Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cross Keys High School is decrepit & disgusting.


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mykidsmom said...

It's great that the conditions at Cross Keys are "out there" now. Hopefully things will improve for these children, but, in the back of my mind, I have this fear of "backlash" from the BOE and DCSS.

Anon South Side said...

Yes, I know personally what they can do.........

We have to put it out so that more people can get behind it.....

maybe more people will read this site and get involved.....

I've said before if the people of this blog can mobilize our efforts, hear each others hearts regardless of the personal pain or gain..... we might be able to change some things

Keep blogging CERE......keep talking everyone........

Cerebration said...

I think fear of "backlash" is what has stopped people from speaking out in the past. However, obviously, nothing has been done. Cross Keys has taken years to decline - and this board has 4 new members out of 9. They simply needed help getting up to speed! I hope they will finally return Cross Keys to their place in the line up for SPLOST spending. And really - a new building - like they did with Tucker - is the way to go.

Anonymous said...

John Heneghan is a straight shooter. No elected official in this county is more honest and blunt. If he's disgusted by the condition at Cross Keys, everything Kim and Cere says about it is verified.

mykidsmom said...

John is doing a great job for Dunwoody and he is the type of individual we need on the school board. Redovian's tenure is up next year. John, any interest?

Ella Smith said...

Kim, I thought they said at that Cross Keys meeting we went to that they should have bids by June. Did I miss something on that? What went wrong here? Apparently, something else got planned instead of remodeling the school.

Why does most of the money still constinue to go to the southside of the county when the projections are in this area for growth? I do not understand. Dr. Lewis said at the last school board meeting that the projections in the past have been fairly acurate but the school board members want to question them when that is all the informatio we have to go on at this point. I do not think any school board member is more qualified or all the school board members together than the professionals who actually put together these projections. This is what their profession is and this is what the school board paid them to collect and project the data on. IF we are not going to use these data and if school board members are going to decide their own data then why are we even spending all that money to the company to do those projections.

We must be making decisions on the professional data we have. The Cross Keys area is suppose to grow.

Kim Gokce said...

@John Heneghan: Thanks for posting this - I was running like mad yesterday until midnight and was not able to record the broadcasts at 5, 6, or 11. Although I don't like my face showing under the banner, "Cross Keys is decrepit and disgusting" (not my words), but the piece is a fair reporting effort and Diane Davis did a great job summing up. I hope press outlets will take the time to dig deeper into the story at Cross Keys HS which, in fact, is a very positive one in terms of the faculty and student performance under very challenging circumstances. This part of Cross Keys is a positive story.

Anonymous said...

Nice work, WSB. Tt only could have been better if it were done by Richard Belcher..........a Cross Keys alum.

Kim Gokce said...

@Ella: "Kim, I thought they said at that Cross Keys meeting we went to that they should have bids by June."

That is correct. We also heard there would be another public meeting over the summer to brief the community on the plans, the schedule, and to review community input from the meeting and from faculty over the years. I cannot explain the apparent silence on these subjects and can only assume that Cross Keys priority remains relatively low in the scheme of DCSS/BOE attention.

Regarding growth projections, yes, Cross Keys area will grow. The area is ripe for re-development, yes, but this is because it is ideally situated in terms of transportation corridors and proximity to the City of Atlanta and Buckhead.

DeKalb County, local civic and community organizations and private groups are working on a vision for the area and I have no doubt that that vision will include a need for a vibrant and growing public high school at Cross Keys. I am not sure why our BOE or DCSS do not see it that way.

Anonymous said...

The vacant rooms with stacked computer monitors are there because teachers were ordered to have everything moved from every classroom on one wing of the school before post-planning this last spring. If furniture, equipment, and personal belongings had not been moved by the last day of post-planning, teachers were required to return to school after post-planning to complete the move. The teachers were told that construction would begin immediately after post-planning. This particularly affected the art department since art classrooms and studios with loads of equipment occupied the section of the building that would be part of the addition.

Now, construction will begin whenever or never, and teachers will return to vacant classrooms, stripped bare. Will they have to move their stuff back? And then move it again if, sometime in the future, construction actually begins.

CK is being toyed with by DCSS. Thhe inept, incompetent, financially foolish, politically-laden decisions made regarding all aspects of CK, its academics (think the incompatibility of America's Choice-choice?!-with ESOL instruction) as well as its physical environment, continue without wisdom, foresight, or intelligence, but with plenty of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino bias.
Lewis is to blame, the Board is to blame, and, yes Patricia Pope is to blame. The rumor is that the evidence taken from Pope's office included most of the documentation related to the CK project. The early meetings with CK stakeholders and members of Pope's team were downright hostile.

This is a comedy of errors without the comedy.

Most of the teachers (not necessarily the local administrators) at CK love the place and the students, despite the despicable condition of the building.

Dekalbparent said...

More construction madness at DCSS. More evidence that Pat Pope needs assistance - she is spread way too thin.

At least work is going on at DHHS, and for that the community is grateful. BUT...

Many teachers at were also ordered to move things out of their classrooms suddenly, the last week of school - when they were trying to give exams(the ENTIRE library was packed in boxes). No one knows what shape the stored items will be in, because limited storage space meant boxes were stacked pretty high, crushing the bottom ones.

Unfortunately, other teachers were told they needed only to move things into cabinets, to protect from dust, since nothing of consequence was being done to their rooms. The art teachers were to cover the art tables, too. The next week, they discovered the NEW art tables had been pulled up and thrown in the trash (they were two years old and bolted down). The things they stored in cabinets had been pulled out and broken (mostly student art work). A water leak that nobody tried to stop had saturated the expensive art specialty paper.

When they began to restore the ceilings in one hall, they found the walls were not up to code, forcing them to tear them down and rebuild them. This causes all work on the adjacent area to cease... You can see the domino effect here.

Currently, it is expected that there will be little or no student parking this year, and eating outside (a senior privilege) will not be possible for this year's seniors because the outdoor tables are where the construction guys eat lunch.

No one knows when the work will be finished (originally supposed to be done 8/09).

So you all who are fortunate enough to have work done at your school, watch very carefully - perhaps some of this can be anticipated and headed off.

Cerebration said...

oh - what a horror story Dekalbparent. This is why I am desperately advocating for the system to tear down the unused buildings at Cross Keys (there are several buildings on campus.) Build a new school where those buildings and the athletic fields are - move everybody - then tear down the other buildings and build a new athletic field (and a track without weeds) and a new auditorium - which has NEVER been on a to-do list for Cross Keys - even though a premise of SPLOST 3 (to sell it to voters) was an auditorium for every high school (like the SPLOST 1 gyms for ES's).

Personally - I am beginning to think that this is ONCE AGAIN a ploy to get the voters in the north end to vote for a SPLOST 4. They will promise AGAIN - that if we just vote for it once more - they will get to us.

Don't believe them.

fedupindcss said...

We were at colleges last week in the northeast and they were all undergoing some form of summer renovation (because it is usually best to do it when the kids aren't there). I asked one of the administrators how they afforded this with donations down, plunging endowments, etc., and he said that they were able to negotiate great deals with construction companies because they needed immediate work. None of this was new construction--just repair and replacement. It boggles the mind that DCSS cannot do the same, even with the bidding process. They knew the economy was crappy in January.

My favorite part (and this goes to the fact that the construction crew at DHHS will be eating in what had been the seniors area): one construction company had a sign that said "Think Like A Parent" and listed behaviors that the workers were not to engage in (swearing, flirting with students, working without shirts, etc.).

Dekalbparent said...

@fedup -

A comment was made by an employee at the school that "this isn't our school - it belongs to the construction guys. We just come here every day to put in our hours"

It was made in jest, but it really sums it up - why the h*ll do the construction guys rate the tables, and the kids don't?

BTW, the DHHS cafeteria does not hold all the kids in a given lunch period - it is not being touched, as far as I know - so the overflow crowd will need to sit on the outdoor steps if they are allowed out.

Kim Gokce said...

Cerebration: "and this board has 4 new members out of 9. They simply needed help getting up to speed!"

Here's a reasonable remedial course:


This is a mash-up of everything I find about the school and everything others share, too.

Kim Gokce said...

@cerebration: "I hope they will finally return Cross Keys to their place in the line up for SPLOST spending. And really - a new building - like they did with Tucker - is the way to go."

The word is that ground-breaking will be 8/1 at CKHS.

I believe we have to pray that Patricia Pope and her contractors knock the socks off of the community with the funds available.

I know that we should be thrilled that the vagrancy issue is being addressed (at least initially) and that the renovation is happen at all (given the history, that alone is a victory). A lot of people have quietly worked on making SPLOST III happening for CKHS and they should be thanked at the right time and place.

In short, I think we can expect to see exactly what Don McChesney has said since my initial run at broadening the scope of planning - they will go through with the reno as planned. From that point on in my view, Cross Keys becomes the spare part for Region 1 to house programs and flotsam that doesn't have a home.

Let's call it renovated, new status-quo ...

Anonymous said...


In DeKalb County, a good high school basketball team is enough for a complete high school renovation. A high school with a large Latino population will only get the leftover crumbs.


Tucker prepares for new facilities
By Greg Rossino

A DeKalb high school that has produced multiple state champions and contenders in recent years will soon have new facilities to continue its winning traditions.

Tucker High School will be upgrading its football, track, baseball and basketball areas as part of its schoolwide construction.

“The Tucker community is going to be very impressed with the final product,” Tucker basketball Head Coach James Hartry said.

“It is going to be a first-class, top-of-the-line facility — Tucker does not stand for anything but the best.

“The way the school is coming up, it looks phenomenal,” Hartry said. “You can’t have a phenomenal-looking school and a tacky gym.”

This year, Hartry and his team advanced to the Class AAAA state championship game for the second time in three seasons before losing to Miller Grove. The team won the 2007 AAAA state championship.

According to Hartry, the new gymnasium will be included among the last phases in the construction process and should be completed by early 2011.

The new gym also will feature coaches’ offices and locker rooms.

Along with the new gymnasium, the football, track and field and baseball teams also will benefit from the renovations.

The new football practice field will be reconfigured so it is parallel with the new school buildings.

Surrounding the football practice field will be a new track.

Adjacent to both the new track and football field will be a new baseball field.

“The construction, when it is complete, will be a beneficiary for the football players and the other athletes around the school,” Tucker football head coach Franklin Stephens said.

Tucker won its first football state title last season when it beat rival Marist in the AAAA championship game in December at the Georgia Dome.

Like the gymnasium, the football, track and baseball fields’ construction will be included in the last phases of construction with completion targeted for late 2010.

The reconstruction of the school is valued at $66 million and is being funded by SPLOST III, a sale tax approved by DeKalb voters in March 2007.

The school system stands to make $610 million over a five-year period from the 1 percent sales tax for the projects.

Kim Gokce said...

@mykidsmom: "I have this fear of "backlash" from the BOE and DCSS."

There are many eyes on this school now and I assure you they will remain so for years to come. There are very powerful people in the private sector who are watching DCSS' treatment of Cross Keys closely.

Cryptic, yes, but you have my word on it.

Kim Gokce said...


Tucker has a municipal base of support in the city of Tucker. Tucker has an organic community as its attendance area. Tucker has a HS and MS that are sensibly located. Tucker has Zepora Roberts. Tucker has organized and vocal parent groups.

Game. Set. Match. Tucker. Questions?

Kim Gokce said...

oh! And, our BOE will tell you that Cross Keys HS is under-enrolled and under utilized. They are right on both counts and responsible for both.

Cerebration said...

Tucker has a state championship football team.

Here are a few bits from misc. minutes that I could cobble together regarding school board discussions on Cross Keys : (this would all be so much easier if the administration would just communicate with the school as promised.)

MAY 4-Ms. Patricia Pope, Chief Operations Officer, recommended that the Board of Education approve the award to The Evergreen Corporation, d\b\a Evergreen Construction, for Construction Manager\General Contractor (CM\GM) at Risk Services for the Cross Keys High School renovation project, for a total Design Phase Compensation and Construction Phase Fee of $260,000

MAY 11-Approved the award to The Evergreen Corporation, d\b\a Evergreen Construction, for Construction Manager\General Contractor (CM\GM) at Risk Services for the Cross Keys High School renovation project, for a total Design Phase Compensation and Construction Phase Fee of $260,000

JUNE 8-FACILITIES AND PROPERTY +The Committee recommends the approval for Ms. Pat Pope regarding the ten properties presented to the Board. +There was a question regarding the spending of $20 million on Cross Keys High School based on the student enrollment. The Committee recommends the approval for spending the $20 million on Cross Keys High School pending Ms. Pope’s recommendation for future programs at Cross Keys High School.

Molly said...

Tucker has a municipal base of support in the city of Tucker

Actually, Tucker is an unincorporated area - there is no "city" of Tucker. Unlike Chamblee, Doraville or Decatur, Tucker has no city government.

Kim Gokce said...

Thanks, Molly. I got carried away with my emotions - thank you for keepin' it real!

Cerebration said...

ahem. $66 million was the budget. We'll see exactly what the final cost was. I'm hearing $75+...

Anonymous said...

"The school system stands to make $610 million over a five-year period from the 1 percent sales tax for the projects."
"ahem. $66 million was the budget. We'll see exactly what the final cost was. I'm hearing $75+..."

So Tucker High is taking over 10% of the entire five year SPLOST budget, and will be even more if it goes over budget as Cere suggests. With all of the many capital needs we hear about over and over again from Lewis, Pope and the BOE, Tucker High hit the jackpot, and Cross Keys is in the crapper.

I believe Kim, the Central Office has manipulated the situation. How in the heck are clueless Womack and Walker questioning the $20 mil for Cross Keys? Crawford Lewis is playing them like fools.

Cerebration said...

Cross Keys was #2 on the list of SPLOST 3 priorities, just after deferred SPLOST 2 projects. Nothing has been done. Below are some documented reports on the project.

There's a Needs Assessment documented for Cross Keys dated Friday, September 29, 2006 for a grand total of $9,985,850.00 for things like paint, carpet, new blinds, fencing, white boards, fixing cracks in the floors, fixing cracks in the walls, ceiling tiles, parking repaving...

There's an APPROVED CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS PLAN dated, Nov 17, 2006, which adds a career tech addition to the above budget for a total of $16,927,348 (no auditorium though.)

Pat Pope's CIP report dated Oct 08 states, "Cross Keys High School: Renovation and Relocation of the Dekalb High School Technology North Program: CM/GC At Risk proposals were received on September 16, 2008 from five firms. On September 19, 2008, four firms were interviewed. At the October meeting, the Board of Education approved the CM/GC At Risk Contract award to MEJA Construction, the lowest responsive responsible bidder in a lump sum IGMP amount of $11,000,000. The Design Team has commenced
with the preparation of construction documents with the anticipation of a Land Disturbance Permit
being issued in January 2009."

Pat Pope's CIP report dated Feb 09 states, "Cross Keys High School: Renovation and Relocation of the DeKalb High School Technology North Program: Preliminary Architectural design is complete and was submitted by Richard Wittschiebe Hand to the Georgia Department of Education on January 28, 2009 for review and comments. Request for Proposal for Soil Borings were received in late February 2009. Request for Proposal for the CM/GC at Risk is due for advertisement in March 2009 and scheduled for Board of Education approval in April 2009."

There's a document titled, "Technology Projects" which itemizes the following for ALL schools and centers: Computer Refresh Cycle, Network Cabling Infrastructure, Computer Furniture, Network Servers, Interactive Boards, Wireless Laptops & Carts, Printer Refresh Cycle, Technology Adaptive Equipment, and Media Center Technology Upgrades --
Total Technology Allotment: $29,418,581.00 (for all schools)

Cerebration said...

Cross Keys is #2 on the SPLOST 3 list of priorities.
The DSA Relocation was #10 on the list.
Relocation of Open Campus, Jim Cherry and DECA was #11.
Career Tech additions is #14.
Lithonia's addition is #16. (it's been cancelled)
MLK's addition is #17.
Miller Grove's addition is #18.
Dunwoody addition is $#19.

Tucker HS was #3 -- However, Tucker HS, is just about ready to open its doors -- here's a description-
The new Tucker High School was designed by the architectural firm of Milton Pate Architects. The new facility will be built in two phases around the existing school. Phase 1 includes a two story building fronting LaVista Road which will house academic classrooms and the 9th Grade Academy. Additionally, a four story General Classroom Wing with Administrative Offices and Media Center and a three story parking deck will be constructed. Phase 2 consists of the Career Technology Labs, Auditorium, Fine Arts and Gymnasium facilities. Site work for the new fields will also be completed in this phase.

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "This is why I am desperately advocating for the system to tear down the unused buildings at Cross Keys (there are several buildings on campus.)"

