1,000 More Seats Are Coming to Dunwoody High School

Adjusting for the latest enrollment projections, the school district will now be adding 1,000 seats to Dunwoody High School (DHS). This is just insane … but it’s the plan.

Clear cutting to make room at Dunwoody High School

Dunwoody High School is a small pocket neighborhood school originally constructed in 1972 and additions to the main school building were constructed in 1973, 1975, and 2011. In 1988, DHS merged with another local high school, Peachtree High School. Peachtree became a middle school and Dunwoody remained as the high school. DHS campus is currently 29.4 acres.

The current capacity for DHS is 1,505 students, while actual enrollment is currently 2,100 students.

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. While I believe the Dunwoody 7-Year Enrollment Forecasts to be woefully under estimated as usual, even with these conservative estimates, Dunwoody HS enrollment is expected to exceed 2,300 by 2021.

Dunwoody 7-Year Enrollment Forecasts

Over the last decade, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the school administration insists that enrollment is going to stop going up. In their forecast enrollment data modeling, DeKalb Schools is currently insisting that High Street will only be a total of 1,500 units.

Richard McLeod, Director of Community Development for the City of Dunwoody, state this week that

There are 3000 residantial untis approved for [High Street] to build. One half (1500) of them will be apartments and the other half (1500) will be condo … I have a meeting scheduled in April with the developers to discuss the plans. They state that they are going to break ground in October or November of 2019.

Over the last 4 weeks, I have sent numerous emails to the Superintendent and Interim Chief Operating Officer Dan Drake asking why they believe High Street will only be 1,500 units. I have not received any explanation yet. If High Street builds 3,000 units over the next few years, DHS is in trouble.

Current Forecasted Enrollment & Addition Size
MGT 2022 Forecast Updated 2025 Forecast Change Original Addition Recommended Addition
Dunwoody HS 2,093 2,337 244 600 1,000
Peachtree MS 1,686 1,513 -173 600 400
Chamblee Charter HS 2,378 2,120 -258 600 600
New Cross Keys HS 2,486 1,739 -747 2,500 2,200
New Cross Keys MS 1,450 1,205 -245 500 200
Lakeside HS 2,619 1,945 -674 750 400
Clarkston HS 2,060 1,510 -550 700 350
Freedom MS 1,630 1,134 -496 400 Cancelled
Dunwoody High School Can’t Handle 2,500+ Students

I’ve blogged ad nauseam how building additions are terrible for the community. The Dunwoody High School Council has pleaded with the board and administration to address the Overburdened Common Spaces.

The DHS band room is the basement dungeon, choir has no room. There will be no additions to most of the common spaces like the gym, locker rooms, fields, storage, or administrative offices. The adjustments to the cafeteria, kitchen and parking are laughable.

In addition to the obvious problems, let’s discuss the issues that aren’t as obvious. Twice as many students means twice as much traffic, twice as many buses lining up the street and around the block, twice as many teams with no space to play or practice, twice as much sewage, etc …

73 responses to “1,000 More Seats Are Coming to Dunwoody High School

  1. IF done right, big schools can work. I have no faith that DCSD can make this happen, and little faith that any organization could make DHS’ current layout work for 2500 students. Additional spaces will make no sense with the current structure, and haphazard renovation will not make things better. 2500 students means more support staff, and there are not enough offices for the staff already in place. The fine arts areas are atrocious, the cafeteria cramped, and the gym insufficient.

    Roads, parking, sports and sewage are other nightmares that DCSD cannot address.

  2. Big schools that work are planned as big schools from the outset – with enough land and infrastructures and a design that meets the educational goals. They are not piecemealed together on small plots of land years after the original school was built. That plan is like a house that has multiple owners over the years who keep adding on a hodgepodge of spaces.

  3. Stan Jester

    I should post the size of the gyms of all the high schools in DeKalb … it’s appalling. I’m guessing they built smaller gyms, cafeterias, etc … for these pocket schools.

  4. Wow – Dunwoody is the only one on the list that is projected to increase in enrollment … All others will decrease … hmmmm. Think people might just be leaving DeKalb public schools? Or just leaving DeKalb in general?

  5. Frustrated DeKalb Parent

    I would really like to know where these enrollment forecasts come from. I live in Lakeside and new houses/developments are going on now with more projected. There is no way the enrollment will stay the same let alone decrease.

  6. Michelle Fincher

    Cere – I bet they reduced the numbers to justify smaller additions because they don’t have the money. I would also bet that the increase at Dunwoody is still under what will actually be needed. DeKalb is never right on these projections.

  7. Paula Freeman

    This has got to stop. Overcrowding is a horrible situation. It trashes up our community with portable ” learning cottages”. It poses safety issues for all students and teachers. The cafeteria is so crowded that in the case of an emergency help could not reach the student easily.

    Why can’t we get new schools?
    What can we do to help?

  8. It is absolutely crazy to add 1000 seats to a school that is already outgrowing its small campus.

    After they add the 2 additional 4-classroom modulars in the formerly tree-filled space at the corner of Vermack and Womack, where will they put the construction cranes for a 1000 seat addition?

    Will they add a parking deck to give adequate parking for a 2500 seat school?

    I would urge the City of Dunwoody to think seriously about reviewing its zoning codes to ensure that no parking decks can be built at the DHS site. No matter how you try to disguise it, maybe with a cute colonial weathervane, a parking deck would be an eyesore right in the heart of Dunwoody. And I see no other solution given the current buildings, the trailers, the parking lots, the single athletic field, and so forth.

