Chamblee Redistricting Superintendent Recommendation

The New John Lewis Elementary facility located at 2630 Skyland Drive will be opening Fall 2019.
Superintendent Recommendation – First Read – Jan 7 Board Meeting

John Lewis Elementary School
• Opening August 2019
• 900+ seat school
• 500+ seats of available capacity
• John R. Lewis ES is located in the current Chamblee Cluster
• Redistricting will go into effect in August 2019
• Students rising into 5th, 8th, 11th, and 12th grades will have the option to continue in their former school, with no transportation provided

Superintendent Recommendation
On October 2nd, October 24th, and November 27th of 2018 community meetings were held at Cross Keys HS seeking public input in the development of a plan to better utilize available capacity in John R. Lewis ES and relieve overcrowded schools in the Cross Keys cluster. Two options were presented for the 2019-2020 school year on October 24th of 2018 at Cross Keys HS in a public meeting which included facilitated, small-group discussion to gain public input related to the redistricting options. The input from the meeting was used in the development of a Staff Recommended Plan that was presented on November 27, 2018 at Cross Keys HS in another public meeting that included facilitated, small-group discussion to gain additional public input.

The input from all public meetings as well as input from an online comment form and comments from community members and parents sent to staff were used in development of the recommended plan that is being presented today.

The Superintendent’s recommended redistricting plan includes the following:
1. Redistrict approximately 22 students from Ashford Park ES to John Lewis ES
2. Redistrict no students from Dresden ES to John Lewis ES (area change only)
3. Redistrict approximately 93 students from Montclair ES to John Lewis ES
4. Redistrict approximately 213 students from Fernbank ES to John Lewis ES
5. Redistrict approximately 134 students from Woodward ES to John Lewis ES
6. Redistrict approximately 62 students from Briar Vista ES to John Lewis ES
7. Redistrict approximately 23 students from Briar Vista ES to Fernbank ES
8. Redistrict no students from Briar Vista ES to Woodward ES (area change only)
9. Redistrict no students from Laurel Ridge ES to Briar Vista ES (area change only)
10. Redistrict approximately 172 students from Laurel Ridge ES to Fernbank ES
11. Redistrict approximately 37 students from McLendon ES to Fernbank ES
12. Redistrict approximately 8 students from Chamblee MS to Sequoyah MS
13. Redistrict approximately 14 students from Chamblee HS to Cross Keys HS

This recommendation will result in a net reduction of approximately 27 portable classrooms in the Cross Keys and Druid Hills clusters and a reduction in overcrowding for next school year.

Supporting Documents

  Superintendent Recommendation
  Distance Map
  Enrollment Report 2018
  Enrollment Graphs
  Current Elementary School Attendance Zones
  Current Middle School Attendance Zones
  Current High School Attendance Zones

3‐Year Redistricting Process

Redistricting Process Estimated Opening School
Fall 2018 Fall 2019 New John R. Lewis Elementary School
Fall 2019 Fall 2020 New Doraville Elementary School
Fall 2020 Fall 2021 Cross Keys Middle School Conversion, New Cross Keys High School, Chamblee Charter High School Building Addition

Related Posts

Chamblee Redistricting Options – Meeting 3
November 27, 2018 – The New John Lewis Brookhaven Elementary School will be opening Fall 2019 and will have over 500 additional seats of capacity. These are currently the two redistricting options being considered. Public meeting tonight to discuss.

Chamblee Redistricting Options – Meeting 2
October 24, 2018 – The New John Lewis Brookhaven Elementary School will be opening Fall 2019 and will have over 500 additional seats of capacity. These are currently the two redistricting options being considered. Public meeting tonight to discuss.

Redistricting For Schools in Chamblee & Brookhaven
September 6, 2018 – The New John Lewis Elementary facility will be opening Fall 2019 on Skyland Drive in Brookhaven. Three meeting redistricting process for schools in Chamblee and Brookhaven will start this October.

25 responses to “Chamblee Redistricting Superintendent Recommendation

  1. “Redistrict approximately 213 students from Fernbank ES to John Lewis ES” … Ha – I so want to be in the room to see the hysterical pushback on this one! Especially when the district’s next move is to “Redistrict approximately 172 students from Laurel Ridge ES to Fernbank ES” … The battle cry will be – just move those LR students to John Lewis and leave Castle Fernbank alone so that we can maintain our property values as we make ready for annexing to Atlanta!

