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    Thanks, Trey, for covering this very important story. A quick point of elaboration – my comment regarding overcrowding was not limited to Cross Keys cluster. There’s not a single elementary school in our area – meaning Dunwoody, Chamblee or Cross Keys clusters that isn’t at or over capacity. Brookhaven is fortunate to have a suitable site and a willing partner in DeKalb Schools. While a healthy dialog should continue on details of the site plans for both the park and the school there is no doubt in my thinking that this is a massive positive opportunity for our community at large.

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    Is Chamblee High over capacity? This is a great win for Brookhaven and a great win for DeKalb schools. Unless of course you live right across the street, you may feel differently.

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    As of this comment thread it is not over capacity. There are some 300 +/- seats theoretically in the new building. The County system has planned to move nearly that many students from Doraville (Cross Keys HS) to Chamblee HS next fall as part of DCSD’s response to the long brewing crisis. The reality is that many families may decline even though declining means no transportation will be provided (bus) to Cross Keys for the same individuals if they choose to stay at CK.

    As for win/lose, that is all a matter of personal view based on circumstances. Some will hate living next to a school and some will pay a premium to do so. Personally, I would have loved the proposed setup when mine was a tike.

  4. 4

    Skyland Fan

    I hope some of the folks who spoke up lat night hear just how bad they sound. This isn’t just about YOUR child and your house. When did we become so selfish? This school is desperately needed and I think the staff did the best they could with the time allowed.

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    “The exception proves the rule” As a very strong supporter of open government I think we have to respect the necessity for exceptions as provided (and followed)in State law. The key is well selected decision makers. Brookhaven has them(Council Members)and DeKalb County does not. Every reason for forming your own city and LaVista Hills can only look on and wish for what could have been in North Central DeKalb. You got an Elementary School, park,green space money and remember a Charter School for the City’s active interest and involvement in the education of your children all by working with others. A fine example for the County and cities in DeKalb. An ongoing strong working relationship with Steve Green and Melvin Johnson will help provide a great future for Brookhaven!

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    I tend to focus on the positive and believe that some of the neighbors that spoke simply were reacting to the suddenness of the item coming to decision without public deliberation. That said, I agree there were unfortunate statements made by some of those concerned. I thought Robert Smith had nothing but reasonable questions and comments. I see no reason why those will not be addressed and the Mayor pledged to stay as long as the neighbors wanted to talk and he did so along with Council Members Jones and Gebbia. The group seemed to be asking for our officials to help them engage with DCSD on the site plan and school opening and that seemed reasonable to me.

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    Eddie E.

    A great move for the City. Any time public property can be saved from the claws of rapacious developers is a good time! Thanks to the Mayor and Council for protecting this valuable bit of infrastructure for current and future generations.

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    RAJ, I personally view this IGA between the City and DCSD as the first of many benefits of a productive, positive relationship between the two entities. When is the last time anyone in our part of DeKalb could say that? Let’s hope like the ending scene in Casablanca it is the beginning of a “beautiful relationship.”

  9. 9


    My God, Eddie. It’s happened twice now. We agree on something. 🙂 … I think it was a very strategic and positive decision. I think that when it all plays out virtually everyone will be on board. “Failure is an orphan. Success has many fathers.” Let’s hope the implementation lives up to the potential. For me personally, the 50 years first right of refusal to buy mothballed school property is worth all the fuss even if some don’t like the idea of the new school in 2019.

  10. 10


    Just watched the video. I have to say I see the Canmont area residents point. Unfortunately sometimes the greater good must prevail and it did in this case. I am very impressed by Ernst and Jones who were under intense fire for their decision and invited and stayed and chose to take the high road and talk with the residents. This was a true sign of leadership. Everyone will not be happy on these types of decisions. But a true sign of leadership is getting up dusting off and facing the adversity.

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    I think you’re observation is spot on. It is easy to make a decision but not always easy to “own it.” I think they did and I hope everyone respects that whether one wants a new school in the area or not.

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    Riley OConnor

    A difficult matter handled in about as good a way as possible. One Councilman absents himself because of the possible appearance of a conflict of interest. Afterward, the Mayor and a Councilwoman stay and invite those who are greatly affected by this decision to help open lines of communication. Yes, the matter came onto the radar very quickly, but how we handle this is more important. Politics at its best is the act of helping resolve issues, not complete resolution but to an acceptable resolution to all parties involved. Very proud of this and hope that the issues are resolved.

