Make Lakeside HS Better Not Bigger

The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) conducted a Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study to develop long-term plans for addressing capacity needs of the district’s middle schools and high schools.

Instead of building a new high school in Doraville, the board and administration decided to add classrooms, kitchen space, cafeteria space and parking to Lakeside High School (LHS), Chamblee Charter High School (CCHS) and Dunwoody High School (DHS).

Can anybody tell me how adding 750 seats and squeezing 2,400 students like sardines into Lakeside High School will be good for anybody in that community?

The opposition to the building additions has been gaining momentum.

EducateDeKalb.Org has initiated a campaign to make “Lakeside Better Not Bigger”. In their own words …

Overcrowding at Lakeside High School (LHS) has become a crisis. As part of a larger overcrowding problem in its northern areas, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Board of Education (BOE) has approved physical plant expansions to 3 high schools in those areas (of which one is LHS) in order to increase the student population at each school. Based on continued growth in the area and DCSD predicted enrollment, this expansion would not solve current overcrowding problems.

LHS was built in the 1960’s and expanded in 2012 to accommodate 1,796 students (SPLOST III). As of October 2017 LHS enrollment was 2,165 and growing. The $26M planned expansion will add 750 seats to the LHS campus, bringing its capacity to 2,500+ students with projected enrollment of 2,600+. For many reasons, we believe this “approved solution” will potentially damage the LHS student experience, academic achievement, and extracurricular activities, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods.

LHS has a strong heritage of academic excellence, but over the past 10 years its performance trajectory has steadily declined. The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners are urging the DCSD to halt this LHS expansion and develop a comprehensive, informed strategic plan for the whole district before building or expanding any existing facilities. We believe a better plan would more effectively include building a new high school and reducing the LHS student population to 1,796, which it was expanded to accommodate in 2012.

12 Reasons Lakeside High School Should Be BETTER, not Bigger


  1. The DeKalb County School District plans to address overcrowding at Lakeside High School by adding 750 additional seats, bringing the enrollment capacity to over 2,500 students by 2022.
  2. The proposed plan attempts to turn a small, circa-1960, neighborhood high school, that was built for only 1,200 students, into a mega-school for 2,500+. Instead of building a large, modern, state-of-the-art school, they will just add 38 classrooms and expand portions of the kitchen, cafeteria, and media center. A school of 2,500 requires a minimum campus size of 45 acres per state DOE standards. The Lakeside HS site contains 33 acres.
  3. The proposed plan does nothing to address or enhance the overall safety and educational opportunities of Lakeside students, beyond temporarily eliminating portable classrooms.
  4. DCSD’s own published enrollment projections predict that Lakeside will be overcrowded again after the addition is completed in 2022.
  5. Much of the original building and previous 2012 addition will be entirely untouched, despite the addition of 750+ students. The unimproved portions of the campus will include the original classrooms, gymnasium, swimming pool, hallways, and stairwells (which were built in the early 1960s to accommodate half as many students), locker rooms, restrooms, auditorium, visual and performing arts classrooms, technology labs, office and counseling suites, ROTC and culinary arts classrooms, storage, workrooms, and utility spaces.
  6. The additional 750 students and staff will result in increased traffic on our already congested two-lane roads, which may lead to longer emergency response times and extended commute times for area residents, LHS staff, and students.
  7. Frequent traffic congestion has a negative impact on student achievement, as students arrive late to school and miss portions of first period instruction. Buses leaving Lakeside may also be late transporting students to Henderson Middle School.
  8. Traffic congestion will likely be worse in the near future due to the development of CHOA at Druid Hills Road and the purchase of Briarcliff UMC by Globe Academy at Shallowford Road.
  9. The Dewberry Study revealed that our fragile watershed cannot accommodate additional development in the region. The intersection of Briarlake and Briarcliff Roads floods after heavy rains and prevents safe passage for pedestrians, school buses, and emergency response vehicles.  This poses a public safety threat for neighborhood residents, students, faculty, and school administration.
  10. The size of the Lakeside’s attendance zone, stretching from DeKalb’s border with Gwinnett County near Pleasantdale Road all the way down to neighborhoods beyond Clairmont Road, is simply too large to allow all students to participate in the many opportunities that exist before and after school hours at Lakeside, such as clubs, athletics, music, drama, volunteering, and tutoring.
  11. The proposed multi-story parking garage near Oak Grove Road and relocation of the girls’ softball field to the wooded area behind the school will cause many more problems than they will solve.
  12. The DeKalb County Commission, Lakeside School Council, as well as many concerned citizens, have all asked DCSD, Superintendent Green, and the Board of Education to find a better solution to overcrowding at Lakeside High School.

Final Report of Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study– October 31, 2016
Proposed Recommendations for Addressing Challenges and Opportunities of Middle Schools & High Schools (Oct. 31, 2016)

Final Recommendation – September 27, 2016 Informational Meeting

Final Recommendation Presentation (Sept. 27, 2016)

Final Recommendation Handouts (Sept. 27, 2016)


750 More Seats at Lakeside HS? Why?
January 30, 2017 – Lakeside High School is currently cramming 2,184 students into a building with a capacity of 1,756 students. Only one other school in North DeKalb scored a below average 2016 School Climate Star Rating. How will adding 750 seats to Lakeside High School improve their School Climate Star Rating and academic achievement?

Is 600 More Seats At Chamblee Charter HS A Good Idea?
January 17, 2017 – Please help me understand why adding 600 seats to Chamblee Charter High School is good for anybody in that community? I suspect that any support is driven by redistricting.

Pros and Cons of adding 600 seats to Dunwoody HS
January 7, 2017 – Moving forward, I’m trying to understand the support for the building addition at Dunwoody High School. The speculation that some Dunwoody residents would be redistricted out of DHS seems to be the only reason for any continued support of the building additions.