    Sorry – I’m so damn cynical. LOL

  2. Cere, to alleviate some of the immediate overcrowding at Montclair ES, the district moved 269 Montclair ES students to Fernbank ES. I’m pretty sure it’s those students moving to JLES.

  3. Michelle Fincher

    Just curious, not trying to start a riot: Why will Chamblee MS lose 8 students when they are currently at/below capacity, while Peachtree Charter Middle School, 4 miles away, has 20 trailers and a planned addition?
    Why not enact district-wide redistricting to make the size of populations equitable? Yes, I know the threats of lawsuits, etc., but it is PUBLIC school, how would lawsuits even hold up in court/get to court? Save the money on all these unwanted additions and give it to our teachers.

  4. Michelle,
    Good question. There are always lawsuits when there is redistricting. I don’t believe the school district has ever lost a redistricting related lawsuit. Redistricting is, however, how people lose jobs and elected positions. People show up with torches and pitchforks.

    Redistricting would be a cheap and immediate solution to many of our overcrowding problems. You are probably aware of the many high school overcrowding issues in Region 1 and Region 2. There are over 4,000 empty high school seats in the other regions. If we shifted down, we could cheaply alleviate a lot of the overcrowding issues. The shifting would start with redistricting students from Druid Hills HS to Towers or McNair … guess how well that will go over.

  5. Hi Stan,
    I would really like to comment on this redistricting plan–however, I am so disturbed on so many levels regarding all of this. I am at a school that is busting out of the seams with students, we have heat on one side, air on the other, rodents are on the war path, mold, there is no soap, and I do not see our school mention anywhere. So to comment; it would take too much time.

    Also, I was at the Board meeting last night. I thought I would least gain more understanding about the step increase. Nothing. Only to say that, the board approved them. Thanks to the board–but, here again, what does this mean? No clarity on if the salary comparison that you previously posted was it, or is something else? No answer regarding the M+30, for those with several degrees, and other credentialed hours. Why is it such a secret? Are you going to post the final step scale? The whole county is awaiting the final explanation.

    Thank you once again Stan, for being the devils advocate and asking why there was a vote on the floor without the details. I really appreciate that you always keep us abreast; and please—keep asking those hard questions on behalf of the dedicated employees of the DCSD.

  6. Deferred Maintenance – Deferred maintenance is a huge problem. We just appropriated an additional $2 million yesterday … I’m concerned that isn’t enough.

    New Salary Schedules
    The official documents that were approved by the board are attached to the agenda item

    I would like to do another post when the news flash goes out. It should include a FAQ. Until then, you can join the salary scale conversation on the other thread.

  7. Hi, is there an updated date for occupancy of the Cross Keys HS? Hearing much later date than 2020. Plus they don’t seem to be building yet. Please provide an update on this project. Thanks

  8. Hello Ally. I haven’t been told that the project is delayed, granted the school district is rarely on time. Operations is supposed to provide the board with an E-SPLOST project budget update sometime in the next few months. I imagine the Cross Keys HS and building additions in North DeKalb will be discussed.

  9. Anyone else curious about the redistricting related to Fernbank?
    Laurel Ridge has an enrollment of 549 with a capacity of 521 = 21 over capacity but DCSD is sending 172 to Fernbank? That will put them at 349 – what happened to the magic number of 400 to get full funding?

    McLendon has an enrollment of 459 with a capacity of 513 = 54 available seats yet DCSD plans to send 37 to Fernbank? That puts them almost 100 students under capacity and close to the 400 student mark.

    BriarVista has an enrollment of 472 with a capacity of 579. DCSD plans to send 62 to John Lewis and 23 to Fernbank? They currently have 107 available seats and DCSD plans to take another 85 students out – and send some of them to Fernbank? That brings them under the magic 400.

    What’s up? Guess DCSD has to find some way to justify the 900 seat Fernbank they insisted on building when the former 700 seat Fernbank was under capacity and roughly 150 students consisted of out of attendance area students (IB and HB 251).

    Stan, can you shed some light on this?

  10. The Fernbank rebuild was during E-SPLOST IV. I call that the “If you build it they will come “SPLOST”. The powers that be were hoping that if they build a bunch of beautiful schools in South DeKalb, it would address some of the economic problems they are having. So, they built rebuilt a number of schools that were in just fine shape and at 45% capacity. The Facility Condition Report was also rigged for Fernbank so they could get a new school … I’m pretty sure it was to curry favor.

