DeKalb officials consider new attendance lines

From this evening’s AJC report on today’s board meeting.

By Ty Tagami
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The DeKalb County school board has a couple of weeks to consider proposed changes to attendance lines, but members seemed ready Tuesday to toss one idea off the table within moments of hearing it.

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson presented a draft of her plan to merge some schools and expand others as part of a new five-year school construction program. The proposal affects several thousand students, including some middle school students Atkinson wants to send to high schools in a money-saving merger.

One idea was merging two South DeKalb middle schools, McNair and Cedar Grove, with McNair and Cedar Grove high schools. It provoked a strong reaction from several board members, who worried about mixing sixth-graders with teenagers and young adults.

The last time DeKalb tried that, said board member Jay Cunningham, pregnant girls were mixing with younger kids.

Sarah Copelin-Wood called the idea “ludicrous.”

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61 Responses to DeKalb officials consider new attendance lines

  1. Not a good idea. High schools are way too dangerous to bring our youngsters in.

  2. When we first bought our house in DeKalb in 1992, schools were K-7 and 8-12. Everything worked quite well. Then, I believe the state created some kind of funding incentive to create middle schools. I have always referred to them as middle wastelands. It was the beginning of the big demise of DeKalb, IMHO.

    The thing is though… didn’t we just pay bags of money to an outside professional consulting firm, MGT of America, to do an in-depth study and make consolidation and construction plans? Why does it appear as though we’re now totally ignoring that and starting from scratch? Is this all we do in DeKalb? Pretend to work on something for months – and then not actually do it and start all over again? And again? And again? I am beginning to think this is the Seinfeld School District.

  3. Mom of 3 says:

    Could Atkinson be trying to find a way out of her contract? Could she purposely be trying to tick off board members who might then want to relieve her of her duties and pay her out?

  4. Just shows to rove the Tyson-MGT thing was an expensive ruse all along. I look forward to seeing the ENTIRE plan, once it is released to parents. How long will that take……

  5. Our county leaders are just as bad as our school system leaders. No vision. Discrimination against ESOL and Hispanics. An unwillingness to address the lack of business and job growth in the county. Choosing instead to simply raise taxes on the homeowners to pay for their dual bloated systems.

    DeKalb welcomes migrants, boosts its economy

    “Officials agree that putting out the welcome mat for new arrivals is the critical first step to encouraging development. But DeKalb has lagged in identifying the makeup of its surge of immigrants and has been mostly hands-off while small businesses like eateries and markets have popped up across the landscape.

    A different approach can be found just north of the county line in Gwinnett, which, like DeKalb, has seen its immigrant population swell. Gwinnett has developed a comprehensive plan to lure business from its immigrants’ countries of origin.

    In just five years, that strategy has translated into 11,000 jobs created through Partnership Gwinnett, a public-private outreach program designed to encourage investment and spark job growth. DeKalb has no comparable figures available and no formal program in place.

  6. Is this woman an eedjit. Somebody please tell her to drag out the 20/20 plan and get real. I am not ready to go thru this again.

  7. It’s very strange. Why are we still paying Ramona Tyson to serve as some kind of second level superintendent if no one is even aware of or planning to use any of the initiatives she started when serving as interim?

  8. DSW, what Ramona Tyson did was not HER doing. The Ramsey-Walker crew led the way in deception while the system collapsed. Tyson knows something, why else would she still be on payroll, especially after the two year, 49 million dollar rounding error…… This reeks and I believe, Atkinson is creating a distraction, while the real power brokers are laughing all the way to the bank, with our tax dollars! SACS better be ready to address this crud as well! Deja Vu or what…….

    DCSS policing themselves since 2005……….what a joke.

  9. what’s the rest of the plan? anyone know. this article highlights only one aspect, the other part may be worse.

  10. BernardJY says:

    While I agree that 7 and 6th grades should not be in the high school, I guess some of our Board members are unaware of the number of pregnancies that occur in Middle School.
    Our schools began to fail when parents began to circumvent policy by simply calling the county office or a board member. Example: When a child is registered with no records, the child is placed in a grade based on the info provided by the parent. The parent is told that when the records arrive, the placement may be adjusted. (Believe me, this happens frequently in some schools.) If it is later determined that the child should be in a lower grade, the school is never supported. “It’s not fair to my child.” Just a call to the area office, gets the desired response.

