DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has updated the long-term enrollment forecasts for each school year from the Fall of 2019 through the Fall of 2025.
The forecast uses a method of population forecasting called “cohort‐survival analysis”. In this method, future enrollment is forecasted based on historic matriculation patterns from grade to grade, birth rates, future housing development, and historic patterns of school‐choice enrollment.
I don’t believe these estimates numerous developments coming down the pipe including the High Street Development which includes 1,500 condos and 1,500 apartments.
As recently as April 3, 2018, DCSD planning insisted that the current Peachtree MS 8th grade was the peak of enrollment. However, the administration didn’t have an answer for why then they were putting more trailers there.
Even with these conservative estimates, Dunwoody HS (DHS) enrollment is expected to exceed 2,300 by 2021. The current enrollment capacity for DHS is 1,505. The district plans on a 600 seat building addition to be completed in 2022. DHS will be at least 200 seats overcapacity on the day the seat additions are completed.
How are DHS Building Additions a good idea?
I don’t understand how adding 600 seats to DHS every 5 years is a good idea. The band practices in the basement, there is no choir room and all the common spaces were built to accommodate 1,500 students. The DHS building additions will not include any renovations or additions to existing media rooms, art rooms, hallways, gymnasium, locker rooms, administrative offices, storage, or any other core spaces or surrounding infrastructure.
Dunwoody Elementary School
DES is forecasted to reach almost 1,600 students over the next few years. The Austin ES rebuild will affect enrollment across the district.
Austin Elementary School Rebuild
In August, the district announced a delay in the opening of the new Austin ES. Redistricting process will be delayed one year: the process will occur in Fall 2019 (instead of Fall 2018) and the redistricting will be effective for Fall 2020 (instead of Fall 2019). The Austin ES existing school will move to the new building over Christmas break (2019-2020) for a partial (only existing Austin ES students) opening in January 2020. The redistricted students would then attend the new Austin ES in August 2020.
DeKalb Schools district wide enrollment grew from 99,091 in the Fall of 2012 to a peak of 101,801 in the Fall of 2014. Enrollment began to decrease in the Fall of 2015 and continued to decrease in the Fall of 2016 and 2017 before falling to 99,212 in the Fall of 2018. The DCSD Long‐Term Forecast projects enrollment to continue to decrease to 97,026 enrolled in 2025.
ENROLLMENT BY REGION
Enrollment in Region 1 (Dunwoody, Chamblee, Cross Keys clusters) is expected to increase from 19,452 in 2018 to 20,010 in 2025 (+2.9%). Enrollment in Region 2 is expected to decrease from 17,906 to 17,414 in 2024 (‐2.7%). Enrollment in Region 3 is expected to decrease from 10,963 to 9,941 (‐9.3%). Enrollment in Region 4 is expected to decrease slightly from 9,895 to 9,860 (‐0.4%). Enrollment in Region 5 is expected to decrease from 12,357 to 11,512 (‐6.8%). Enrollment in Region 6 is expected to decrease from 7,138 to 6,713 (‐6.0%). Region 7 is expected to decrease from 7,329 to 7,194 (‐1.8%).