I believe you are referring to 4th hall. This is the one closest to the famous "Radiator" cafeteria that leads to the old shop class space. I think this is one of the ones that was referred to above as being hastily emptied prior to school year end to "make way for construction."

I believe that is where the new "Tech wing" will be built but again, we await news.

By the way, if there is indeed a ground-breaking on 8/1 as rumored, that means we will have passed the entire summer with no public meeting as promised. Which also means that no review of faculty, community, or other external party input will have taken place prior to the ground-breaking. I wonder if there will be a ceremony ... should be a photo opp.

I hope that is not a sign of how the project will be managed going forward. Sure seems to be setting us up for a rushed job ...

Cerebration said...

Oh yes! $60-$75 million and they've decided to apply for Charter School Status! So - difficult to get into Arabia - now difficult to get into Tucker!

John Heneghan said...

Thanks Anonymous & mykidsmom for the support but I have no intention of running for the DeKalb County School Board any time soon. Between a strenuous full time job, family with little boys and a commitment to the residents of Dunwoody; I can't think past those items.

Kim, Kudos for raising the awareness on this issue and it is you and others on this site who should think about running for the school board. I have modified the video and it should now be more to your liking.

Molly said...

Oh yes! $60-$75 million and they've decided to apply for Charter School Status! So - difficult to get into Arabia - now difficult to get into Tucker!

My first thought when I heard about the charter application was that it was motivated by a desire to prevent the shiny new school from having to accept NCLB transfers. A "We've got ours, go get your own" kind of action. I was initiallly opposed to the charter application for that reason.

I did decide to support the charter once I learned that as a charter Tucker would do away with the block scheduling - I feel very strongly that the block has been poorly implemented and needs to go. My desire for real school choice had to take a backseat to my desire for effective schools.

pscexb said...

As usual, interesting discussion from the DeKalbSchoolWatch bloggers! I’d like to point out a few things I got from someone who was on the citizen committee that reviewed the CIP prior to the final version along with a few points that have not been mentioned on the blog with respect to the Cross Keys project. This is a two part posting.

In an early iteration of the CIP, Cross Keys was scheduled for a tear down like Tucker. When the group looked at the list, they noticed about 20% of the total CIP was going for two schools and began asking detailed questions. It seems that Tucker had some structural problems along with bad soil on its current site thus was determined to be a critical need. One could also ague that the Tucker community has strong advocates but the building a new Tucker made more sense than patching one that was in bad shape. While Cross Keys had several structural problems along with being the oldest HS that had not had any major renovations (1958), it also had a declining enrollment. A decision was made to put significant renovation dollars into the school and put it high on the list. If a SPLOST 4 comes up, Cross Keys would be revisited for additional renovations.

$66 million dollars was allocated for the Tucker project on a sliding scale. This took inflation into consideration for each year the project was delayed meaning this was the maximum amount that would be spent. Except for a slight delay when they encountered some bad soil on the new site (this was corrected), I understand this project is on schedule as it started on time. Most SPLOST 3 projects have come in under budget which is partially why additional dollars were available for new projects

In recent history, only one school has been torn down and replaced. That is Peachtree MS. There are still some that question from some in the community whether that should have been done considering the original Peachtree HS was built in 1968. Schools in that area pooled their SPLOST 2 set aside monies (Each BoE member district was allocated monies from SPLOST for infrastructure improvements) for the new Peachtree MS however it also meant putting several needed projects aside. FWIW, the Peachtree MS project was over budget and some of the improvements needed in several schools in that area were done (not sure if general funds used or SPLOST 2 dollars) while others had to wait.

Lithonia HS got a new building as a replacement also however the old Lithonia HS became the MS. I understand dollars were originally allocated for a new MS (as several projects in SPLOST 2 were) however due to the age of the HS (originally built in the 30’s), the decision was made to put the dollars towards a HS instead. The current Lithonia MS did get substantial dollars for improvements.

pscexb said...

This is part two from the earlier posting

I understand the Cross Keys project has not started because the original architect that was awarded the contract quit. I also understand this was discussed at the meeting held at Ashford Park ES. There are allegations (none I could confirm) that the architect quit because of ‘micromanagement and meddling’ from outside influences. DCSS rebid the project and it took some time to go through the process of getting the players needed in place. As a result, the project was delayed.

The scope of the Cross Keys project increased due to the decision to move the High School Technology North (HSTN) to this site. This added close to another $10 million dollars for this project. There are fewer than 100 students at HSTN. Some bring up spending $10 million dollars to move DSA but you also must consider the renovation dollars is being spent on Avondale HS. It is said that the entire school will benefit from the improvements (you may get some arguments about this).

As mentioned before, there have been recent questions by board members about spending the dollars at Cross Keys. I understand the questions were more due to the declining enrollment and reports that several apartments in the Buford Highway corridor would be torn down and replaced with upscale housing. The concern was should money be spent on this school considering the trend versus schools that have current needs. This is probably when the idea was ‘floated’ to close Cross Keys and send those students to nearby HSs until a determination can be made about that site. As mentioned before, this is the most valuable property in the DCSS inventory.

Quit a bit to chew on but hopefully shedding more insight. School renovation projects are emotional. Sometimes it causes one community to be pitted against another. We each have a shared investment in every school and should want to ensure all are safe and healthy learning environments.

mykidsmom said...

There was never any concern within the community that the old Peachtree Middle school should be torn down - in fact the opposite is true - the community was ecstatic. The school was in horrible shape and disrepair and was a high school campus not a middle school campus.

There was, and still is, a divide within the Dunwoody community whether to build a new elementary school or renovate the old Shallowford ES/Chamblee MS site. Perhaps that is what you were referring to

Part of the over-budget had to do with trees that were not removed, but buried underground, when Peachtree was first built. When the new construction began this was discovered, along with some dangerous fumes that these rotting trees were emitting. Construction had to stop and these trees removed before construction could commence.

Cerebration said...

Psc - interesting! Why is it that we have to hear it all from a blogger, and not directly from the source?

At any rate, a few issues jumped out -

In an early iteration of the CIP, Cross Keys was scheduled for a tear down like Tucker.

What?!! No one has ever mentioned this before, ever, that I'm aware of.

It seems that Tucker had some structural problems along with bad soil on its current site thus was determined to be a critical need. ...

This took inflation into consideration for each year the project was delayed meaning this was the maximum amount that would be spent. Except for a slight delay when they encountered some bad soil on the new site (this was corrected), I understand this project is on schedule as it started on time.

So, which is it, did they decide to tear down Tucker due to bad soil - or did they FIND bad soil after they started? I had heard it was due to asbestos. Guess what? Cross Keys most likely has asbestos as well.

There are allegations (none I could confirm) that the architect quit because of ‘micromanagement and meddling’ from outside influences. DCSS rebid the project and it took some time to go through the process of getting the players needed in place. As a result, the project was delayed.

That's a pitiful rumor. This community can't even advocate for itself without a few of us from the "outside" - who have only recently finally stuck our necks out - after touring the facilities. (BTW - have you actually BEEN there? Can you honestly say that you would remotely consider allowing one of your children to spend their day there? Honestly?!

The scope of the Cross Keys project increased due to the decision to move the High School Technology North (HSTN) to this site. This added close to another $10 million dollars for this project.

So - what this means is that there is only $10 million for renovations and $10 million to move in HSTN north. The same money for two projects so wildly different in scope. Bottom line - nothing's been done - and it's been 3 years.

This is probably when the idea was ‘floated’ to close Cross Keys and send those students to nearby HSs until a determination can be made about that site. As mentioned before, this is the most valuable property in the DCSS inventory.

What?!! Send 800 students to nearby high schools? They are ALL over-crowded! Dunwoody, Chamblee and Lakeside cannot each take on 275 more students!

Cerebration said...

Quit a bit to chew on but hopefully shedding more insight. School renovation projects are emotional. Sometimes it causes one community to be pitted against another. We each have a shared investment in every school and should want to ensure all are safe and healthy learning environments.

This emotion is not about a school renovation project - it's about the fact that 800 of our students (mostly Hispanic) their teachers and staff have to spend their days in a building that you wouldn't see in a third world country. It is NOT a safe and healthy learning environment. If the enrollment has dwindled - it is due to the action - and inaction of the Board of Education. Who REALLy wants their child in there? The BOE has left the building to decay - and allowed vagrancy to flourish on the property. They have redrawn and redrawn attendance lines over the years, carving out only a ridiculous sliver of an attendance line - basically the Hispanic community only and now their excuse is dwindling enrollment!?

Yes, the property is valuable. So is the Druid Hills property, which the Open Campus is now closed. PICK one - sell it and compile the money to build something nice for Cross Keys, etc. Our Board can't see beyond the dollar signs of this "valuable" property in the north - but hey - Arabia sure is nice!! I also notice that their attendance ain't "all that".

While Cross Keys had several structural problems along with being the oldest HS that had not had any major renovations (1958), it also had a declining enrollment. A decision was made to put significant renovation dollars into the school and put it high on the list. If a SPLOST 4 comes up, Cross Keys would be revisited for additional renovations.

Obviously, being high on the 'list' means nothing. And the SPLOST 4 thing is once again political arm-twisting to get us in the north end to vote for it again. Every time - it's the same excuse - "If you vote for it again, we promise, we'll get to your schools."

Go there, psc. Walk around the place. Let your soul take it in - without the perspective of defending the administration. These people are suffering - admit it - and admit that out leadership hasn't done a bloody thing about it.

Sorry for the rant. It's just that to me, even though you think you've just "clarified" issued - you've defended the indefensible.

pscexb said...

mykidsmom, I should clarify. I meant those outside of that immediate community raised questions. That goes back to my point that when a school renovation happens at a school, others outside of that community 'sometimes' question whether it was needed and/or justified.

Without question, members in that board district made a decision regarding how to use those dollars. When those on the outside see this without having a full understanding regarding why it was done, the 'whisper campaign' usually begins causing frustration for some.

Cerebration said...

One thing you said is right -- when one school gets a beautiful new facility, the rest of us (who also paid for it) do stand in awe, but with sadness and yes, envy. The inequity is mind-boggling.

Here's a quote from the Neighborhood News article referenced above by anonymous --

A DeKalb high school that has produced multiple state champions and contenders in recent years will soon have new facilities to continue its winning traditions.

Tucker High School will be upgrading its football, track, baseball and basketball areas as part of its schoolwide construction.

“The Tucker community is going to be very impressed with the final product,” Tucker basketball Head Coach James Hartry said.

“It is going to be a first-class, top-of-the-line facility — Tucker does not stand for anything but the best.

Make of that what you will.

mykidsmom said...

That's sad, cere. They have a brand new school and all they can talk about are the athletic facilities? Kind of maddening when some schools in DCSS have to resort to fundraisers to upgrade their athletic fields and other schools don't even have decent athletic fields to upgrade or the community money to do so.

Cerebration said...

Well, Tucker did place as the 5th HS in DeKalb to make it onto the Newsweek Challenge list. (Meaning they are offering plenty of AP classes.)

As far as DCSS paying attention to - or communicating with the Cross Keys community, here's a quote from the "Brookhaven Reporter" article linked in the main post about Cross Keys here on the blog.

Darryl McKoon, who lives across the street from the encampment, said he and most of his neighbors started having thefts a few months ago, and he believes that many can be attributed to the homeless in the area. He said someone smashed a window of his pickup truck and stole the radio inside, causing $1,000 worth of damage.

McKoon also is concerned about the presence of the homeless on the Cross Keys property. “I’ve complained several times to the school department about this piece of property, and they’re not very cooperative at all.”

Cerebration said...

I suppose it's a comfort to find that we're not alone - except, that these school systems do not have the benefit of a penny sales tax that is generating hundreds of millions of dollars --

like Baltimore -


or Brooklyn


or Middletown, NJ


If there is any comfort to be found in the situation, educators say, it is the fact that New Jersey is not alone. A 1992 survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that 12 percent of the nation's schools were damaged beyond repair. Thirty percent of the schools surveyed were built before 1950 and only 11 percent after 1980.

Although old schools present the most complex problems, hundreds of schools built in the 1950's baby boom, like those in Edison, are also failing, Mr. Murphy said. Many were not intended to last more than 40 years.

"These schools are little boxes, with flat roofs and crumbling plaster," he said. "This kind of building constrains the curriculum instead of complementing it."

Besides structural repairs, older schools need to replace electrical wiring to accommodate computers, Mr. Murphy said. Many need to modify doors, hallways and staircases to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act -- changes that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for each school. And state mandates require specially designed classrooms for bilingual and special education, he said.

pscexb said...

Good questions, Cere! I'll do my best to respond...

Why is it that we have to hear it all from a blogger, and not directly from the source?

As mentioned before, this blog is read by a LOT of folks that have insight to some of the decisions made. For various reasons, they prefer not to post but will willing provide their perspectives.

So, which is it, did they decide to tear down Tucker due to bad soil - or did they FIND bad soil after they started? I had heard it was due to asbestos. Guess what? Cross Keys most likely has asbestos as well.

I stand corrected. The tear down of Tucker was recommended because of structural problems and asbestos. They found the bad soil after the project began. I don't know whether Cross Keys had asbestos in 1996 (when the process of putting the CIP together began). Nonetheless, it was decided that the district wanted to 'touch' as many schools as possible with SPLOST 3 thus made the decision not to replace two HSs at the time. Tucker had a larger and growing enrollment hence the decision was made in their favor.

That's a pitiful rumor. This community can't even advocate for itself without a few of us from the "outside" - who have only recently finally stuck our necks out - after touring the facilities. (BTW - have you actually BEEN there? Can you honestly say that you would remotely consider allowing one of your children to spend their day there? Honestly?!

The fact is the architect quit. If he did not quit when he did, it is possible the Cross Keys project would have been completed by now. The reasons behind his quitting is an allegation and noted it could not be confirmed.

Admittedly, its been several months since I walked the grounds of the school. I will go there by the end of the month again. I will say I would probably do as Kim is doing now, advocating for the school before my children would go there. Many of the problems mentioned would not be allowed to escalate at Dunwoody, Lakeside, or Stephenson because those communities are actively involved in their schools.

So - what this means is that there is only $10 million for renovations and $10 million to move in HSTN north. The same money for two projects so wildly different in scope. Bottom line - nothing's been done - and it's been 3 years.

As with the DSA move, most of the additional money is for renovation not the physical move. These are permanent changes to the building, which should be considered improvements.

Cerebration said...

Sorry - I wasn't clear. I don't expect DCSS leaders to post here - I expect them to communicate directly with the community - as promised!

So - how did the budget (as I posted above) go from $9.9 million to $16 million - and there's no mention of $10 million for the HSTN move? It all seems very vague.

Also - is this how it really works in DeKalb? Your school doesn't get attention unless your community demands it? That's acceptable? That's a reasonable excuse for why some get attention and others don't? That's depressing.

And yes, the architect quit. But guess what - the economy is in the TANK. The system could have had a new architect the next week. That is a very flimsy excuse for the extreme delays for Cross Keys.

Cerebration said...

Sorry psc - I don't mean to rail on you - I appreciate the fact that you have stuck your neck out here. You've done more to inform this community than anyone in DCSS. We appreciate it.

pscexb said...

I should also reiterate a fact that has been raised several times. We have the largest infrastructure of school buildings in the state, with over 140 buildings. Most of the schools were built in the 50's and 60's making many over 50 years old. Were those schools designed to last that long? While materials then were definitely better, they could if regular maintenance is performed.

The philosophy of the district for many years was to have small, neighborhood schools. With that you have increased labor costs for instruction along with maintenance and operations. Are DCSS citizens willing to pay more in property taxes to keep this existing infrastructure?

Cere brought up some tough decisions that will need to be made with respect to the Cross Keys and Briarcliff properties. I grew up believing you never sell real estate because you may end up needing it later. This is a case of two properties in relatively close proximity that we need to make a tough decision on.

Again with Cross Keys, the project was delayed due to the architect quitting. This is a matter or record. The Cross Keys project was scoped in 2006 then presented to the community prior to the 2007 SPLOST vote. Does anyone remember what was said about the $10 million dollars for Cross Keys at that time?

Cerebration said...

I have no idea. I'm certain that even then, it was obviously not going to do the trick. I think we all assumed that professionals were evaluating the buildings and making professional recommendations. While that may have happened, we now see that it is indeed a political process - the biggest whiners win! But like we've pointed out, Cross Keys does not have a vocal community. That's what has compelled us to jump into the fray. Happily, we are getting a great deal of support from corporate interests. This level of inequity, once revealed, is hard to witness and impossible to accept.

pscexb said...

So - how did the budget (as I posted above) go from $9.9 million to $16 million - and there's no mention of $10 million for the HSTN move? It all seems very vague.