  11. B Anderson says:

    This is overwhelming at best.
    First – vents
    – There’s something very wrong with the way we are financing capital expenditures (SPLOST) considering just how much we now need to “adjust” the spending assignments.
    – Oh my. To have the money we have invested in the ever shrinking McNair district. Someone has to have the political will to do what is best for the area – not the board member.
    – We are shrinking so we need immediate money …to make the adjustments the Demographic study told us about years ago. That’s a blow.
    – The idea we can’t mix younger with older students is bogus in that we were late, very late, to adopt middle schools. We adopted them at a time when research was showing they were primarily ineffective improving student outcomes.
    More positive-
    -I believe in Dan Drake and his team. They have done good work in the past and have been earnest in their efforts to move the district forward.
    – This is a rip-the-band-aid-off the whole district. Everyone feels some pain. AND everyone does need to feel some pain. For too long, the no-pain approach has led us deeper and deeper into a hole.
    – I haven’t had time to really study the future demographics they are furnishing but it seems to be balanced and reasonable

    SO… Questions & opinions
    What the political atmosphere?
    -How’s the trust in the bond issue and rapidly expanded building schedule? Has the capital improvement team managed projects well so far? Can they handle the piling-on of fast-track projects? Are the dollar amounts (savings) real?
    -I can understand the urgency of making school closures as the disparity of enrollments increase. There are schools that need to be closed – NOW. And schools that will be increasingly over-crowded. As we bleed money; as we have so little money, I appreciate the urgency. The only way to get real change accomplished is to do it quickly. Slow movement allows for plots,corruption and circumvention
    -How the Heery-Mitchell lawsuit going? It is the bankrupting elephant in the room. Makes me nervous.
    -Have there been any reflection or revelations concerning the audit? So much going on. So little time!

    Happy Holidays


  12. September says:

    I just scanned the proposal. Among my concerns is that some elementary schools will be moved out of their current feeder patterns. The proposal to move Evansdale from the Lakeside cluster to the Tucker cluster is not acceptable to me. When Henderson became a middle school, members of the local community supported the change only because they would be redistricted to Lakeside. Many families choose to buy a home in a particular neighborhood based on the reputation of the schools. This is true of homes in the Lakeside cluster. Why are we working on a complex redistricting plan when we need to be working on our very serious financial problems? It looks like we are rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

  13. Tuckerpapa says:

    Ha! Members of your local community may have supported Evansdale joining the Lakeside cluster but no others! How in the heck was Evansdale placed in the Lakeside cluster when it is right down the street from Tucker HS? It makes no sense. Did the Evansdale community think that oddity would go unnoticed forever? Midvale is several miles closer to Lakeside but Midvale ended up in the Tucker cluster. Someone many years ago pushed something through that should not have been allowed, and now it needs to be fixed. Tucker HS will benefit greatly from the involved Evansdale community. And maybe the strong parents from Livsey, Midvale, Smoke Rise, and Brockett will stop withdrawing their children from Tucker HS and MS.

  14. info says:

    See WSB video for the latest infighting. E. Jones is very tight with E. Walker. They both oppose charter schools and they both supported the gerrymandering of Bowen’s district so that the S. DeKalb crowd would keep its 5-person majority. Are they, however, signalling that Atkinson has gone too far? Even if they are, what is their end game? What do they hope to achieve, other than the short-term preservation of the f-and-f system while the larger system implodes and S. DeKalb — which can no longer support itself — gets left out in the cold entirely?

  15. thedeal2 says:

    Redistricting like this happens in every school district in the country, especially suburban and urban districts. When it is done properly and regularly, people accept the change, move, and make the new school their own. Evansdale has been an island in the Tucker area, and its inclusion in the completely separate Lakeside district has always been odd. All you have to do is look at a map.

    Livsey has known this was coming for years. My guess is that Livsey will blend very well with Midvale. All of these schools share neighborhoods and know each other anyway. The only possible hiccup I see are some of the Livsey kids going to Smoke Rise just because of distance.

    To me, this is actually a well thought out, comprehensive plan with the numbers to back it up. Henderson and Lakeside are severely overcrowded. Tucker MS and Tucker HS are overcrowded. Stone Mountain is not. Move some of Tucker to Stone Mountain, and move some of Lakeside to Tucker. If you don’t like these changes, then stop complaining about the overcrowding. You can’t complain about it when a reasonable solution has been offered.

  16. concernedmom30329 says:


    What you are inferring is that Walker tipped Emanuel Jones off to this issue, right?
    Because the issue itself is pretty disturbing.
    Goggling the consultant’s name comes up with no real information except his work for DCSS. Who is this guy?

  17. Jeff Dickerson calls it sloppy work! I call it fraud! But do not look where WSB is looking, DCSS can police themselves. The DeKalb DA said so! Now lets get back to redistricting…. So many distractions to cover their blunders or are they really just that dumb! If I hear -coding error- as an excuse again…I will look to the CFO and his worthless accountants to resign, they seem to code wrong too often.