  13. 13


    Re: this part of the dialog: “Those who spoke said they are not in support of the school project at this time, not because they do not support education initiatives, but because they simply do not know enough about the proposal. ” … at least one of those commenting last night indicated that if it were the BIA or other charter going into Skyland they would not be opposed to the plan. I found this very much self-contradictory. It’s a school site either way and I may have missed the commenter’s point.

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    It’s a good decision for the neigbhohoods, strong schools are important and hopefully this one will be as supported as Ashford Park is. I wish we could have kept a few more acres for the park but if some of the money is used to acquire a new pocket park for the neighborhood and Greenspace for the City I think it is a win win for all. I could suggest 4 acres on Dresden for new greenspace : -)

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    Brittany Mother

    Good decision, and good for education in DeKalb.

    But I can’t help but notice the time line for all of this. Although these drawings for the school and park are preliminary, apparently there was a lot of information shared for their design. Yet there was no timeline to share this information with the public. The idea of this sale didn’t happen over night and I believe no thought was given to the citizens of Brookhaven. There was time to disseminate this information to the public, but it wasn’t done. Purposefully? This happens all to frequently in Brookhaven. I realize we are a representative government far removed from the early days of Athens, Greece, but wasn’t Brookhaven formed in part to have a government close to the people? Maybe we should have asked all of the Brookhaven Yes people for their definition of ‘close’.

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    Ted Gordon

    Great example of Adaptive Reuse – turning an old school location into a new school and helping resolve school overcrowding.

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    Fairrah Jackson

    How can we learn which neighborhoods are proposed to be covered by the new school?

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    Oh Bates. Once again district 3 lacks in ANY educational representation because of his farce of a school that is opening in Norcross. Get Bates OUT of office.

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    The DeKalb County School District officials will have to address this but as an advocate for this proposal I know the school system intends to use the new capacity to relieve overcrowding at Montclair, Woodward and Dresden elementary schools and not as an attendance area school. Therefore, I do not believe any existing attendance areas will fundamentally change as a result of this school opening in 2019 (target date). That’s the plan as I understand it from DCSD.

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    And I’m disgusted by some of these comments. True colors are shown when people start talking about education – the fear of being in school with ‘poor kids’ is horrifying.

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    Weren’t you the guy that was an extremely vocal advocate for Bates’s BIA? How did that work out for you?

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    Thank you, Clare. Yes, I was the guy who advocated very publicly that the BIA engage with the CK community to recruit. Yes, I was the guy who the BIA recruited to help them. Yes, I was the guy who told the State Commission there was one reason I was on the BIA Board – to ensure minority enrollment in the lottery. Yes, I was the guy who helped them win over the Latin American Association to get the MOU BIA so desperately needed to get the application approved by the State of Georgia. Yes, I’m the guy who resigned on Sept 30 when it was clear the part I cared about was not going to go well. Yes, I’m the guy that thanked the LAA for trying when they terminated their MOU with BIA. Yes, I’m that guy.

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    And since you have an excellent memory I’m sure you will remember that that very painful 200+ comment thread here centered around me insisting that BIA would not buy Skyland but could play an important role in relieving our overcrowded ESes in Brookhaven. One for two on that score …

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    Can we have our tax money back now?

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    The city has known about this deal for at least 4 months.

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    Disgusted in Ashford Park

    As consolation to District 2 (the punching bag of of D1, D3 and D4 since incorporation) I would suggest that all extra money obtained from this deal be specifically allocated to new park property acquisitions IN District 2. No paying for the bridge in Murphy Candler, studies, surveys etc. The Apple Valley “unofficial park” would be of interest. We have been screwed for so long that there should be some way to make this happen. BTW – this whole swim/tennis court/Mayer thing is not something I would have supported either.

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    A legitimate question if asked in the right forum to the right folks. Here it is simply old and unproductive.

  28. 28


    What is this swim and tennis you speak of. Enlighten us.

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    You should run for office in Brookhaven because you advocate for what you want and you know how to wash your hands when it doesn’t work out as expected. You would fit in well. You are also smart because you let Bates be the fool.

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    I like how the people saying its for the greater good, have not really been affected by this. Everyone wants new schools, until they have a line of school buses in from of their house.

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    I don’t have the patience to run or serve. It’s a thankless job. And I realize you’re not complimenting me but thanks, anyway.