In the spring, the Lithonia HS and Clarkston Center projects were removed from the CIP and those monies went back in the the SPLOST budget. That along with monies received from the state and above average sales tax collections allowed 5 additional projects to be added. One was to provide 3.5 million dollars to Cross Keys for additional work. Lakeside and SW DeKalb were also beneficiaries of the additional dollars.

Also - is this how it really works in DeKalb? Your school doesn't get attention unless your community demands it? That's acceptable? That's a reasonable excuse for why some get attention and others don't? That's depressing.

We are all familiar with the 'squeaky wheel' syndrome. It is not unique to DeKalb. I won't say that is the guiding force for how decisions are made but some communities understand how to be good advocates for their schools. I want to believe there are many in the community that are taking a more global perspective regarding the district as a whole and are advocating for those that may not have the voices that other have.

And yes, the architect quit. But guess what - the economy is in the TANK. The system could have had a new architect the next week. That is a very flimsy excuse for the extreme delays for Cross Keys.

Actually they could not. This must be done through a public bid process otherwise the 'random' selection could be called into question. If DCSS did this, other architects would probably sue thus delaying the project even more. There are a series of approvals that public entities must go through to get something done. Unfortunately Cross Keys suffers because of these delays.

Kim Gokce said...

@pscexb: Welcome back! :)

PART I of II ...

"Are DCSS citizens willing to pay more in property taxes to keep this existing infrastructure?"

I think taxpayers are willing to pay for what is necessary. But no one can tell us what exactly they need to "fix it" over time.

There's no vision for what the "end state" should look like in my zone much less county-wide. I need to know where you are going before I give you my credit card.

The current process seems to be just like the old process where we go from fire to fire putting it out with no strategy for the systems' plant over-all that I can see.

No one can assure me my dollars will be managed ethically, efficiently, or equitably.

There has to be a high level of confidence that DCSS WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. The perception is that DCSS keeps asking and we keep giving with no sense of progress in communities like Cross Keys' zone.

After SPLOST III, I may have a completely different perception but I'm not getting a warm and fuzzy by the way the project is being managed in terms of communication (as in, there is none).

If we had a vision, not a slogan, and we are assured of these things, I think the citizens would do the right thing. It's a credibility gap IMHO.

"Sometimes it causes one community to be pitted against another. We each have a shared investment in every school and should want to ensure all are safe and healthy learning environments."

I think the only time our current system doesn't pit once community against another is when one community isn't paying attention. Our educational management process is a political one and a feudal one. I happen to not live among the Lords. I've been told straight-up and in full sincerity by leaders at the top that they are "not responsible for the gentrification of my neighborhood" and that if I have a problem with my zone I "should move out." Truly visionary and unifying ...

The "enrollment problem" at Cross Keys seems to be getting legs somewhere outside the CKHS community. This is comical. A picture tells the story:

Cross Keys HS Enrollment

CKHS enrollment was actually trending upward until 1998 redistricting when it peaked at 1359. We have met the enemy and he is us ...

I guess the perception of "meddling" by outsiders may be a good reason to keep the ENTIRE community in the dark but I'm still trying to figure that one out.

I haven't been around for these fun and games for long enough to know anything about the past first-hand but I have it from the local tribe (we are Indians after all) that the "meddling" was centered around an insistence that asbestos in the building be handled legally. That may qualify as meddling only if they were wrong. I don't know.


Kim Gokce said...

@pscexb: Welcome back :)

PART II of II ...

When I started my journey into the heart of DCSS and Cross Keys HS' past and future, I did so with the energy of idealism. It's a good thing I'm stubborn as a mule because the idealism is long gone and I'm still here.

With my "meddling" of the past 6 months, I have learned that the politics of public education in DCSS have not changed from what I have heard described by others. Even though I'm from Georgia, I'm a "show me" kind of guy. So far, I haven't seen anything that convinces me that DCSS critics have been unfair in their observations on "the process."

Furthermore, the recent elections for BOE, BOC, and CEO seemed to have had no perceptible impact on "how the game is played" for our kids in the public system. The BOE has touted its commitment to do what is best for all DeKalb's kids. All parties have touted their new "collaborative" approach and it seems all parties have retreated to their various corners when challenged about the "vision" for Cross Keys HS.

Round 1 - SPLOST II goes "poof"
Round 2 - SPLOST III let's see what $10m can buy for this very needy building. Asbestos? Grounds and facilities? Huh?
Round 3 - Where will the deserving kids of CKHS end up? An Uber-Chamblee? A rationalized zone with a new building and facilities? Right where they are with a new roof, new computers, and a new media center and a pat on the back while the focus of investment moves elsewhere? I hope when the community finally sees a detailed plan, I regret being so skeptical.

For anyone who may be hoping that I move out of my gentrifying neighborhood, sorry!

Cerebration said...

PSC - Can you point us to a link showing those new budgets? I have never seen these items specifically addressed in a budget. In addition, can you tell us why Cross Keys never got money for an auditorium? (Part of their original budget, I believe, is for the Career Tech component. Is that also the same money named for merging the HSTN? It's all so very vague.

And no - there is no 'global perspective' - I do not see anyone from anywhere else advocating for Cross Keys - except me. (Kim is, of course, a member of the community.) Not even their own board rep - who remains basically silent on their part. Of course, he was only elected in November - I hope he decides to start representing the CK community in earnest pretty soon.

Cerebration said...

A theory: I am imagining that the Sembler Company thinks this is a pretty darn nice piece of property - just down the street from the Town Center they are asking for a tax break on. Especially since, as stated in the original post, "Cortland Partners has great ambitions for the land (adjacent to the school) and are currently in the County Planning Process proposing to create a new, Town Center type of development called Symphony Park."

Dr. Walker (beneficiary of $19,000 from Sembler) proposed that we 'revisit' the money allocated for Cross Keys - as in "should we go in another direction?" according to the Friday, May 1, 2009 Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting Minutes.

You don't suppose.....

Molly said...

Well, Tucker did place as the 5th HS in DeKalb to make it onto the Newsweek Challenge list. (Meaning they are offering plenty of AP classes.)

But look a little closer. According to the Tucker charter application, only 13% of students actually take an AP course. Of that 13%, less than 30% score a 3 or better on the AP exams. Do the math and you find that less than 4% of the student body actually manages to pass an AP exam. I don't think that is a statistic to be proud of.

pscexb said...

PSC - Can you point us to a link showing those new budgets? I have never seen these items specifically addressed in a budget.

I don't have a link but can refer you back to the 4/17 BoE called meeting and my notes from that meeting in a similarly titled blog in April. There is also a blog I submitted on 4/2 that details what was mentioned.

And no - there is no 'global perspective' - I do not see anyone from anywhere else advocating for Cross Keys - except me.

Cere, you provide a GREAT service to the entire community with this blog and your advocacy. Along with Kim, many eyes have been opened and I believe more in the community with ask questions about Cross Keys. In fairness, there are others in the community that have been advocates for Cross Keys and perhaps may not want the attention. I know a woman in Dunwoody who has been a long time advocate for Cross Keys at many meetings.

pscexb said...

@Kim, I never went anywhere :). This blog is like Heavenly Hash ice cream to me, it is addicting. Every now and then I need to step away for a few days and get some work done but I always read.

As mentioned earlier, I will try to get by Cross Keys before the end of the month. If you see a gentleman with dark shades and a afro walking around the school, that probably is not me :)

Kim Gokce said...

@John Heneghan: "Kim, Kudos for raising the awareness on this issue and it is you and others on this site who should think about running for the school board. I have modified the video and it should now be more to your liking."

I'm not sure I've helped yet and fear that my effort to bring the BOC and BOE together and to speak in the community to raise awareness has simply caused DCSS to hold the planning even closer to the vest.

Thanks for the video edit - I really didn't want "Cross Keys is decrepit and disgusting" over my head. I think it is a wonderful school in an awful building.

BOE for me? Like you, I'm years away from having the liberty to contemplate something like that - I think it is an honor to even hear it mentioned and thank you.

I respect those who look to serve our community and public system in these thankless positions! It is more than a full-time job as Don McChesney will now confirm - the needs are endless and it's still a 24 hour day.

Kim Gokce said...

@pscexb: "I will try to get by Cross Keys before the end of the month."

I would insist on meeting you but I may be a marked man now. Perhaps I should get an afro and dark shades for my next walk. :)

All joking aside, I can be absolutely discrete as a host if you want the cooks tour on the down low. I'm kim at community radar dot com and CKHS is at the top of my schedule's "trump list" for the foreseeable future.

I'm all about being open about my mission - CKHS will be a Georgia School of Excellence within the decade. And if we need to have a state championship in athletics to get a new school, cut me and see that "I Bleed Green and Gold."

Kim Gokce said...

@pscexb: "In fairness, there are others in the community that have been advocates for Cross Keys and perhaps may not want the attention."

Ditto. I'm Johnny-Come-Lately.

This is actually a very important point ... can "outsiders" really provide what a HS needs in terms of community support? The members of this blog have been peppering me with requests on what novel titles our english teachers need - that is an incredible testimony to the blog's readers.

While what we are doing here is raising the profile of CKHS and I am over-the-moon happy about that, it doesn't change the fact the we have a HS zone that is constitutionally designed to have a weak base.

If there is an issue that needs to be hammered home by the broader DeKalb community about CKHS, it is it's absurd, tortured, and unsustainable attendance lines.

Thank you pscexb for bringing up the mysterious lady from the North - I have been loath to mention any such persons for exactly the point you make. Friends, even unnamed, are important for CKHS's future.

Kim Gokce said...

@pscexb: a bit off topic - CKHS sports

This may be redundant for other readers but I believe you are a sports fan: did you see this AJC feature last year?

Looking Back: Hard-luck Cross Keys girls press on

What a great story about the guts of these girls and their mentor in a coach.

Dekalbparent said...


Again I cry out "What's the overall picture, DCSS? How can we get ANYWHERE if we don't have a complete map??"

Would anybody use a mapping program that only showed a two-block section of the journey at a time??


Kim Gokce said...

@Dekalbparent: "Would anybody use a mapping program that only showed a two-block section of the journey at a time??"

You capture in 18 words what I could in 200 :). Well done.

Anonymous said...

"We have the largest infrastructure of school buildings in the state, with over 140 buildings."

We don't have 140 schools, so how many non-school buildings and proeprties does DCSS own?

Why hasn't DCSS sold the Clarkston Community Center which it owns to the City of Clarkston?

Gwinnett actually has more school buildings than DeKalb, and finds a way to keep them very well maintained, even the grounds.

pscexb said...

Cere, this link may help with your earlier question regarding additional monies that were allocated via SPLOST 3:


This is the mid program assessment report. It is 84 pages so it could take a few minutes to come up. Page 44 discusses your question. Anyone looking for a comprehensive review of SPLOST 3 to this point should download and print this document. It also includes the summary demographers report at the end.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Cross Keys clearly needs to be torn down and re-built. But the even bigger issue is the attendance lines. They are borderline criminal. I'm wondering if it's worth is to request the Feds take a look. The attendance lines are purposedly drawn to only bring in mainly Latino students from the Buford Highway corridor.

The students at Cross Keys desrve huge praise for their achievements in a deplorable facility. A new facility with attendance lines that bring in Brookhaven would make it an even more vibrant and diverse school.

P.S. I fully agree with the hypothesis that Gene Walker is eyeing the Cross Keys property for Sembler. It is incredibly valuable real estate. The school would be packed with a new facility and better attendance lines. So it's in Gene Walker's/Sembler's interest to keep the status quo and convince the school system to sell it.

Andrea Clay said...

It is ironic that if the map of DCSS attendance areas was Congressional districts, the CKHS attendance area would clearly be gerrymandered. Whether intentional or not, the DCSS has adopted the policy that they can neglect CKHS because the community is not going to demand change. Our family did move out of the CKHS district over the weekend but we will continue to press for change for the dedicated students and staff who deserve a roof without leaks, attractive grounds, etc.

Also, I do think that there are some incoming 6th grade families at Sequoyah who are ready to become advocates for change. I have to preside over one more PTO meeting at Sequoyah this fall and will make sure the new PTO board invites Kim to speak at one of the 2009-10 meetings.

pscexb said...

Anon @ 11:36 asked several interesting questions...

We don't have 140 schools, so how many non-school buildings and proeprties does DCSS own?

Not sure of the exact number however this does include the Sam Moss Center, the central office, stadiums, etc. I recall that a comprehensive inventory was completed earlier this year. Over the years, no one keep track of all the properties that DCSS owned. One could make a request to see the information and review it.

Why hasn't DCSS sold the Clarkston Community Center which it owns to the City of Clarkston?

In fairness, that is being considered. See the blog from 4/2 and you will see several properties that will be vacant. The BoE will make decisions on what to do with these properties. A few others include Hooper Alexander ES, Heritage ES, Open Campus, and the Central Office.

Gwinnett actually has more school buildings than DeKalb, and finds a way to keep them very well maintained, even the grounds.

I don't know much about their physical plant inventory but what I understand is that it is not as old as DeKalb's. They also had a philosophy of 'large and few' with respect to HSs, hence why most of their schools are in AAAAA. They have two gyms and a football field as a part of their overall plant. They use their schools for various rec and AAU tournaments thus generating additional revenue for the school. Interesting model they have.

Anonymous said...

Good to see my bud pscexb posting again, even if he does tend to often defend & apologize for the DCSS Central Office??!!

pscexb knows the school system inside and out. When you read something he writes, it's the real deal.

Open+Transparent said...

"I don't know much about their physical plant inventory but what I understand is that it is not as old as DeKalb's."

Gwinnett has a ton of schools, especailly elementary schools, and they efficiently maintain the outside grounds of each school in a basic, sparse but pleasing manner.

Even with all the old schools in the DCSS inventory, there is no excuse for how freaking poorly the Sam Moss Center handles grounds maintenance. Grounds maintenance is one of the easiest aspects of facilities maintenance, when there is oversight and competence. I'll start e-mailing Cere some photo's to post comparing Gwinnett and DCSS school grounds maintenance.

mykidsmom said...

The agenda for the 7/20 Board Meeting is now available. Here's a snipet from the Budget, Finance and Committee meeting:

Ms. Pope stated there are ten properties on inventory that need to be evaluated for repurposing. She said permission is needed from the Board of Education to have appraisals done for the ten properties. The ten properties include Tilson Elementary School to be used as a pre-K school, Forrest Hills Elementary School to be used as a single gender school, Hooper Alexander Elementary School to be decommissioned, Open Campus and DeKalb School of the Arts are under evaluation, Heritage will be added later to the decommissioned list, Clarkston Center, Freeman Buildings A & B, Annex Building next to Robert Shaw Theme School and Rock Gym. The old Chamblee Middle School is not on list and will be used possibly as overflow for Peachtree Middle School. Ms. Pope said a legal study has been made; however, the final report has not been made available. She said the School Board needs to have a written policy on surplus property. Mr. Cunningham wants the Board Operations, Development & Policy Committee to consider expediting a written policy on surplus property. He also would like Attorney Alexander to accelerate her study and get it back to Board. Ms. Pope stated there are three options to surplus property: 1. offer property to another government entity, 2. seek an appraisal for all properties, sell property by advertising on web site to the highest bidder to include having an option to reject all bids or 3. hire a realtor. She said there is nothing written in our policy to determine who makes decisions on selling a property. This issue needs to be addressed by the policy committee as soon as possible.

mykidsmom said...

Heritage is being added to the decommissioned list. What does that mean for the Marine Academy?

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone who believes that Cross Keys needs a new facility.
The student are very inquisite and talented but is traeted as the red headed step child.
Also Cross Keys always receive the scraps from the other wealthier schools in Dekalb which by the way get newer materials whe not needed!!!!!
I strongly believe that Cross Keys should get the attention they need with the horrible condition they have been attending school!!!!!!1!!

pscexb said...

mykidsmon asks,

Heritage is being added to the decommissioned list. What does that mean for the Marine Academy?

This simply means that Heritage will NOT be the site, if the BoE moves forward with the Marine Academy. When introduced as a possible choice program, it was noted that they would occupy this site for one year.

I would add a fourth option, convert the site to green space, if it makes sense. This allows the district to hold onto the property and not have to maintain the building. There would have to be some type of MOU with the county government regarding maintenance of the site.

pscexb said...

The principal merry go round list is out in one community newspaper. On Common Group has a fairly comprehensive list that can be found at:


Some of the principals are listed with brief bio's on the DCSS website at:


This may be worthy of a separate blog topic.

Cerebration said...

Ok - I'm back! Gee - I go away for an all day meeting and you guys have talked it all out! Good stuff!