KEY – DEFINITIONS
All – All students residing in the attendance area
Enrollment – All students enrolled in the school, regardless of residence
ResAttendee – All students residing in the attendance area and enrolled in the school
DUNWOODY HIGH SCHOOL
2012 – 1,510
2013 – 1,563
2014 – 1,679
2015 – 1,679
2016 – 1,822
2017 – 2,982
2018 – 2,095
2019 – 2,234
2020 – 2,273
2021 – 2,348
2022 – 2,316
2023 – 2,311
2024 – 2,363
2025 – 2,337
PEACHTREE MIDDLE SCHOOL
2012 – 1,339
2013 – 1,378
2014 – 1,398
2015 – 1,478
2016 – 1,550
2017 – 1,572
2018 – 1,589
2019 – 1,584
2020 – 1,615
2021 – 1,614
2022 – 1,632
2023 – 1,554
2024 – 1,552
2025 – 1,513
Dunwoody Elementary School Enrollment Forecast 2019 – 2025
Austin Elementary School Enrollment Forecast 2019 – 2025
Vanderlyn Elementary School Enrollment Forecast 2019 – 2025
Kingsley Elementary School Enrollment Forecast 2019 – 2025
Chesnut Elementary School Enrollment Forecast 2019 – 2025
Hightower Elementary School Enrollment Forecast 2019 – 2025
Stan, why did DCSD not take into account the Austin rebuild when projecting numbers? They know the numbers will go up starting in 2020, why not show that growth in this updated forecast? Austin very well may start the 2019 school year at 700. Seems ludicrous to publish a forecast for 2020 at 704, knowing the numbers will most definitely go up. When you look at 2021, the number goes down. I understand redistricting hasn’t occurred yet, but why not adjust forecasted numbers to at least show a more reasonable enrollment number?
Hello Callie, There is no way to estimate what redistricting for AES will look like. 2 big questions in the air. How many students do we redistrict into AES and where do they come from? The different areas will have different forecasts. Those are among the many questions that will be discussed at the community redistricting meetings.
Totally understand that, however, doesn’t it seem more likely that the numbers go up, vs down? Why not forecast an estimate that is at least above 750 considering that is more likely than a number below 700? Seeing how John Lewis is set to open up at close to capacity, I just don’t see why you’d forecast an enrollment number that is so far off. Thanks Stan!
Happy New Year Stan! How bad is your headache — from banging your head on your desk so much? So, to whittle this down – enrollments are exploding in the north end of the county – esp Dunwoody, Lakeside and Chamblee – but overall enrollment is projected to go down. There are plans to build a new ‘Cross Keys’ (someday) high school and use the current one (still with no auditorium) as a middle school. This won’t add many seats – it will just rejuggle the same kids (btw – are they also including the High School of Technology North in the Cross Keys move? I’ve never gotten an answer to that, but I digress… ) Sadly, the school board is so concerned with what they perceive as ‘equity’ – ie; spread tax and SPLOST dollars evenly across the county – regardless of need – that the in-demand, over-crowded schools are just getting addition after addition – becoming giant mega-schools that STILL don’t hold all the students. First- where exactly are these students coming from? Do they all live in these attendance zones or are we still giving out transfers willy nilly? And second – where is everyone going after leaving south DeKalb schools?
We wrote about this EIGHT years ago on the first DSW blog. Wow. Things sure don’t change much. It’s why I gave up writing about it – I simply have to link back to some of our old posts. No need to revisit the issue – it hasn’t changed.
Here are a couple of relevant posts for anyone who wants to understand the history and the thought process >>
Where is the county getting this data? As a parent of a student at an elementary school in the cluster and a teacher at DHS, I question these numbers. Our enrollment among the cluster is only increasing. I don’t see a mass exodus anytime soon. As people retire, downsize, or pass away, more young families continue to move into the neighborhoods. In addition, the City of Dunwoody has approved for more apartments, homes, and townhomes to be built. My daughter’s kindergarten classroom is over capacity. She gained 3 new students after school started, so they don’t have the points to create a new class. How will the building infrastructure at DHS be able to support the number of bodies? I don’t see how it will. We are already lacking parking spots and lockers.
This is the same song the Lakeside community got. I agree, there is no way these projections are accurate. There will not be enough seats when the additions are completed. DCSD said they will not “cap” enrollment or redraw attendance lines now or when that day comes. I believe the decisions are only about cost. The projected cost to build the original projects has soared, and the administration will not budge on its thinking that the addition to Lakeside is a great idea. The necessary road improvements are cost prohibitive to accommodate the traffic near LHS. Jeff Rader was very clear that the County will not be doing any work there. What is the best course of action to be heard?
