Wednesday, April 18, 2018

New Cross Keys High School Location - My Thoughts

At the April 16, 2018 DeKalb County School Board of Education meeting, the BOE voted by a 4-3 margin to build the new Cross Keys HS (CKHS) facility on the former Briarcliff High School property.  Is the former Briarcliff HS (BHS) property the best location for the new CKHS?  That remains to be seen. 

Few in Dunwoody will care about my thoughts with regards to the CKHS rebuild project, however as someone who has been affiliated with DCSD in some way, as a student, alumna, parent and community stakeholder, since 1964, I do have some thoughts.  

I am sure many of my views will conflict with views of other CKHS stakeholders and I am fine with that.  New schools and decisions where to place them have always been troublesome for any school district and there will always be people that question those decisions.  

At the end of the day, the CKHS community will have a new state of the art high school – a facility that is long overdue for this community. 

Anyone acting “surprised” by the decision to build the new CKHS has not been paying attention.  This location was literally spelled out in the ESPLOST V project list:

  • The new CKHS will located on the site that previously housed BHS. 
  • Despite the decreased student population, BHS community was devastated by its closing.  BHS closed in 1987 with its remaining students redistricted to Druid Hills HS.
  • Has the surrounding community been repopulated with young families? 
  • Many people over the years have advocated for the re-use of this property, but now that it is a reality, there is a bit of complaining. I do not get it- maybe it’s just those individuals that complain about everything DCSD does?

  • There are legitimate worries about Traffic in this are.  However, traffic issues are not new to this area and existed when Briarcliff HS and later DSA occupied the property.  N. Druid Hills is a major route to many other parts of the metro area, (see Highway 78 to Stone Mountain, Emory Univ/Hospital, among others).
  • Some complain about having to cross I-85 to get to the new high school.  Really?  I’ve never understood this argument.  Most of those complaining about this would have no problem with their child “crossing I-85” to attend a Magnet school.  
  • Budget for CKHS rebuild is:  $84,800,000.00
  • Could DCSD purchase land in the current CKHS geographical area and also build a proper HS for $84 million? Doubtful.  The rebuild of Chamblee HS cost $80 million on its current site (plus the accumulation of a small apartment complex next door to the school).
  • Would it have been fiscally responsible for DCSD to ignore land that it already owned when searching for a site for CKHS?

There is a question of the new CKHS facility being located outside of the current CKHS attendance zone.

Question:  Does anyone believe that in 5 to 10 years Buford Highway area is going to “look like” it does now?  

How many of the older apartment complexes that would potentially house CKHS students will be in existence in the years to come? If developers and the City of Brookhaven have their way, not many. Brookhaven, and to a smaller extent Chamblee, have never met a townhome developer they do not like. I do not believe we will recognize Buford Highway in the years to come. 

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