I'm sorry if I inferred that only Kim and I are advocating for Cross Keys. I was going on your "global perspective" comment, PSC - thinking about people from other schools - like my home school, Lakeside - who may speak out for what's right. But the scarcity mentality prevents them from doing so. (Along with the feeling that they may be "labeled" as rebels.) I wasn't thinking about community people - from the CK area. I know that there are some (although certainly not enough). But I don't mean to sound like I think it's just me and Kim against the 'world'... I just think we need a bigger army - and I WISH that others who have been so "blessed" with enormous funding for their schools would see the plight of Cross Keys and it would stir a bit of compassion in their hearts and they too would rally!

Great links, psc. I will download and follow-up. I'm glad to see from the minutes you posted that Pat Pope is demanding an inventory and a policy regarding that inventory - something the system has needed to do for a loooooong time.

And O&T - thanks! You know how I love pictures!

Anonymous said...

So the person in charge of school system grounds allowed the grounds at Cross Keys to get so bad there were homeless camps? What does it take to be demoted or fired from DCSS? You can even cahnge test scores and not be fired (Dorothea Alexander, Atherton Asst. Principal)

Cerebration said...

Oh - it's even more ironic than that - the school system spent millions upon millions to renovate the SAM MOSS CENTER! (Where the maintenance stuff and admin resides.) Millions! And still - Cross Keys sits in limbo.

Cerebration said...

Wow! PSC - you have access to all the best links. I've not seen the mid-assessment report -- JACKPOT for SW DEKalb! Another $20,201,635!
Another $11,698,328 for Lakeside too!

And $10,500,000 more for Coralwood!

And $2,000,000 more for Hawthorne.

And another $3,500,000 for Cross Keys... which is what apparently brings their total to $20,000,000 now, for renovations, and the merging of DHTN career tech, correct? And still - no auditorium. hmmm.

I guess we should just be grateful. But the inequity is so glaring to me...

So - What's the grand total now for SW DeKalb (SPLOST 1, 2 & 3)? Looks like they are just moving the Lithonia addition money - and then some - over to SW DK. I recall that much of it's for an auditorium - but the 'standard' auditorium/career tech addition is an $11 million package. Does this include the career tech for SW DK too? Or more classrooms? (They need them.) Or all of the above? Can SW DK take AYP Transfers or will they all still be coming to Lakeside after Lakeside's construction? Would it be true that SW DeKalb wouldn't need to add the classrooms if Arabia would simply serve as a high school with an attendance line that was created (as originally "sold") to relieve the over-crowding down there? (Don't make me pull out proof of that.) I mean, these South DK high schools are all only about 5 or 6 miles apart, right?

Ella Smith said...

Very interesting posts.

I think the properties on Druid Hills is some of the most expensive properties that Dekalb County School System owns. (Old Briarcliff HS and Cross Keys High School and surrounding property) But, I see selling either one of these properties as not in the best interest of the Dekalb County citizens.

The projected increase in enrollment in the school system is in the areas of this owned property. There is no way in Hell in the future that the school system can buy back the property for what they would be selling it for. I am opposed to selling either property. Instead we need a need high school and middle school for this area. Both are close together and it would make perfect sense. The technology high school could also be served there and we could have a state of the art facility for our children.

We deserve a nice facility like Arabian High School in this area as the population is growing in this area. Parents also want their children to come to school in this area of the county so this would open up many seats for the new law that the state past.

We also need to close many old facilities in the county or get rid of facilities that are not in locations where the experts projections indicate growth. Again we must look at the projections of experts and make decisions. The school board members need to take their guidance from experts and not try to pulls some political favors and sell off property that the school system will need in the future.

The lines of a new high school and middle school need to be re-draw to make up for the mistakes made by the school board and school board officials in the past. The lines are discriminatory in nature and pull in students mostly from the Litino community. I feel this was done politically due to the value of the property.

The Gwinnett County Schools and Fulton County Schools are fixing things constantly at their schools. They are constantly updating their buildings. I do not believe Dekalb County Schools has done this as they appeared to be spending too much money on transportation costs. It is my understanding from past school board members that Dekalb County also did not take advantage of federal money for new renovations of new gyms and auditoriums like other school system did. That is why you see such a difference in facilities. This is really sad.

Cerebration said...

"I feel this was done politically due to the value of the property."

Nail on the head, Ella!

pscexb said...

I want to answer some of your questions about SW DeKalb but allow me to digress for a second. I drove to the Sports Authority behind Northlake Mall and notice construction of over 300 luxury apartments. If there are children in this apartments, would they attend Lakeside? I would assume they would attend Henderson Mill and Henderson MS.

Regarding SW DeKalb, the monies were allocated for 31 classrooms and a Fine Arts auditorium. You can read about how the Fine Arts auditorium was added in the Citizens Advisory Commmittee meeting minutes at:


Yes, SW DeKalb and MLKing, Jr are about 5 miles apart but when you consider the population density in that area, you can see why MLKin, Jr was built. Arabia Mountain is about 5-7 miles from both schools.

Could they have tweaked the attendance lines to provide relief to several schools with Arabia Mountain? Probably so but the decision was made by the BoE to make it a 'choice' school while providing some of the promised relief to Lithonia and MLKing, Jr. It will be interesting to note the attendance of Arabia Mountain over the next few years.

pscexb said...

It is interesting to look at the lines for schools in that part of the county. It amazes me that in the 70's and 80's, there were 5 HS's west of I-85 (Dunwoody, P'tree, Chamblee, Sequoyah, and Cross Keys). In fairness, we did not have MSs then but that probably is due to the 'small, neighborhood school' philosophy at the time.

Looking at the lines now, one can see how I-85 and I-285 were used to provide boundaries for attendance zones. You can see the separation of Lakeside and Druid Hills with the western HSs with I-85. Dunwoody is separated from Chamblee by I-285. It is strange to see the sliver outside I-285 near Buford Highway that is zoned for Cross Keys. One can 'assume' this was done because that area has an international population. That area looks to be closer to Chamblee. It is also interesting that an area 'around the corner' from Cross Keys is zoned for Chamblee. It would be interesting to see the population numbers for those areas.

Cerebration said...

psc!! You're seeing the light!

Cerebration said...

Interesting notes from the meeting -

What was the process to prioritize the recommended projects? Pat explained that there were two (2) factors: Needs Assessment and Maintenance records.

hmmmm - I guess that's why Cross Keys has been #2 on the list of priorities for three years.

Board member Jay Cunningham requested the CAC consider providing an additional $10 million for the SW DeKalb H.S. project. In the SPLOST II campaign, every high school would receive an auditorium. As of now and with the current CIP, all high schools except for SW DeKalb would have the auditorium. SW DeKalb has requested a Performing Arts Auditorium.

Obviously, Jay is wrong. Cross Keys does not have an auditorium. Of course, I see that CK's board rep was not in attendance to speak up.

Ella Smith said...

Don was so defensive for Cross Keys during the election. He actually toured the school and knows the conditions. I do have to believe he wants what is best for the students. Now Dr. Walker, is another story. Money talks and when you get 18-20 thousand from Sembler and Sembler wants some property I can see how his judgement could be mislead by the dollar figures.

Why would the school system sale any property around this area with the lack of seats at the local high schools. Yes, Cross Keys numbers are down compared to a regular school but Cross Keys is not a regular school. ESOL students are mandated to have small class sizes so in reality there may not be the problem that it appears. On the other hand the state may not take this into consideration when giving out state construction funds and this is a big issue right now.

I see the possibility of Cross Keys being closed which may not be a bad thing if a better facility is provided. If a new high school was built, like Arabian in this area it would be filled up with HB 251 students real fast if the lines were changed.

What a political hot potato? It is true that part of the area has changed but the school board has also changed the boundlines over time. You can go talk to the congragation at the Baptist Church right past Cross Keys and you will find their interest in Cross Keys. Most of them are retired citizens whose children went to Cross Keys and got an excellent education. They want to help change the situation but they do not know how. The minister told me that the music director graduated from Cross Keys and he has talked to the principal about the church giving support but has gotten no where. Kim, I visited the church when running for office and I can tell you they do care about their community school. That was all they wanted to talk to me about.

pscexb said...

Interesting to hear that Cross Keys does not have an auditorium. FWIW, Cedar Grove also does not have one and that community let Jay have it when they read that statement also.

mykidsmom said...

Is the new mixed housing development still scheduled for the Executive Park area? What school district is that?

mykidsmom said...

There are several schools that do not have auditoriums that I know of - we are all still waiting. Dunwoody, Chamblee are the ones I know of. I don't believe Lakeside has one either.

Cerebration said...

Right, psc. I remember that about Cedar Grove too. But I believe that since they complained, they are going to get one.(?)

You know, the size of CK's enrollment seems to be a "sticking" point with the BOE (even though they have actually created the wacky attendance line - which if we bring it to the attention of the state, might even be illegal) but if you'll notice, the Open Campus has even fewer students - and no one ever has a problem or statement about that. Due to their mission, they are respected for what they do. Can't we view CK the same way? The teachers there are VERY effective in their mission. They are doing an amazing job with students who come from very little means with parents who barely speak the language or understand the culture.

Kim Gokce said...

@mykidsmom: "executive park"

To my knowledge, this project is still going forward. It was approved by the County just a few weeks back. See Jeff Rader's update at:

Executive Park Development

This site is in Druid Hills attendance area.

Cerebration said...

psc - I'm not trying to pick on any of the schools around SW DeKalb - I'm just pointing out the inequity in spending. For some reason, the schools in this area have received and continue to receive the attention they need - and then some. SW DeKalb is very over-crowded - but I have to wonder why. It's a magnet program, so can't the enrollment numbers be limited?

Other schools just ask for schools that don't depress the spirit.

BTW - McNair is under-enrolled by over 600 students. At just over 1,000 students projected for this school year, they are getting a total reno package, and have an auditorium. I don't hear buzz about 'new directions' or possibly selling the land. Same with Towers - far less than 1000 projected for August - but total reno and new auditorium! Same with Clarkston - beautiful reno going on - with enrollment under 1000. Same with Open Campus - $10 million to move these 700+ students out to the Stone MT facility - which I'm told has a fabulous auditorium. Same with Avondale - even with the merge of DSA, the enrollment will remain well under 1000. No mention of 'revisiting' that plan. Nope - millions in renovations got pushed through over the summer. (LOTS of DSA squeaky wheels.)

That's all we're doing here - squeaking for Cross Keys - as we can see that it works!

pscexb said...

Cere, I know you are not picking on the schools around SW DeKalb, you are asking legitimate questions. The population explosion in south DeKalb caught the school system off guard though it has leveled off. Believe it or not, there were discussions about another HS near the I-675 corridor that is in DeKalb before growth slowed down.

We are to a point now that we must take care of our existing structures. Someone mentioned that 'some' of the construction done in the late 60's was not of good quality. If that is the case, that adds to the job that must be done.

A reminder for all from the SPLOST 3 campaign, 2 billion dollars of needs were identifies however SPLOST would only generate about 25-20% of that. That means some needs would be delayed and hard decisions would have to be made about priorities.

Cerebration said...

I don't think those "hard" decisions are being made... Some people are going to have to give up a bit of their palatial plans so that others can have asbestos-free buildings with decent restrooms and supplies.

Kim Gokce said...

@cerebration/pscexb: "squeaking"

Of all the lessons I am taking away from my journey into DCSS-land, this is the most unfortunate one. Our resource allocation process is only one step evolved from the lunchroom trading that we engaged in as kids. Squeak on, my friends, squeak on ...

On a more high-minded note, for those that have asked how they could help the CKHS English teachers with novel titles I have setup an Amazon wishlist and event ...

@Cerebration: "ps - a teacher at Cross Keys mentioned that they really need classroom editions of the novels they read."

For your generous readers that have inquired about how to help in this regard, I have setup an Amazon wishlist here:

CKHS English Dept Wishlist

I've also setup a time on 8/6 for supporters to drop off books and share camaraderie at a local Brookhaven coffee spot - The Library Coffee Co.

If you want to drop off your donated books in person and enjoy a refreshment, let me know by registering via eVite below and I'll make sure we have space for you!

If you don't want to attend in person, drop me an email (kim at community radar dot com) and I'll make arrangements with you for your donation.

Register at eVite/View invitation

Hope to see you there!

One Fed Up Insider said...


How many copies of each book are the teachers needing... Please advise.

Kim Gokce said...

the up to the minute quantities r on the amazon wishlist ... Let know if u have trouble seeing it there!

Anonymous said...

As someone wh has years of experience dealing with DCSS, the current administration will simply never make schools near the Buford Highway corridor a priority. They will always have the worst facilities in the system unless the whole upper management of the school system is removed and replaced by managers from outside the system. It's the hard truth.

Cerebration said...

Good news! Tucker isn't going to cost as much as expected!!

From Pat Popes agenda items for Monday -

Financial Impact
The Final Guaranteed Maximum Price of $52,928,252

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "The Final Guaranteed Maximum Price of $52,928,252"

I may be preaching to the choir but ...

I know this is good news in the scheme of things but I have to hasten to add that it also highlights why I'm so frustrated about the situation at CKHS (for that matter, LHS).

The SPLOST III project and the Tech North move total nearly 1/2 of the total construction cost of Tucker??? How can this be a smart use of taxpayer money.

Sometime soon the BOE is going to be talking about building a new HS in Region 1 and the right place is Cross Keys. Why not make the right investment now?

The only reason I can imagine is fear of being accused of "passing over" Cross Keys again. Or worse, being call "racists" for deferring the long-awaited renovation.

But this would not happen if there were an articulate vision and $$$ set aside for a new building. It escapes me how we can't manage to make this type of informed, economical and visionary decision for Region 1 and for DeKalb.

Kim Gokce said...

@pscexb: "Yes, SW DeKalb and MLKing, Jr are about 5 miles apart ... Arabia Mountain is about 5-7 miles from both schools."

As perspective for readers:

Cross Keys HS to Sequoyah MS = 7.3 miles

Chamblee HS to Sequoyah MS = 3.3 miles

Lakeside HS to Sequoyah MS = 4.1 miles

Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville along Buford Hwy is not exactly pasture land. The separation Sequoyah and Cross Keys makes no sense.

pscexb said...

@Kim, in fairness the only school that has gotten a replacement thus far (at least in recent history) is Peachtree, a District 1 school. Chamblee MS is also new (on the old Sexton Woods site) however I will say they were long overdue for one. Why wasn't Sequoyah the MS for Chamblee and Briarcliff the MS for for Cross Keys? Logistically it 'seems' to make sense though one could argue that you have to cross I-85 for a Cross Keys/Briarcliff attendance zone.

These decisions began during the Freeman superintendency in the mid to late 80's. That is when DeKalb decided to go to the 'Junior High School' model. A year or two later, they decided to make it the MS model. At that time, I don't believe Hispanics populated the Buford Hwy corridor as they do now. Anyone with any history on the area know?

I mentioned earlier that I lived on Buford Hwy near Northeast Plaza back in the early 80's. At that time, it was a series of all adult complexes. Pretty nice area also.

Just thinking out loud as I don't know the history of Cross Keys, what it it were called Brookhaven HS? I wonder it naming it after a 'location' would have made a difference with this school?

Kim Gokce said...

@pscexb: "Region 1"

Yes, there are nice schools for both MSes in Region 1 and that is fair. My beef is with why we didn't "do a Tucker" at Cross Keys. My understanding is that this was on the table as recently as 2006.

A new school makes much more sense economically and would solve the crowding issues at Chamblee and Lakeside within a couple of years. The only reason I imagine offered to scuttle this plan would be enrollment. Again, a problem created by the BOE and DCSS. I cry, "foul." Let's grow some and restore Region 1's zones.

"I lived on Buford Hwy near Northeast Plaza
back in the early 80's"

Oh, I remember that fact and the 5/1 ladies' nights ...

"At that time, I don't believe Hispanics populated the Buford Hwy corridor as they do now. Anyone with any history on the area know?"

that's a good question - the history of schools demo in this Chamblee/CKHS area is very, very bizarre.

I haven't seen census data but based strictly on CKHS demo, in 1994 there were only 174 latinos in the school. Now, there are more than 600. African-American enrollment peaked around 1995 with 640 students. 1995-1996 is the year of the Georgia School of Excellence designation.

For the periods prior to these years, I don't think racial demo was reported. I do know that at the time of court-ordered de-segregation in 1968, Cross Keys HS was about 2200 mostly Caucasian.

According to the students who were merged into the school from the "negro" HS at Lynwood Park ("separate but equal?"), there were only about 120 transferring into CKHS that first year.

The hearsay around Brookhaven is that Buford Hwy apartments rapidly turned from a middle class singles area in the 70's & 80's to primarily a working class African-American population into the 90's and rapidly into an immigrant (mostly Latino) area between the mid-90's to the present.

