FAQ – Fall 2020 Redistricting Plan

On Monday, the Board of Education approved the interim Redistricting Plan for the 2020-2021 School Year.

Action 1 – Approve the recommended school attendance areas, effective July 1, 2020 for the 2020-2021 school year, as shown on the Elementary School Attendance Areas Map (dated 01/13/2020).

Action 2 – Move of Kittredge Magnet School from the Nancy Creek facility to the former John Lewis facility, beginning the 2020-2021 school year.

Action 3 – Use Nancy Creek facility as a fourth and fifth grade annex for Dunwoody Elementary to provide temporary enrollment relief, beginning the 2020-2021 school year.

Action 4 – Initiate the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) for the District that will address issues of redistricting, facility utilization (overcrowding and underutilization), and locations of instructional programs/school choice programs at District schools and facilities.

The administration released this FAQ in an attempt to answer the most Frequently Asked Questions.

Q. What are you doing to relieve the overcrowding in the Dunwoody cluster?
A: We are redistricting 102 students from Dunwoody ES to Austin ES. Additionally, we are moving Kittredge Magnet School from the current Nancy Creek facility to its original location at the former John Lewis facility next to Kittredge Park as a temporary annex relief option for several years. We will then use the Nancy Creek facility as a 4th and 5th grade annex to Dunwoody Elementary. This will allow us to remove all portable classrooms from Dunwoody Elementary in time for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. This is a temporary solution until more permanent relief can be provided via a new elementary school, which is accounted for in the proposed budget.

Q: What else are you doing?
A: We are making redistricting recommendations for 800 students to relieve additional overcrowding across the district and populate the new Doraville United elementary school of which 102 will move from Dunwoody ES to Austin ES.

Q: Why aren’t you doing more to relieve overcrowding?
A: One of our primary goals in this process is to minimize disruption to families, so we view all redistricting changes as part of a comprehensive, long-term lens. The proposed minimal redistricting changes will provide significant, albeit temporary, relief. This doesn’t fix everything, but it’s a good start. The proposed Comprehensive Master Plan will outline comprehensive, long-term redistricting recommendations.

We need to face the reality that we can’t solve our overcrowding issue in a year; this will be a long journey that will begin this August, which is why this is an “Interim” Redistricting Plan. Our leadership team spent countless hours listening to parents and community members, pouring over data and analyzing dozens of options.

Q: What if parents have to pick up students at both Dunwoody Elementary and the new annex location?
A: The facilities are located 2.8 miles from each other. We are looking into some creative options to relieve stress on parents with students in both locations by providing transportation options.

Q: Won’t students going to Kittredge have to travel farther to get to the new location?
A: Kittredge Magnet School serves the entire district, which means students travel from across the county to get there. Returning the school to its original location next to Kittredge Park places it in a more central location. Today, we have students attending from 47 schools across the district.

Q: How much will it cost to retrofit the John Lewis facility?
A: We estimate it will cost at most $1 million to update the facility with security enhancements, needed
furniture and fixtures, and technology retrofits that are standard across the district.

Q: What about Cross Keys and Sequoyah? The community has been promised a school for some time now.
A: We know this community has been waiting for a new high school. While we have constructed two new elementary schools within the last two years (John Lewis ES opened Fall 2019 and Doraville United ES will open August 2020). Unfortunately, we do not have the funds to build a new high school at Cross Keys at this time. Commencing construction on schools like this requires the district to have all the money accounted for in advance, and we currently don’t have it. Once our financial reports have been audited and approved by the state and our credit rating restored, we will begin to explore alternative options for funding the school.

Q: What about the K-12 Art School?
A: At this time, we do not have a complete vision or budget for the K-12 Art School. We recommend holding commencement of the project until there is a more robust vision and enough budget to do the job right.

Q: Why are $263 million in projects being deferred?
A: We are deferring these funds from eight middle and high school capacity projects. Rising construction costs have caused the projected E-SPLOST V program to exceed the projected revenue. The deferred projects will enable us to balance the budget. They will also be considered as part of the Comprehensive Master Plan, which will inform the future direction and scope of major projects.

