Thursday, April 20, 2017

Am I Missing Something?
Why The Rush To Enlarge Chamblee Charter High School?

The recently approved DCSD ESPLOST-V project plan has the 30-classroom addition to Chamblee Charter High School scheduled to begin construction in November 2018.  I question this accelerated timeline by DCSD.

This post is not to criticize Dan Drake or his hard work.  He has always been responsive to my questions.  I know absolutely nothing about enrollment projections or population trends, etc.  However, I can sit down plug in data and have, what I feel, is a common-sense look at reality.  Below is a chart I have put together of some data around which I feel it is important to review and ask questions.  I have had several conversations with other DCSD stakeholders over the past few weeks which have helped me to put together my thoughts. 

Here are my “two-cents” fwiw:

From the data below and with the questions I still have surrounding the enrollment projections, in my view, it makes sense to go ahead with the following already approved projects:
  1. New CKHS area elementary school in Doraville.
  2. New CKHS middle school to relieve Sequoyah and possibly Chamblee Middle School if magnet program will continue to be located in CMS. Or could an enlarged Magnet program move to new CKHS MS?  With extra capacity at MS additional academic programs could be a strong consideration. Can this MS provide relief for Henderson MS?
  3. New 2,500 seat CKHS high school should also relieve CCHS and Lakeside HS overcrowding?
I believe enlarging Chamblee Charter HS should be a “last-resort” conversation. I understand and agree completely with Dr. Green in wanting to “right the past wrongs” done to the CKHS area, but trying to “fit in” 2,400 students on 21 acres of land (20 acres smaller than GADOE recommends) has disaster written all over it.  

Unless there is something that I am overlooking, I believe you can provide the CKHS community what they should have and deserve to have without bringing about possible catastrophic affects on the CCHS community. Wouldn't it make more sense to build the new CKHS area schools (ES, MS, HS) and then step back and see where the school district is as far as population trends? 

Via the EPSPLOT-V Project list, this is what is being proposed for Chamblee Charter HS:
  • Adding 30 classrooms
  • Minimum enlargements of media center, cafeteria, kitchen
  • A parking deck
  • Synthetic turf on practice field

Question:  Can Chamblee-Dunwoody (2 lane road) handle the extra school traffic? Traffic along this road is a stand-still most mornings and afternoons.

CCHS is the ONLY DCSD high school that does NOT have a track and large (95,000 sq ft) playing field under its control for its athletes.  CCHS is only allowed to use North DeKalb Stadium when events are not scheduled.  Spring is a busy time for athletics in DCSD and CCHS was unable to use North DeKalb at all in March.    At its projected enrollment, CCHS will be a AAAAAAA school with minimal practice facilities for their athletic teams. That seems, to me, totally unacceptable. 

CCHS also doesn’t have the luxury of using the Chamblee Middle School practice field as it is a 32,000 square foot field (smallest among DCSD middle schools).  So, PCMS stakeholders, count your blessings for the amount of land PCMS has on hand. 

These particular thoughts are Chamblee-centered.  My thoughts on the unacceptable delay of PCMS and DHS additions at those schools will follow.  

October 2016 FTE
Projected 2016-2017 Enrollment
Under/Over DCSD Projection
2016-2017 School Capacity
+/- Capacity
DCSD Projected Enrollment 2022 (Option: Do Nothing)
Add'l Enrollment to Reach Projections (2016 vs 2022)
+/- Capacity (Option: Do Nothing)
Ashford Park ES  
Will Ashford Park "gain" 166 students in 5 years?
Huntley Hills ES
Projection appears sound here.
Montgomery ES  
Will Montgomery "gain" 211 students in 5 years?
Chamblee MS  
Will Chamblee MS "gain" 276 students in 5 years? Let's hope not.  The CMS campus is not equipped to handle the number of projected students.
Chamblee Charter HS
Will Chamblee HS "gain" 677 students in 5 years? Again, let's hope not.  The CCHS campus is not equipped to handle the number of projected new stuents.  Also, not seeing this unless luxury apt/townhome "boom" in Brookhaven/Chamblee brings more students public, which is not typically the case w/ this type of housing.
Cary Reynolds ES  
Will Cary Reynolds "lose" 65 seats in 5 years?
Dresden ES  
Montclair ES 
Will the Montclair students redistricted to Fernbank return to CKHS Cluster?
Woodward ES
Sequoyah MS
Will Sequoyah MS "gain" 423 students in 5 years? 
Cross Keys HS
Will Cross Keys HS "gain" 859 students in 5 years? How much of an effect will current gentrification of Buford Highway have on CKHS cluster student enrollment?
Henderson MS
Will Henderson MS "gain" 207 students in 5 years? 
Lakeside HS
Will Lakeside "gain" 423 students in 5 years?



