Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dunwoody School Cluster: Recommendation on DeKalb County Schools Secondary School Planning & Feasibility Options

 
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. 
 
 
(Note there are links within the survey with lots of specific information about each option.)
 
Why Option B?
 
1.      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.
 
2.      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.
 
3.      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.
 
4.      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.
 
5.      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.
 
6.      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:
 
 
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

3 comments:

  1. Thank you to Chad, Allegra, and all of the Dunwoody cluster school councils for their diligence in analyzing and working on this issue.

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  2. I agree with Susan. A personal “Thank You” to the parents, school staff and community members of all of the Dunwoody cluster schools for the thoughtful review of the options brought forth by DCSD. Now, we wait....

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  3. Thank you for this. It is very much appreciated by a lot of folks.

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