36 responses to “FAQ – Fall 2020 Redistricting Plan

  1. Dunwoody is SOOO special

    Here’s a FAQ: why Dunwoody elementary? Why that school when MES is geographically closer to Kittredge?

  2. Kittredge and Dunwoody Parent who still has questions

    Here’s another FAQ- when are Kittredge parents going to get the answers we need like- what is the bus schedule going to look like? And what is the timeline and specific improvements that are going to be be made to John Lewis? Is the facility going to be tested for mold? If you saw the news story last night on WSB it is CLEAR that way more that $1MM in improvements are needed for that facility. Would you feel good about sending your kids there? And how are Kittredge parents supposed to make an informed decision on whether to leave our kids in the program or put them back into their Dunwoody home schools without this information?

  3. Why DES? My understanding is that during the public redistricting discussions, it was recommended that a small part Sexton Woods go to Huntley Hills. The community that moving a small group is useless. The administration came back and recommended a large section of Sexton Woods go to Huntley Hills. The community effectively communicated that they didn’t want MES touched unless it was fixed.

    The new superintendent came in and put together a large group to look at the redistricting options and feedback. While I asked Drake and the Chamblee PACs asked Drake to use Nancy Creek for Chamblee, my understanding is that their perception from the reams of public input was that MES didn’t want to be touched until it was fixed. I thought for sure Nancy Creek would have provided some temporary relief to the Chamblee cluster.

  4. Stan – thank you for posting this. As referenced by the previous comment – did you see the story on the news last night about the abysmal state of the old John Lewis school? Will we be given access to the information used to determine that it will cost ‘at most $1 million’ to get this school in the proper condition? The estimates that I’ve seen are between $5 million – $7 million. I find it incredibly hard to believe that it will only take $1 million. What type of environmental testing has been / will be done on air quality? What about the roof, electrical, HVAC? We’d really appreciate some insight into the thinking here.

    Also – what is the timeline for identifying a site for a new elementary school and starting construction?

  5. I’d like to see a break down of any of these estimates to upgrade the old John Lewis school. The new E-SPLOST project list has a line item for $1 million for the old John Lewis school, and I’ve asked the administration to be more explicit about the scope.

    A general timeline for a new school will be a year to put out an RFP and hire an architectural and engineering firm and a construction company. Once the A&E firm designs the school, I expect 2 years to actually build it. Identifying a site will happen over the next 6 to 12 months.

  6. APES & KMS Parent

    The facility report from 2018 makes it sound like most everything is past its service life. Roof replacement is estimated at $1M alone. https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/operations/files/2019/08/FCA_2018-John-Robert-Lewis-Temporary-Elementary.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0w4zLdz_u_jnS_eFpq7VIAj9zvALJnG6_smXeKA46lasa6571N-EHFs0I

  7. I believe the administration is looking to just extend the life of the building 3 years … not to completely renovate the building.

  8. The [MES] “…community effectively communicated that they didn’t want MES touched unless it was fixed.”

    Stan. I know you have to be somewhat PC when sharing this type of information to the public, but I’m hoping that you let them know that this is a load of BS when it was conveyed to you. No-one ever put a proposal in front of MES parents that offered Nancy Creek as a permanent fix to overcrowding (I doubt this solution was put in front of Dunwoody representatives either). If the MES community had been offered Nancy Creek Elementary as a permanent fix to overcrowding, I doubt there would have been much (if any resistance).

    It defies reason that on one hand, DCSS would say they were appeasing MES parents by not moving kids back to this school, and then forcing this temporary relief on Dunwoody families who (as a community are adamantly opposed any solution that involved relocation). Worse yet, this imposes all sorts of logistical burdens on Dunwoody families that have multiple elementary-aged school children.

    This defies reason.

  9. Wait – Stan – why are they looking to extend the life of the building by 3 years? What is the plan for the Magnet Program in 3 years? What is the thinking here? Move it back to Nancy Creek?

  10. PS Dad, Agreed. Nobody told me or the community that opening Nancy Creek was seriously be considered until January. Nobody asked me or the community what we thought the best use was. The administration seems to have just used the feedback gathered from the community meetings. Superintendent Tyson and I had this exact conversation on Monday. I’ll cut the video of the discusssion, transcribe and post.