    I have no doubt that if the community thought that this was a good solution that people would pitch in and make the best of it.

    But there is absolutely NO motivation for pitching in on such an ill-conceived project.

  9. @Frustrated … I have to wonder if this isn’t a back door way to grease some squeaky wheels in the Lakeside community without admitting that the administration was wrong to try to build a 750 seat addition (in addition to the additions already added to Lakeside, which is even more landlocked than Dunwoody). The only truly smart solution is to build another new high school somewhere in Doraville.

  10. It would only make sense to build a new HS in Doraville, and would only make sense that all the kids bussed down to Cross Keys from Doraville attend said school instead of riding back and forth on the access road all day.

    This is DCSD and they don’t do stuff that makes sense, like rebuild Briarcliff HS for half the cost of bulldozing it and starting over.

    DeKalb’s schools were built as smaller localized high schools with no middle schools. Changing to a middle school system was not compatible with the space and made a huge mess out of everything. They still don’t have middle school worked out after twenty plus years.

  11. Where is the money coming from? There is no money for these projects.

  12. Stan Jester

    E-SPLOST Money – For various reasons E-SPLOST projects are roughly 20% over budget. I should dedicate an article to that.

    There are currently a number of different options to make up for the short fall. Cutting projects is an option, but the district’s least favorite idea. Borrowing $80-$100 million in various bonding mechanisms is another option. The school district would have to bring bonding before the public for a vote. It’s possible the school district tries to get it on the Nov ballot.

  13. Stan
    Where do they think they can put 1000 more seats?

  14. Seen It All

    You should all know that some parents on the school council a few years back agreed to all this. A few parents led the way. They sold you out. One of those parents is on the Construction Advisory Committee. Go look for the initials CG.

  15. Stan Jester

    @Crazy, How this will be implemented remains to be seen. We can look to Lakeside HS for how this will go down. Anybody from LHS want to comment on how that has gone down? The architects every 6 months or so come up with new designs. Currently, LHS has the decision of putting classrooms on top of their tennis courts and/or turning their parking lot into a garage giving the marching band no place to practice. I’ve been requesting the latest designs from the administration so I can get some clarity, but they won’t give the latest designs to me … yet. Reminds me, I need to ORR those designs … along with some other docs they aren’t giving me. Need I say how sad it is that it has come to that?

  16. @Seen It All,
    You may be correct. I have never understood why Dunwoody was OK with DCSD’s plan to add just enough seats (600 at the time) to bring the school to 99% utilization, with only 12 more seats than the very flawed forecast predicted.

    But if folks like you were unhappy then, and are still unhappy, then this is your time to be vocal.

    Stan has consistently opposed this ill-conceived plan. But unless Dunwoody folks organize and also demand something better for their community, then I don’t think you can blame anyone but yourselves.

    Two years ago perhaps some folks were starry-eyed about our Superintendent and believed what the District said. I think those blinders are off now, given the terrible track record on forecasting enrollment and forecasting construction cost.

    I, for one, will strongly oppose any District request for additional funding for this plan. Even with the terrible overcrowding I can’t reward the District with more money because they did a lousy job in planning for our students. Maybe redistricting is the answer, maybe the Doraville High School needs to be resurrected.

  17. DSW2Contributor

    To see what a modern high school campus should look like, take a drive out to Buford to see the New Buford High School campus being built:
    I was stunned to see just how much land that new campus uses!

  18. Stan, I’ve been meaning to inquire about any school impact fees developers pay as I never hear it mentioned as part of the equation only SPLOST funds. With the Dr. Green’s recent complaints about budget shortfalls I feel it needs to discussed. In addition, our over zealous cities (Brookhaven, Chamblee, a Doraville and a Dunwoody) need(ed) to consider educational limitations prior to granting these permits. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  19. What can be done about this? Can we collectively go over the Dekalb County School Board and appeal at the state level? What are the options?

  20. Just a few years after SPLOST III gave Lakeside students a new classroom building, locker rooms, media center, administrative spaces, and a new Fine Arts Building, DCSD’s enrollment forecasts proved INCORRECT, and Lakeside was OVERCROWDED again. DCSD responded by putting long narrow trailers, not the nicer quad learning cottages, on top of Lakeside’s tennis courts. These crowded trailers are not configured to allow best use of learning technology. Imagine students performing science experiments in those substandard classrooms. Also provided was a restroom trailer, which was vandalized, but DCSD failed to repair it, citing the death of the only carpenter in the district who could do the work. How does a system with a billion dollar budget have one carpenter? Teachers who weren’t assigned a trailer must push carts of teaching materials from room to room to take advantage of classrooms unused during other teachers’ planning times. Our expansion plan has been reduced from 750 to 400 additional seats, but nobody has confidence in DCSD’s new enrollment numbers. They routinely fail to accurately predict enrollment from February to August in the same year, so why should we trust their 5 year projections? If plans proceed, our community will suffer through years of construction, only to be overcrowded again. No matter how attractive the design or quality the construction, Lakeside will STILL have the worst access of any high school in DeKalb – a single driveway from a two-lane Road with no traffic light and only an occasional SRO directing traffic. The failed traffic study won’t stop DCSD’s relentless pursuit of a bigger campus. Daily traffic congestion leads to tardy students who disrupt first period instruction for everyone, compromising student achievement. Teachers have noted this anecdotally, but the school doesnt keep data on late buses. With a sprawling network of buildings on a too-small lot, there is no way DCSD can comply with their own facility assessment guidelines to provide safe, separate areas for student parking, staff parking, carpool lanes, pedestrian access, and bus lanes. Our buses already have to park on the street to load students. Dan Drake will insist that these plans are a result of stakeholders’ input, but everyone knows that the district’s online survey was flawed and could be completed an unlimited number of times by parents with their own agendas (keep the magnet program at Chamblee, avoid redistricting, etc…), the community input sessions were poorly advertised and poorly attended, and the non-elected Cluster Summit Members who submitted a “position paper” could not reach a consensus from community members. Citizens were fools to allow Dr. Green to create a project list AFTER the SPLOST vote. BOE members rubber-stamped these terrible plans to move Cross Keys High to Briarcliff and to enlarge DHS, CCHS, and LHS – again! What will it take to stop this madness?!?!?