65 responses to “Make Lakeside HS Better Not Bigger

  1. Bill Armstrong

    Stan, I’ll just ask because I honestly have no idea to the actual state of things: hasn’t the train already left the station on the Cross Keys, Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside, HS new school/additions?

    I know it was approved by the board, a whole fancy/detailed timeline put into place, construction committees formed, etc. but checking what those were on the website, obviously some of those milestones haven’t happened as scheduled.

    But logistically, legally, etc. can the process already put into motion two years ago be modified to extent a “new Doraville HS” can be voted into being & these projects & new redistricting be stopped?

    If so, how?

    If not, why continue to have these efforts?

    No opinion or commentary from me on what is “best” – just wondering can this even be done?

    I know “everything is possible” but is it really in this case?

  2. The school district can change direction if the administration and board decide to. I’m not aware of any legal binding to the original decision. I’ve been trying to get an update on the plans for LHS and CCHS building additions for over a month to no avail. I’ll post as soon as I get something. I believe they have scoped out a few different options and are still trying to make plans.

  3. Bill Armstrong

    Stan. Thanks – I’ll hang up & listen!

  4. @Bill – Remember this was an “OPEN” SPLOST – meaning, the county just said, give us money, and we will come up with where the money comes later. The administration needs to bring changes to the board for that to happen. It is our responsibility to put pressure on our board members and administration onto why these ideas are not good ones. It is the board’s job to make sure Dr. Green is listening and coming up with a better plan.

    Start with a total county redistricting first, then build the new CrossKeys, Briarcliff, Brookhaven High School (have no idea what it’s real name will be). I bet you will find out CCHS and LHS will not need these mega additions on tiny plots of land.

    The prior SPLOST all had projects that we voted on. Those SPLOSTs could not be changed at all because the county was legally bound to it.

  5. The specific E-SPLOST V project list was approved by the board at the BUSINESS MEETING 12/5/2016

    Here’s the video. The discussion and vote start at 34:43

  6. Bill Armstrong

    Thanks Stan, I remember being there on 12/5/16 & watching the vote, including your vote “no.” So that’s my question – the plan was approved by the BOE vote, plans were done, the whole “machine” to do it, including the CACs, was put in place, but as we know no ground has been broken – yet.

    So can the battleship be turned around? I assume it would take the super/admin. to essentially come up with a new plan “scratch that, vote on this.” The board can’t just unilaterally undo their vote. They’d have to convince Green to bring them a new plan, essentially 2 years after the 1st. Doing that, in whole or in part, seems like a tall order.

    So I guess to be more specific, the CACs & the rest are giving input on the plan already approved. And the “A” is advise, they can’t vote away an addition themselves. So is there a threshold of change that would require a new vote for board approval? Can it be done piecemeal?

  7. Lynn King makes a good point in that the E-SPLOST-V projects that include mega-schools on mini-sites can be changed by a BOE vote, rather than having to be approved by DeKalb county voters.

    All the voters approved was funding for broad categories. The BOE can change the actual projects.

    So let’s ask the BOE to take another look at the projects they approved. The mark of a strong and wise BOE is to realize when to say “pause,” and to be sure that their plan is good for all.

    These ill-advised projects are far behind schedule, which is good. Construction of the 600 seat CCHS addition was supposed to start in 2 months. Yet the Construction Advisory Committee has been told that the project is on hold.

    As long as there are no shovels in the ground there is hope.

  8. The monkey wrench thrown into this is Briarcliff High School. There is absolutely no way that the Cross Keys population can cross 85 and attend the Briarcliff HS where it is. I also believe it’s just a matter of time before Fernbank ES and Druid Hills High School get annexed by Atlanta/Atlanta Public Schools.

  9. Bill Armstrong

    Anonymous. Agreed. But the board still needs something to vote on, presented to them by the super. So is that the thought – they are contemplating a new plan? Other than delay is there evidence they are actively doing it, I’d say I’d be surprised to learn they are doing it in secret, but then again, it’s DeKalb, so nothing surprises me. And what/who is behind the “hold?”

    Also, I’m not sure the BOE can even vote to put this “on pause” nor do I think “the BOE can change the actual projects” without voting on something presented by the super. But maybe I’m wrong.

    Stan. Procedurally, what has to happen to change this, in whole or in part?

    And to be clear, I’m not arguing merits, I just know that there have been multiple collective efforts to voice strong arguments for changing the plan after the vote, starting almost immediately after it happened. But nothing has ever been brought to the board to vote on. At least not yet.

    So that’s what I’m “listening for” but it seems like you haven’t been able to get current info. yourself, again par for the course.

  10. The administration can hold up the projects. Austin Elementary project was held up for years because they didn’t know what to do. The board as a whole hasn’t reconsidered anything. The administration is probably figuring out how all of this is going to work. I’m waiting for an update on the administration’s plans for LHS and CCHS. The administration would more than likely need to decide to change course. I don’t see a majority of the board deciding to change course and coming to the administration.

  11. The LHS addition will bring th total up to between 2500 and 2600. The school is projected to be overcrowded as soon as the addition is completed. There need to be two more new high schools in Regions 1 and 2. Students should not be traveling across I-85 or across both I-285 and I-85. This is currently happening at Lakeside. New attendance areas are long overdue.

  12. DeKalb Schools may have to start rezoning South. Cant keep putting band aids over bullet holes.

  13. Briarcliff, Oak Grove, Lavista streets very high traffic areas. These are not huge streets. I really hope that some careful thought is given to Lakeside.
    How in the world can that area handle a bigger Lakeside and more students?

    At what point is safety a consideration?