I wonder if the DCSD forecast includes the new Carver Hills development. The site map shows 51 single family homes and more than 170 townhomes, most of which have 3-4 bedrooms. (https://www.centurycommunities.com/find-your-home/georgia/atlanta-metro/doraville/carver-hills-2/schools-and-amenities#info_overlay_panel)
The fact that the development proudly plans a kiddie pool and a pool, plus the fact that billboards for the development boast “Dunwoody Schools” tells me that this development is targeting and will probably attract many families with children. Over 200 more housing units with 3-4 bedrooms sounds like a whole bunch of new Dunwoody cluster students to me.
Although Carver Hills is districted for Dunwoody schools (Chesnut/PCMS/DHS) it is located in Doraville. One more reason that a Doraville High School makes even more sense now than it did in 2016.
And it made a lot of sense in 2016.
Thank you for posting all of this data. I don’t understand why the Dunwoody community isn’t up in arms about this.
DCSD doesn’t plan to finish construction of the 600 seat addition at DHS until June 2022. As Stan points out, at that point DCSD forecasts over 2300 students. But the addition will only bring DHS up to slightly over 2100 students, meaning that trailers will still be needed.
But once the addition is complete where will there be space for trailers? If the kitchen/cafeteria/media center are only enlarged enough for 2100 students, how will the school serve the 200+ over capacity students?
This doesn’t even address the serious issues of sub-standard or nonexistent band or chorus spaces that Stan mentions.
Plus, DCSD’s construction schedule shows construction activity during 4 semesters. Running an overcrowded school with trailers during a construction program is difficult.
The time to fix this is now! But I am pessimistic that the rest of the BOE will take notice or care. Each BOE member has so many problems in their own district that it is very hard for them to be concerned about other schools.
Over budget – E-SPLOST projects are way over budget. We should get a report next month on how over budget we are with E-SPLOST projects.
Building Additions – Cost is the only thing most of the board cares about … what is the cheapest solution.
The building additions are only adequately expanding classrooms and media space. Cafeteria, kitchen, gym, parking, administrative, hallways, etc … will not be adequately expanded.
What can we do – You can start by asking the DHS school council to speak up. The only thing I hear from the DHS school council is “When can we get started with these sweet building additions?”
E-SPLOST projects are way over budget? How ironic that back in the day when Dr. Lewis and Pat Pope were indicted for racketeering and for giving contracts, along with mega change orders, to Pat’s husband, the projects overall somehow still remained on budget ….. how weird is that? As far as I am aware, the Pope’s are still in jail aren’t they?
Classrooms, cafeterias, and media centers are only part of the solution to overcrowding in our Region 1 and 2 schools. DCSD is NOT doing their job if they don’t also provide adequate facilities for the arts, athletics, extracurricular activities, special education, career paths, counseling, administration, security, parking, bus and carpool lanes, safe and efficient pedestrian and vehicle access, and flex space for special events and testing (so instruction isn’t disrupted for the PSAT, ASVAB, AP, and EOC testing multiple times a year). Crowded hallways create a stressful, dangerous, and chaotic environment that are NOT conducive to learning. Ask any teacher, parent, or student about the negative impact overcrowding has on our children’s physical and emotional health. DCSD’s choice to ignore the negative learning environment their poor decision-making has created is clear proof that it actually is NOT “all about the children at the DeKalb County School District.” Requiring the school staff to answer the phone with that phrase doesn’t fool anyone.
Repeating this expansion process at three high schools, all of which have been extensively rebuilt/expanded in the last decade demonstrates a pattern of incompetence in DCSD that boggles the mind. While land is difficult to find and expensive to purchase, surely the cost savings of building a single high school with 1 set of feasibility studies, 1 architect, and 1 contractor would be cheaper than paying for 3 sets of feasibility studies, 3 architects, and 3 contractors.
I don’t trust the district’s new enrollment predictions. Their previous enrollment predictions were incorrect, and they offer no assurances that these numbers will be any more accurate. DCSD blames a lack of affordable housing, instead of acknowledgement by the increasing growth of private schools in metro Atlanta. When the next recession hits, parents will have no option but to send their kids back to public school, and DCSD will be back to leasing portables. Who knows where they will put it them on these overbuilt campuses?