  21. I’ll just say schools like Southwest DeKalb have plenty of room, lots of empty, unused classrooms, and brand new construction as well. I know Dunwoody students won’t be redistricted to Southwest DeKalb, but come on, we need to look at some serious county-wide redistricting and filling up the buildings we already have rather than building more and more on school cores that can’t handle the increased enrollments.

  22. Thanks for the report, Stan. I’d like to see, as part of your forecast/addition chart the actual max enrollment for the schools (as they were intended upon construction-not including any “temporary” structures). It seems like that information alone would be foundational for any argument against more seats. If the kids can’t all actually fit in the main building at one time, well, that undermines any sense of community in a pocket neighborhood school and it also absolutely puts the safety of the children at risk. And the effect of overcrowding on their actual learning probably can’t be easily quantified – but it can certainly be assumed that no community and questionable safety diminishes a meaningful education.

  23. I simply don’t understand why the County does not bite the bullet and conduct a massive redistricting to move students south to fill thousands of empty classrooms. I know redistricting is never popular, but it is necessary to avoid horrid overcrowding and these terrible huge additions which add no common space or parking. Redistricting is the right thing to do economically and so students have buildings that can meet their needs. it is long past time.

    In the alternative, they need to just build a new high school in Doraville.

  24. Michelle Fincher

    @ Seen it All is exactly right. Here is their email letter from Sept 2016. I’ve removed Allegra’s personal email address, otherwise it is an exact copy:
    Your immediate action is requested – urgent
    1 message
    allegra johnson Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 12:10 PM
    To: michelle.fincher@gmail.com

    Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

    There has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks about three options that have been presented by Dekalb County School System to deal with the growing student population in our middle and high schools. A recommendation has been requested from the school councils at Dunwoody High and Peachtree Middle. If you are busy and don’t want to read the full justification, please click the link below to an online survey and select Option B.

    https://goo.gl/forms/ kSFTQLhRzoTUObSr2

    (Note there are links within the survey with lots of specific information about each option.)

    Why Option B?

    When representatives from PCMS, DHS, and elementary schools throughout our cluster met to discuss these options, we were all still learning about the options, but there was a unifying ideal of keeping our Dunwoody kids at Dunwoody High School. Options A & C send roughly 30% of the kids currently zoned to DHS to either a new Sequoyah High School in Doraville or to Chamblee HS. No decisions have been made at this time as to where those kids will come from, but the process would surely not be a fun one for our community. Option B keeps our attendance zone intact.

    Option B comes with a $23,000,000 investment in Dunwoody High School. Options A & C come with $0 for schools in the Dunwoody cluster. (Note that there are other pockets of eSPLOST money that could go to our schools, but this is the only category being discussed by the school system at this time.) DHS is full of amazing teachers, kids, and parents who make the DHS community great, but aspects of the facility are limiting. As a Council last year we realized the toil involved in getting even small investments in our school. Throughout the year we pushed to get an adequate supply of functioning lockers for the kids, signage on the front of the school with our name on it, and more than one functioning copier in the school for teachers. Progress was made, but the journey shed light on the difficulty involved in getting things done. This option presents a unique opportunity for a significant portion of eSPLOST money to be dedicated to our cluster. This investment will be a long term improvement to DHS, helping our growing student population for years to come.

    Does this mean 600 more kids at DHS? NO, it does not. The projection is that in 2022, with the increasing student population in our attendance zone, DHS population will be 2,093 students. Today there are 1,826 students. The problem is that our capacity is only about 1,500 students. The improvements will increase the school capacity to 2,100 students, eliminating the need for trailers, floating teachers, and addressing long-standing facility limitations.

    What about parking? The open retention pond in the parking area can be buried and paved over, substantially improving the parking situation, even with more kids. We are pushing for this to be a priority.

    What is the proposed variation that impacts PCMS? The problem with all of the options presented is that they send a significant number of middle school kids out of Dunwoody. The variation proposes that PCMS also receive an addition to handle the extra capacity there, taking the same approach as the high school.

    What about the budget? Option B is $7,000,000 under budget. Option A is $77,000,000 over budget. Option C is $54,000,000 over budget. The school system seems confident that they can find more money for other options but ultimately that is going to take from other things in the school system.