    Nancy Creek is not in good shape and is not ready to be a permanent school for anybody. I suspect that in 3 years, it will be completely renovated or rebuilt.

  11. Thanks Stan…

  12. Stan,

    Any insight as to why the Superintendent recommended moving the 102 students from DES to Austin along with doing the 4/5 annex? It seems like just the 4/5 annex move would have removed all of the trailers at DES. Austin would then have been able to relieve Vanderlyn. Is it purely because the Superintendent didn’t want to touch attendance lines?

    Since the new school to be built is to provide relief to both the Dunwoody and Chamblee Clusters and because PCMS and DHS are so overcrowded. I think we all need to get our heads around the following:

    1. Attendance zones are likely going to be re-drawn for all schools in Dunwoody. There is at least a possibility that homeowners will be rezoned to a new school. Hopefully if moves need to take place it will be entire neighborhoods and not just a few houses.
    2. Split feeder schools both at the Elementary and at the Middle School level are likely.
    3. There is a probability that not all Dunwoody kids will go to school in Dunwoody.

    Hopefully with 3 years to prepare, we will have a re-districting plan in place long before the school is ready to open. There is no reason that decision has to be made this late in the process.

  13. How will the current KMS population fit in John Lewis? Are you increasing class sizes or moving the trailers from Dunwoody there?

  14. Will KMS continue to feed into Chamblee Middle and Chamblee High?

  15. I would like to suggest that many of these responsibilities lie squarely on the doorstep of Dr. Sherry Johnson, Region 1 Superintendent.

    Perhaps this project should be a referendum on Dr. Johnson’s ability to lead Region 1. One of her jobs is to address parent, staff, and stakeholder concerns. She has a high salary and a big staff to manage the transportation, administrative, and other logistical issues that must be sorted out and communicated in a helpful and timely manner. Let’s see how she does.

  16. SPLOST IV project 314-422 was supposed to repair the roof of the former John Lewis E.S. In 2013, the building was being used as the International Student Center.
    The original budget was $297K which was later increased to $659K. I have looked at all of the monthly SPLOST reports and can not tell if that work was ever done. After the project was in the planning stage, it was never mentioned again.

  17. APES & KMS Parent

    Kirk, thank you for that explanation. I don’t see how they can put students in without a roof replacement, judging from the facility report from 2018

  18. escapeefromdekalb

    Do you all see the common thread in ALL of these posts? Deferred maintenance on ALL of these DCSS facilities has not been done, It has not been a priority for many years, and just like that the owners are being handed a HUGE bill to shore up their property. In looking at the budgets, they have been appeasing certain groups of “stakeholder” – Steakholders- if you go to Brockett – at the detriment of the facilities. Hard decisions need to be made now, or the can is just being pushed down the road.

    Someone needs to look at all the available open seats in schools today ad move children around. Yes it will suck for many, but they will adjust. Our school system and county coffers cannot take another day of the fiscal mismanagement. — Again Happy about the name I use .

  19. Why bother moving 102 students to Austin ES if the 4/5 annex is enough to address overcrowding for 3 years at Dunwoody ES? – I don’t have any insight. Perhaps the administration is trying to fill the school and expects this will be the attendance zone even after the next chamblee/dunwoody elementary school opens.

    Kittredge Feeder Pattern
    The old John Lewis ES (next to Adams Stadium and Kittredge Park on N. Druid Hills Rd) was named Kittredge before they changed it a couple years ago. It was where the high achievers magnet was located before it moved to Nancy Creek. It fed into the Chamblee magnet program at Chamblee Middle School and Chamble Charter High School. In Fall 2008, Nancy Creek ES students were moved to Huntley Hills ES and Montgomery ES to make room for Kittredge and the high achievers magnet.

    I’m confident the Kittredge students will continue to feed into Chamblee MS just like they did before the move.

  20. Reality: The roof of the former John Lewis E.S needs repair.
    DCSD Spin: We will be piloting a new, open-air classroom concept!