  1. I am scratching my head too.

    I don't think that Chamblee was banned from practicing in North DeKalb Stadium for the whole month of March, but many events are scheduled at that stadium since it serves as the home stadium for 12 Region 1 spring teams. (Those 12 Region 1 spring teams are 5 for Dunwoody HS (boys varsity lacrosse, boys JV lacrosse, girls varsity lacrosse, boys varsity soccer, girls varsity soccer) plus 2 Cross Keys HS teams (boys varsity soccer, girls varsity soccer) plus 5 Chamblee Charter HS teams (girls varsity lacrosse, girls JV lacrosse, boys lacrosse, boys varsity soccer, girls varsity soccer.)

    CCHS athletes have always just sucked it up and made the best of this situation, and part of me admires them for it.

    But enough is enough. CCHS athletes have a disadvantage now and growing to a 2400 student school will just make it worse. More students will want to play for their school. Will team size have to be limited because of lack of practice facilities? And the lack of a track for CCHS and CMS (which just won the DeKalb middle school track championship, by the way) is obviously unfair.

    It is hard to see how a huge school on a small campus with totally inadequate athletic facilities is a good idea. Thanks for posting this info.

    You know, DCSD, it’s not too late to make a change.

    1. Thank you for the clarification on the use of the stadium.

  2. I believe since Chamblee's addition is for new students (redistricting) it is sooner than Dunwoody (Dunwoody expansion is due to growth coming from elem and middle school, not redistricting). DeKalb wants to get the redistricting part done first, so the seats are needed quickly at Chamblee.

    1. This confuses me a bit. The district has stated that redistricting decisions will not be made until a year before the opening of a new school. Why the rush to add seats to CCHS now? As I stated in the blog post, this addition is unfair to the CCHS community. Unless DCSD is going to re-locate North DeKalb Stadium or buy up more real estate around the school, this is just an untenable decision at this time. If, at the end of it all, a larger CCHS is needed then so be it, but it should be one of the first projects "in line".

  3. It's a bit too late to complain about the definite traffic issues and lack of amenities. These issues were mentioned months ago and school councils ignored these facts.

  4. Hey, it is absolutely WRONG that the 'the school councils ignored these facts.' Remember that Dr. Green asked for official, written responses from school councils. Selected quotes are shown below.

    The Chamblee Cluster Response recommended more land: “While we would prefer a solution that does not involve building onto our school within the current E-SPLOST period, if expansion is necessary, we recommend that the CCHS site be enlarged if expansion is required.”

    Result: DCSD very deliberately chose the Architect's CCHS design that did NOT include more land. DCSD did NOT include money to buy more land in the E-SPLOST-V budget allocation.

    The Chamblee Cluster Response recommended ‘room to grow’: “Decisions that lead to projected school capacity rates of 80-85% in 2022 are much more sensible than ones that create new facilities that are immediately 95-98% full.”

    Result: 2022 DCSD projections for CCHS show that it will be 98.6% full after the addition is built.

    Let's be clear. The Chamblee Cluster Response was totally ignored by DCSD.

    --More land at CCHS could prevent cramming 2400 teenagers on a site that is less than half of what Georgia DOE recommends.

    --More land at CCHS could help with at least increasing, if not bringing equality, to athletic facilities for this future AAAAAAA school.

    --More land at CCHS could eliminate the need for parking along Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. Cars turning in and out of this area can only add to traffic congestion on this important street.

    Let’s be clear what happened here.

    1. It's "water under the bridge now", but you can read all of the school council, school foundations and PTA position letters via the DCSD website. I believe that much thought was given not only what the effects would be on each of their own schools but other schools outside of their clusters. Click on the link below:

      Position Statements of School Councils, PTAs & Foundation

  5. Here's what they need to do - Deep 6 the inherently flawed and unfair magnet program. The selection process of this program is an absolute joke. Do you know what happens? Good families that don't get their name drawn over time leave. They go private or move away. There are quite a few families that are leaving CMS this year after 8th to go private or move - and they are almost exclusively kids in the resident "gifted/high achiever" side who have never been lucky enough to get their names drawn out of the proverbial "magic hat." So, now Pius, Wesleyan, Marist are all the beneficiaries of Dekalb's stupidity and the county loses enough good families to where the resident population at CCHS will have few gifted/high achieving students. The magnet parents and students don't care, because they are "in." But they will care soon enough when Chamblee High is magnet plus general pop with no resident high achieving students in the mix. That is not a healthy environment.