Look at how many residents are finding alternatives sending their children to Peachtree MS. It seems that families like DHS and their elementary schools, but don’t want to send their 11-13 year olds to mega-middle schools. Why not return to the previous model of extended grades in elementary school and 8th grade in high schools? Turn the middle schools back into high schools, if DCSD won’t do the right thing and build a new middle school.
That should read a new High school. My mistake.
As someone familiar with the projection process, I’m very confident that High Street and Carver Hills are included. Yield rates are calculated by region that provide an estimate on how many students per unit the district can expect from the particular type of development (SF, SFA, Apt., etc.) Though the yeled rate for High Street is probably very low per unit, the sheer number of units almost assures there will be students from this development.
The District uses multiple data sources such as birth rates and development tracking to generate well-informed projections. But even the most well-informed projections can change if the conditions on which they are based change.
Development tracking – That was my point. I don’t believe there was anything filed for High Street when the data was collected for these projections. You mentioned “well informed projections” … I can’t remember the last time the school district was accurate when it came to enrollment projections for Dunwoody schools.
@Stan: High Point has been on the radar for years, and has gone through several variations. Planning has known about it for years. And when they break ground, it’s years before the development will be built out and fully-occupied.
And as for well-informed… just because they’re not accurate doesn’t mean they’re not based on multiple data sources .
Things change. Economic conditions change. People’s behaviors change. A rent special can shift dozens of students between schools. New schools open – and parents who sent their kid(s) outside the attendance area decide to bring them back to the new, state-of-the art school.
Alot of time and analysis go into them. They don’t just use a Ouija board, a crystal ball and a Carnac hat to come up with the numbers.
Planning has known about High Point for years? When did they originally find out about High Point? What precisely did they find out about it years ago?
The Dunwoody City Council approved the conceptual plans 2 months ago. No actual plans or permits have been filed anywhere. For the last couple years, High Point has been a dream and ever changing conceptual plans.
Planning doesn’t use a “use a Ouija board, a crystal ball and a Carnac hat to come up with the numbers” … could have fooled me. Furthermore, I’m not convinced that the numbers planning does come up with are the numbers presented to the public.
@Insider – I am sorry but we will have to agree to disagree. Dan Drake has been “awarding” principals points for staff for years and he has always been under projections. Even after principals have told him differently. He would not give principals the “points” needed to hire staff in a timely fashion. These leaves principals having to pass on teachers they would really love to hire and settling sometimes for the warm body that comes in the door 6 weeks or later in the school year.
So to say I am going to agree with his 7-year projections when he can’t even project 180 days into in the future is an understatement.
@Insider – I am sorry, but we will have to agree to disagree. Dan Drake has been “awarding” principals points for staff for years, and he has always been under projections. Even after principals have told him differently. He would not give principals the “points” needed to hire staff in a timely fashion. These leaves principals having to pass on teachers they would love to hire and sometimes to settle for the warm body that comes in the door six weeks or later in the school year.
So to say I am going to agree with his 7-year projections when he can’t even project 180 days into in the future is an understatement.
Stan… I find your tone insulting and condescending, and will not continue this discussion any further.
Insider, you have to admit that planning has been way off on the Dunwoody enrollment projections for 10 years. I also know for a fact that planning has rigged the numbers in the past to fit the projects that the administration wants to do. So, the planning department is hardly beyond reproach.
I’m curious to know the qualifications of the employees in the Planning Dept. Does anyone have experience or education outside of the school district in this type of forecasting? In 2004/2005 I attended an input meeting at Vanderlyn that discussed the projections for the new PCMS in the planning stages (possibly DES as well, I do not recall as I was focused on my rising 5th grader). A parent who was an expert in the field of City Planning expressed why she thought the projected numbers were too low and she was completely dismissed by the DCSD representative. Well, here we are 15 years later with 20 trailers at PCMS. Guess the expert in the field was right (as well as the majority of the amateur parents who also doubted the DCSD numbers).