There must have been a seismic event in the Chamblee attendance area sometime around 1998. They peaked at 1444 that year. I see a drop of 336 in enrollment between '98 and '99. Anyone know what happened to over 300 kids that year at Chamblee?

I know Ashford Park ES (APE) was moved that year from CKHS to Chamblee but that doesn't explain this at all. One can see the APE enrollment effect starting a few years after this in both Chamblee (going up) and CKHS (going down).

What year did Chamblee Charter?

"I wonder it naming it after a 'location' would have made a difference with this school?"

I do not think so - the fundamental issue with Cross Keys has is attendance zone and poverty. However, one day I would love to see the school with a lofty, formal title like "Cross Keys School of Arts & Technology at Brookhaven" to put to rest once and for all whether the school is located in Brookhaven.

Anonymous said...

Kim Gokce's timeline regarding the ethnic changes along the Buford Hwy corridor is spot on; I was there at the time and lived through it all. By the time we reached the Hispanic phase, we had:

1. People urinating in hallways.

2. Trash and graffiti everywhere.

3. Ten people living in a two-
bedroom apartment.

4. Frequent, major fires (often
caused by careless cooking).

5. An increase in crime.

The area was actually quite nice at one time. Northeast Plaza opened (I think) in 1958, and there was a J.C.Penney there! My, how things have changed. Go inside what used to be the Northeast Plaza Publix, and then compare that with the Toco Hills Publix, and it's like you're on another planet.

SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CROSS KEYS? Plenty. Keep in mind that most of the apartment complexes along Buford Highway are now around 40 years old, which means they are near the end of their useful lives. When they are eventually replaced (with something more upscale), there will likely be a major demographic shift AWAY FROM large families with children. (Someone who has just arrived from Mexico probably can't afford $2000/month for an apartment.)

So the DeKalb County School Board is wise to exercise caution: Why spend tens of millions of dollars on a new facility that in 10-15 years may have to be mothballed?

Kim Gokce said...

Anonymous: "Why spend tens of millions of dollars on a new facility that in 10-15 years may have to be mothballed?"

I agree the BOE should be cautious but I respectfully disagree with your conclusion about where wisdom lies.

The first problem with your conclusion is it contradicts the projections of DCSS' own demography projections. One can argue with the methodology used by the demographer but until we have a new analysis and projection by a professional, I think the BOE would be wise not to ignore the data we have showing growing enrollment in this area, not declining.

The second problem is that you assume all things equal. The BOE cannot make generational decisions based on the "imagined" re-development of Buford Hwy in a vacuum. Even if we assume declining enrollment from Buford Hwy corridor (not sure we can - see 4th concern below), the big picture for North DeKalb enrollment still demands a 3rd HS inside I-285 besides Chamblee and Lakeside which ARE ALREADY over crowded - were do you imagine this 3rd HS will be?

Thirdly. let's say it's a given that redevelopment will take place on Buford with the implications you describe (an assumption). I would argue that it could take a generation or more, not the 10-15 years you suggest. Even for 10-15 years, do we really leave CKHS in squalor so thousands more of our children can go through there without the facilities we deem necessary for the rest of our children? Upon what basis can we let this continue?

Fourth and lastly, even if the redevelopment of Buford Hwy were to occur rapidly in 10-15, short years, can we really assume fewer children? The current land use along this corridor is about as inefficient as it gets. Be patient with me and work through an not-so-crazy example ...

Let's say we have a Buford lot today with 100 units on it with an average of 3 kids in each unit - 300 kids. Let's say that same lot is redeveloped with 800 units with only .5 kids per unit - 400 kids. Where's the declining enrollment?

I think we have to be careful about the assumptions about total enrollment based on housing type.

No, the renovation will go through as it clearly should (if we aren't doing the smartest thing by re-building CKHS now). The real issue is whether the BOE is going to double-spend in this Region in a few short years when some future Board realizes we needed a re-constituted Cross Keys all along.

andi said...

I live the DECA (Dresden East Civic Association) area which is in the Cross Keys district. We have 1220 single-family homes in our area. Retirees own many of the homes and some are rentals. As these homes turnover we are seeing younger people moving in. They want to have an affordable house inside 285.

Several of us have young children or will have in the future. I have already seen families move out due to schools. Some of us are starting to get involved with the schools and trying to get support for them within our community. We welcome any advice you may have.

Cerebration said...

Anonymous, the school board over many years, has created an unnatural attendance line for Cross Keys. Take a look again at the attendance zone map posted by Kim at the link below (click the map for the large version). It's silly. Obviously, the CKHS/Sequoyah MS attendance zone is a squirrely, hack job deftly carving just the mostly poor and HIspanic populations into their own zone. (A process deemed illegal to do to blacks by the Supreme Court 30 years ago. Additionally, it was illegal to build additions to schools, if there was space available at a mostly black school nearby.)

See too, that the surrounding areas, Lakeside and Chamblee are OVER-populated and draw from large attendance zones, picking and choosing their way through certain neighborhoods. Over time, the result of this "gerrymandering" is the amoebic shaped zone called "Cross Keys".

IF due to future development, the student population drops (and I would agree with Kim that it wouldn't, due to more units, and according to andi, new families moving in to older homes) it would only be due to the fact that these are more discriminating parents and once they investigated the schools, they would choose to send their children elsewhere. If they saw nice, orderly, modern, clean, safe, properly-supplied facilities, who knows - we may see a rush to enroll in their public schools! Many children DO live in the area.

Too create a man-made attendance problem, then say that you don't want to spend money on facilities due to a possible drop in attendance (due to future commercial investment in the area) is manipulative - and to me, transparent. The goal in that statement is money - from all kinds of places - to all kinds of people. The land is valuable - but aren't all children?!

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Cerebration said...

andi- as far as advice - If you have the energy or inclination, become an officer of the PTA at one of your schools. Anyone can be a member and I'm pretty certain, an officer of the PTA. You don't have to have a child in the school - you just need to be a concerned member of the community. PTA's make great contributions to schools and serve as a much needed voice of representation to the school board and administration.

Beyond that - get a group together to volunteer in your schools. Start a reading program or a tutoring program or sponsor a field day or a fair at the school.

Active participation is really the key. Voicing the needs of your community before your children even attend the local schools is key (just ask Kim!). Ask any parent who has helped turn around a school - it's a lot of work - you have to go door to door and convince your neighbors to give it a try. But what a difference you could make!

Cerebration said...

Also, become a member and eventually an officer of the Chamblee-Dunwoody-Cross Keys Parent Council. This is a very active group charged with communicating for the schools in their area. Cross Keys and its feeder schools are under-represented in this group.

According to the DCSS website, Page Olson is the president - however that may have changed. Call or email her and ask how you and your neighbors can participate. They are an amazing group of parents -

Page Olsen, President

Cerebration said...

psc - good question - even better - why was Sequoyah not the MS for Chamblee and Chamblee MS the MS for Cross Keys?

Further - I think one big boo boo the board made was closing down the old Chamblee MS (formerly Shallowford ES) and instead, building a brand new ES for Dunwoody - which they have now decided to make a 4th-5th grade academy. And still, the old Chamblee MS sit empty - and so does its SPLOST 1 gym. That could have certainly been renovated and served as another ES for the Dunwoody region - it's in far - far better shape that CKHS. The old Briarcliff building has been serving as a hodge-podge for years - as the Jim Cherry Center, The Open Campus, DeKalb School of the Arts - all together. That place is kind of a mess with no plan.

In addition, I believe that the Dunwoody region made the decision to pool their SPLOST 2 money for all projects - and instead build the new MS. That was their choice - and they are a very vocal group who works intimately with the school system to get their needs met. Cross Keys doesn't have leadership like this - thus they suffer. Sadly, in DCSS, that's the way it seems to work.

Cerebration said...

Notice - most importantly - while we all debate the needs of Dunwoody, Lakeside, Cross Keys, etc - Tucker has done its well-known end game runaround - and come up with a brand new Middle School AND a brand new High School -- amazing!

mykidsmom said...

The Chamblee High School attendance area matured in the late 80's, early 90's and at this time parents in that community began sending their children to Marist. DCSS had some very serious discussions about closing Chamblee High School. In order to keep Chamblee opne, Martha Reichrath, principal of Chamblee at that time, persuaded DCSS to turn Chamblee HS into a magnet school for high achievers. While that area is turning around to house young families, many of the parents in the Chamblee attendance area still continue to send their hildren to private schools.

We've been told several times that the old Chamblee Middle School site will be used for overflow at Peachtree MS. I'm not sure if that means an entirely new MS or just another campus for Peachtree since the two campuses are not that far from each other

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow here.
Here's todays conspiracy theory,with supporting time line.
1986 hits US school systems with the quadruple whammy of
1. All apartment complexes required
to admit families.
2. HUD section 8 vouchers, part two
3. 1.5 million illegal immigrants
given amnesty
4. Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

The county leadership and their bondit/ lawyer friends at the time could see far enough over
the horizon to realize that there'd
be a tsunami of low income populations with tons of children ready to hit Dekalb.
Doing what was right for anything other then themselves and their buddies is completely foreign to their nature so agreements were made to
1. Refinance many properties through Low Income Housing Tax Credits. This made money three ways
a. Fees for the bondits.
b. Tax write offs for owners.
c. campaign warschests for
politicians: the owners
can't get the tax write offs
without their blessing.

Okay,we've discussed the county end of it. I've always believed that there's been a link person between the school and the county- either in the role as legal counsel, or as an "advisor".
Said advisor would be likely
savvy to monies that might be coming that would b windfalls. Said advisors are also champion BS ers about how bad down the road the strings that are attached to such monies are.
Soooooo.... In trade for the upcoming
A. Low Income
B. Non english speaking
(mainly hispanic) students

We suggest the following: Come up with an excuse that the Cross Keys attendance area needs to be the third school attendance area in
Dekalb county with a High School/
Middle School combined feed (Stone
Mountain and McNair having proceeded it).
To make sure that the entire feeds will qualify for plenty of ESOL/ Title one money, do some advance ground work so that neighborhood schools ( mainly single family residential) are closed prior to the move. So, Cross Keys loses Skyland, and Seqouyah loses North Woods ( Now Yeshiva High School).
All of this was accomplished
betweem 1985 and 1990. I'm not sure of the exact year that Seqouyah was turned into a middle school. I believe it was 1987 or 1988. Here's some before and after percentages of Title one students at Seqouyah for two years:
1988, Free and reduced meals: 17%
1994, free and reduced meals: 72%
Factor in EVERY school feeding into Seqouyah and Cross Keys is now Title one. BONANZA!!!
Add in federal funds for ESOL: Ka CHING!!!!!

Twelbe years ago, a Dekalb insider informed me that there were boxes and boxes and boxes of computers that had been purchased, that were just "sitting there, rotting." I think that those computers were very likely purchased by title one funds, and
were destined for places like Cross Keys and Clarkston. Supposedly.
I also think that those computers likely found their way into schools where there were mo language barriers, particularly among the parents. What might have shown up at Cross Keys, Sdqouyah,
Woodward were the leftovers.
Dekalb LOVES it's Title One
monies. So much so that c9-workers of lesser means at my place of employment have told me about three different schools where they tried to set up lunch accounts, and were told "It's alreadry been taken care of". One was for Montgomery, one was for Woodward, and the other was for Avondale Middle School. Two out of the three in the Cross Keys feed. Gotta love them poverty numbers.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow, reviewing the video

Regarding my prior statement regarding Cross Keys getting the
"leftovers" computer wise instead of newer equipment that Title One money entitles them to: review the
"decrepit and disgusting" video, and pay close attention to the computer pile that appears around
the 17th second. Nothing looks
vaguely current.
Wonder what the ones that are actually in use look like?
Anybody got a camera?

Cerebration said...

sonof - you sure know how to pack our brains!

fedupindcss said...

andi--you do not have to be a parent to join the PTA at a school. Go to the school office and tell the secretary you want to join, they should have paperwork there. Look for meeting times on the marquee out front. I would not be surprised if a school like Dresden has staff members who serve as officers.

The neighborhood around Hawthorne Elementary did just what you propose. The attendance there declined as the school picked up a large number of students from the I-85 access road corridor, because obviously 6-year-old Hispanic children are terrifying. The school initially bolstered its numbers by taking on the
1st grade inclusion program from Coralwood, but it wouldn't be enough. So a group of parents with children not yet in elementary school held coffees at the school to introduce families to the staff, went and read books to classes, and had meetings at their homes to tell people it was a great place for their kids. It has worked, and Hawthorne held its own. Dresden is a prime candidate for the same program.

pscexb said...

SoA is on the blog! To borrow a line from Neal Boortz, SoA is from the Church of the Painful Truth! Excellent insight as always. BTW, Sequoyah became a MS in 1996.

I can understand why those in Chamblee and Dunwoody are concerned about the apartments recently built near 285 between P'tree Industrial and Chamblee-Dunwoody. Today they are luxury apartments. What will they be in 30-40 years?

SoA may be aware of this but I understand the same thing happened with the housing near Farington ES (I-20 near Panola Road). I understand those were also high end apartments and condos however now have many low rent housing. A few years ago when a developer asked the community about building new condos on River Road, many of the older residents brought up what happened to the Fairington area and were able to stop the approval of that project.

Yes, when I lived in Bordeaux Apartments, it was all adult. As SoA has pointed out before, why would you need many ESs around all adult complexes? I'm not sure when Skyland was closed but I understand it was around the time the law changed with respect to all adult housing.

There were several properties sold by DCSS in the 80's. Again, the population was going down rapidly due to 'white flight' so I'm guess the Board at that time did not have the foresight/advice regarding holding on to some of those properties. I'm 'guessing' the properties that were in District 1 are Lynwood Park (86), Northwoods ES (86 to Yeshiva HS), Dunwoody ES (86), and Jim Cherry (87). Victoria Simmons was sold in 84 however I don't know where it was. I 'think' DCSS may still own Skyland and is leasing it to the county. It does not show up on a list I have of sold properties.

pscexb said...

@Kim, I think you were referring to Shenanigans. My recollection are that for ladies one could get 6 adult beverages for the price of one. This is a family blog so I won't say what some enterprising dudes did back then... :)

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow

Pssstt: Over here!
Hawthorne isn't the only place that neighborhoods are sticking their toe into the water and then enrolling their child in the local schools.
There's been a fair amount of this happening at Idlewood Elementary, after years of people fleeing from the transciency, behavior problems, language barriers, and (truth be told, and who can blame them) being the only
white kid to be seen for miles when you pick your kid up at school.
Reports back have been very
good. Hoping that the new families moving into the attendance area stay put and expand upon what's happened to date.

pscexb said...

mykidsmom said,

The Chamblee High School attendance area matured in the late 80's, early 90's

I took a look at the enrollment figures for Chamblee and Cross Keys during that period. Amazingly both schools had close to 1900 students in 1970. That is with Sequoyah still opened as a HS. In 1990, Chamblee was down to 607 and Cross Keys had 933. That seems to be the low point for both schools in the 90's.

DCSS had some very serious discussions about closing Chamblee High School. In order to keep Chamblee opne, Martha Reichrath, principal of Chamblee at that time, persuaded DCSS to turn Chamblee HS into a magnet school for high achievers

I thought I heard not long ago that the 'home school' population for Chamblee is about 700-800 students with the remainder being magnet and out of area transfers. IF this is true, the question is raised about whether there are enough school age children west of I-85 and south of I-285 for two High Schools. I believe there are enough school age children there however also believe that many families in that area choose to send their children to private school, at least after ES. This is an assumption on my part with no measurable to back this up. Given the quality private schools in that area (Marist and St. Pius come to mind), those families have options.

Cerebration said...

You are correct on the private school issue, psc. However, the economy is forcing people to take another look at their public school.

I'd also say - if there are not enough students for 2 high schools in that area, then the logical choice to invest in for a large scale school is the Cross Keys property. At 37.5 acres, its almost 3x as much land --- Chamblee only has 14 acres according to my data (that I got from you, BTW!)

pscexb said...

You are correct, Cere! Add to that, more people are looking for housing ITP (Inside the Perimeter). There probably will be outreach campaigns to young families to support their local public schools.

I made a comment earlier @ 9:07 that got me to thinking and doing additional research. With the exception of McNair HS & MS and Dunwoody & Peachtree, the 'older' school remained as the HS while the 'younger' school became the 'MS'. It is also interesting that Druid Hills 'absorbed' two schools over its rich history, Briarcliff and Shamrock. Given its historical designation, one could understand this. Not sure if there is any significance to the others.

Cerebration said...

psc - you are such a history buff - have you had a chance to read the dissertation by Veronica Menezes Holmes that Kim posted at Community Radar?

It's 458 pages on the history of Lynwood Park - mostly conducted in interview fashion.