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    Do the homes around Ashford Park elementary suffer because of the school? That is not the perception I get at all. Same with Sarah Smith. Montgomery. Austin. Jackson. Morris Brandon. Or are you assuming that the values will be lower because of the students who will be attending the school?

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    I Just Wanna Slide

    Why should tax dollars go to pay for a private swim club? People need a serious reality check.

  34. 34

    I Just Wanna Slide

    AP residents are trying to acquire land to build a private swim/ tennis club on but want the City to help foot the bill in exchange for a couple hours of shared use in the mornings. They were hoping to get part of Skyland Park.

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    Am I understanding this correctly – the old school is going to be demolished and become a park while the park is going to become a school? If that is the case, why can’t the existing school be renovated or repurposed to be incorporated into the new school design? Is there an asbestos issue or something else that makes it impossible to incorporate the old school into the design? If there is an asbestos like issue, has the remediation, destruction, and removal costs factored into the $22 million budget or is that going to be one of those “unforeseen cost overruns”?

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    No one said anything about home values. Are you saying you would jump at the chance to have those noisy school buses driving up and down your street twice a day. Not 1 or 2 school buses, but ALL of the buses for the school.

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    Libby, I believe it is simply incompatible with the build requirements for a modern, 900 capacity elementary and is cheaper for construction and site plan to build from ground up.

  38. 38

    Eddie E.

    Seems like such an idea would be a wonderful place to buy PRIVATE PROPERTY using PRIVATE FUNDS since the end result would undoubtedly be PRIVATE.

    Certainly NOT the sort of thing that any Taxpayer money should be involved in.

  39. 39

    Eddie E.

    When was the school last a school. Early ’70s?

  40. 40


    It looks like 1988 was when it was last used as a school. It was built in 1948 so we are talking about a building that is well built, much better than the new school will be.

    My point is that the existing building is a brick and concrete box. I know it is possible to incorporate a box into the designs of a new building, even if it is just to use some of it for the foundation. I just hate to see a historical building torn down without even stopping for a second to see if it can be incorporated into part of the larger school that will be built there. Cheaper is not always better. I am just looking for a reasonable explanation of why it cannot be done. If it is going to cost more than building a new school, but it can still be done, this is something we as a community should have input on before our taxes pay several hundred thousand dollars to throw this building into a landfill.

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    In the City of Atlanta, during dire economic times I guess, the City turned over management of some of their pools to Non-profit park associations. At Chastain, for example, the pool is open to the public until I think 5PM every day, but becomes a more traditional swim-tennis club membership type pool.
    It has been really successful for both the City and the neighbors. If you are interested, the link above has lots of info about the history and how it happened.

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    B- Money

    Not sure where you live but the bus entrance will be on Dresden and not down Skyland.

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    Years ago, during the lead up to a E-SPLOST vote, I attended a panel discussion that included some old DCSS board members and retired- bureaucrats. They mentioned that the buildings they built in the 50s weren’t built to last more than a few decades. They didn’t have demographic trends back then and they were frantically trying to house the baby boomers. It never occurred to them that people would move so much, student enrollment would come in cycles etc. Skyland was built a bit before that time, but was likely never well maintained as the system simply couldn’t keep up

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    They already said no to that type of arrangement. They want private with as little poor people germs in the pool as possible.

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    Don’t buy that for a minute, lpd. It’s concrete and brick. Libby has a very valid point.

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    Valid questions. I think at the heart of the decision is that to bring the existing structure to design and code standards would be cost prohibitive and in some cases not feasible. Also, there are many more state and federal mandates on facilities now than when Skyland was built. The Director of Planning for DeKalb Schools is Dan Drake. I’m sure he has a much more informed answer than mine. He is at “Daniel Drake (Operations)”

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    Looks like that got filtered .. the address is

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    Kim – You resigned? Your information is still on the BIA website under “leadership”?!? If you resigned that’s not good or honest of them.

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    Have you spent much (any?) time in the schools that were built in this era? I have. The issues are numerous and the buildings have outlasted their useful life. Repairing/renovating old buildings is not always the most cost effective option.

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    John, good point, But remember the “deadline ” is a vote in two weeks, and the current mayor and city council seems to want a certain item to pass .

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    Hi Janine. I haven’t check on that but that would be an error. I served on the Board of Directors until September 30, 2015. I continued to extend the offer of free advice but have not been called on since that date. Thanks for letting me know.

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