    If you have never done this, take a drive by Lakeside when school is starting or ending.

  14. That would start with Druid Hills HS students going to McNair HS.

  15. I have read the state BOE recommendations on school sizes, in which these plans blatantly disregard. Do they just simply get ignored as they are just recommendations? Does the state board have any say in this?

  16. I’ve had this conversation with the state many times. The state’s position is that they provide guidance and not oversight.

  17. Stan,

    A couple of questions — Austin isn’t the only project from SPLOST 4 that isn’t finished/hasn’t started right? Pleasantdale and Smoke Rise elementary schools too. Have any projects from SPLOST 5 started? (I imagine there is somewhere online I could see this, but I am too lazy to look)

    While many of the high schools are land locked by residential neighborhoods, it would seem like there is potential for the system to acquire (not necessarily cheaply) commercial space around Chamblee High School. This would allow for the construction of a much larger facility there — through additions.

    The website you linked above mentions moving the magnet program as one solution. They reference moving it to the new high school on NDH, but is it possible to move it somewhere sooner? What is the deal with the Avondale High School building for example — could the program be moved there so redistricting into Chamblee (without enlarging the building) could happen?

  18. what would it take to convince the board members in central and southern DeKalb that total county redistricting or “Option A” is in their best interest?

    Looking at the graduation rate data just came out, Redan, Stephenson, SW DeKalb, and Cedar Grove are on a good trajectory. Would those schools be OK taking on students from lower performing schools such Clarkston, or Stone Mtn? Why risk it?

    Option A = more money for region 1 and 2 and less for 3, 4, and 5. I don’t see why they would vote that option.

    Any plan that negatively affects regions 3-5 is a no go.

  19. Hello Ellen! Here is the Capital Improvement Program August 2018 MONTHLY STATUS REPORT

    DCSD is looking into expanding the campus size of LHS and CCHS.

    I don’t believe moving the high achievers magnet is on the table. There is already a high achievers magnet in South DeKalb. I’m OK with creating a new high achievers magnet somewhere else.

    Thai has his finger on the pulse.

  20. Re: all these recent posts. These arguments, & many more, were made here, in countless threads for pages, & elsewhere (public input meetings, regular school board meeting, etc.), before & after the project list was voted on in December 2016, but to no avail. Perhaps the delays in implementation have provided a window that gives people new hope? Or is there an objective reason to believe they will now be considered by the administration & the plans actually changed? Based on past posts and comments in other venues, Stan agrees with much of what is been presented now & for years. But would the system change & if they did would new current BOE vote to approve?

    I’m not saying not try, and perhaps this holding pattern provides a new window, but this is DeKalb.

    And regarding “this is DeKalb,” Cathy D, many, many people would agree with you “New attendance areas are long overdue” and have been for over a decade, but when that’s thrown out people’s heads explode. I’m sure that’s a big factor in the strategy “we’ll build the schools & additions 1st, & then draw the lines.”

    When it comes to big moves, resistance is huge. Moving the Magnet to other locations like Avondale, like Ellen suggests, again even with a more Central location for many, try to get that thru & I assure you a roomful of CCHS Magnet parents might spontaneously combust. Everyone’s all cool with moving kids, as long as it’s not their own.

    Ellen – I will add, I’ve never talked to anyone connected to Chamblee who wouldn’t love more land be bought, and obviously that’s been argued before – repeatedly. But never happened.

    Like I said, nothing’s impossible, and maybe some version of these changes would actually gain traction, but I don’t see it as realistic. I’m not counting on it, but I’ll be watching.

  21. Tim DeBardelaben

    What I find to my astonishment is how few people have known about the BOE plans to keep putting band aids on bullet holes. Let’s face it DCSD Planning Dept. does not have a clue on what to do. The proof is the fact that DCSD two newest High Schools are already overcrowded. Chamblee and Tucker High Schools both are a joke in what was built. Why does the BOE not realize that they are getting bad advice and why are Jim McMahan and Marshall Orson not representing the neighborhoods they were elected to serve. Jim McMahan supports making Sagamore Hills E.S. into a split feed E.S. He also told me that the new High School on North Druid Hills busses would cause too much traffic in the surrounding neighborhood. Hate telling him but school busses ran in that neighborhood for 20+ years with no problems. Marshall Orson was caught working with the City of Atlanta to get Druid Hills and Emory to be annexed into Atlanta.
    DCSD needs a new cluster not just a bigger Cross Keys H.S. They own enough land on North Druid Hills to put a mega campus that would consist of a High School, Middle School and end enough parking for Adams Stadium.
    Even the fact that DCSD wants to name new High School Cross Keys is a major mistake…. Cross Keys has a stigma. Nobody wants to admit that when redistricting happens, people will fight to keep their children from going there. If they name it Briarcliff like it should be, DCSD could push that like a Phoenix something great is rising from the ashes to make something great. Briarcliff still has a rich history and active alumni that could help DCSD with the transition. Briarcliff is still in the top 10 of DCSD schools with State Championships and it’s been closed over 30 years. Briarcliff has produced many Doctors Lawyers, Judges, Politicians.Civic Leaders and TV personalities. DCSD should be trying for greatness not just more repeating what didn’t work the first time.

  22. There is no room for expansion at CCHS or LHS (or DHS). Stan, you have already shared data on the recommended property size for high schools, and all three of these are significantly under. Two of the CCHS expansion proposals take an open practice field, build a parking garage on it (thus eliminating any view for one entire side of the academic building), and then put an athletic practice field on TOP of it. This has disaster written all over it.

    The administration and most of the BOE is so focused on “fairness” that they cannot stomach building something in north DeKalb without the fear of offending south DeKalb, even though there are plenty of large, gleaming, under-capacity buildings in south DeKalb. I honestly think it gives certain members of the BOE pleasure to know that north DeKalb kids are suffering.