Stories of Lynwood Park

Here's the link to Kim's synopsis -
Is the Story of Cross Keys the Story of Brookhaven?

fedupindcss said...

pscexb: Yes, this is a phenomenon that speaks volumes at how decisions are made in DCSS.

DHHS became the high school and Shamrock became the middle school, even though Shamrock 1) was a better location traffic-wise and 2) was bigger and newer. This was based on some argument about the special relationship DHHS had with Emory, but it was really because Shamrock was seen as the less desirable school because DHHS had more of a "tradition" and the DHHS community had more pull than Shamrock.

Same nonsense at Lakeside and Henderson. Supposedly the argument was Lakeside had the pool, but again Henderson was newer (not by much, but still) larger, brighter hallways, more land, etc. It was really all about that "tradition" garbage and which community had the ear of the administration.

In both cases we, the taxpayers, are footing the bill for huge additions to these schools (which are both horribly landlocked in very expensive areas) and traffic is a disaster at both. No actual research was done, or if it was it wasn't followed. That's why when I hear about the demographer's report, I know DCSS will wilfully ignore it when push comes to shove.

Ella Smith said...

It would appear to be bias and discrimination in drawing of the lines. It would appear that the school board is trying to isolate the Litino community. This would be the appearance.

Kim Gokce said...

In a few short hours, this thread has me back-logged ...

@andi re: our neighborhoods - the homes built in the 50's & 60's & 70's in our ITP communities are experiencing quite the little baby boom as far a I can tell. There are TONS of newlyweds & new families moving into all of these areas. If you think Chamblee is overcrowded now, just wait a few years - there is a tsunami coming.

Ashford Park ES (Chamblee feeder) received it's 1st trailers this month and the community is in uproar. There are more strollers cruising to the coffee shops of Brookhaven from our neighborhoods every week. DCSS needs to open its eyes ... younger parents are choosing ITP for lifestyle, transportation, etc. and they love these early suburban neighborhoods (as do I).

The impression I have from DCSS is that they don't want these kids lured back into the public system, anyway. "If you don't like it, leave it" has been the reaction I've most often seen. In my opinion, this attitude is making our entire system suffer from enrollment imbalance and poor reputation.

Families like ours have to decide whether it's worth fighting for what is right for our kids and the system overall. It is easier to move and many take that route.

I started advocating for increased awareness for CKHS to try to stem the exodus of families from my neighborhood. I fight for this support with even greater motivation now after learning about the conditions at the school, the amazing, existing students, their families and the history of CKHS.

There are wrongs to be righted at Brookhaven's only public HS - I can't walk away from that now that I know. My sense of ethics won't let me do the easier thing.

I hope more folks around this area and around DeKalb let their leaders know that the days of neglect and a docile parent community at Cross Keys are over and it's time to get serious about planning for the bright future of this incredible asset.

Sorry for the speech - I'm passionate about it ... I now introduce my son around Brookhaven as the CKHS Class of 2023.

Kim Gokce said...

@cerebration: "Take a look again at the attendance zone map posted by Kim at the link below (click the map for the large version). It's silly."

It is actually worse than that ... I had a recent realization about our zone's land use and created my own view of this map which even more dramatically shows the flawed CKHS district:

Overlay land use of CKHS Zone

Accompanying article:

Does Cross Keys Have a Community?

If there ever were good reasons for this zone design, there are no more.

Kim Gokce said...

@son of: "Wonder what the ones that are actually in use look like?
Anybody got a camera?"

I've seen a classroom full of Dell PCs. Hard to be exact here but as a technology planner and a project manager for IT, my best guess is that the PCs I saw in a classroom were between at least 8-10 years of age. The desktop case style and the monitor bulk are the main reasons I suspect this minimum age. Obviously, only an educated guess ...

Kim Gokce said...

@andi: "As these homes turnover we are seeing younger people moving in. They want to have an affordable house inside 285."

Brilliant analysis! ... sometimes, I think we over-complicate our analysis. The mega-trend andi describes is not going away.

Given economic woes, another trend we may see is a growing "not-so-big house" one. Do you really want a house that requires 3 air conditioning units to stay comfortable?

I invite anyone who would like to come by HillsDale to see how well-built, brick ranch homes have held up for a half century so far ... the families are here and are growing. DCSS, are you ready?

Anonymous said...

With the exception of McNair HS & MS and Dunwoody & Peachtree, the 'older' school remained as the HS while the 'younger' school became the 'MS'

At the time Peachtree become the MS and Dunwoody the HS, Peachtree was the older of the two.

Peacthree was built to relieve the overcrowding at Chamblee. Dunwoody was built to relieve the overcrowding at Peacthree.

pscexb said...

Thanks Anon @ 6:44! Any idea why Dunwoody was chosen as the HS given that Peachtree had more 'history' albeit shorter? I will speculate similar to fedup's comments, Dunwoody was newer and larger hence chosen as the HS. I'm sure being named after the community did not hurt also....

Ella Smith said...

Kim, there is not much of a community to pull from. There is no doubt that the lines need to be changed.

Kim Gokce said...

@Ella: "You can go talk to the congragation at the Baptist Church right past Cross Keys and you will find their interest in Cross Keys"

Thanks, Ella. I have neighbors in HillsDale who are congregants and have been talking to them. My pastor says it is a forgivable sin. :)

Just to add even more absurdity to the picture that is Cross Keys HS, that church is less than 5,000 ft from the front doors of Cross Keys and is in Chamblee HS zone. *Sigh*

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "book drive"

Just a quick thank-you to you for your first mentioning the English Dept's need for novels and reading material. Thanks mostly to your readers we have 21 books donated already towards the needed 90.

I hope that even those who disagree with my thinking about the future of Cross Keys HS will still pitch in to help this very under-supported faculty and very poverty-laden student body.

I've heard from the CKHS faculty on this and they are very moved by the show of support.

I encourage anyone who wants to meet faculty to drop by the 8/6 event and you don't even have to bring a book - just come and talk to them.

Thank you all! Please forward the wishlist to others!

Dekalbparent said...

@fedup -

While I completely agree with you about the [lack of] wisdom in making Shamrock the MS and DHHS the HS, I have to disagree with your remark about the huge addition.

In reality, I believe that DHHS will come out with only a couple more classrooms, even though the 2-story addition is taking up half the already meager parking lot. This is because they also have to correct a long-standing violation of state regs regarding classroom size. There were a good number of classrooms that were too small, and thus walls are being taken out to make three classrooms into two...

That said, there are actually EMPTY rooms at Shamrock... And athletic fields... And a very large parking lot (nobody has a clue where faculty and students will park at DHHS now)...And it's not on N Decatur Rd where the school traffic blends unavoidably with Emory, CDC and hospital traffic...

fedupindcss said...

I am amazed to hear Shamrock has empty classrooms. This follows Cere's data that shows empty classrooms all over the county, while additions are put on schools elsewhere.

Kim, this is why Cross Keys is a disaster. There is no process in place. It is every Board member for themselves. It is who gets up and complains enough at meetings (although the Jacksons seem to have gone into a parallel dimension at this point). My advice? Stick a sign up outside the school and name it Brookhaven High Achievers Science and Math Magnet. Then start robo-calling Dr. Lewis's Blackberry until he cries "uncle." And threaten to sue (since DCSS usually loses lawsuits, the threat is enough to get to them--don't need a cause of action, it won't get that far).

Anonymous said...

There are not empty classrooms at Shamrock. The school is way over capacity for what it was built for. There are over 20 trailers in the side parking lot. Shamrock has been inundated with transient students from apartment complexes on and around Lawrenceville Highway. And the principal is a jerk.

One Fed Up Insider said...


I sent your request to my all the moms in my neighborhood and they hae been going online and purchasing books. YEAH.. I hope it can help.

Is there a way that we could get a list of all the departments at CKHS and lets try to get a neighborhood to "adpot" a department.

I know that there are other departments that need help also.

Just an idea. Let me know.

Kim Gokce said...

@On Fed Up Insider: "Is there a way that we could get a list of all the departments at CKHS and lets try to get a neighborhood to "adpot" a department."

I can't thank you and your neighbors enough for helping out. The adopt-an-dept idea is a good one. I have been brain-storming about how to help out CKHS and appreciate the suggestion.

Don't forget to tell them they are welcome to bring the books and meet some of the faculty on 8/6 at The Library Coffee Co. event.

Kim Gokce said...

... and just to tap into the brain power of all the readers here let me add that I am especially looking for ideas that would lure volunteers into the ES and HS.

I believe that if I can get the young Brookhaven families in my area into the walls of Woodward ES, they will be surprised and put the school back on the list of viable options for their kids.

The more exposure the CKHS faculty and kids get the more folks are amazed at their quality.

Cerebration said...

According to the data I have, Shamrock is just a little under capacity. They have 1062 students projected for this fall, and the building can hold 1083. I really don't understand the need for all of the trailers, other than the fact that they have just been there for years. Maybe they have too many classrooms in the building being used for small classes like special education. I really don't know. But they are pretty much right at capacity.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow responding to Kim's audit of the school computers:
It's very likely that if all of the computers in the facility are eight plus years old, then the DCSS isn't properly utilizing the
Title 1 funds that Cross Keys is entitled to.
When I enrolled my child in the Dekalb School system, the principal at my child's school (I'd name it, but that would reveal my secret identity) informed the parents that they regrettably wouldn't be getting any new computers that year.
The reason? They didn't have enough kids on free and reduced meals that year. I don't think that Cross Keys has had "too few"
title 1 kids in decades. Where are they hiding the newer equipment that federal funds are supposed to be giving them?

One Fed Up Insider said...


I have the same problem at my school. We just new computers... for the students with the help of the PTA...

My computer that DCSS is left on my desk.. You are not going to beleive this but it is at least 10 years old. The computer does not even have a jump drive on the front.

When students turn in their projects I have to take them home to view them because my computer at work will not allow me to see them.

Kids do such great work and teachers can't look at what they have created because we do not have computers that can support new software..

I know some of you are going to ask. Just go and use the student computers.. Would love too but teacher are getting the students in there to use them.

Dekalbparent said...

I remember hearing about those computers in the warehouse. Even saw a picture, if I remember correctly. Anyway, my recollection is that the computers were aging in the boxes (maybe someone thought they would improve with age - no wait, that's wine and cheese)for no clear reason.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow asking Ella to answer a Title 1 question:
Aren't some of the Title One monies given to an individual school supposed to be dedicated to necessary school supplies?
If so, then why did the Brookhaven Rotary have to supply Cross Keys with computer paper so that they could complete the school year?
It might be a good idea for someone to get some ducks in a row regarding what a Title One school is entitled to with their dedicated funds, and then go down the line and see what isn't showing up at Cross Keys.
If my take on Title One is correct, then there should be
1. Newer computers
2. Sufficient school supplies
3. Newer work books, etc

How much of what's supposed to legally (by federal law) be
bought and in the facility isn't?
Someone make a list, and get some input from the Cross Key teacher(s) here, then call up the
TV stations. If Title One has an Inspector General, someone might even put a call into them.
Ask them not to give advance notice when they check out a facility- past experience has taught me that DCSS is great at covering their tracks.

Kim Gokce said...

@son of ... : "Where are they hiding the newer equipment that federal funds are supposed to be giving them?"

Remember, I only reported what I saw in one classroom. To be fair, there may be completely modern PCs somewhere in CKHS I've never seen. I'm not the authority on this question but will get an answer for us by the 1st day of school (8/10).

Kim Gokce said...

... and ... "then why did the Brookhaven Rotary have to supply Cross Keys with computer paper so that they could complete the school year? "

My understanding is that the Area Superintendent's office actually took care of this problem in the end. The Rotary "filled the gap" until the paper was supplied by the Area Super.

As it was explained to me, the issue with CKHS in this area and others is the same as any other HS: when there is a shortfall in any given budget area, they reach out to their community.

That is not very effective in the case of Cross Keys for reasons we have discussed ad nauseaum here. The zone as constituted is not a natural base of support for advocacy or material support. That is why I am reaching out to the community at large on these points.

As long as CKHS retains its zone as-is, I will be organizing broader support from surrounding communities and private sources to help fill these "gaps."

Anonymous said...

The question is: Where and how is the Title 1 money for Cross Keys being spent?

Kim Gokce said...

An AJC feature on CKHS is now online at:

Will renovated high school help DeKalb community?

I truly can't wait to see the result of the SPLOST III reno, new "Tech wing" and Media upgrade. There's not a more deserving school - very moving to see community interest growing.

Cerebration said...

Gotta love that first paragraph!!

In little more than two weeks, demolition at Cross Keys High School will begin. It will erase decades of decline at the DeKalb County campus, transforming brick and mortar literally coming apart at the seams into a newly modern school building.

Dekalbparent said...

@Kim and Anon 11:58

From another thread:

What Title 1 can cover (WARNING: LONG)

From Title 1 section of website of Hillsboro (FL) County Public Schools:

All public schools receiving Title I funds are district schools operating as Schoolwide Programs. Schools utilize Title I funds to enhance the regular district instructional program. Schools use funds to:

* add highly qualified staff,
* support parent and community involvement efforts,
* improve staff development,
* purchase additional instructional materials and supplies,
* add technology and needed equipment.

From State of Idaho guidelines:

Allowable Uses of Funds

Some allowable targeted costs are included below. This is not an exhaustive list. See the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR), 34 CFR Parts 74-86, for the complete list.

- Employee salaries and benefits — that are for time devoted to the performance of the Part A program, as described in the approved Consolidated Plan Application. LEAs must maintain appropriate time distribution records for any employee who works on Part A duties but also has other duties. The recommended limit for administrative salaries/benefits and other administrative expenses is what are reasonable and necessary for the proper and efficient performance and administration of the program. Idaho suggests that no more than 10% of the allocation be used for administrative purposes.
- Professional development — if specifically related to the Part A program, designed to meet the specific educational needs of Part A participants, and supplements rather than supplants, state and local training. Teachers whose professional development is paid by Title I, Targeted Assistance, must have Part A participants in their classroom.
- Supplies and educational materials — if reasonable and acquired/consumed specifically for the purpose of the Title I-Part A program. The LEA must document the details and location of the supplies and the reason for the purchases.
- Equipment — if 1) necessary to effectively operate Title I-Part A programs, 2) existing equipment will not be sufficient and 3) the costs are reasonable. The LEA must document the details and location of the equipment and the reason for the purchases.
- Travel and conference costs — if specifically related to the Title I-Part A program and not to the general needs of the LEA or school and are reasonable and necessary.
- Maintenance/operation costs — (such as janitorial and utility costs) to the extent that costs are not otherwise included in rent or other charges for space, are reasonable and necessary for the success of the Title I-Part A program, and are distributed on an equitable basis.
- Rental/lease of buildings — if the space is necessary for the operation of the program and space in publicly owned buildings is not available.
- Interest on lease purchase agreements — if in accordance with cost principles of OMB Circular A-87.
- Refreshments for parent meetings/trainings — if reasonable, particularly when such sessions extend through mealtime.
- Indirect costs-- if approved and on file with the Idaho Department of Education and costs included are in compliance with EDGAR.
- Financial incentives and rewards to teachers who serve students in the Title I schools identified for improvement, corrective action and restructuring for the purpose of attracting and retaining qualified and effective teachers. In making this reservation, the LEA cannot reserve more than 5% of the Title I-A allocation. However, it may reserve “such funds as are necessary” from the Title II, Preparing, Training and Recruiting Highly Qualified Teachers and Principals program for this purpose.
- To support ongoing training and professional development, as defined in Title IX (ESEA General Provisions). Equitable amounts must also be provided for participating private school parents and teachers.

Ella Smith said...

Idaho has it together on how to spend title one money. I am impressed.

Kim Gokce said...

@Dekallbparent: "Title 1"

Thanks for taking the time to pull these together ... in short, it seems to me that there is enormous discretion in how Title 1 funds can be managed.

themommy said...

I want to clarify something -- it is important to acknowledge that Chamblee High School is not really full of Chamblee students. Instead about 50 to 60 percent of students come from outside the attendance zone. You can't remove students from the Chamblee attendance zone to go to Cross Keys -- there aren't enough to start with. Last time I asked, there were fewer than 600 students from within the Chamblee attendance zone. (this includes students in the magnet and resident program)

It isn't as simple as some are saying about redrawing lines.

Cerebration said...

Really, themommy? You're saying that out of the 1546 students at Chamblee, less than 600 come from the Chamblee attendance zone? Over 900 are bused in or drive in as transfers? If that's true - that's certainly not very "green"!

Also - maybe all the more reason to build a comprehensive high school on the Cross Keys property. That's a nice, big 40 acre piece of land (Chamblee is only 14 acres. Combining the two on Cross Keys property could be a good idea if what you say is true. Then - maybe Lakeside could become the magnet school for high achievers... they'll have the space for it by then!