  18. howdy1942 says:

    While I have many reservations about the leadership of Dr. Atkinson and have similar concerns about placing 6th graders in high school as Walker and Copelin-Wood, I believe that Sara Copelin-Wood’s remarks were out of order and unbecoming of a member of the school board. This school board continues to “dysfunction”. It is a train wreck and I continue to look forward to hearing from SACS. At some point, this outrage must end.

  19. cgregister says:

    It is a shame to see what was once an outstanding, wonderful system going down the drain like grease.
    There is no reason for 6th and 7th graders to be in a high school. I once worked at a high school in the county when it was 8-12. It worked out okay. Then the state in its infinite wisdom came up with the middle school concept / funding and we all went with it. Now Dekalb has lots of new Middle Schools or new refurbished buildings and we want to close them down, the way they did Avondale Middle. I understand that the goal is to save money, but you first need to decide what you are going to do with the buildings that you vacate and are still paying on/for. This is a HUGE waste of taxpayers money.
    Until the Board and higher up people start being honest and quit trying to line their pockets and keep “their” communities going with lies and backstabbing, nothing is going to change.
    I worked in the county for over 30 years and would have stayed on, but I feel that I make more money being retired, even though I bring home less and have none of the stress. I miss my friends and coworkers, but they have all been stabbed in the back by this school system and the fact that they don’t care about their employees.
    Changing the subject. Trust Dan Drake. He is one of the good guys and knows what he and his department are doing, if the “big whigs” will listen to him and do what is right for everyone, not just the ones who yell the loudest and longest.

  20. another comment says:

    Looking at the Map and seeing the meandering lines is proof again that the law should be changed again to allow an unlimited number of School districts in the State. It is clear that the Dunwoody Delegation is going to ask for this. They are going to get the Sandy Springs and Buckhead repesenatives, along with Jan Jones and crew to go in with them.

    Should not be larger than 1 high school and its feeder schools. Most of the country operates this way. It works for a large majority of the country, that has the top school districts and are the top rated states.

    This also completely ignores Charter Schools. They are not taking into account any Charter Schools going forward. There is already a strong proposal for a Charter School for Children with Autism going forward in Dekalb County. They are requesting the use of a closed or unused Dekalb School. I am sure that they would love the Austin Elementary School rather than it be torn down. Then they woul get Students for this Middle and High School from Fulton, Gwinett, Cobb, North Atlanta with their central location. These would be the attentive parents too. Parents that are paying $20K plus in Private school tuition.

  21. Anne Shirley says:

    Diversions diversions diversions…..the county can’t handle all of the parents working together to clean house so what does one do? Divide you all and pit you against one another to save your neighborhood schools……..simple minded people with no real plan ….this is a diversion…and it’s working…..

  22. Tucker Mom says:

    Thedeal2–according to the first proposal, ALL Livsey students will be going to Smokerise Elementary. For us, that’s six miles away, along very busy roads. In comparison, Evansdale is two miles away, and Midvale is three miles away.

  23. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Redistricting happens everywhere. However, has anyone ever seen a school district announce redistricting plans 7 years ahead. NO. So much can and will change. DeKalb is destined to add thousands of units of new housing as the market improves and this will have a huge impact on school attendance once it happens. It is getting easier to finance multi-family rental projects and demand is way up according to the AJC.
    Why not just announce the plans for next year and leave it at that? Why stir up all this drama? Perhaps Anne Shirley has it right.

  24. Bye bye says:

    Couldn’t disagree with the comments about Drake more. If you really look at the plan, there are multiple situations where the attendance zones are questionable at best. In one case, the proposed change moves students to the 4th closest school. In another case, it moves them to the third closest school.

  25. Sue says:

    In total agreement with Bye bye. How can this proposal completely ignore the drastic overcrowding along Buford Highway? And looking at Fernbank…they grow to a 900-student school but sit under 85% capacity, while taking population from Laurel Ridge and Briar Vista, leaving them both below 80%. How is that logical???

  26. Leo says:

    Did anybody download the proposal? It looks as if the link posted above takes you to a page that is no longer active. Shocking.

    Separately, I second/third/fourth the approvals of Dan Drake. I think he’s trying to do what’s right given the state of the system. It’s just a matter of whether the powers that be let him do his job.

  27. DeKalbMama says:

    Since I have lived in the Tucker area beginning in about 1996, there have been 2 Tucker HIgh students (one a recent graduate) arrested for heinous murders and a Tucker High coach and his son who were murdered in a home invasion. Bad mojo. I don’t want my kids there. Never mind the fact that everyone there seems more concerned with having a great football team with nary a thought toward improving the school’s academics. Every day when I drive by that school, there are groups of students loitering outside on the campus. Why aren’t they in class? Where are the teachers or administrators getting them back into the classroom? Sorry. I don’t want my kids there and I will fight tooth and nail to prevent it.