    As far as redistricting, I’m geographically removed from that area and not as familiar with what is going on. Back in 2016, to alleviate some of the immediate overcrowding at Montclair ES, the district moved 269 Montclair ES students to Fernbank ES. I’m pretty sure it’s those students moving to JLES.

  11. Stan… regarding your 12:10 post yesterday…

    I don’t remember if you had come on the Board yet, but there was a petition for a start up charter in East Atlanta that was rejected by the Board. If I remember correctly, the zoned school was McNair DLA. Had those parents enrolled their students at McNair, I guarantee it would have become one of, if not the highest achieving schools in DeKalb County. I think the same for John Lewis… if families move into those 400+k townhouses that were just built within walking distance of the school, JLES will be a top school. What we don’t want to admit is too often, a school’s “performance” is tied too directly to the economic area the school. The higher the socioeconomic area, the more parents are able to be directly involved with the school and their student’s academics.

  12. East Atlanta Charter School Petition – I remember the East Atlanta Charter School petition as well as Loren Locke. That was back in 2015. I remember that the board vote was split along racial lines. There was no way South DeKalb was going to let a charter school come along and suck up the academically motivated families from the area.

    (Philosophical discussion) I believe socioeconomics and student performance are correlated but not causal. I do, however, believe that parents who make good decisions are more likely to be better off socioeconomically and parents who make good decisions are more likely to be involved with their children academically and are therefore going to have better academic outcomes. It’s Freakonomics … parents who buy lots of baby books are more likely to have children who do better on tests. It’s not the fact that they have baby books that help the children, but it is the type of parent that would by the books that cause them to have children who do well on tests.

  13. Fernbank Parent

    The Fernbank redistricting is a result of the temporary moves done a few years ago to relieve the extreme overcrowding at some of the Cross Keys feeder schools. It has been a great move, but it was never a long term solution. The kids from the Cross Keys cluster do not move to Druid Hills Middle School once they leave Fernbank, although the Fernbank school council advocated for them to stay in the DHHS cluster. The plan was always for Fernbank to be filled one way or another once the temporary moves were complete. Fernbank is located very near both Decatur and APS school boundaries so any growth in the attendance zone can only move toward Laurel Ridge. The movement of students from Laurel Ridge to Fernbank is the original attendance zone for Medlock Elementary (a former DHHS feeder) which was closed when the decision was made to rebuild Fernbank.

  14. Fernbank Parent

    One more note, at the time that Splost 4 was passed, Fernbank’s enrollment was close to 700 and there were 8 trailers on the field. After Sandy Hook, all exterior doors to the school were locked at all times so the 4th graders (all in trailers) had to get a teachers key to enter the building to use the restroom. Splost 4 also said that DSA and DESA would be combined as one school so as to free up some capacity but that has yet to happen.

  15. So let’s deal in facts about Fernbank and set the record straight. Per the DCSD planning department’s page (

    1. Fernbank currently has a capacity of 1, 031 and an enrollment of 814 (79% occupancy, 217 available seats)
    2. Per the non attendee matrix for this school year (, Fernbank has 204 non resident students and interestingly, the matrix only shows 2 from Montclair (?) so perhaps that transferred population is, for the time being, considered “resident”
    3. Fernbank is a school choice school (IB program) which explains some of the 204 non-residents
    4. In the 2012-2013 school year, the last year before Fernbank’s temporary move, the school’s capacity was listed by the planning dept as 619. The enrollment was 675. So Fernbank was over capacity by 56 students (109% capacity). However, per the matrix for non resident attendees, there were 101 non residents. So while you may have had 8 trailers – can’t imagine 56 students would require 8 trailers given 28/trailer but – the school was over capacity by 56 because DCSD over-enrolled the school with non-resident students (either through special permissions or not properly capping the school choice applicant pool).
    5. In the 2011-12 school year, Fernbank had 113 non resident students ( and a total enrollment of 705.

    So, Fernbank has been relying on non-residents to fill seats and has not approached the original SPLOST IV 900 seat capacity (even with 200+ kids from Montclair and the IB program.)

    Now DCSD is going to pull students from other schools that are under capacity, and in only 1 case, over capacity by 21 students, to make it look like Fernbank had to be a 900 seat school? Come on folks.