Just brainstorming!

Cerebration said...

Or Chamblee could stay a total high achiever high school - not a program within a school... even better!

themommy said...

As of two years ago, about 45 percent of students at both Chamblee Middle and High were from the Chamblee attendance zone. Yes, many are driven (no longer bussed except for AYP students) but as of two years ago nearly 250 students came from Dunwoody and Cross Keys which means they weren't coming from very far. They also have scores of students who take MARTA which is very green.

Chamblee has been a very popular option for admin transfers.

I am ok with any magnet program -- as long as it doesn't cost extra.

The feeder schools for Chamblee are quite small. The community houses several elementary private schools and Marist and nearby St. Pius. Many families consider Marist their neighborhood school.

Cerebration said...

Nice to con$ider Mari$t your neighborhood $chool!

I need to mention - I meant "bused" in as in - they ride a bus (hub buses for magnets right?) Not the old-fashioned forced "busing" which was a whole different thing...I need to watch how I use my words.

Kim Gokce said...

@themommy: "It isn't as simple as some are saying about redrawing lines."

I think you misunderstand my point(s) about attendance zone - Cross Keys HS does not have a zone that is sustainable. How to remedy that surely must include attendance zone changes of some kind combined with program offerings. Whether any part of the answer lies in Chamblee zone is an unknown to me.

Chamblee really only has ES feeders Montgomery, Ashford Park, Kittrege (High Achievers), and Huntley Hills so I believe your estimate of the "in zone" enrollment at Chamblee HS.

Kim Gokce said...

... continuing stream of consciousness on zones ... I do know that Chamblee zone has been "eating away" at Cross Keys zone for over a decade to stay afloat itself. The question I think we will be faced with in the next few years is: Can Chamblee serve it's enlarged zone with its current programs? It doesn't look good but there are a lot of variables to consider. It will be an interesting analysis and we'll all be glad we have the support of this blog to stay informed.

mykidsmom said...

I can speak to the Chamblee situation as I am a CHS graduate, albeit prior to it becoming a magnet school. In the early 90's, DCSS was very serious in its plan to close Chamblee due to slumping enrollment. As someone pointed out, Marist is really the Chamblee area high school. This was met with a lot of resistance, due in part, and this is just my belief, to the fact that Chamblee was one of the oldest high schools in the county - an emotional factor as you will. The discussions of closure never got so far as to discussions of where the CHS students would go - you could make a case to split the attendance area between Cross Keys and Peachtree/Dunwoody as there are neighborhoods in the CHS area that are alongside I-285 - the dividing line between Chamblee and Dunwoody. However, the magnet program was "born" and saved the school. Was this the right decision? I wonder that myself sometimes.

themommy said...

I am friendly with a former DCSS board member who served during the time of the creation of the magnet programs. Make no mistake, the program was placed at
Chamblee because they had ample space. However, there was some "hope" and beliefs that by placing such a desirable program there, that more neighborhood children would enroll. A decade after the inception of the program and the number of Chamblee residents enrolled at the high school was about the same as the first year of the magnet program.

Except for the magnet program (and even that could be moved), everything else that brings students to
CCHS is optional and based on available space. There are plenty (in fact, the vast majority) of conversion charter schools that never take a child outside their attendance zone because they are full, administration transfers should be optional, AYP transfers can be limited based on capacity, etc.

So Chamblee really needs several hundred more "resident" students before all the extra students wouldn't be allowed to transfer in.

Finally, it is important to understand that the movement of Ashford Park into Chamblee was not initiated by Chamblee folks but rather people within the AP community. It caused a lot of stress and strain within the larger Chamblee community because most of the students who actually live in the city of Chamblee aren't zoned for Chamblee but rather CK. The Mayor of Chamblee at the time was horrified that a school from Brookhaven was redistricted into Chamblee rather than one from within the city limits.

themommy said...

I was posting as the same time as mykidsmom but I also wanted to clarify something.

The Chambblee district is fairly unique in DeKalb because it has so many rather large private schools within its attendance zone. Marist, OLA, St. Martins and St. Pius and Greenfield Hebrew Academy are spitting distance. (there may be others)

Many, many families move into that school district with the intention of using private school. In fact, several years ago the Montgomery parent community tried to fight the expansion of St. Martins because of this. We have several friends whose children went to public school in N. Fulton and whne they hit high school got into Marist and moved closer to Marist.

So, as mykidsmom says, many in the Brookhaven area consider these schools their neighborhood schools.

One Fed Up Insider said...

Let's give the CHS attendance zone a few more years to grow. It is going to happen.

I can remember Montgomery falling by the wayside as little as 7 years ago. Then many parents jumped in and started to rescue the school. Now those parents are hitting CMS this year.

Remember Ashford Park was dying as of 4 years ago. Now look they have trailers in the front yard.

Cere... the only reason find Marist their neighborhood school is that most kids that go there are from the surrounding communities.. Not from all over the county.

The problem with CMS and CHS is their is no neighborhood feel to these schools. Because of all the busing that goes on.

CHS and CMS are going to grow. And grow to the point where they are going to bust out of the seams. The problem in 5 years is going to be where to be where are your going to put the KES students and the magnet program at CMS. Something that no one is thinking about.

mykidsmom said...

Why do you think CMS and CCHS are going to grow now - it has not in 20 years?

One Fed Up Insider said...

Because as of 10 - 12 years ago. The surrounding neighborhoods saw a change.

Young married couples moved in and the retirees moved out.

Those couples had kids and now the first set of "clean uppers" are getting to Chamblee Middle.

Before then many surrounding neighborhoods were dying out. The funny thing about who started the rebirth movement where second generation members that came back and bought either their parents house or a house close by.

Go out and look at the soccer field on Ashford Dunwoody... 15 years ago very few teams meet there... Now go out there and look at all the little ones playing..

themommy said...

Fed Up

For over a decade , they were waiting for Nancy Creek and Huntley Hills to grow. They never did.

Montgomery has received a huge boost because they have had a dramatic demographic shift in the last decade. Almost all the apartments that feed MES were torn down or converted to condos. They went from a very diverse school to a overwhelmingly white school. However, I see more and more cars with both MES and Marist stickers.

You know, I think they took the planning stuff off of the DCSS website because we were using it so much on this blog! Not to be paranoid, but it had been there forever.

I am curious if the trailers at AP are really because of student body growth or is it because they received many of the special ed programs that had been housed at Montgomery and Nancy Creek? Does anyone know what the projected growth is for AP?

mykidsmom said...

I hear what you are saying fedup, but those neighborhoods started turning back into young families 10 or so years ago. Those families are sending their children to private schools.

To support themommy's point - when I was a student at Chamblee HS (there was no MS at the time), the only private schools in the area were Marist (which at the time was an all boys school, OLA (which at the time, only Catholic children attended) and D'Youville Academy (a private school for girls). With the advent of M-to-M, other private schools were started and, quite frankly, have flourished.

mykidsmom said...

Something to ponder:

There are 2 high schools in close proximity, CK and CCHS, both are in poor physical shape, though CK is much, much, worse. Cross Key sits in the middle of a growing, community, where the real estate is valuable the school itself sits on 40 acres of land.

Chamblee HS sits in an area of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Peachtree Industrial that is decrepit (old apartments and medical builidngs on one side of the HS) and run-down (see Chamblee Plaza).

At some point, Chamblee is going to need the same renovation as CK. Do you renovate knowing that the population of CCHS is most likely not going to vary much?

Kim Gokce said...

@themommy: "... movement of Ashford Park into Chamblee was not initiated by Chamblee folks but rather people within the AP community."

Yes, I don't see this enrollment question as a competition between Chamblee and CKHS. I used the word "eating away" implying some kind of aggression - unintended.

I realize the "flight" communities from CKHS to CHS are self-motivated. Every community ran that hill in Brookhaven including mine. It is just another symptom of politics running our school system.

The private school points made above are not insignificant. I have been trying to collect enrollment and demo information about the schools mentioned to get the "big picture" of student populations in our greater Brookhaven-Chamblee wedge between I-85 and I-285.

I may be delusional but I sure would love to see the public system "steal" enrollment from these schools. However, the impression I have from DCSS is they have no interest in growing enrollment.

Who wants all these demanding parents anyway? We have enough trouble ... :)

mykidsmom said...

Kim, I don't think if an "Arabia Mountain" was built in the CHS district if they would come. The whole mind-set of that community would have to be changed - much like Cross Keys. It's sad, really.

Cerebration said...

No worries, themommy, I have pretty much everything from the planning website downloaded already. You wouldn't believe how much DCSS junk I have on my hard drive! If anyone needs data, you can always ask me to dig around. Kim and psc have a lot of files too!

The Marist argument is making sense. So the area has been taken over by people (some from my neighborhood) who just can't stand the drive over there every day and since it's a 6-12 grades school, they just go ahead and move. I mean - heck - it's a nice area! Probably nicer than places much further away.

But with the economic downturn, people are looking at public schools. Sadly, when they investigate what DeKalb has to offer for high schools in the area, they are horrified by the condition of the facilities.

But I have one thing that I always like to say when the subject of private schools comes up - especially large, gorgeous, expensive "Christian" schools. My basic tenet is below - and I am fully prepared for a defensive backlash - but here goes:

I attended Catholic (1st-8th) school way back in the day when you went there because you were Catholic. No one "pre-qualified" us by testing our abilities. Nowadays, these schools have become so blatantly discriminatory in their admissions criteria that I would actually go so far as to say that while they teach religion, they do not exemplify Christian values. In fact, I would go so far as to say that DeKalb schools exemplify Christian values far better than Marist or Westminster or others.

DeKalb schools take EVERYONE. Private schools test everyone and then choose the best and brightest only. For example, these schools salivated over my high-achieving son, but wanted nothing to do with my daughter - a "C" student who struggles with learning disabilities. So they got neither from me. On the flip side, they currently have accepted three students whose mother told me she thinks the Bible is nothing but fairy tales!

Jesus said, ""Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew19:14) He did not say, "Test the little children and bring me the ones who are in the 85 percentile and above and send the rest over to John the Baptist."


All the criticism we do here of our public school system is not to tear it down - but to help focus the energy of the strong people who have a chance of making a difference - for everyone. Because that is who we serve in our American public schools -- everyone!

Cerebration said...

However -- I really must say that there are wonderful, small, Christian and other kinds of religious schools who really do have a heart for all children and who take on every challenge and every child. They are few and far between, but these are the schools doing the work of the Lord.

Others are just offering a costly method to segregate from those they consider somehow 'less than', which is fine for a private institution - just don't be so hypocritical as to label it "Christian".
I'm convinced, Jesus would be embarrassed. Remember, he was the homeless guy with the sandals, riding a donkey.

mykidsmom said...

You won't get any backlash from me cere - I totally agree with you.

When a certain private school can admit and provide "financial assistance" (i.e., wink, wink a "scholarship") to a student who is a star football player at a public school, but not admit the football player's sister - well, you get the drift.

Most of the so-called "Christian" schools came about due to the "desegregation" of the schools. In Dunwoody, we see a lot of families end their kids to Wesleyan.

mykidsmom said...

I do want to say that there are children that do need the atmosphere that a small private school can provide - specifically those with learning disabilities that quite frankly, our public schools are poor at dealing with.

Anonymous said...

The real question is what do you need to make the elementary schools attractive to CK area families?

Starting there is key...

What can be done to convince english speaking families to send their children to Cary Reynolds, Woodward etc?

What does the community need to see?

Kim Gokce said...

@Anonymous: "What does the community need to see?"

You pretty much nailed it. I agree that the key in the long run is to "lure" our families into the ESes. I am focusing on Woodward this year.

It is finishing up something like a year's worth of reno/upgrades as we speak. New HVAC, wiring and other nice items.

The entrance way and the main hallway at Woodward look fantastic and the school seems to perform. The new principal is reputed to be bringing an emphasis on "gifted" efforts there.

I'm telling everyone in my area they need to walk the school with me after 8/10. I'm recruiting volunteers to work in the school. I think that simply getting folks engaged in the school will help spread the word that it's a good choice. It will be slow.

At the end of it, though, there's the prospect of sending your 6th grader 7.3 miles to Sequoyah MS ... that's an obstacle I don't have a strategy for yet. It sort of undermines one of the quality of life values many around here hold dearly - commute/convenience. That's why many of us live here.

Kim Gokce said...

... I should hasten to add that Carey Reynolds has successfully done this to my knowledge and it is the reason I believe it can be done at Woodward. Bedsides, what self-respecting Brookhaven parent would want to be able to say, "My kid goes to Woodward!" :)

Kim Gokce said...

@cerebration: "Christian" private schools

Though not officially tied to church, The Lovett School has its roots deep with St. Phillip's Cathedral (there was a dust up and distancing between Church and school when MLK III applied there and was denied).

I have clarified that the rumored story about private school parents donating weight training equipment to Cross Keys traces to one, lone parent from Lovett.

Just thought I'd share this recently confirmed fact since I've helped spread the rumor before incorrectly being about Marist or Woodward Academy coaches or parents. Just wanted credit to go where it was due know that I know!

Thank you anonymous Lovett parent! Jesus and John the Baptist would approve I think! :)

Kim Gokce said...

... and it was new equipment, too, not hand-me-downs! :)

Anonymous said...

I have to pay to send my child to an accredited High School Home school because I do not want my child in this school. After attempts at school choice and administrative tranfer requests I am denied because I am not on a free lunch program or my child scores too high on testing. The school is a death trap and health hazard. It is also full of illegals that are trying to get college scholarships to further their educations with our tax dollars. Why am I paying Dekalb school taxes and paying for my child to be home schooled? Because, I am just over the poverty line so we qualify for nothing except the choice to put my child in a dangerous health situation or pay someone else to educate my child. My child does not have the opprotunity to participate in sports or clubs when a homescholling choice is made because of the stupid choices that the Dekalb Board makes with our tax dollars. Oh! By the way did the county ever find the 4 millions dollars that the Dekalb Board of Education Lost?

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to transfer my child from Cross Keys to Chamblee for two years. My child was denied and awarded Stone Mountian High School. I live on Clairmont Rd. between Lakeside and Chamblee. Most of the children in our neighborhood go to Chamblee HS or private schools. The reason that we do not support our local schools is because the majority of the children in our schools are bussed in from other communities. My child was in our local school in the 5th grade and her average was over 100%. The class average was 48%?!!!!! These were chilred not from our community. There was no parental involvement from the students. The answer to get the "others" to pass was to drop, SOCIAL STUDIES, SCIENCE, LANGUAGE ARTS AND GEOGRAPHY TO GET THE KIDS TO PASS THE CRCT THEY ONLY STUDIED TEST QUESTIONS FOR MATH AND READING!!!!. Hello? That is the reason I no longer support my local school.

Cerebration said...

Interesting posts you two. I can see that there are other sides to every story... For what it's worth - I too, asked several times for a transfer -- OUT of Lakeside. I was consistently told "no"... or specifically "don't hold your breath".

I'm all for school choice. All for it. We have so many various levels of needs, skills and interests that we need to offer several optional models as well as the comprehensive model. We're really behind the times in our thinking and our offerings.

Anonymous said...

I almost always agree with you and I still do on the " needing " a choice part but...... Face it, the term choice is really a joke in the DCSS.

Cerebration said...

Yeah, this topic has been the most enlightening one I think we've ever discussed - at least to my spirit. It pains me to see that not only do our school system leaders allow certain people to exist in deplorable conditions - the community members don't seem to care a whiff - as they consider very expensive private schools their "neighborhood" schools. Lose - Lose.

Here's a post I just stole from the AJC blog - it sort of sums up what we're up against on the community side -- (We already know what we're up against on the school system side.) I don't have words to respond really.

Brookhaven neighbor
July 22nd, 2009
3:20 pm

My neighborhood is about a mile from Cross Keys. It is the closest school, but our neighborhood is zoned for Chamblee High school. Most of the people I know in my neighborhood have their kids enrolled in Marist, St. Pius or other private school. We see the busloads of kids from the Buford Highway corridor coming and going all the time. Obviously, these folks have taken over the school, and they can have it. None of us tax-paying homeowners have any interest in sending our kids to a school that looks like it belongs in a 3rd world country.

Wow. Just wow.

Kim Gokce said...

Cerebration, this is what I meant when I said in the AJC piece that many of my Brookhaven neighbors "roll their eyes" when the hear CKHS mentioned. It has gone so bad for so long I really struggle to keep hope that it can be repaired - I mean the relationship between the DCSS schools and these communities. There is much bad blood and no communication lines left that I have been able to detect so far.

I know families in this same area with kids in Ashford Park ES, Montgomery ES, Huntley Hills ES, Chamblee MS and Chamblee HS. So, it is not like everyone in Brookhaven is affluent enough to pay for Marist. But even us lower/middling class folks have high expectations for our public schools and they don't always stack up well when looking at the local alternatives.