    That point aside, the bigger issue is Atkinson’s – and the Board’s – refusal to acknowledge or listen to the will of the people. It’s time for a revolution and I’m not talking about a metaphorical one. The citizens in DeKalb who give a damn about educating their kids need to take to the streets and fight to get Atkinson and the greedy, selfish BoE out of office and get people who care in place to change this corrupt system.

  28. Tucker Mom says:

    @Leo–try copying and pasting the link posted above. For some reason, if you just click on it, it leaves off the “.PDF” portion of the address.

  29. Leo says:

    Found it through Facebook. I’m in awe that there are no proposed changes for the Chamblee and/or Cross Keys area, especially at the elementary school level which are all currently between 104 and 145% overcrowded and all projections have that increasing by 2015/2016 school year.

  30. DeKalbMama says:

    TheDeal2, we just went through a redistricting fight. Why are we doing it again less than 2 years later? It’s a distraction from real issues like the F&F system, BoE members lining their pockets, and Cheryl Atkinson’s desire to ramrod her proposals and failed systems through without any concern or regard for what a community wants.

  31. Disgusted in Dekalb says:

    I would hate to see Livsey, one of the better elementary schools in the district, done away with. And it makes far more sense to send these students to Midvale or Evansdale than to Smoke Rise. But better to go all the way to Smoke Rise than to Pleasantdale. Thank goodness that suggestion wasn’t made.

  32. dekalbite2 says:

    @ another comment
    “Looking at the Map and seeing the meandering lines is proof again that the law should be changed again to allow an unlimited number of School districts in the State. It is clear that the Dunwoody Delegation is going to ask for this. They are going to get the Sandy Springs and Buckhead repesenatives, along with Jan Jones and crew to go in with them.”

    It’s not the law that will be changed. It’s the Georgia Constitution that would be need to be changed. This is not such a long shot considering how fast the Constitution was changed for the charter schools. The Republicans have almost a supermajority (2/3s in both houses) which allows them to put constitutional changes easily on the ballot. From there it is merely a majority vote by the electorate. This is a complicated situation. We need a good BOE to work through this situation of poor financial management, top heavy management expenses, high taxes and low student achievement, and they need to do it expeditiously. Breaking up the county school system will be fine for some students, but ruinous for many.

  33. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Dan Drake … Executive Director of Transportation and Planning
    That makes him the Executive Director of SPLOST planning and redistricting. I don’t see much positive feedback on those fronts. Can somebody explain to me how the Drake is one of the good guys?

  34. what a sham says:

    The plan has Livsey going to Smoke Rise when it is rebuilt for 900 students. I want to see the septic tank for that plan. At 500 students they pump EVERY DAY.

  35. A link that works was posted yesterday on Nancy Jester’s website. Look in the right-hand column under “Recent Posts.” It is a 100+ page document. So, Nancy is still studying it, as are we. However, DeKalbMama is correct — this is simply a distraction from the REAL issues. We will be publishing a post later today.

  36. thedeal2 says:

    @DeKalb Mama, I agree with you on the really bad timing of this. This came out of nowhere, and I don’t doubt that she knows that redistricting distracts like no other topic. It didn’t sound like the board liked her proposal, so it may be much ado about nothing. There was no support from a couple of the group of five that normally votes as a bloc.

    Districts around the country redistrict as an administrative decision without the long, drawn-out process that DeKalb has attempted in the past. If Cheryl was going to shift like that, she needed to communicate it. I think this demonstrates how highly she and her cabinet think of themselves that she could put this out there with no proper preparation or introduction and expect it to go forward without all h*ll breaking loose. If she wants to ramrod this through like she did the calendar without regard for parent input, she needs to just say it.

    So while the data within the plan, most likely stemming from the very competent Dan Drake, could be accurate and logical, as usual, the implementation is horrible and basically negates any good there might be in the plan.

  37. psdad says:

    @Leo About your comment, “I’m in awe that there are no proposed changes for the Chamblee and/or Cross Keys area, especially at the elementary school level which are all currently between 104 and 145% overcrowded ”

    This overcrowding is the direct result of consolidations that happened during the last round of school closings. DCSS consolidated Kitteredge and E. Nancy Creek (amongst others) based on flawed (fabricated) projections that showed no growth in the expected attendance for these schools. The parents in those communities argued that this would lead to significant overcrowding at these mid and elem schools (by 2015), but DCSS pushed ahead. The worst thing about all of this is that these consolidations were supposed to result in savings that were never realized.

  38. psdad says:

    The excess capacity that is projected for Chamblee is also a pipe dream. Take a look at the overcrowding at the Chamblee feeder schools and it should provide a pretty good picture of what Chamblee Middle/High will look like by 2015/2016.

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