  21. Concerned KMS Parent

    When will DCSD provide specific information for the repairs to the old John Lewis ES beyond “security enhancements, needed furniture and fixtures, and technology retrofits that are standard across the district,” when parents have bigger concerns, like the roof replacement as “water is seeping through the concrete structure and rusting the reinforcement, and some areas the concrete has spalled away exposing reinforcement” and “water ponds on roof, posing risk of structural failure due to weight of water” per the 2018 Facility Condition Assessment? There is a lot of work to be done at this building in a very short time frame, and there are many concerned parents who want to make sure the school is suitable for students and staff within the next 5-1/2 months.

  22. Another Concerned KMS Parent

    @concerned KMS Parent- I have asked the same question three times now and while others are getting answers to their questions, no one will respond to ours. I think we need to talk to Dr. Neely and ask her to help us demand a town hall meeting for the Kittredge parents and the district so that they can address our concerns directly since no one will answer.

  23. Old John Lewis Repairs – I have asked Dan Drake to put that together. I’m hoping the administration will have a better answer for us by the March 9 meeting. You can attend the 5:45pm public comment meeting on March 9. Feel free to ask Drake before or after the meeting all your questions.

  24. An Observation:
    Until May 2019, the 400 students of John Lewis Elementary school were housed in this building.

    The John Lewis Free/Reduced Lunch rate was 97%.
    The John Lewis English Learner rate was 86%.
    Less than 1% of John Lewis students were white.

    DCSD updated its Facility Condition Assessment in 2018 and found atrocious conditions. YET IT WAS OK TO KEEP THESE STUDENTS IN THIS BUILDING FOR ANOTHER YEAR WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING!!

    Now that Kittredge will be moved to the building, there’s an outcry against the conditions. It’s good that Mrs. Tyson and the BOE have approved at least some money to fix it up.

    The Kittredge Free/Reduced Lunch rate is 6%.
    The Kittredge English Learner rate is 3%.
    More than 60% of Kittredge students are white.

    I don’t fault the public for not knowing how bad the John Lewis building was. I don’t fault the Kittredge parents for being very concerned about the school their kids will attend in less than 6 months.

    I do fault DCSD Operations and Dr. Green. They knew about the poor conditions and did nothing. It’s only when things become public that there’s even a chance of something being done to fix problems.

    John Lewis is in Marshall Orson’s BOE district, and is also shared by Allyson Gevertz. Did they not know the condition? Or did they know and not make waves?

    Y’all can blame Stan all you want. But he’s just one BOE member, and he’s usually the one calling attention to problems and asking for change.

  25. @escapeefromdekalb:I like reading everyone’s comments including yours. Regarding the last section that you escaped from dekalb county: for folks who are involved in education in Dekalb County, then all the issues are very frustrating. For folks who aren’t as involved, it is less frustrating – you send your kids to local schools, encourage them to study hard, and they move on. Moving out of Dekalb doesn’t guarantee increased success. The schools that our kids attend are good and have some excellent teachers, some good teachers, and some so so teachers. All have strong parent participation (VES, DES, KES, AES, CHES, NCES, MES, APES, HHES, PCMS, DHS, CHMS, CHHS, magnet, etc). Many parents work with their kids to improve their weaknesses. So overall, the kids do well. The same as other schools in other counties. If one moves to Gwinett, expect larger schools. There are good and not so good schools there and you need to be involved and work with your kids. For Cobb, we know kids at Lassiter and Pope and the kids did not all go to the best colleges just because they attended those schools. They have tons of split schools for ES’s and MS’s. We know kids who switched from Marist, Pius, and Mt Vernon to DHS. We know kids who left the magnet program and went back to local schools. Going to Pius, Marist, Lovett doesn’t guarantee that you attend better colleges. If someone isn’t into studying a lot, their grades are not as good to get into good colleges. There are kids in Lovett who weren’t accepted into some of the colleges that kids from DHS kids were accepted into. Same as Mt. Vernon and Marist. Despite our comments and suggestions for Dekalb, the schools our kids attend are strong. Our recommendations for improving the system shouldn’t be mistaken that we feel all of our kids’ schools and their instruction is not good. There are some who have strong recommendations for improving the state and country – that doesn’t mean living in Georgia and this country is terrible and that one cannot function here. We are all just making suggestions for improvements.

