Cross Keys Redistricting Meeting Summary

CHCA:

Cross Keys Redistricting Meeting Summary

The DeKalb County School District held a public meeting at Druid Hills High School on January 19, 2016, to discuss three redistricting options meant to alleviate over-crowding in the Cross Keys Cluster schools.[1]  Details for each of the three options and handouts provided at the presentation can be found at the following site:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/redistricting/.

Clairmont Heights Civic Association (CHCA) board members attended because Elementary Options 1 and 2 both impact our neighborhood’s elementary school, Fernbank ES, and Briar Vista ES (another member of our neighborhood’s high school feeder cluster). Option 3 proposes no changes that affect our area. Neither of the High School Options would impact our neighborhood directly. Planning Department staff will consider public input from this meeting as well as from the online comment form and present their proposed best solution on February 11, 2016, at Cross Keys High School. The Superintendent will present his best solution for school board approval on March 7, 2016.

Elementary Options 1 and 2 involve moving 364 students from Briar Vista ES (excluding students who are currently part of the Montessori Program or Regional Special Education Program) to Fernbank ES in order to make room at the Briar Vista ES building for Cross Keys Cluster elementary students.  These measures are said to be a temporary solution to reduce the number of portables currently being used in Cross Keys Cluster schools while a long-term solution is sought.

IMPORTANT: There is an online comment/question form on the DCSD Redistricting website at http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/redistricting/ that any neighborhood resident can use  to submit comments or questions until January 26, 2016, at 11:59pm.  If you have an opinion about these proposed plans, the time to offer it is now.

Once the presentation of the redistricting options was complete, meeting attendees divided into small group breakout sessions to discuss the pros and cons of each option presented and to suggest additional options for Dekalb County School District consideration.  CHCA had representatives in four of the eight small group discussions. Most attendees were Briar Vista ES parents (especially from the Montessori Program), followed by Fernbank ES parents.  There were only a few Cross Keys Cluster teachers/parents in some groups, and none in others.  Participants spent most of the time discussing Elementary Options 1 and 2, and most attendees were not in favor of these options. The following are some of the opinions of the attendees:

  • Most of the discussions revolved around how disruptive the redistricting plans are without significantly addressing overcrowding in Cross Keys Cluster schools.
  • Disruption to Briar Vista Elementary School: The Briar Vista parents in attendance were concerned about the health/viability/funding of the Montessori program, in particular, and the continued quality of the school as a whole under Elementary Options 1 and 2. The quality of Briar Vista ES has been on an increasing trajectory in the past few years and there is perceived momentum toward improvement.  Separating the students who attend the Montessori Program from those in the traditional track may have the effect of disrupting this progress and dismantling the Montessori Program all together in their opinion.  The parents are worried that with the neighborhood kids vanishing the program will lose bodies, community integration, and possibly funding. DCSC staff present at the meeting confirmed that Montessori students residing within the current Briar Vista ES attendance zone would not continue to receive county-provided transportation to Briar Vista, since Options 1 and 2 would remove them from the attendance zone. Briar Vista parents in one group expressed that, while the new Fernbank facility is very nice, they feel that their children get better instruction at Briar Vista.
  • Disruption to Briar Vista Area Property Owners: Parents in one group thought that Elementary Options 1 and 2 would be destabilizing to Briar Vista area property owners due to the “temporariness” of the situation, which may affect their sense of community & property values.
  • Temporary vs. Permanent Measures: There were questions about the expected duration of these temporary measures, and there was concern that these redistricting measures would last longer than the short term. Most attendees in one group expressed a concern that short-term solutions should be avoided, especially if they had a large impact on middle and high school options later.
  • High Traffic Volume/Safety: Traffic through the Emory Clifton corridor is very difficult and will get worse as CDC adds additional parking (already planned). The difficulty of traversing this area could create a safety hazard for students, parents, and emergency personnel who need to move through the corridor.
  • Travel Time/Distance Cumbersome: The district should minimize the travel time for students in Cross Keys area elementary schools.
  • Impact on School Choice Students: Some Fernbank ES parents in attendance expressed their opinion that they welcomed Briar Vista kids into Fernbank ES, but not at the expense of School Choice kids.
  • Questions About School Capacity: Questions were raised in one group about whether the forecasted student attendance numbers were accurate for Fernbank ES. In particular, do the forecasted numbers take into account possible increased attendance at Fernbank ES as students within our attendance return to the school now that construction is complete? Do they take into account expected increases due to development in the area?

 

Option 3 (utilizing the former International Student Center facility only for alleviating over-crowding) was preferred among the options given in the four groups that were attended by CH residents.

 

Other Options suggested by members of the public:

  • Open the former Briarcliff High School (located on N. Druid Hills Rd. across from Target) using SPLOST 4 funds to renovate the facility appropriately, in addition to utilizing the former International Student Center facility. 
  • Consider moving the Regional Special Education Program to Fernbank ES to free up 3 additional classrooms at Briar Vista ES for Cross Keys cluster elementary students.  The Fernbank ES building has the advantage of being ADA compliant, whereas Briar Vista ES is not. This would move 21 special education students to Fernbank ES, but open 3 classrooms at Briar Vista ES.
  • Consider using schools in the Chamblee (Ashford Park ES, Hightower ES, and Huntley Hills ES) and Lakeside (Sagamore ES, Oak Grove ES, Hawthorne ES, Henderson Mills ES and Pleasantdale ES) Clusters, which are closer in proximity to the overcrowded schools.
  • Do no temporary measures and focus instead on permanent plans.
  • Build new schools in the Cross Keys Cluster.
  • Expand School Choice seats at Fernbank ES.

 

The next scheduled meeting is February 11, 2016, 6 pm, at Cross Keys High School where DCSD staff will present their recommended plan.



[1] A separate meeting was held at Sequoya Middle School on Jan. 14, 2016 for the same purpose.  The following summary does not include opinions expressed in that meeting.

 

(this content also available in attached Word document)

 

 

 

 

 

AttachmentSize
Round1_DHHS_MtgSummary__.doc40 KB