still not clear on what schools will serve whom. Briarcliff site becomes a new HS, Sequoyah remains a MS, and the Cross Keys site becomes…what? Is there full redistricting plan out? Seems that should proceed any construction plans.
    Crossing I-85 is like trying to cross a major river with just a couple of tiny bridges. Creating a district that does this seems like a bad idea. Deepest sympathy for those on the wrong side of the river.

  24. Brookhaven passes resolution asking DeKalb Schools to keep Cross Keys High School in city
    Dyana BagbyApr 24, 2018
    The Brookhaven City Council unanimously approved a resolution April 24 asking the DeKalb County Board of Education to reconsider its decision to locate the new Cross Keys High School at the former Briarcliff High School site and instead build it on Buford Highway in Brookhaven.
    The resolution directs City Manager Christian Sigman to begin a dialogue with Supt. Stephen Green “to collaborate on the construction of a new Brookhaven High School along Buford Highway” and also requests the Brookhaven Development Authority to “assess any and all available tools to assist in efforts to retain a public high school within the city of Brookhaven.”
    The DeKalb Board of Education voted April 16 to build the new Cross Keys High School at the former Briarcliff High School site at 2415 North Druid Hills Road despite opposition from the three board members closest to the area.
    The school district has allocated nearly $85 million in ESPLOST funding for the new 2,500-seat school. It is needed to alleviate overcrowding at the current Cross Keys High, which is located at 1626 North Druid Hills Road.
    Other potential sites included several apartment complexes along Buford Highway, which would have been too expensive to purchase and would displace hundreds of students, the school district said.
    Councilmember Joe Gebbia, whose district includes Buford Highway, initiated the resolution and said he believes the best place to build the new high school is adjacent to the current Cross Keys High School. The current Cross Keys High is set to become a 1,500-seat middle school in a $10 million project.
    By having the middle school, a new high school and Woodward Elementary adjacent to each other creates a school campus that Gebbia said would best serve the community and students.
    Mayor John Ernst said he was surprised by the school board’s decision and is ready to work with school administrators to find a way to keep the high school in Brookhaven.
    “I know there is a way to get this done, there are many different ways to get this done, we just need a willing partner with the school system to do it,” he said. “I believe we can help them in any way to mitigate both the economics and social justice aspects of this.”
    Click to read the full resolution:
    Brkhvn 2018-04 BOE Resolution

  25. Forced diversity by Rebekka Cohen Morris and friends. They just can’t help it. They see Mexicans on one side of the highway and have to stir them up with the white community. It doesn’t matter to them that high schoolers will literally be KILLED on the way to school. It is called the Kalergi plan. Whites must be forcibly diversified. Not enough that we cannot protect our borders. Not enough that we must pay welfare to those who illegally crossed the border and give them free medical care, food stamps, education, jobs programs, ESOL programs. We MUST be mixed with their kids in schools. In mega 5,000+ student schools so as to allow as much area as possible to mix different neighborhoods. Little secret clubs are on board. That’s why Jim McMahan voted against his own people. Little club favors.

  26. Rebekah Morris used to be a teacher with DeKalb Schools and has a popular blog, Georgian Educator. From my discussions with her, I believe she says what she says because she cares. I may not agree with her (as you will see), but she genuinely cares about people.
    Her number one goal, from what I understand, is affordable living. She has advocated for locations other than apartments for new schools. She recently published an article discussing her thoughts on the decision to build the new Cross Keys Brookhaven High School at the Briarcliff site.
    Catch 22: DeKalb County Schools, Cross Keys and Site Selection
    Rebekah offers the following reasons for why “the Briarcliff location was the best possible decision for the greatest number of students”:
    1. The Briarcliff site is the most cost-effective choice.
    2. The only properties the district was even considering were apartment complexes.
    Officials at the City of Brookhaven have been working with the school district and strongly believe that cost neutral sites were available. I would like to point out that apartments were not the only sites being considered. I generally disagree with every point Rebekah makes … let me know if anybody agrees with any of her points. I would like to better understand her logic.

  27. Rebekkah Cohen only cares about forced diversity and instituting a white guilt campaign. She is a fraud. Her only passion is unpopular forced diversity. She was a big part of the fast, swift, secret, undemocratic push to evict Sagamore and Oak Grove from their neighborhood school, Lakeside. Briarcliff is in a commercial area with high traffic. It is an inappropriate school site for this reason. School sites should never be picked in commercial areas, according to Georgia’s school siting guide. Briarcliff should be rejected as a school site by the DOT and land planning boards as it is not an appropriate site for a school anymore. Ever since these schools sites shut down, commercial development has taken off in that area. If thousands of school buses and carpool cars were to clog up morning and afternoon traffic on that highway interchange, the city would shut down

  28. chamblee getting screwed

    It’s not just Cohen. It’s a whole gaggle of these squawking geese who think that if we just force groups together and make it miserable for everyone else with all these additions that it will be utopia. And now they all got burned. The CKHS kids are arguably worse off thanks to Cohen Morris and Kim Gokce’s meddling. They have hurt the cause of the kids they supposedly “care about so much.” What they really care about is their egos. And that has impacted everyone. Take a step back. Has anyone “won” here? Not the CKHS kids. Not the kids in current schools who are about to become mega schools with all these crazy additions. Who has exactly benefited from all this? Answer – NO ONE! Great job Dr. Green and school board sheep (excluding Stan).

  29. George Chidi

    The anonymous commenter above is doing his cause no favors with his overt racism and hysterical antisemitic commentary.
    I happen to believe the new location for the high school is probably a mistake. But I won’t make common cause with a racist — I would urge Stan to make a note of the (likely fake) email address and IP address of the comment, the better to identify this cancer.