    A summarized list of pros/cons from a Dunwoody perspective (along with room for comment) has been posted here:

    http://secure-web.cisco.com/1obDQUyjNh2o8_hDU2YcCrv_2zMxobWANX7JE0muqlFuFtjCHnLTLmtWDbKDNFDwgz3iqm_Zxbof4o2EJ6_bDRPiDhMsUTjsm0c5kWqG91Yebq740xS3OnOelO-FNOP9mlIMTXqA5vjNaWp2wpRo0yHwwVHqYC7NoyRV5JOP5XjIHikyLxaQVKukTjx92XY4UXgsIDkvJgD4y_0xD5u7z19CEagV74zzkB2F3mywwWqLs7RQ2BNkqeJW7nDQK8N9knyWkX2xMKd5ZxIwXjPX_cOlYQk64_tN88priGjegLsN2eUB8WqwO1nT5q3udxcuZtfG_5uJYofavPP3PnfliEQ/http%3A%2F%2Fdunwoodyschooldaze. blogspot.com/2016/09/pros-and- cons-of-dekalb-school.html

    Stepping back from the details of this issue for a moment, all of these options have some good aspects for Dunwoody and the impact for Dunwoody is less with any of them than what much Dekalb County Schools will see. We are also ultimately at the hands of the final superintendent recommendation and School Board approval. Our community will continue to make our schools great regardless of the option selected, but it is the opinion of the DHS and PCMS School Councils that the benefits of this modified Option B far outweigh those of the other options.

    Please don’t forget to go back to the link at the top and complete the survey.

    Chad Griffith, DHS Council Chair

    On behalf of DHS Council

    Allegra Johnson, PCMS Foundation Chair

    On behalf of PCMS Foundation

  25. In an era of people moving back into town, we may just continue to see increased demand for seats in the northern part of the county with fewer parents choosing to relocate to the suburbs or send their kids to private schools. That would argue for more seats in the current Region 1.

  26. It’s cyclical. We kids from the baby boom grew up and moved off and our parents stayed put, and the school population dwindled. Many ES were closed or repurposed in the Lakeside HS area back in the 90’s.

    Then those adults downsized, and the parents of the millenials moved in, and school population started increasing again.

    Meanwhile, new construction continued in many areas, and DCSS DCSD whatever they were calling themselves at the time was totally baffled to find 300 new students show up at the beginning of the year. Somehow they were not able to look at building permits and notice two new subdivisions of homes designed for young parents. And they didn’t see the apartment construction happening. They still can’t get a grasp of how this works.

  27. Surprise, Surprise

    You all act like you’re surprised. This is Dekalb County – worst school system in Georgia. Want things to change? You have two choices: 1) Go Private (e.g. Pius, Marist, Holy Innocents, Wesleyan) or 2) Move.

  28. Crazy idea, but how about lobbying giants like State Farm to build public-private-partnership high school facilities and programs as part of their massive new campus? Magnet programs like this have been very successful on the west coast, particularly at driving success in lower income groups.

    Seems we are locked in a two-sided debate when we may need to look for a new proposal altogether.

  29. Crowded Teacher

    Stan, any response to this proclamation? It seems all well and good design wise, but doesn’t address: 1) Impact to school during construction (the scope of this project seems pretty enormous and disruptive) 2) gym size, weight rooms, locker rooms, etc. (I’m pretty sure it’s a fire hazard to hold pep rallies in the gym with the entire school which is why we haven’t had one in months) 3) what impact to the site this will have (where are they going to put this new 41 classroom building (roughly 2/3 the size of the current building.)?). And, there’s no timeline for starting the project and mentions ESPLOST V money that I thought was gone. What’s the chance of the board actually agreeing to this?

  30. It comes down to redistricting. People will say anything to keep from redistricting. There is absolutely no way DeKalb Schools is going to build a new band room or chorus room with these building additions. I’m very disappointed that the CAC would flat out lie to the public like this. There was a time when I had more confidence in their integrity.

  31. I suspect that any redistricting plans will resemble the same kind of tiger stripes that every DeKalb legislative gerrymander consists of.

  32. @AmyP.
    Board Policy AD: Alteration of School Attendance Areas defines primary and secondary criteria for how attendance areas shall be established.

    Not that the board or school district follow the law or board policy, but it gives us some place to start.

    Primary Criteria (based on logistics)
    * Geographic proximity
    * Instructional capacity
    * Projected enrollment

    Note: Students may not always be assigned to their closest school, since other criteria must also be considered.

    Secondary Criteria
    * Safety and traffic patterns
    * Previous redistricting
    * Balancing of special programs, (i.e., ESOL, school choice, etc.)
    * School feeder alignment
    * Intact neighborhoods
    * Efficient and economical operations

  33. Does anyone else find it strange, and disturbing, that the Dunwoody PAC/CAC chose to publish this on a blog rather than the school’s website?

    Also, school-wide pep rallies are a thing of the past for Dunwoody, CCHS, Lakeside, and the new Cross Keys.

    Even when CCHS was at “only” 1600 students and had their new gym, school-wide pep rallies were stopped. The logistics of having 2 sessions for a pep rally are so disruptive to academics that they rarely, rarely happen.

    All of the “normal” sized high schools in the District can do this, but not at these mega high schools.