    1. The magnet program has a long, successful history at Chamblee HS. I think there is consensus for it to remain at Chamblee. But, I would like to see a stand alone school in the manner of the Gwinnett School of Math and Science.

    2. The magnet program is BLATANTLY UNFAIR. It is the government picking winners and losers. It is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Why should family A get smaller classes, better instruction, and "innovative classes" while family B, who pays the same taxes and whose child may score as well or even better than the child from family A not get those same advantages? It is complete and utter B.S. and borders on illegality.

      We need to GET RID of the magnet program. It is an outdated concept that was developed almost 50 years ago to help with segregation. If you can't give it to all kids who qualify, then it needs to go.

    3. I've written more than once that I find the low percentage of SWD's in the magnet program (Kittredge as an example) appalling low. 2016-2016 School year saw a 1.2% SWD enrollment at Kittredge. I've been told this it is illegal preventing these children from entering if they qualify for the Magnet program. However, bringing legal action is expensive and time consuming, and unless a lawyer is willing to go pro-bono on one of these complaints, the cycle will continue.

  6. SWD are students with disabilities. DeKalb County Schools has (possibly) discriminated against students who are gifted and have a disability. The people Dr. Green has brought in have promised to stop that and more students with disabilities should be getting access to magnet, theme, and charter schools.

    For what it's worth, SWD were identified as the lowest performing subgroup of students in the recent SACS review. Less than 50% graduate even though more than 80% of them are taught in general education classes. Relatively very few students are in self-contained classrooms. The special education department continues to be a horrible mess.

  7. Its Time For A ChangeApril 21, 2017 at 1:49 PM

    The post is correct. It is time to blow up the magnet program. No one can explain to me how it is fair for one child (disability or not) qualifies for the program and cannot get those resources because he or she doesn't get their name drawn and another child who is lucky enough to have their name drawn gets access to those services? How exactly is that legal? Or ethical?

    1. In my opinion, until the inequity is addressed (I’m talking academic, not physical facilities), then I believe Magnet schools are very much needed in DCSD. And yes, my belief on this has evolved over the years.

      And no, Magnet schools are not illegal, though I have been critical at times of their lack of SWD students.

      I think many of us in areas where there is strong parental support, strong financial support to provide those extra-curriculars that go beyond the standard fare offered by DCSD, the ability to provide new athletic facilities (such as being done with the DHS Game On Campaign), etc, have a hard time understanding and acknowledging that those same circumstances are not available to all schools in DCSD. I am not being critical, but sometimes it is hard to see what’s beyond your own community.

      Even if the Magnet programs around the county only allow a few students with all of the academic atmosphere they deserve, it is important that those avenues exist for the.

  8. Do you want to end the new Barack Obama Magnet School of Technology?
    Do you want to end the four Dual Language Immersion elementary programs?
    Do you want to end the Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy?
    Do you want to end the Evansdale School of Math, Science, and Language?
    Do you want to end the two Montessori programs?
    Do you want to end the three International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programs?
    Do you want to end the six Traditional Theme elementary schools?

    These are just the elementary School Choice programs that use a lottery, and there are plenty more for middle and high school students. It's not just the High Achiever Magnet programs that use a lottery and are unable to serve all who apply.

    If these programs are popular and meet needs, why not expand them?

  9. I remain amazed at the relatively low test score requirements to gain eligibility for the High Achiever magnet program. This year, it was 70% on the MAP score. If that were raised to a true High Achiever level, such as 90%, it would be more equitable with less students feeling left out by not gaining a lottery spot.

  10. Anonymous,

    Eligibility to the elementary and middle school High Achiever Magnet Program requires 75th percentile scores on MAP, per the DCSD School Choice website.

    But I agree with you that admissions requirements are way too low.

    For high school admission, only 9th grade admission to the High Achiever Magnet program requires test scores of any kind, with eligibility requiring 75th percentile MAP scores. Rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grade applicants need only have a 3.0 GPA in core subjects for the semester prior to application.

    Admission to the Magnet program at Arabia Mountain High School has gotten easier. It used to require a student interview, essay, and 3 teacher recommendations. Now all that is required is a 3.0 on the report card for the semester prior to application and 1 teacher recommendation.

    DSA requires a bit more on grades and requires a confidential counselor recommendation, a confidential academic recommendation, two confidential arts recommendations, an arts portfolio, an interview, and an audition.

    Sounds like DCSD is afraid to set the bar very high for admission to its School Choice programs. I wonder if this is due to "fairness" concerns, or whether it's an indication that little value is placed on students who are high achievers.

    Either way, it just provides more reason for parents of high achieving students to leave the public schools.