When you look at St. Pius, for example, with tuition that is within reach for many middle class families (and I don't mean "upper-middle"). Immaculate Heart and Our Lady of Assumption are very popular and growing. St. Martin's keeps growing and there's talk of a MS there. DCSS' shortcomings have created a very competitive private market for parents in this region. The Woodward Academy has a regular bus stop at the intersection of North Druid Hills and Peacthree for goodness sake!

DCSS has a real hill to climb inside I-285 and I-85N and it's only going to get steeper in the long run. Another reason why I think the Cross Keys / Woodward properties are so important for the future. We have to have a marketable alternative in this region if public education is going to ever thrive again. I'm going to market the heck out of the renovated Cross Keys and continue to try and help the situation with perceptions at Woodward ES.

Some days, though, I really wonder if I'm swimming upstream with DCSS and the community. There is no sense of partnership or trust. Where I am standing seems to be halfway between the two and too far for either to reach.

Kim Gokce said...

... expanding on the point and the contrasts that exacerbate the problem here for DCSS. Take this in ... St. Pius X was built the same year as CKHS - 1958:

"The 1984-85 school year was a difficult one in many ways. Like the 1958-59 school year when students and teachers had to bear with the inconvenience of an incomplete facility, those who attended St. Pius during the great year of construction had much with which to contend! Yet, the good will of all and the common vision of a new and greatly expanded facility sustained everyone during those hectic days. On October 26 1985, Archbishop Donnellan dedicated the new 400-seat performing arts center, facilities for dance, drama, and music, a 36,000 volume library, a beautifully renovated chapel, a computer lab, additional classrooms, and a renovated cafeteria and gym. Later that year, in the spring of 1986, a new track was also constructed. Changes were experienced in all areas of the school"

Then, beginning in 2002: "The campaign’s silent phase was begun in February 2003 with the campaign going public in September 2003. In March 2004 construction commenced on the renovation and enlargement of the stadium and cafeteria and the addition of 10,000 square feet (1,000 m2) of space to the fine arts wing. When completed in early January 2005, the construction had completely transformed those three parts of the campus."

During the same 20 year period I believe there were no significant renovations or enhancements at CKHS. How can you compete with that??? There are parents who would rather borrow $5-7 in student loans and pay the same amount in cash to get into a school like St. Pius. In 10 years, I may be one of them.

We have to get serious about our infrastructure gap. I know DCSS and public system supporters don't think it is fair to compare against schools like St. Pius X but that is what many of their customers are doing!

Anonymous said...

'Wow' just wow"?

Cere, please tell us what you mean here.

I went to school in the third world--and it looked like Cross Keys--without the A/C. The students however spoke English and were scholarship students from all over the country...all black and East Indian.

Amazingly, the more affluent families would STILL not send their kids there...no matter that the school was the most rigorous and had the best college admissions quals.
Who were the "most affluent" families?
Black and East Indian! (Whaddyaknow)

It's a caste issue--same races, different money. Not a race issue.

Now--look up "critical mass" theory and try to understand why affluent homeowning families won't send their kids to a school with over 80% free-lunch recipients.

Its crummy, but life. The only thing that will solve this is that all of us need to be in the same caste....soon...soon....soon.

mykidsmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cerebration said...

Hmmm. It's crummy, but life. Well, maybe in a real third world country. But I still don't believe it should happen here. I was focusing so much on the lack of interest in Cross Keys from the administration and the BOE over the years - as well as their "boundary-mandering" - that I just didn't realize that the people who live in the district don't care either. The statement above from the person living near the school just took the wind out of my sails. I'm not so sure the writer was referring to the building itself with the "third world" comment.

Anonymous said...

That is the problem. There is a group of people in this country that did not help build this country that wants us all to be in the same caste. I lived in Europe for 12 years an witnessed their caste system.(go to work, come home, drink some beer, go to bed. No hope for a future other that what they have, no aspirations to be more than what they are and then they're 65 and on pension) No thank you. I am proud to be an American with a system that allows people of all castes or wealth to come together and share ideas. We can not all be in the same caste.
As far as Cross Keys I think the author was speaking of the condition of the school. I will not send my child there because there are health issues. When the contractors open walls, ceilings and floors the children are going to be exposed to asbestoes, molds and construction dust. It is not healthy for anyone to be in the school during construction. I forsee a lawsuit against Dekalb County. They should move the children to other schools during construction. The schools are just down the street, not half way across Dekalb county. This will keep the school population in surrounding neighborhoods and fill the local schools to capacity.

Cerebration said...

I agree, which is why I keep advocating for simply building something new on the site (there are almost 40 acres to play with) - and then move the students into the new building - and tear down the old one.

No Duh said...

Didn't watch all of "Black in America" last night. But, it focused on solutions. Prep academy principal seems to be making great gains. Don't see why a similar school concept couldn't be implemented throughout DCSS (why do only charter schools seem to have strict principals?). Why is it working? Because of uniforms? Because it's smaller? Because the principal is very hands-on? Because the students' parents chose the school for their children?

To the other points. "Black in America" could just as easily be called "Poor in America" -- we all know it's about class (as in income, there are plenty of poor people who are classier than many rich people!)

As a country, we are not allowed to make generalizations because of the sensitivity issues surrounding race and classism. This inability to label the problem is the reason it doesn't seem to be fixable. It wouldn't take geniuses to diagram the problems that would lead directly to the root causes of our poor educational systems. Until our country is willing to lay it out -- hurting feelings and all -- come to agreement on the root causes and focus our resources on solving the root causes we'll continue to throw money and time into a useless system.

ALL children are educable. So, why aren't ALL children being educated? I submit to you that you won't find the answer in a school house.

Anonymous said...

Well...if you want to lay it all out there...our family is white and 3 of my siblings are on welfare with medicaid and food stamps. They have 3 to 4 children each. They come in last after special needs children(all black children are born as special needs children, according to welfare applications). Special needs children get first choice for educational transfers, school choice and state sponsored pre-k. I will say that all of the children in my family (nieces and nephews) are doing poorly in the public school system. They are well behaved and not troublesome. Their education is not supported at home. There is an old mind set among all races that the school system will educate the children.
Times have changed and parents that are involved in their childs education will usually have children that exceed the "norm" standards. Parental involvement is the key.

Cerebration said...

"There is an old mind set among all races that the school system will educate the children."

How sad that we seem to all agree these days that educating children is no longer the school system's sole responsibility. It's one thing to expect parents to ensure that children do their homework - quite another to expect parents to practically co-teach.

This country will suffer if we agree to this premise. We will become more and more a classist society - separating the haves from the have-nots. The only opportunity for equalization is through education - a quality education that does not need to rely on parental supplementation.

Anonymous said...

That's funny. When the schools lower the educational standards so all will pass. I do not want my 5th grader doing 3rd grade work because 98% of the class is still on a 3rd grade level. In most experiences there is about 10% of the class that acheives at a high level. They are then held back at the 2nd half of the year to teach to 90% basic reading and math skills. This my experience at Dekalb. I became involved in my childs education at this point to ensure my child was learning a National Level Curriculum. Which Dekalb County is two years behind on.The reason that most Dekalb parents pull their children out of Dekalb schools is that they want a learning environment that is condusive to their childs learning ability. I am personally fed up with Dekalb. Why are administrators changing CRCT grades? How long has that been going on? Is it a surprise to anyone? How can a class of 5th graders with an average of 48% pass the 5th grade CRCT? Especially when they are given 3rd grade dittos for homework? They don't. They are passed to the next grade. Has anyone compared a Georgia and Florida 5th grade CRCT test? Ha- Ha!!!Folks Florida's test is a lot more diffucult that Georgia's. You want Dekalbs education to get better? Stop passing children to the next grade if they have not learned their current curriculum. Stop bussing them to schools outside of their community then maybe parents will get involved in their local school and make some changes. Chamblee teachers are no better than Redan teachers. They all have the same degrees, dedication and devotion to teaching your children. School is not a babysitting service. Parents make your children accountable for their actions. Make them study and earn their promotion to the next grade. Play Scrabble, Chess or read a book instead of watching TV.

Cerebration said...

It really doesn't matter whose fault it is - if those with the power and the knowledge don't do something radical to improve the education level of ALL of our students - we will have hell to pay in the future (welfare, crime, judicial costs, medical care, low GDP...)

Here are a few snippets from today's report in the AJC - stating that we have a graduation "crisis" in Georgia.

-- Georgia’s dismal high school graduation rate has reached a “crisis” level, according to a national report released Wednesday. The authors recommended immediate federal action.

-- Entitled “Graduating America: Meeting the Challenge of Low Graduation-Rate High Schools,” the report puts Georgia among 17 states with the lowest overall graduation rates in the country.

-- While high schools with low graduation rates exist in every state and in many communities, they are concentrated in 17 states that produce about 70 percent of the nation’s dropouts, the study found.

-- Georgia was one of five states with the worst graduation rates. The others are Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and South Carolina.

-- President Barack Obama has linked improving high school graduation rates to restoring the nation’s economic and political standing in the world.


Cerebration said...

Think deeply when you lay the blame of failure in our schools on the failing students themselves and their parents --

CARL DIX: I’m a sixty-year-old black man, which means I have decades of experience with white supremacy. I remember when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in education, Baltimore, Maryland, closed down the public swimming pools, because they saw the writing on the wall, and they’d have to integrate them, and they could not—they were not going to subject white kids to the indignity of swimming in water that had touched the bodies of black kids. That’s how thick this racism has been, and it’s continued on the way down. But that’s just something I remember from my childhood.

So I understand why people got into it, but I did see where this could go. And see, a lot of people say, “Well, look, a lot of black youth are going to get inspiration and hope from Obama being in the White House.” But then, the question I pose to them is, what will happen to that inspiration and hope when it collides with the continuing reality of white supremacy, male supremacy, imperialist, you know, overseas adventures, that remain the defining reality of America?

And see, what is coming around on this is that black youth are more and more being blamed for the situation that the system puts them in. And you look at Obama’s last two Father’s Day speeches, he gets into this thing of, you know, the youth got to pull up their pants. The absent dads got to be involved in their lives. You’ve got—the parents got to turn off the TV and make sure the kids do their homework. In other words, the onus for the youth not achieving is being put on the youth themselves and their parents. And what’s disappearing in that are the continuing obstacles that this system puts in the way of black, Latino and poor youth who want to achieve. So, in other words, the people are being blamed, and who better than Barack Obama, the first black president, to blame black youth for their plight? If George Bush does it, people would say it’s racist. But when the first black president does it, it actually draws people into it.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you share Carl Dix’s criticism of President Obama’s Father’s Day speeches?

CORNEL WEST: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I think that it’s quite telling that he would give personal responsibility speeches to black people, but not a lot of personal responsibility speeches to Wall Street in terms of execution. And when you actually look at the degree to which issues of accountability for poor people—but where’s the accountability when you’re bailing out these Wall Street elites, $700 billion? That’s socialism for the rich. That’s your policy. Don’t then go to these folk who are locked into dilapidated housing, decrepit school systems, many on their way to a prison-industrial complex, and talk about their fathers didn’t come through. And we know the fathers got problems. We understand that. But there are structural institutional challenges that he’s not hitting, hitting head on.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't feel it. Our family including my 5 brothers and sisters are white. 3 of them are living on welfare and in dilapidated housing with stinking streched carpet and multiple pesticide spayings. Their children are doing poorly in school. They are also poor...they are white. I live on an income of 23000.00 a year I am also poor. The difference is that I assist in my childs education at home. I have black friends that do the same. One black family that I am good friends with decided to take their children out of the public school system and put them in a home school group. Guess what? Two are enrolled at GA Tech with full academic scholarships. The third is enrolled at Emory with a full academic scholarship. They are proactive in their childrens education. I am betting that my child will NOT receive a scholarship but will hopefully receive financial aid. I live in an 1100 SQ FT home in a "my community" neighborhood (low income housing). I am not feeling the plight of one race. I am feeling the plight of all races in our community that are living in our Cross Keys community that are being subjected to the Dekalb County school system that does not care about our childrens education, safety or welfare. This is not a race issue. It is a being poor issue. We are poor but we do not have to allow DCSS to educate our children. The reason we have so many drop outs is because they are advanced to upper grades without regard to whether they have learned and they become overwhelmed later down the line when they can't keep up with the curriculum. Keep it real.

Anonymous said...

Seems like reviewing the case of "neighborhood" parents avoiding CKHS--

Whether classist or racist--maybe what we're dealing with is the more fundamental case--that of "exclusivity". You look at it that way rather than the more narrow case of "bigotry" (which has a tendency to get over-politicised).

Why does this distinction matter?

What is a neighborhood parent's typical response to someone (anyone) living in an apartment in a SUBURBAN schools zone?
Hoe did we get to this social condition?

Are the kids in the schools "conditioned" to feel same as parents?
I've never heard a child/teen say "Oh, they live in an apartment complex."

At what point in a kids' journey to adulthood and parenthood do they adopt such "conditioning"?

Why does this happen so readily in suburban areas?

Why was the first so-called "neighborhood association" formed in a suburb?

Why is there no such thing as a "neighborhood association" in third-world communities (more urban, more narrow class distinctions and smaller "elite" class--all or nothing).

What social construct or "living arrangements" have had the dominant effect on our EXCLUSIVE tendencies?

No response expected here--just stuff to ponder about "paradigm".

Ken Thompson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cerebration said...

It's true what you say, anonymous. The comments from the interview with the professors focuses on the black struggle, however, the struggle for everyone living in poverty is very tough. I grew up with close relatives living in abject poverty and witnessed the struggle. My family wasn't much more "endowed". However - we all had access to the same - very good - education. In fact, my cousins - being much brighter than I - all attended college on academic scholarships and are today successful engineers, software designers, healthcare workers, etc. (Since I was not academically gifted, nor poor enough to receive grants, I paid for my own college education by waiting on tables 30 hours a week while in school full time.)

However, there is still a class of children who do not have support at home and do not have decent schools, making it extraordinarily tough to move out of the cycle of poverty. A disproportionate number of them are African-American and other minorities. But the same problems are just as bad in rural, largely white areas like Appalachia.

My point here is that yes - children who have support at home will do much better in school - but does that mean we can lean on that as an excuse to not do all we can to ensure that children with little to no support at home also get the education they need to survive in this world?

Ken Thompson said...

"Think deeply when you lay the blame of failure in our schools on the failing students themselves and their parents..."

So what is this education and where does it come from? Turns out the word educate is directly derived from the Latin word educare, which was constructed by combining the two words, ex and ducere. The literal translation of educate is to draw out of, lead out of, etc. The Romans considered educating to be synonymous with drawing knowledge out of somebody or leading them out of regular thinking.

This seems to describe a situation where the student actually brings something to the table--a collaboration between student and mentor. By and large when students exceed, it is through intellect and hard work on the part of the student, access to information and knowledge, a driving force or motivator (often a relative) and some guidance (which may, or may not, include a "teacher").

Is this the model around which our public schools are built? I think not. What most Americans see as the dominant model is the student as an empty vessel and a teacher as someone who simply must find the correct hole to pour in knowledge and fix all the cracks where that knowledge leaks out. The sad fact, proven time and again, is that what we as Americans seem to think should work, doesn't.

Our schools, our classrooms, have been intellectually binodal for decades, yet we persist in teaching to the mythical mean, dedicated to the notion that there is a bell curve and we can pull all children forward at the same rate, using the same process and without disenfrachising those who are held back from achieving their full potential. Ironically we have embraced a system that "holds back" those with the greatest potential to avoid holding back those who need detention. No parent who wants their child to maximize their intellectual potential, no student dedicated to learning, will long tolerate this situation.

Advocates of public schools voice their support in the context of schools as a core community activity for parents and students. They create booster clubs for athletes. They create PTA's, have bake sales, sell candy for the band. These are all wonderful things, but they are at best ancillary to education (as defined above--you don't have to accept that definition) and are mostly social activities. Diversions.

I will also offer something to ponder: CKHS foreshadows what lay in store for public schools. Those who believe the primary mission of childhood and young adulthood is to acquire a meaningful education will seek that out for themselves as students, and for their children as parents. Given the current options, homeschool, private/parochial school, and public school, those who are truly committed, to the point of extraordinary sacrifice, will increasingly choose options other than public schools. The numbers willing to make that sacrifice are also increasing.

This will not "destroy" public schools, but it will leave them to what is now their real mission: to provide social services; to feed the hungry; to act as a part-time, half-way orphanage; to provide subsidized daycare for single parents and restoring DINK status to others; and to expand an already expansive entitlement for parents, teachers, administrators, developers, ancillary institutions and related businesses.

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