This afternoon, Dunwoody School Daze published a timely piece by a guest blogger on some of the implications of the numbers according to the Capacity Determination Guide set by DeKalb County Schools. I decided to re-post it here since it is pertinent to the conversation about what to do about the overcrowding in Regions 1 and 2 in North DeKalb County.

It seems like the rubric we are using may have some issues.

Solving Problems On Paper, Not In The Real World

The Building S.P.A.C.E.S. Initiative is currently underway to assess all of the facilities in the DeKalb County School District. The assessments, which have been completed, will be used to determine the project list for eSPLOST V. The contractors conducting the assessments are the same ones who assessed DeKalb’s facilities before eSPLOST IV.

Part of these assessments is a recalculation of the capacity of each school. At this point it needs to be said the capacity of a school can fluctuate with the programs offered and how the classrooms are used. For example, special education, SPED, classrooms have a lower capacity number than general education classrooms. This is called the Instructional Use Model.

The Capacity Determination Guide is posted on the district’s website. The current version of this guide lists the capacity of different classrooms at the same number as DeKalb County’s current Class Size Waiver.  This causes many concerns.

The current class sizes do not take into consideration the square footage of classrooms. I do not believe it a good idea to have 39 high school students in a classroom designed for 30. When 34 desks are placed in a fourth grade classroom, there is no room to walk between them without bumping into every chair passed.

Another concern is the fact these numbers exceed the limits listed in GaBOE  Rule #160-5-1-.08. It appears DeKalb County Schools is assuming the current waiver will be the new normal going forward. What happens if the district is not allowed to pursue the flexibility option chosen and is forced to maintain the status quo with no waivers? If the district moves to a flexibility option which includes charter schools (either a system of charter schools or a system of charter clusters) and the local governance board of a charter does not want to use the Building S.P.A.C.E.S. capacity numbers for their school(s), will they be granted the autonomy to limit the number of students to less than the stated capacity?

Using the proposed school capacities to plan eSPLOST V will affect resource (read: money) allocation. In the eight clusters analyzed below, the proposed class sizes will add approximately 15,047 “available seats.” On paper, this dramatically reduces the need for trailers in schools that are currently over capacity.

Using the proposed capacity numbers, the capacity of the Cross Keys cluster increases by 1,603. In fact, using the classroom capacities in the Capacity Determination Guide would eliminate the need for most of the trailers right now (capacity-7,357 vs. enrollment-7,627). This cluster would only need approximately 20 trailers.

Imagine moving most of the students currently in trailers into the school buildings. Is there currently unused space in the schools which have multiple trailers? Of course not. Increasing the capacity of classrooms on paper does not make sense.

It is not right to address overcapacity issues on paper and not in the real world. Stakeholders need to make their opposition to the proposed classroom capacity numbers heard. This can be done by using the feedback form on the district’s website, contacting your local school council, or emailing Superintendent Green and the Board of Education.

In this table, the numbers in red represent schools which are being replaced or remodeled in eSPLOST IV. They are approximate values.

Cross Keys Cluster Current Capacity Future Capacity Difference
Cross Keys 1,271 1,707 436
Sequoyah M.S. 1,266 1,640 374
Dresden E.S. 850 1,060 210
Montclair 792 896 104
Woodward E.S. 826 1,054 228
Cary Reynolds 749 1,000 251
Cluster Totals 5,754 7,357 1,603
Dunwoody Cluster Current Capacity Future Capacity Difference
Dunwoody H.S. 1,403 1,882 479
Peachtree Charter M.S. 1,212 1,658 446
Hightower E.S. 635 794 159
Chestnut E.S. 570 739 169
Vanderlyn E.S. 576 773 197
Dunwoody E.S. 973 1,253 280
Kingsley E.S. 500 677 177
Austin E.S. 616 900 284
Cluster Totals 6,485 8,676 2,191
Chamblee Cluster Current Capacity Future Capacity Difference
Chamblee Charter H.S. 1,695 2,346 651
Chamblee M.S. 1,077 1,550 473
Ashford Park E.S. 563 671 108
Huntley Hills E.S. 532 614 82
Montgomery E.S. 699 891 192
Cluster Totals 4,566 6,072 1,506
Tucker Cluster Current Capacity Future Capacity Difference
Tucker H.S. 1,644 2,294 650
Tucker M.S. 1,254 1,706 452
Smoke Rise E.S. 565 655 90
Livsey E.S. 379 435 56
Idlewood E.S. 882 1,128 246
Brockett E.S. 539 695 156
Midvale E.S. 511 671 160
Cluster Totals 5,774 7,584 1,810
Lakeside Cluster Current Capacity Future Capacity Difference
Lakeside H.S. 1,700 2,360 660
Henderson M.S. 1,170 2225 1055
Henderson Mill E.S. 551 712 161
Sagamore Hills E.S. 440 570 130
Pleasantdale E.S. 667 900 233
Evansdale E.S. 643 821 178
Oak Grove E.S. 643 805 162
Hawthorne E.S. 492 599 107
Briarlake E.S. 465 603 138
Cluster Totals 6,771 8,540 2,824
Druid Hills Cluster Current Capacity Future Capacity Difference
Druid Hills H.S. 1,206 1,650 444
Druid Hills M.S. 1,206 1,636 430
Fernbank E.S. 850 900 50
Briar Vista E.S. 512 719 207
Laurel Ridge E.S. 491 632 141
McLendon E.S. 562 748 186
Avondale E.S. 757 1,057 300
Cluster Totals 5,584 7,342 1,758
Clarkston Cluster Current Capacity Future Capacity Difference
Clarkston H.S. 1,206 1,598 392
Freedom M.S. 1,380 1,881 501
Allgood E.S. 690 939 249
Dunaire E.S. 761 977 216
Indian Creek E.S. 959 1,215 256
Jolly E.S. 805 1,031 226
Cluster Totals 5,801 7,641 1,840
Stone Mountain Cluster Current Capacity Future Capacity Difference
Stone Mountain H.S. 1,086 1,479 393
Stone Mountain M.S. 1,428 1,992 564
Hambrick E.S. 742 971 229
Stone Mill E.S. 736 936 200
Stone Mountain E.S. 619 653 34
Rockbridge E.S. 576 671 95
Cluster Totals 5,187 6,702 1,515