  34. I failed to mention the irony that the Dunwoody PAC/CAC posted their first official statement about the 1000 seat addition on a blog that accepts advertising. The statement about the 1000 seat addition at Dunwoody High School shows up right next to the ads for Marist and other private schools. Convenient for parents who realize what these changes will mean in terms of daily life in a mega school on an undersized campus.

    I don’t understand the distinction about the 1000 seats not really being built for 1000 “new” students, but just to house the 600 over-capacity students already at Dunwoody and the 2-300 expected in the near future.

    It’s still a 2500 seat school smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood, surrounded by 2-lane streets.

    It’s still a 4 semester construction project on a campus that is almost totally utilized already, for buildings, parking, athletic fields, and lots and lots of trailers. Once you start adding construction safety fences and parking for the construction crew, plus porta-potties for the crew, it will be a delightful place for 2100 students and almost 200 staff members to spend 4 semesters.

  35. Dekalb County Schools Quandry

    Well, only send your kids to Marist if you’re ready for the elitist attitudes and big money that permeate that place. They can advertise all they want and they truly believe they are the absolute best and not only look down on public schools, but on other private schools as well. I just can’t take the elitism that surrounds that place.

  36. Straight Facts

    The Dunwoody PAC/CAC did post their statement on the school’s website. It is on the right under “Quick Links”; then “Principal Advisory Council/Construction Advisory Committee”. Then at the bottom see ‘Update on the Dunwoody High Construction Project 04/10/2019’ with two links: “read more” or “Archived News”. This will lead you to the statement.

    In response on the blog, a direct link was provided to the statement on Dunwoody’s website: http://dunwoodyhs.dekalb.k12.ga.us/protected/ArticleView.aspx?iid=5IGBGB&dasi=3GYB

    Small potatoes – response stated that the PAC/CAC statement was posted on April 10th to both the school’s website and the blog. I may be incorrect, but the link “Archived News” shows it was posted on the 12th, two days after it was posted on a social blog, and one day after the comments on this thread. None of the other links show that information.

  37. I am curious is dunwoody willing to let its kids go across to a new doraville because I suspect that most of dunwoody was against the best option of a third high school. Or lakeside willing to let its feeder schools go to the new cross Keys. Of course chamblee also wants limited change although we have already absorbed a good bit of redistricting and have the most at risk from being broken up and representing the only high school with two middle schools feeding. Redistributing is never easy and the school district ultimately needs to take community input as one important data point but use logic and independent and experienced redistributing experts to guide and not to let politics or lack of ability to drive . How come dekalb schools is always the laughingstock ? We need smarter decision makers and more “we” not “them” thinking among us. Where have our central office dollars gone ? To endless meetings and flawed design plans and no sensible solutions ?

  38. Just My Opinion

    Quite frankly, if a resident lives within the city limits, then the resident’s children should go to the city’s high school. Accordingly, if I live within the Dunwoody or Chamblee city limits, my children should attend Dunwoody or Chamblee.

    Living within the city limits, I would not be supportive of any efforts to bus my children right past the city’s high school, in order to attend any newer high school.

  39. Please remember we do not have city schools despite dunwoody’s effort and hope to control it this way. Other schools have multiple cities and/or unincorporated areas. No special privilege should be Available for one city that is not optimal for the whole or the city must make up the difference both for capital and ongoing operating costs . Overcrowding is the best you will get when completely inflexible – diversity is much better !

  40. Common Sense Redistricting

    Call it what you want – city school or non city-school. I didn’t mention anything about control, or special privileges.

    I am, actually, a supporter of redistricting – but not when the students are re-zoned to ride right by the school that’s closest, simply to attend another.

  41. The lack of capacity in the Dunwoody cluster is made worse by the lack of capacity in neighboring clusters.

    The Dunwoody cluster is surrounded by the Tucker cluster and the Chamblee cluster.

    Neither of those high schools has excess capacity. The December 2018 DCSD data shows that Tucker is already over capacity by about 20 students and that Chamblee has 1 “empty” seat.

    While I know that this may sound like “heaven” to Dunwoody HS teachers and students, who are nearly 600 students OVER capacity, redistricting to these clusters doesn’t make sense.

    Even if you plan a massive redistricting, keep in mind that you have to go past Tucker, past Lakeside, past Stone Mountain, past Clarkston and go all the way to Stepehenson and Redan to find 600 empty high school seats.

    If you want to head south instead of east, then you have many choices of high schools with lots of empty seats. But that sort of move would require literally thousands of moves and affect elementary and middle schools too, just to get the high school capacity.

    And I don’t think many folks are going to want to put their children on a bus to head to new schools when they would have to “ride right by the school that’s closest, simply to attend another.” Plus, moving your children from a high achieving school to lower achieving schools — just because DCSD has taken our money and spent it unwisely — is a pill few parents will take.

    Capacity is needed, plain and simple.

    I don’t really support redistricting as a short-term solution because of the turmoil it will cause.

    I support Stan’s effort to let the public know the facts. I just wish that other BOE members would learn the facts too and then demand action to help students, no matter where they live. An apology wouldn’t hurt, either.

  42. Until more people show up and raise hell at board meetings, none of this is going to matter to the members not named Stan.

  43. I agree – this is the only thing plus media that worked for us to get rid of the Chamblee principal

  44. Any construction or planning updates on the Cross Keys Middle School Conversion and the New Cross Keys High School. Are they still on track for Fall 2020 redistricting and Fall 2021 openings?

