Before the Tuesday, May 10, and Thursday, May 12, secondary schools meetings next week, I want our community to consider one last option for our high schools. I consider this option to be somewhat of a middle ground option, and I hope that after thinking through these different ideas, we will be able to think a bit more clearly about the potential future of DeKalb Schools in Region 1.
A New Home for Cross Keys
There are many reasons why we need a new building and new facility for Cross Keys High School. I think they can be summarized in these four points:
- The location is not centrally located for much of the current Cross Keys cluster
- The building does not have capacity for the current and continued growth of the CK cluster
- All of Region 1 is over-capacity and needs additional space for their current and continued growth
- The attendance zone lines for the Cross Keys cluster, the Chamblee cluster, and the Dunwoody cluster are not efficiently drawn in terms of transportation, community, or board member representation.
Where Would This School Be Located?
I suggest we redistrict all three of the Region 1 clusters by creating attendance zones that ameliorate the above mentioned issues of transportation, community, and board member representation. This can be accomplished by building a new 3000-student high school somewhere along Buford Highway in either the Chamblee or Doraville city limits.
Essentially, we would divide Region 1 into 3 new attendance zones as follows:
A new, 3000-student high school could be built somewhere on the site of the Assembly development (centrally located for the new students coming from the Dunwoody cluster and the Chamblee cluster).
The Cross Keys cluster would comprise the following:
- NEW Cross Keys HS (located TBD – potentially at Assembly site?)
- Sequoyah MS (renovations at current location)
- Cary Reynolds (brand new, 900-student building at current location)
- Oakcliff ES (still a theme school, renovations to address incompliance with ADA issues)
- Dresden ES (renovations and additions at current location)
- Hightower ES (renovations and additions at current location)
- Huntley Hills ES (renovations)
The Chamblee cluster would comprise the following:
- Chamblee HS
- Chamblee MS converted to new elementary school
- Relocated, expanded, and renovated Chamblee MS (housed at “former” Cross Keys HS)
- Woodward ES (renovations and removal of trailers)
- Ashford Park ES (renovations and removal of trailers)
- Montclair ES (renovations and removal of trailers)
- Montgomery ES (renovations)
The Dunwoody cluster would comprise the following:
- Dunwoody HS (additional building space added)
- Peachtree MS
- Vanderlyn ES (renovations)
- Austin ES
- Kingsley ES (renovations)
- Chestnut ES (renovations)
- Dunwoody ES (renovations)
What Would the New Cross Keys High School Look Like?
This new high school would be identified as a multicultural, socioeconomically diverse student body with opportunities for students to be prepared for the 21st century through a dual-language immersion program (with dual-language immersion beginning in the elementary grades), an IB program, an arts program, and a career technical program.
Because a large portion of the students in the community speak Spanish but don’t necessarily know how to read and write in their primary language, and because many native English-speakers want an option for dual-language education (as demonstrated by the over 400-student waiting list to get into the dual-language Globe Academy charter school), this dual-language immersion program would be a valuable educational and community asset to the northern part of the county. (Perhaps, like Globe, this cluster could offer English, Spanish, & Mandarin.)
Instead of trying to dissolve the Cross Keys community into 3 “city” high schools: a Cross Keys High School (comprising mainly Brookhaven), Chamblee High School (comprising most of Chamblee), and Doraville High School (comprising mostly Doraville), this new Cross Keys will invite students from the surrounding attendance zones to experience the uniquely incredible culture of Cross Keys.
This new CKHS would also be more fairly represented by a school board member (or perhaps this would necessitate redrawing board member districts). Currently, the CK cluster is divided between three different school board members, none of which have the majority of their constituents living in the Cross Keys attendance zone:
- Board Member Stan Jester represents the Chamblee and Dunwoody clusters and a middle portion of Cross Keys cluster.
- Board Member Jim McMahon represents the Lakeside and Tucker cluster and a tiny portion of the Cross Keys cluster.
- Board Member Marshall Orson represents the Druid Hills cluster and tiny portion of the Cross Keys cluster (and Ashford Park ES – formerly a part of the CK cluster).
If we redistrict Region 1 into 3 attendance zones that are shaped in a way that improves the representation of all clusters and that improves the efficiency and operation of each cluster, then we will see some of the inequities and over-crowding issues addressed in a way that may be acceptable and beneficial for everyone involved.
Whatever you think, please come out to one of the secondary school meetings next week and contribute your voice and ideas to the DeKalb County Schools planning team.
From the school district: DeKalb County School District is holding the second of three rounds of public meetings for the Secondary School Facility Planning and Feasibility Study.
Thursday, May 12, 2016 — McNair HS — 6:30PM
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