Brookhaven, GA, August 26, 2016 – by Trey Benton – Hundreds of people interested in learning more about options DeKalb County School District is proposing to solve Cross Keys overcrowding as well as overcrowding in other middle and high schools in Regions 1, 2 and Clarkston cluster, came to Cross Keys High in Brookhaven Thursday evening. Speakers walked attendees through three unique options that will affect thousands of existing students, and the 6,500 projected additional students anticipated to enroll in the DeKalb System by the year 2020.
The three options presented vary in scope, and in cost, none cheap. And the funding is to come from the 2017-2022 E-SPLOST, which is expected to generate $500 million broken out between $15 million in Safety and Security Improvements, $230 million in New Facilities and Additions, $100 million in Facility Condition Improvements, $65 million in Technology Enhancements and $40 million in School buses, Vehicles and other capital equipment.
The School System says the E-SPLOST program approved by voters on May 24, 2016 would provide somewhere in the range of $230 million over a five-year period for new school construction and classroom additions. Of that $230 million, DeKalb Schools says, approximately $60 million has been committed to build two new elementary schools in the Cross Keys area. That leaves plus or minus $170 million for all remaining new construction and additional new capacity for elementary schools.
The School System recognizes that both Option A ($247 million) and Option C ($224 million) exceed the available $170 million. Therefore, DeKalb Schools notes, “if the Board of Education should move forward with either option, additional funds beyond the sales tax collections (E-SPLOST) would need to be identified.”But the thing most attendees want to know, and the answer still is not clear, how these changes will affect them and their children, personally. DeKalb says those answers will be formulated through data collected during a Secondary School Feasibility and Planning Study. DeKalb Schools says recommendations from the study will be incorporated into the “Building S.P.A.C.E.S. Master Planning Initiative” for the development of the 2017-2022 E-SPLOST project list.
Each agenda that was passed out to attendees Thursday, contained a number. That number served to assign them in to break-out groups to discuss the overcrowding solution options in a smaller setting, offering the ability to ask questions and have those answered individually. Also in the break-out meetings, attendees were tasked with coming up with which one of the three options they preferred…or none of the above. They were asked to place a sticker on a poster board next to their selection, after weighing the pro’s and con’s of each option.
Attendees were also afforded the opportunity to submit suggestions via notecards. In the rooms we visited, it appeared that option “A” and “B” were getting the most attention.
Councilman Joe Gebbia, who represents Brookhaven’s 4th District where Cross Keys High School is located said, “Over the last four years we have positioned ourselves well in order to have a good meaningful conversation with the Board of Education. We are looking to utilize what we think is an enhanced relationship to really communicate what the needs are in our community. This conversation should have happened years ago.”
Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst told The Post that whatever happens, he would like to see as many Brookhaven citizens stay together as possible. Ernst said, “I would prefer to have a premier brand new high school. I believe, residents would rally around it. The future may even include a new Brookhaven cluster. What’s most important, is that we stay together.”
As the process continues, DeKalb says they aim to find a solution to address overcrowding and linear shape of the Cross Keys cluster with the goal of eliminating portable classrooms and overcrowding in all Middle and High schools by Fall 2022. They also say, as much as possible, they are striving to minimize impact on students and their families.
So what’s going on when?
- Occurring now through September 16th, DeKalb Schools is conducting an online survey (here) on the three options.
- On September 27th, their final recommendation will be presented.
- Between October 4th and 17th, 5 public meetings will be held to present a draft E-SPLOST project list.
- From October 4th thru October 24th, DeKalb will conduct an on-line survey of the E-SPLOST draft project list
- On November 7th, DeKalb School Board Committee of the Whole will discuss the projects on the E-SPLOST list
- On December 5th, the DeKalb School Board will approve the E-SPLOST list
More information on this initiative including the on-line survey can be found on the DeKalb Schools website here.
The video at the top of this story includes both English and Spanish explanations of the three options and is the only video published on the topic. Please Share Accordingly.
Below are is the presentation and handouts from the August 25th meeting. Spanish versions are available on the DeKalb Schools website at the link above.