    How will the projected decreases in students at CKMS and CKHS impact the redistricting process if at all?

  45. I believe the new CKHS capacity has been reduced by 200 students. Lakeside HS and Chamblee Charter HS building additions are completing their design phase where they will be put on hold. The idea is to completely redistrict the Cross Keys and Chamblee clusters once everything is built and online.

  46. Stan,
    Keep in mind that the District has decided that redistricting the Cross Keys and Chamblee clusters will include making Sequoyah Middle School a feeder school for Chamblee.

    This will undoubtedly mean that current elementary schools that feed into Sequoyah Middle School, such as Cary Reynolds Elementary, the new elementary being built on Shallowford Road, and perhaps part of Dresden Elementary will therefore become a part of the Chamblee cluster as well. The fate of Oakcliff Traditional Theme School in Doraville, which currently draws from Cary Reynolds, Dresden, and Pleasantdale (Pleasantdale is part of the Tucker cluster) might change as well.

    Ashford Park Elementary, which is currently in the Chamblee cluster, might or might not remain the Chamblee cluster. It is slightly closer to Chamblee than the new Cross Keys High School but given DCSD’s tendency towards social engineering I would expect Ashford Park to be redistricted to the Cross Keys cluster.

    These changes might be good, or not. But there is so much more to consider in addition to over-budget, “squeeze it in” high school additions.

  47. Move the damn magnet

    The solution is simple. Why not move the magnet program? Create a magnet school only in the center of the county and that opens up a ton of seats at Chamblee High. Then you redistrict Dunwoody into Chamblee. Problem solved.

  48. Sorry but this offensive to those who have worked hard over decades to make Chamblee a nationally recognized school. Chamblee is willing to become a mega school to keep its magnet and Dunwoody needs to take it’s fair share of impact from overcrowding. Dunwoody will stand alone even more than it does now as self-interested if Dunwoody tries to take this position.

  49. I’m currently the only board member that doesn’t want to move the Chamblee high achievers magnet to Avondale.

    Why not move the magnet program? Good question.

    1. If you move the magnet program South of 78, nobody from Doraville, Chamblee, Brookhaven or Dunwoody will go to it. There already is a high achievers magnet down there, and nobody from the North goes to it.

    2. If nobody goes to it, then the students would go back to their home school thereby exacerbating the overcrowding problems that already exist.

    3. DeKalb Schools has many magnet programs, but only 1 program that serves DeKalb North of 78. Moving the high achievers magnet to Avondale would eliminate access for North DeKalb to all magnet programs. we allegedly strive for equity … where’s the equity in that?

    In Summary – Moving the high achievers magnet program South of 78 would kill it. It’s a common perception that the high achievers magnet program in South DeKalb is sub standard. However, the data doesn’t bear that out. For example, Wadsworth regulary outscores Kittredge on various measures. Nevertheless, many people want to move the Chamblee high achievers program South of 78 so everyone can have access to it. Nobody from North DeKalb would go to it and would therefore kill the high achievers program as we know it.

    Anybody else have any thoughts?

  50. Yes about half of chamblee magnet if not 2/3 would go back to their homeschools of dunwoody, chamblee or lakeside(and Tucker) not at all solving the problem while also like Arab said killing the magnet

  51. So once the new DSA is completed (any timeline updates?) the entire magnet program would move into the old Avondale HS building?

  52. Not a popular opinion

    I have a thought… Get rid of the High Achievers Magnet programs at Kittredge and Chamblee and replace them with a smaller, true gifted magnet program for the 96th percentile and above who aren’t really able to be served in the typical classroom because they are several grade levels above the vast majority of their peers. You know the ones – they are valedictorians without ever attending high school because they really need college level classes. A lot of Kittredge lottery eligible kids score in the 75th-95th percentile and could easily be served in their neighborhood schools. Get the hundreds of parents who are driving their kids to Kittredge and Chamblee off of the roads. Put the new truly gifted magnet program near one of our local colleges, and develop a smaller, more-rigorous program to serve those who cannot be served elsewhere. Sure, a lot of smart, motivated, 75-95%ile students would return to their home schools, where they could be served alongside their smart, motivated 75-95%ile neighbors in AP and Accelerated Classes. What’s the problem? As long as students are given the resources they need to be successful, isn’t that what they are entitled to receive? Why should the rights of a lottery winning kid supersede the rights of a non lottery winning kid who lives in the Chamblee district? And of course the 75-95%ile kids would add to the overcrowding problems, but at least we would eliminate the need to build a ridiculous $20+ Million expansion to a school that was already completely rebuilt in SPLOST III. DeKalb would probably still need to build another new high school in an underserved area, and the $20+ million for expansion could be used to help purchase land. You don’t even have to abruptly move children, just stop the Kittredge lottery after this year and let these programs slowly be phased out. The Kittredge and Chamblee teachers know how to teach “regular” kids, too.

  53. Drop the damn magnet

    Not a popular opinion – you are dead on correct. Your idea is quite strong, but get ready for the Chamblee Magnet water carriers to attack you because God forbid anyone makes any changes to an outdated program that doesn’t meet the objectives for which it was first developed. Stan Jester, you should rethink your position and advocate for something more like what “Not A Popular Opinion” states.

    The magnet program needs to be changed. It is a dinosaur.