I still don’t understand why DCSD will not do district-wide redistricting. If you’re being pushed to the south to fill seats, you’re also taking at least half your school with you. As was the case when Vanderlyn split to DES, after the DCSD-caused pre-redistricting hysteria wore off everyone was fine, and in a lot of cases happier.
I just don’t see how DCSD could have gotten the Dunwoody High School forecast so wrong!
In 2016, just 2 years before the 2018 updated forecast, DCSD said that DHS enrollment in the year 2022 would be 2093 students. (https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/documents/secondary-school-study/secondary-shools-handout-sept-27.pdf)
Yet DHS already has 2095 students this year!
Why did enrollment increase so dramatically in just 2 years? Especially if, as Insider claims, that High Point and Carver Hills have been “on the radar for years” and so their impact should have been included in the 2016 forecast.
More importantly, however, is what does DCSD plan to do about this? Are they still planning to build a 600 seat addition at DHS, knowing that it won’t be enough to hold current students, much less all of the students it is forecasting?
And what about the “common spaces?” Legally, DCSD only has to “upsize” the media center, cafeteria, and kitchen. No one at Georgia DOE will force them to make necessary adjustments for the band, chorus, narrow hallways, etc, although they might require that the “upsized” media center, cafeteria, and kitchen accommodate the more than 2300 students that the district’s own Planning department is forecasting for the year 2025.
I think there is a real problem here. I don’t know if it’s the qualifications of the Planning department, using a fixed timespan between forecast updates even when home construction accelerates in a specific area, or what. But it looks like students will be shortchanged and our tax dollars won’t be well spent. That’s a big issue for me.
I can’t quote stats here, but wasn’t Gwinnett the fastest growing county at one point? They have “mega schools”that seem to be thriving- large arts programs, sports and high ranked educationally. I mean this in all honesty- is there something we can use here as a model?
I taught in a Gwinnett mega-elementary school that opened with 10 trailers and was a construction zone within the first decade, adding hundreds of additional seats. Mega-schools can and do work when they are planned that way from the beginning.- buying large tracts of land with good access points from multiple roads and dedicated traffic lights, large administrative and counseling spaces, adequate common spaces to serve all students in all programs – Arts, academics, athletics, etc…, and a community that accepts the fact that redistricting is necessary to best serve students. DCSD was built with small neighborhood elementary schools, K-7, feeding into many high schools, 8-12. That was when DCSD was at the top in Georgia. Then, the middle school concept was embraced by DCSD, and half the high schools were converted to middle schools. Millions of dollars were spent on additions to small, land-locked high schools. DCSD sought waivers from GADOE because our schools have capacities far beyond the recommended enrollments for the land on which they sit. The situations in DeKalb and Gwinnett are vastly different. We really cannot follow Gwinnett’s model, because according to DCSD, there isn’t enough affordable land in north DeKalb. What we really need is for the state to change the funding formula to incentivize smaller schools. I’d love to go back to the K-7 and 8-12 model for a variety of reasons, but I doubt DCSD will even consider it. They seem committed to their bad decision of adding hundreds of additional seats to 3 previously expanded, land-locked high schools. I think it would be more financially feasible to shift special programs to schools with empty seats and add new elementary schools to address overcrowding. Smaller high schools would allow DCSD student athletes to compete with other DCSD students, instead of the mega-schools outside DCSD, who have more space and funding for equipment, facilities, and well-paid coaches.
@Anonymous, Very well said!
I would only add that Gwinnett also has these advantages:
1 – They are considered a “poor” district so they get part of the QBE funds earned by “rich” districts like DCSD.
2 – A 1% sales tax in Gwinnett brings in a lot more money that a 1% sales tax in DeKalb.
3 – There isn’t as much difference in academics or facilities among Gwinnett high schools, so parents generally accept that being redistricted will turn out OK.
4 – Gwinnett has redistricted periodically rather than infrequently, again making redistricting more acceptable to parents.
5 – Gwinnett doesn’t have former high ranking school officials in jail………..