    CCHS, DHS, and LHS are only going to see this plan change when they can come up with justification for a lawsuit like CKHS. Sue the district, and you will halt this stupid plan.

  23. Thanks for posting Stan. And maybe I’m an idiot (many might agree) but is there really much changed/updated since the Spring? And to Thai’s point, $227M of $560M going to Region 1 already dwarfs 3-5 combined.

  24. Better Not Bigger is organized by a group that didn’t about the building additions until after the vote. Heck, a neighborhood close to LHS didn’t know about the planned building additions until a few months ago. More and more people are catching finding out.

    Equally vs Equitably – Should E-SPLOST money be spent equally or equitably? That debate has been going on for a while. E-SPLOST IV monies were spent equally across the districts. Schools in South DeKalb at 40% capacity were rebuilt. However, when it comes to services, those tend to be on an equitable basis. South DeKalb split their regions up to make it easier to manage the flood of services and programs at those schools.

  25. @ Stan – Before you say move “That would start with Druid Hills HS students going to McNair HS.” you better be watching what is going on down in East Lake area of the county that is not in the City of Atlanta. They have had many neighborhood meetings and are having momentum growing for what you ask…… Being annexed into the City of Atlanta, so that their child would have a chance of getting into Drew Charter School.

    So you are saying that some students will have to drive through the City of Atlanta Schools to go to another DCSD school.

  26. Anonymous Resident

    Top 10 reasons why we are still discussing this:
    1. DCSD didn’t bother to conduct thorough feasibility studies (watershed, sewer, traffic, first responder, safety) before creating the three options to address overcrowding.
    2. DCSD did a poor job of communicating their plans and opportunities for input to the general public. Only a portion of tax-payers in DeKalb actually have children in the public school system. DCSD can pay for “I love DeKalb” billboards, ads to oppose Emory Annexation, and postcards for SPLOST votes, but they couldn’t manage to notify taxpayers without students in DCSD schools about their opportunities to give feedback at community input sessions.
    3. DCSD set up a flawed online survey that any individual could take an unlimited number times and used that flawed data to justify their recommendation to the BOE to vote for the cheapest of the three options to address overcrowding.
    4. DCSD has allowed recommendations from local school councils (who feel obligated to serve their individual school communities) to dictate DCSD’s plans to address overcrowding instead of hiring objective professionals to create strategic plans that address the needs of the entire system.
    5. DCSD has demonstrated their arrogance by pretending to listen to citizens, but instead ignoring the attempts of community members to share concerns about the schoo system’s flawed plans to address overcrowding.
    6. DCSD has made warehousing and feeding students a priority over inspiring excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts. The additions at CCHS, DHS, and LHS are bare minimums that don’t enhance our communities or opportunities for our children.
    7. DCSD has taken advantage of the fact that the State BOE is largely powerless and will issues waiver after waiver to our school system. Why bother to have guidelines if they are meaningless and uninforceable?
    8. DCSD leaders are jumping ship left and right – Josh Williams, Gary Brantley, and others – which doesn’t inspire confidence in the system or the plans they have previously made.
    9. DCSD took advantage of DeKalb voters by asking us to trust Dr. Green and vote on SPLOST V before a project list was published. Maybe voters will remember this when it’s time for the next vote, if we’re still living in DeKalb, that is.
    10. DCSD continues to make poor recommendations to the BOE without fully investigating and understanding the ramifications of their bad decisions (moving CCHS to the former BHS site, purchasing metal detectors, etc…) because they know that the majority of the BOE will do whatever they ask.

  27. Stan, kind of an off topic comment…..but, I noticed in the Capital Improvement Program 2017-2022 presentation you posted in one of your above comments, that there are now 7 regions? Basically what was previously Regions 3-5 are now Regions 3-7? When did this change and why (I admit, I may have missed this announcement somewhere)? Meanwhile, Regions 1 and 2 have remained exactly the same AND both have had enrollment increases year over year, but the Regional lines haven’t changed at all? The same single Superintendents are now overseeing a grossly lopsided number of students, etc. on the north end of the county vs. the south. Things that make you go hmmmmm.

  28. Here are the lopsided numbers taken from that report dated August 2018:

    R-1 Superintendent: Ms. Sherry Johnson: 26 Schools – 20,977 Students
    R-2 Superintendent: Mr. Trenton Arnold: 28 Schools – 20,120 Students
    R-3 Superintendent: Dr. Sean Tartt: 17 Schools – 14,797 Students
    R-4 Superintendent: Dr. Michelle Jones: 17 Schools – 11,903 Students
    R-5 Superintendent: Dr. Triscilla Weaver: 16 Schools – 13,310 Students
    R-6 Superintendent: Mrs. Pamela Benford: 16 Schools – 9,297 Students
    R-7 Superintendent: Dr. Bernetta Jones: 16 Schools – 9,728 Students

  29. Thai, your question about whether schools that are on a good trajectory for rising graduation rates would be OK with taking on students from lower performing schools, is quite curious.

    That’s not part of the decision process, at least not in Region 1.

    No one asked Chamblee Charter High School whether they would be OK with taking on students from lower performing schools prior to 2015 redistricting or adding a second middle school to their feeder pattern as part of this crazy mega school plan.

    No one asked elementary schools that will be moved to a new cluster.

    I’m just hoping that redistricting is done fairly all over the county. The objective should be doing the best for students and teachers, rather than righting past wrongs with no regard for current or future students.

  30. Anonymous, they didn’t ask if it was OK, and Stan was the lone “No” vote. If county wide redistricting shifts more students south from lower performing schools to those higher performing schools, then we can expect many “No” votes from the board members in that area. Unless you can show how Central and South DeKalb would be better off, I don’t see why they would agree to change course.