  54. Drop The Damn Magnet

    Anonymous – Spare us the self-serving B.S. and how offended you are. The only reason you are in the program is because your name got drawn.

    The magnet program is a drain on county resources and separates out the have and have nots. It needs to a) either go away or b) be replaced by something that taps the top 5% of kids in a truly gifted magnet program as Not Popular Opinion states.

    Deep Six the magnet!

  55. little respect for someone not willing to reveal themselves and uses profanity and no data points. If the magnet were so broken, why does everyone still clamor to get their kids into it? What is so broken about a high school that has 15 national merit scholars, more than any of the private schools? last comment back from me as I do not engage in disrepectful, attacking conversation, only cool-headed and reasonable

  56. People in the high achievers magnet program at CCHS like it. I like the idea of a “truly gifted magnet program” as well. Why don’t we put the truly gifted program at Avondale or build a Doraville HS and put a truly gifted magnet program there?

    The state, BTW, gives the school district more funding for gifted students than the average 9-12 student. (60% more)

  57. Drop The Damn Magnet

    Anonymous – I’d send my kids to any of the local private schools before putting them in the magnet program, which now sticks 35 or so in each class. I’d check your facts as well on national merit. A number of the private schools boast more national merit scholars. The school used to be good – 10 years ago, but has fallen significantly in the past 5-7 years.

    Educate yourself because you’re coming off as not informed. The magnet program was started to help with integration back in the 1970s. It is a dinosaur and is well past its prime.

    Dismantle it!

  58. Here you go.
    5 National Merit semifinalists at Dunwoody, 3 at Marist, 5 at Pius, 8 at Woodward, similar at Lovett, etc.
    Only $25K very academically selective Westminster exceeds CCHS and others do not even come close.


  59. By and large the Chamblee community wants it there. The wait list to get into the Chamblee high achievers magnet is hundreds if not thousands of students long. Seems like we should be adding high achievers magnets, not taking them away.

  60. Give me a Break

    News flash for Anonymous: EVERYONE doesn’t “clamor to still get their kids into” Kittredge and Chamblee Magnet programs. You should stop drinking the KoolAid they serve over there and recognize that there are wonderful students, teachers, and admintrators at a lot of schools, where students are well-prepared for success in college and their careers, even without Nation Merit Scholarships. If your student is bright and motivated s/he will succeed in most any school with advanced course offerings, like-minded peers, and a supportive home environment.

  61. Magnet Arrogance Unfounded

    Kittredge Students and their parents as well as parents the middle school and high school magnet programs have an arrogance that is really unfounded given that the ONLY reason that they are in the magnet program is because they got their names drawn. They make private school arrogance seem pedantic by comparison. You and your kids aren’t all that. Trust me.

  62. Magnet Forces Families Out

    Actually if anything, the magnet does a good job of pushing good families out. I personally know a number of families that are sending their kids to Pius, Marist, Holy Innocents, Wesleyan, and Mount Vernon that would have kept their kids in the public school system had their kids gotten into magnet. The problem is that it is so bad if you have a gifted kid that isn’t selected for magnet that these families leave the system altogether. And that weakens all of Dekalb County as a whole.

    I am amazed with the absolute closed mindedness of magnet parents when any change is even discussed. Why should this program be exempt from changes? Is it really working as best as it should? Seems like there are people bending over backwards to save a program that many find unfair, out of touch, and breeding of separatism between haves and have nots. Maybe use the over crowding situation to modernize the entire program? Why would anyone disagree with that? At least have the discussion….

  63. Stan, I do not agree with the Magnet Program failing if moved to a centralized location. (I believe you stated beyond 78). If that is the only option, those kids will get to the shuttle just as mine does now. I do agree with posters stating a motivated/”smart” kid will do well no matter the setting. However, we must be honest in recognizing the disparity across the District as it relates to resources. I believe once we can attack the equity issue across the District, then perhaps a Magnet Program will no longer be needed. Personally, the Magnet Program is viewed as opportunity…exposure…experiences one may not receive at the local school for reasons such as lack of resources or even the environment.

  64. Hello @T.Watkins
    There are students who make the trek across the county to DSA. I suspect for 2 reasons most parents will choose to send their children to their home school before sending them to a centralized high achievers magnet.
    1. For many of them their home school is almost as desirable as Kittredge.
    2. Wadsworth is the high achievers elementary school right next to Avondale now. Parents in North DeKalb are already choosing not to send their kids down there if they don’t get into Kittredge.

  65. I’ve had two kids go through the magnet program. When my 1st born ran up to me at a swim meet telling me that he had gotten into Kittredge, he asked “Does that mean that I’m really smart?” I said “It does mean that you are smart but it mostly means that you are REALLY lucky.”

    Kittredge was great, but our home elementary school was equally great. To me, the biggest benefit of the magnet program was that Kittredge kept the kids through 6th grade and we only had two years of middle school to endure. Middle school is just awful any where. Nothing against any school–just a weird time of childhood. Chamblee Middle separates “magnet” from “resident” in all classes. I really couldn’t believe that my kids were talking about people as “residents” or “magnets”. I would have been furious if I had a gifted “resident” child because s/he was clearly not of the status of a “magnet”. Most of the gifted “residents” that we knew went to private school after 6th grade.

    It will be interesting to see if that continues now that Chamblee is blossoming as a city and more people are moving into the area with the intention of attending the Chamblee cluster.