  26. APES & KMS Parent

    Anonymous at 5:06- Yes, it is unconscionable that those children were in a facility in such disrepair. The CK cluster elementary schools were notoriously neglected for years. Sadly, the community just didn’t have the resources and the privilege to be able to fight and make noise the way many of us can and do. Thankfully after years of struggle the cluster was rewarded with brand new facilities. I find it interesting that the FCA score for JLES is actually higher than those of the current Kittredge facility. Deferred maintenance seems to just be the way DCSD does business, unless they are called to the mat with lawsuits and news investigations.

  27. escapeefromdekalb

    C:– I Appreciate your comments– for years I WAS the involved parent working in my school– I KNEW 99% of the students by name and their parents as well. We made the painful decision to move to another district because of the leadership at the top of the county school system. It was hard to leave our small elementary school with fantastic teachers and staff, but at that point, I did NOT see that the board and Superintendent gave a damn about my children or any of the children in the county. I agree, there are fabulous wonderful people all over Dekalb County Schools, unfortunately, other than Stan with his openness about the process, that stops at the door of the Board of Education Executive Offices.
    I come here to see if there are any changes, unfortunately, it is business as usual.

    Still happy to be Escapee from Dekalb.

  28. Difference between parents

    From MES talking points Oct-Dec (seems like MES gave up at a certain point).

    1) Told to give up the push for opening KMS because it was off the table by DCSD.

    DCSD has made it a point in their primer material for tonight that the re-classification of Nancy Creek as an elementary school and moving the Kittridge Magnet School was considered, but not including in this round’s options.  As we’ve read their rationale, we believe there response indicates a “not right now” point of view, so we recommend not pushing the Nancy Creek discussion at this time. 

    2) Told it’s better to deal with overcrowding issues now and wait for future changes, and that overcrowding won’t get much worse than it is now. Pushed “holistic approach.”

    MES only has two homeroom classrooms in portables. The remaining portables are used for specials. MES has two specials inside the building (STEM and Technology) which artificially reduces our capacity number from what it would be if they were homerooms. MES has District approval for renovation of basement space to house the new STEM lab to be completed during the 2019-2020 school year. As a result, the existing STEM lab can be converted to a homeroom classroom, thereby increasing our capacity for the 2020-2021 school year.

  29. DSW2Contributor

    ^^^^^@ANONYMOUS – Amen!

  30. @Difference between parents
    Just to be sure that I’m clear about those MES talking points. MES inquired about moving Kittredge to alleviate crowding but was told (by DCSS admin) that Kittredge wasn’t going to be considered in this round of options. MES resolved to find other options for overcrowding in the interim (as Kittredge wouldn’t be an option) and somehow Tyson interpreted this as… MES parents arent interested in having their kids relocated back to their neighborhood school? It would be interesting to see what would be revealed through a FOI request of Tyson’s communications about Kittredge leading up to this decision. I suspect there is more to the story.

  31. Lose the Magnet

    I actually like the plan. It gets us closer to blowing up the outdated and unfair magnet program for “high achiever” which is supposedly a “choice” school. Only a choice school if you’re one of the lucky ones to get your name drawn out of a hat. Now that its a bit farther away, maybe it won’t have the same appeal and the elites that like to pretend their elite (vs. lucky) can tamp down the rhetoric.

  32. @Lose the Magnet, I’m not even sure I should dignify your post with a reply, but here goes.

    I hope you realize that while Kittredge is moving “a bit farther away” from you and those whom you envy, it is moving “a bit closer” to many others in the district.

  33. Lose the Magnet

    And Anonymous – spoken like a true magnet brat. You and your kid aren’t that special – you just got your name chosen out of a hat. But do whatever you need to do to enhance your own self worth.

  34. Oh my goodness. Why do you think I’m “a true magnet brat?” My kids weren’t in the magnet program. They did fine in school, graduated college, and aren’t living in my basement.

  35. Does anyone have a link to the wsb story that’s been mentioned about current state of John Lewis building?

  36. Difference between parents

    @ps dad

    Correct. We (parents, community) were advised by the MES pac group not to push it and to take a “holistic” approach.