    Maybe show how the money saved can be better utilized for other things throughout the county. Or come up with a new “Option A” that is cheaper than “Option B”.

  31. 5 to 7 Regions – Regions 3 – 5 were split up into regions 3 – 7 over the Summer. This is where all of our failing schools are, so the area has been flooded with people, services and programs. The new new regions with regional superintendents and staff have been created to manage all of “that”.

  32. Bill Armstrong

    Stan. “Better Not Bigger is organized by a group that didn’t about the building additions until after the vote. Heck, a neighborhood close to LHS didn’t know about the planned building additions until a few months ago. More and more people are catching finding out.”

    How is that possible? Is it just that Lakeside wasn’t paying attention?

    I know that in Chamblee I knew of, & went to the meetings, and I got countless emails from various groups of parents, from all the ES, MS & HS for Chamblee, as well as many from CK. I’m talking 100s. School Counsel people, PTA types, the Foundation gangs, random whoever. Bullet pointed arguments were flying around everywhere, pro & con for many aspects. Maps & more maps. It was school action overload.

    And the inclusion of Lakeside in the options wasn’t a late addition. The links for the documents from 9/27/16 you have above clearly state the same. Well before the Dec. vote. I do remember some noise & BOE meeting attendance from Sagamore folks, but that was about it.

    Right or wrong, this wasn’t an ambush. By December the 2 camps were basically 1 – please god let’s just vote on it, & 2 – let’s hold off, get more facts, or really get more time to present the same arguments, to the same people.

    If anyone here is part of this latest effort, post vote by Lakeside, where were y’all?

  33. Bill, you have kids in school and are plugged in. How many people on your street know about the building additions? They all pay school taxes. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one on our street that knows about the local building additions.

  34. Bill Armstrong

    Oh – and there was this here as well.

  35. Bill Armstrong

    Stan. Maybe a good point for some areas. I know in Huntley Hills (and CMS & CCHS) a large number of people knew, and many who only kinda knew would ask the “usual suspects” – myself included – at the pool, soccer games, etc. “what’s going on?” All Summer & Fall. I’d say the demographics dictated that some – so many dang families w/kids – but I’ll add that a significant # involved were ES & MS parents looking ahead, not just those who had kids in CCHS already & had opinions of the impact the addition would have.

    You know who many of “us” are & have been for years. Many board members, and administration types like Dan Drake as well. We were connected with others outside like CK – Kim G. & others. And so we were organized. I will agree it’s been that way going back to the Crawford Lewis mess, so we already had “networks” in place. Thus the zillions of emails. People not only knew, they didn’t even need to get up to speed, they already were.

    But I have no idea about Lakeside – that’s why I’m asking. And when it comes to Dunwoody maybe they didn’t know as much in 2016 – I’ll certainly rely on you for that. But I’m pretty sure everyone in Dunwoody was aware of the Vanderlyn/DES issue & line-drawing battle. I remember driving by the yard signs, especially around Womack.

    So yes, if many in Lakeside weren’t “plugged in” then, not sure how to get them that way. At least ahead of time.

  36. A large people in the Huntley Hills neighborhoods probably did know. I’m guessing, however, there are more that didn’t know. I imagine less than half the people on your street know. But, like you said, getting out the message is challenging. Not many people pay attention to these things. This is probably why #BetterNotBigger is making signs … to let people know.

  37. Maybe Tim DeBardelaben can be more clear about this supposed “stigma” attached to Cross Keys? I’ve taught there since 1998 and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Our CCRPI score last year was a respectable 78, higher than many county schools, including Druid Hills HS. Our graduation rate is a concern – rather than give you a litany of extenuating circumstances I’ll just say that we expect better of our students and the support we give them. We are not the “ashes” of a failed school as you suggest. Maybe come for a visit? You’re welcome anytime – just check in at front office and say you’re visiting Mr. E.’s classes.

  38. Bill Armstrong

    Stan I’d imagine more than half don’t know who’s going to be on the ballot in November other than for governor, and that’s with a growing # of yard signs.

    I would add that even since 2016 things like Nextdoor are a growing way to bring these types of issues to the attention of potentially interested/concerned/impacted taxpayers who otherwise might be out of the loop.

    It’s also been my experience that for people who don’t have kids in the school currently or in the future, that they’re generally only concerned about two things:
    1 – will it make my property value go up or down? & 2 – how much worse is traffic going to be?

  39. Have you seen the graduation rates for LHS and CLHS? Cross Keys does a great job with their minority’s and low income students. LHS is not. They do not receive the resources they need. It is overcrowded. Students who live across I-85 and those outside I-285 and across I-85 are unable to receive any help before or after school. They can’t particiate in the “community” and have stated they do even not feel they are part of the community.
    DCSD and LHS do not ever make an effort to let the LHS community know anything that is going on with regards to the schools (those without children in school).
    Moving the magnet program from CCHS will result in another hundred students or so returning to Dunwoody and Lakeside. More problems.

  40. Rebekah Cohen Morris

    This is a super interesting set of comments, I have to say. I just wanted to add a few unsolicited thoughts of my own…

    1. Gwinnett schools are overcrowded when they are built. Mill Creek HS, one of the best in the county, has had trailers since it was built and this year — according to teachers at MCHS — has 80 trailers (they’re opening a new school in a year or two to relieve that massive amount of overcrowding).

    The school I teach at, Berkmar HS, in Gwinnett has 30 trailers. It had 23 trailers 5 years ago when I went on maternity leave, and it had 23 trailers 4 years before that. Gwinnett doesn’t try to eliminate trailers — ALL of their high schools have trailers. They try to build and plan –yes — but the majority of the public discourse is on the instruction in the classroom and the leadership in the building. They redistrict every couple years, they build new schools every year, the reallocate trailers every year, and while there could be improvements, they just get it done and they get it done right.