    We had every intention of bringing our kids back to their home school for high school, but by then the friend groups had developed and identities had been established.

    If the magnet program at CCHS were moved to central DeKalb, both of my kids would have indeed gone back to their home school, but their home school would have served their needs equally as well as Chamblee has.

    I am very grateful for the opportunities that my children were given but very concerned about the children who travel past Chamblee to attend a school that is/will be quite far from their residence. Especially if they have to cross I85 to get to school. That just isn’t right.

    Many Chamblee magnet students would be equally well served by their north DeKalb high schools. I don’t think that the argument against moving the program being that many students would go back to their north DeKalb home school is one that would sway very many opinions/votes among the other board members. You have to come up with something better than that. The students that are traveling 45 minutes each way to be a part of the magnet program would probably appreciate a more central location.

  66. Ignoring the real issues

    What I find interesting about this whole magnet discussion is the belief of some that moving or eliminating it will solve these problems. The need for more seats at DHS (and other schools) isn’t just going to be magically solved by moving the magnet, nor will the fact that DeKalb is way over budget for these projects.

  67. I suffered through the first experiment that DeKalb did with an enrichment program for the gifted. It was bad to the point where I wanted out. I was bored out of my skull all through school, and I had poor grades because I could make Bs without ever doing homework. I skipped 12th grade and went to GSU as they only required 4 years of English and we had 5 years of HS back then.

    My kids are 98%ers but the magnet programs were still boring for them. One is dyslexic but math gifted off the charts and the other across the board gifted. The pressure at Chamblee HS was such that neither of them thought they’d get enough out of it to be worth the angst.

    They both started at Brown’s Mill ES and one got into Kittredge only to find that Kittredge was a year behind in math, her best area, and she had the same textbook in 6th as 5th. Both Chamblee Middle and Miller Grove Middle told the parents we weren’t needed and treated the kids like little criminals instead of young adults.

    The attitude at Lakeside HS was refreshing. I don’t know what Chamblee HS would have been like, but the folks at SW DeKalb told us more about their band program than their magnet program, and we were looking at continuing with that.


  68. Ignoring the real issues: I think that I see the problem clear as day. Dunwoody is overcrowded. They need students to be redisticted. There is no where to redistrict them without redistricting Chamblee. You can either move the magnet to a more central location and free up some seats at Chamblee or you can make people who have already been traveling past Chamblee to get to the old Cross Keys location to now travel further and cross I85 (and free up seats at Chamblee).

    There are no easy answers here–only hard questions.

    Of course the best solution is to build a new school in Doraville (or at least buy land while it can still be bought). But we all know that DeKalb has no money ornotherwise the additions would still be on the table.

  69. Just a Thought

    Why can’t the magnet program at Kittredge be moved, such as “not a popular opinion” suggested?

    A smaller program of truly gifted students could be sufficiently housed at the old Shallowford Elementary/Chamblee Middle campus.

    The Kittredge site could once again be an elementary school like it was before, when it was Nancy Creek Elementary.

  70. @JustAThought,
    Magnet Program – In an effort to desegregate schools and attract students of all races across housing lines, in 1989 magnet programs were established in DeKalb at centrally located schools. By having a relatively low bar from day one, parents from across the county entered the lottery and freely chose to integrate. I don’t see the school district raising the bar.

    I like the idea of having a gifted magnet somewhere. Or even better, let’s just do it … let’s have a special school where only the top 200 kids from 5th grade and/or 8th grade are invited to join the program.

    Relocating Chamblee Magnets – Would moving the Chamblee magnet program to Southwest DeKalb HS kill the magnet program for Region 1 and Region 2?

  71. Just a Dream

    I would be 100% behind a true gifted program with a reality-based ceiling of more than 75% (is this percentage correct?) It would be a dream if each DCSD cluster could support their own smaller, but truly gifted program. Could the Dunwoody cluster use the old Shallowford Elementary/Chamblee Middle building? Could the Chamblee cluster use the old Nancy Creek Elementary/Kittredge Building? I do not know.

    A simple lottery magnet is for when there’s a need – like not having a large enough truly gifted population, or needing more diversity. Pull some names, fill those seats, and you’re done. Do we really need simple lottery magnet schools for those reasons now? Using scores to determine entrance is objective, and more realistic of a true magnet program’s goal – to serve the top students in the cluster/district.

    I do not know if DCSD is ready for gifted/magnet schools to serve only the truly gifted students, but I could support such an effort.

  72. It's a race thing

    Lots of good comments regarding gifted programs, raising of the standards, etc. But in Dekalb County, GA it will never fly. Why? Because the school would not have a majority African American population. That’s the real issue here. Dekalb County would not have a special school that is majority white. That continues to be the Northside vs. Southside politics that permeates the country school board politics.

    County testing facts say that there would be a larger pool of white students qualifying for a program like this than African American students. As such, a school would likely have a majority white population. That would never fly in Dekalb County.

    We’re still too handcuffed by race.

  73. Just a Dream

    For clarification, I meant for each cluster (or at least each region) to have its own gifted non-lottery magnet school.

    If each cluster had its own smaller, truly gifted magnet school, the population of that magnet would be pulled from only the schools in that cluster. Therefore, the population of the cluster magnet would reflect the population of the cluster.

    There may be more competition for seats in some clusters with large populations of gifted students, but a truly gifted school should offer seats only to the top students of the cluster.