    @ Fernbank parent, bingo! “The plan was always for Fernbank to be filled one way or another…”.  You said it.  Even if it is to the detriment of other schools in the feeder pattern.  Do you have any idea how many schools have trailers and have exterior doors locked? You insult most of region 1 and 2 by that statement. And what do DESA and DSA have to do with it – clearly capacity isn’t needed with BriarVista, McLendon and Fernbank under capacity in the Druid Hills feeder pattern.

  16. Fernbank Parent

    @AB, the link you shared shows current capacity of Fernbank as 950 not 1031.

  17. Remember that in March 2016 DCSD formally redistricted students as shown below:

    –Redistrict approximately 61 students from Woodward ES to Briar Vista ES
    –Redistrict approximately 269 students from Montclair ES to Fernbank ES

    So now these students are counted as part of the official attendance zones of Briar Vista and Fernbank, even though they do not live anywhere near those schools.

    Briar Vista’s current enrollment is 472 students:
    107 students from out of zone, presumably for the Montessori program
    61 students who were redistricted to Briar Vista in 2016 and will be redistricted out (approximate)

    Fernbank’s current enrollment is 814 students:
    204 students from out of zone, presumably for the IB program
    269 students who were redistricted to Fernbank in 2016 and now will be redistricted out (approximate)

    For Fernbank, apparently we have built it and they haven’t come.

    Neither school could survive without their School Choice program, and it looks like they will have to enlarge those programs to make the schools big enough to earn full State funding.

    How can DCSD justify providing very small 400-450 student elementary schools for some neighborhoods while providing 900-1200 student schools for other neighborhoods?

    I think this is all a shell game. I don’t see any way of stopping this but it just looks smarmy.

  18. Thank you. I am hearing 2022 is the year for Cross Keys HS. I shall standby for anything you receive that is updated. Thank you.

  19. “[A]pparently we have built it and they haven’t come.” LOL … But really, IMHO, Fernbank was built so that it would make the planned annexation to Atlanta more attractive … to Atlanta. It was totally unnecessary. The school had just been updated and expanded in an earlier SPLOST by the infamous Pat Pope and her architect husband. Then what happened? Not too many years later, the school board just tore the whole thing down and rebuilt it – with way, way, way too many seats. So, ever since, Fernbank has sucked students from other schools in order to justify what’s been done there. Sort of like vampires … not really caring about the resulting ills of the donor schools. It’s a headscratcher for sure. But so is most of the “planning” done by DCSD. As far as I can tell, it’s only gotten worse since the days I paid close attention. Too bad really – since the combined taxpayer bill to keep this district afloat amounts to over $1.2 billion a year.

  20. Dekalb County Schools Quandry

    @ Michelle A better question to ask is why is Chamblee Middle at such under capacity? Why do so many parents pull their kids out of DCSS in that area prior to middle school?

  21. @DeKalb County Schools Quandry,
    Why do you say that Chamblee Middle School is at such under capacity?

    The 2018 DCSD Planning data states that CMS has 968 students, with a school capacity of 1053 students. That is a utilization rate of 968/1053 = 92%.

    That doesn’t sound like “such under capacity” to me. The folks who did the big feasibility study in 2016 advised a utilization rate of around 85%, so I think it sounds pretty good.

  22. @ anonymous, there are 85 seats available so why would you need to move 8 students to Sequoyah?

  23. Michelle Fincher

    @Dekalb County Schools Quandary: I agree DeKalb has a Middle School problem, but that alone cannot explain Chamblee Middle’s numbers. Many parents also avoid PCMS and pull their kids for private during those three years, then return for Dunwoody High School. Some try PCMS first, then pull them as early as a week into the school year. Yet, PCMS still has 20 trailers.

  24. Dekalb County Schools Quandry

    @Anonymous I was responding to @Michelle saying that it is undercapacity, which it is. It shouldn’t be except the product quality there, with the execption of a few stellar teachers is lacking. Yes, magnet program is there, but resident program is quite weak in comparison. Many parents pull kids for some of the local privates in the area and never look back. I think CMS quandry is that they have a lot of “competition” in the area (St. Martins, OLA, Mount Vernon) and just aren’t stepping up to the plate. It is a shame because then you lose those families and they leave the public school system altogether.