    2. As far as this idea that CKHS has a stigma…I’ll just say that Cross Keys doesn’t have the same “stigma” it did a decade or more ago. In the early 2000s there were some gangs that were around for a few months and I know that damaged the reputation. Besides that, those kids are some of the best kids I’ve ever worked with. I have way more disciplinary issues with students in Gwinnett than I did at Cross Keys. Every year Cross Keys sends kids off to the best colleges in the country, including many Ivy Leagues and exclusive liberal arts colleges in the North. I could go on, but you’ve heard it from Kim for years and you’ve heard it from current veteran teacher Mr. E.

    3. The problems that continue to plague DCSD are administrative issues — (1) a proliferation of poorly trained principals and assistant principals, (2) an obsession with new education fads that *hopefully* make them look better but don’t effect substantive results, and (3) an overall inability to lead schools and regions without retaliation and intimidation. Oh — and a maintenance department that has a hard time completing work orders or completing simple maintenance like mowing lawns or re-ordering toilet paper.

    The real problems aren’t the building additions we’re discussing.

    The real problem lies somewhere within the deep-rooted issues that stem from racism & prejudice (from all sides) and segregation — and the inability to (1) make any decision without being influenced by the scourge of segregation AND/OR (2) the inability to *perceive* any decision as being made for **any other reason than** because of racism or vindictiveness.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about the school additions, equitable vs. equal, or redistricting — we need to have these conversations still because we haven’t gotten it right yet.

    Until our county (administration and communities) moves past that and truly heals from those wounds, we will continue to spend all of our political and social and mental and emotional energy & capital on discussions about school additions, redistricting, and equal vs. equitable conversations.

    One day, it’d be great if we spent all this energy focusing on how to improve graduation rates or how to increase academic achievement and performance. I’d love to never have to write another blog post about the unfair attendance lines, the rotten and unevenly distributed trailers, the segregation, the racism, the vindictiveness, the retaliation, and the building additions ever again. (I’m sure Stan would love to write about other things too!) –I think 🙂

    But I do hope and strive for the day that we will be able to move confidently past these conversations because we will have *finally* gotten it right one of these days. I hope we can stop the viciousness, and focus all our *brilliance* on what’s happening INSIDE the classroom — instead of having to incessantly talk about the buildings and district lines and the “we don’t want those kids at our school” conversations.

  41. I can offer one view from my NSAT (No Student, All Taxes) perspective. Yes, traffic and taxes are the largest, in-your-face aspects of public schools impacting my life. Traffic is clearly a negative and I’ve not seen much objective evidence that the taxes are well spent. Neither shows signs of improving. And I am concerned about impact on home values. Previously baffled by parents who moved to Dunwoody for the schools (reminded me of Rick going to Casablanca for the waters) I was enlightened by a parent who said it was because the schools were “neighborhood schools.” They felt this gave them, as parents, greater influence over their children’s experience. Fair enough, but with Austin remade into a mega-school traffic gets worse and it is a “neighborhood school” no more.

    As for engagement, reading this and other blogs, I am left wondering “how’s that workin’ for you?” as there seems to be almost universal frustration. There are also structural issues favoring parents with students over NSATs. There are no Taxpayer-Teacher Associations…it’s PTA/PTO. Honestly it is hard to argue that someone whose child is at the mercy of a public school should have *only* the same voice as an NSAT. That’s a lot of skin in a very risky game.

    So yeah, taxes, traffic and property values.

  42. I’m with you Ken. Unfortunately the school district and most of the board couldn’t care less about surrounding property values or traffic around Dunwoody, Lakeside or Chamblee. Alas, I am but one vote. Atlanta and Decatur reign in their school districts. The county and cities in DeKalb are currently struggling with keeping DCSD in check.

  43. Tim DeBardelaben

    Jake E. I will be happy to explain about the “Stigma” surrounding Cross Keys High School name
    First I would like to clear up the way you interpreted what I was saying.
    The ashes I was talking about is Briarcliff High School. I am prejudice because I am a former student at Briarcliff. (Class of 72).
    As a teacher at Cross Keys you should be extremely proud of the job that you and your Administration do with the students. DCSD should have handled the overcrowding years ago.
    I have been inside C.K.H.S several times. First two times I was there was about overcrowding. I have also been in the school during school hours. The meetings at Cross Keys were better organized than at any other school. I was very impressed with the ROTC cadets. Your Principle shows all signs of being a top leader and seemed well respected by the students. I could go on about what was good at Cross Keys so I am sorry if you though I was knocking C.K.H.S. because I am not

    The “Stigma” that I referred to is the Buford Hwy corridor. This is not a new stigma. It has been there since I attended Briarcliff. There is a Socioeconomic divide created by the districting. When DCSD created that Cluster they cemented the “Stigma”. Now I believe if DCSD redistricts students from Chamblee (Brookhaven) Dunwoody Lakeside or Druid Hills, do believe the parents will put up fight. Cross Keys. Cross Keys is in the City of Brookhaven. Brookhaven should be embracing Cross Keys, instead they are crying that Marshall Orson and Jim McMahan did not get them their own Brookhaven H.S.
    The new Cross Keys is no where near where the Cross Keys community was. The original Cross Keys community was off Ashford Dunwoody. So even the current C.K.H.S. is not that close to where the community was located. They’re many benefits for naming new school Briarcliff. Please explain the benefit for maintaing the Cross Keys name…..

  44. Stan, are there any cities in Georgia engaged in discussion about how to change the state law that prohibits the creation of a new school system? There are many benefits to a smaller school system -not too small, but one which supports two or three high schools. Having taught in both smaller systems and large systems, I found that teachers and district administrators worked together more often, and the local community was more involved. All parties showed more respect for each other, because these were not just names. They weee people we actually met with and worked with.
    That said, if it ever happens that the law is changed, unincorporated DeKalb, in this case the Lakeside attendance area, will burdened with absorbing students outside of city limits for their schools. Just one potential problem for those of us living in an area that didn’t vote for cityhood.

  45. Study after study have shown the benefits of small school systems. A number of areas are starting to catch on. Please explain how Lakeside HS will be burdened if DeKalb Schools is broken down into smaller independent school districts.

  46. Make Lakeside Better Not Bigger

    Please take a few minutes to do the following:

    1. Sign the Petition – Log into and add your name, request a yard sign, volunteer to help and add your comments … this will allow us to easily continue engaging and updating you on what is happening.

    2. Make a Donation – We need your financial support to buy more signs and flyers and continue the website. For the price of a specialty Starbucks drink (or your personal favorite fun snack!) you could help us purchase and distribute a yard sign to another like-minded citizen.

    3. Spread the Word – The website is set up to help you to easily add this effort to your social media sites.

    4. Engage Others – Don’t assume your family, friends and neighbors know what is going on … forward this email so others can consider supporting LHS too!

    5. Speak Up – Once on the website, you will find email addresses for sending your concerns to public officials and a calendar of public meetings you can attend.

  47. If it was needed in South DEKALB there would be no delay in building but No, here cram more students in an already crammed to full capacity! Makes me so angry. Lakeside and CrossKeys need room!

  48. Katherine Brown

    Thank you to the wonderful people who organized

    I have signed the petition, put out yard signs, emailed the superintendent & board members, and told (and continue to tell) my neighbors.

    I am appalled at the idea of purposely adding more students, staff, and faculty to Lakeside High School. And now (!?), with all the adverse reaction once the word got out, the board is doing a feasibility study? In what alternative universe is that the way to do things? I hope there is some way to stop this disaster.

    And thank you to you, too, Mr Jackson, both for voting against this fiasco and for setting up this website.

    Is there any chance that any members of the board or staff will be at the meeting at Lakeside on 10/29, to answer questions about this issue?

  49. Can you give us the details of the meeting at LHS tonight?

  50. Katherine Brown

    The meeting isn’t tonight. It’s on Monday, 10/29. Here’s the post about it from the website:

    “The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) invites all community stakeholders to provide input on the district’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan. DCSD will host four upcoming community engagement sessions discussing the district’s future, including plans for student achievement, outlines for measurable success, and routes for employee satisfaction. The sessions are for all students, parents, families, employees, and community members.

    All sessions will take place from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.”

    The session at Lakeside will be, as I said, on Monday, October 29th.

  51. Katherine Brown

    My apologies about getting your name wrong, Mr Jester. I’ll do better in future. 🙂

  52. There Rebekah Cohen Morris goes again – calling everyone RACIST. NO, OPTION B WAS GARBAGE!!!!! Cross Keys people are unhappy, Sagamore people are unhappy, Lakeside people are unhappy. No one affected is happy with this plan!!!! Because it was solely designed to mix demographics!!!! It wasn’t designed to best educate our kids, fix traffic situations, ensure that the environment and watershed were preserved, ensure walkability, bind communities and neighborhoods. No. It was social engineering. Only Rebekah Cohen Morris seems happy with it, because she has an OBSESSION with mixing demographics! The representatives approving the plan didn’t even live in our area, so it’s not their problem if the vote messes up our section of the city.

  53. What did Rebekah say and where? I can say Option B was the cheapest solution.

  54. Katherine Brown

    Mr. Jester, will you be attending the meeting on the proposed expansion of Lakeside HS on December 10th, at 7PM at Lakeside Hs?


  55. What did Rebekah say and where??? Above, Rebekah said: “The real problem lies somewhere within the deep-rooted issues that stem from racism & prejudice (from all sides) and segregation — and the inability to (1) make any decision without being influenced by the scourge of segregation AND/OR (2) the inability to *perceive* any decision as being made for **any other reason than** because of racism or vindictiveness.”…. Oh wow!! I didn’t realize that my real problem wasn’t the added 30 minutes each way in commute time. It was that I was racist!! Unbelievable!!!! Cheaper solutions that mess up our city long term aren’t better!! There are some Lakeside students that live 40 minutes away from school because there is no local high school built for them!! We need a Doraville high school. All affected areas agree on this!

  56. Rebekah Cohen Morris

    For the record, I was definitely not saying everyone is racist.

    I was saying that our district continues to be plagued by the fallout from segregation. It’s much more complex than saying “everyone is a racist.” I don’t think anyone can deny that Dekalb, because of our history of segregation, isn’t affected by that.

    It’s much too lengthy to get Into here, but I too hate when people are quick to accuse people of being racist. There are some cases where people are acting racist and there are other places when people are simply trying to disagree. It was nothing that was said in this particular thread of comments that made me think anyone was being racist. I was simply observing that our county administration and residents are still affected by the leftovers from segregation/racism.

  57. REBEKAH: SEGREGATION ENDED SEVENTY YEARS AGO!!! GRIDLOCK IS A NIGHTMARE!!! We do not need to JACK UP our traffic even more to learn ‘lessons’ from activist social engineers. Moreover, Lakeside is 1000% desegregated. Are you saying that we need to punish leftover racists by making their grandchildren sit in an hour more traffic each day?

  58. Rebekah Cohen Morris

    You really don’t understand what I’m saying, I guess. These buildings and the mess we are in today would not be the case if it weren’t for DeKalb’s history of negligence of some buildings and areas due to racism and, on the flip side, retaliation for racism. The Briarcliff site and the expansions are not ideal and — because of our history of segregation and gross negligence of people and buildings — it seems to be the best of the options. If the district hadn’t — in the past — neglected to address the issues, we wouldn’t be in this mess today. I’m actually saying nothing against the people who are upset about the traffic or the additions to the buildings or the location of Briarcliff. I’m saying that we are in this mess because of our past mistakes and history of segregation and retaliation.

  59. Hey Rebekah, what do you mean by “negligence of some buildings and areas due to racism”

  60. Rebekah Cohen Morris

    Hi Stan,

    What I’m saying is that everyone knows that during segregation, White school administration neglected Black schools all over the U.S., and obviously in DeKalb. This part everyone knows if they’ve studied history, specifically in the metro Atlanta area.

    When school integration happened in the 60s (and subsequently, White flight), White school administration left, and Black leaders stepped up to lead DeKalb County. The Black administration focused — rightfully so — on ensuring that schools that had historically been “black” (mostly in the southern part of DeKalb) were given the appropriate attention and financial investment. However, it seems that over time, the schools in the northern part of the county (which were perceived as mostly “white schools”) did not receive the same amount of attention — which was fine for a while as the injustices of the past negligence was addressed.

    However, the school buildings in the north began to fall into disrepair (eg. old Chamblee building, the elementary schools in region 1, Cross Keys schools, Dunwoody schools). From my view, it seems that past administrations (not the current one) did not seem to focus any of its financial attention on these northern & central schools, even though they were becoming more and more deficient as places to educate children. Either it wasn’t a priority, they didn’t notice, or perhaps they were intentionally turning a blind eye.

    It seems that parents and community members in many of the northern area schools (which have become quite racially diverse, with the exception of Cross Keys) were able to secure a bit of funding for themselves during SPLOST IV, but the Cross Keys cluster schools — which were 90% Latinx/Hispanic — were unable to get any significant attention. *Most people agree that what became of the Cross Keys cluster (10-mile-long, 1-mile-wide school district that comprises mostly apartments and Latinx/Hispanic families) was due to the effects of some varying degrees of some combination of classism and racism.

    This new administration under Dr. Green does not seem to have the same pattern of only investing in school buildings in the southern part of DeKalb — it seems to be trying to address the facility needs in the county wherever they may be. They seem to be trying to make something good out of a very messy and complicated situation.

    Which leads me back to my original statement: we wouldn’t be in this situation where we are trying to unscramble decades of negligence, segregation, mismanagement, retaliation, etc. if we hadn’t been affected by the scourge of racism. If we, as a district, had always treated every section of the county — north, south, and the middle (i.e. Cross Keys) — the right way, we wouldn’t have such mangled district lines, such decrepit buildings, and such a political mess in the county. (I think this same argument can be applied to many other issues that have arisen in the county.)

    That’s why I blame racism — its effects are felt long after they become illegal to enforce. And I believe our county is still trying to heal from it.

  61. I blame social engineering for our current school crisis. Social engineers wanted mega high schools in the 80s so they could have larger areas on the map to integrate. So in the 1980s, they formed a middle school movement, and converted half of high schools into middle schools. The high school populations were instantly doubled, and suddenly sixth graders had to attend large middle schools instead of elementary schools. That was halfway tolerable when there was a smaller school population and no traffic in DeKalb. But now, we have twice the number of people in our area and half the high school space of the 1960s. Schools simply must be sited to minimize gridlock and traffic, and be placed where needed. Not where there’s a greater opportunity tor even more super- diversity. Playing Ms. Social Engineer to punish bad parents for perceived racism simply doesn’t fly when your school is already about 30% Latino, 30% black 30% White 10% Other. And when traffic is beyond a mess already. Most parents work full time and don’t have an extra free hour of time to sit in gridlocked traffic so their kids can be lectured by a literary teacher about white privilege.

  62. Rebekah Cohen Morris

    This will be my last comment, Anonymous, since I’m talking to a person with no name who apparently isn’t even reading my comments.

    Slavery was social engineering. Redlining and not allowing people of color to buy property was social engineering. Refusing to allow Black students to attend “White” schools was social engineering.

    How do you fix social engineering? By intentionally addressing the issues. Not by haphazardly hoping things fix themselves.


  63. I think racist people can be social engineers, so I don’t see why both can’t be true.

    Racism … can you be a little more specific? Who hated who such that Cross Keys found itself in such disrepair?

  64. Cross keys school is overcrowded because it’s students often live in houses with multiple Latino families. Their families are often Catholic with 4-5 kids each. Large families or Multiple families living in single family houses causes overcrowding in schools. Not racism. So to prove that we are not racist, we will build Cross Keys school on the “white but not really white” side of I85 and make them cross over this busy traffic interchange daily. Then we will redistrict Lakeside students that live 2 miles away from Lakeside to attend Cross Keys. While Lakeside students that live 7-8 miles away must continue their long commute to school. A Doraville High School would make sense in terms of traffic, overcrowding, environment, city planning, and making schools better not bigger. But apparently our real goal is to make Social Engineers feel like we are addressing a problem of racism. Because the white people in a 30% Latino, 30% Black, 30% White school are all likely closet racists. It seems like the opinion of taxpayers actually affected by these insane decisions doesn’t matter.

  65. I would like to ask everyone who is concerned about the proposed expansion of Lakeside HS to PLEASE attend the meeting regarding this issue.

    Board of Education members and officials will be there, and while they may not see your yard sign, they WILL note how many people are in attendance. You don’t have to speak; just occupying a seat in the auditorium says you care about this.

    The meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec 10th, at 7PM in the Lakeside HS auditorium.