Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cross Keys Renovation to Begin


As published in yesterday's Brookhaven Reporter, Evergreen Construction has begun to prepare for $20 million in renovations to Cross Keys High School. School system reps confirmed the plan to renovate without admitting the horrible conditions there. "By no means would I classify Cross Keys as dilapidated," said Pat Pope, the school system's chief operations officer. "It's a sound structure and a good environment for a renovation."

Although this is very good news, I am still perplexed as to why there are no plans for an auditorium/career tech addition, as was promised for every high school in DCSS when we voted for SPLOST 3 funding. SPLOST 3 collections are ahead of projections, and are providing money in the bank – earning millions in interest. The money is there - and it must be spent as promised. So, why no auditorium for Cross Keys?

The excuse has been that the population is low, however, when you check out the way the district has been gerrymandered, it's obvious that the population is what it is due to politics. To create a "low population problem" and then declare it the reason for lower spending is disrespectful and unfair. Don McChesney is the board rep for this school and he needs to get in there and fight for Cross Keys' fair share - and their auditorium, just as Jay Cunningham did recently for SouthWest DeKalb and then later for Cedar Grove.

I am also perplexed as to why Pat Pope has suddenly started blaming the community itself for the architect quitting the project.

"Pope indicated that frustration with the design team of teachers, administrators, students and parents played a part in the first architect quitting the project.

"The community would never come to a consensus on design," she said."

I"m sorry, I just don't believe that. Big, rough, hard-hitting corporate architects would never just walk away from a project due to community issues. The Design Team at Cross Keys' only contribution to the plans to renovate was a 2 page wish list. All they ever asked was if the architect had received that list. Something else came into play. We will be watching more closely this time.

75 comments:

Cerebration said...

If you're interested in the future of Buford Highway, we have found Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon to be hard at work creating an overlay district as well as enlisting a city planner to reshape the area.

To read more check out this article at the Brookhaven Reporter -

http://brookhaven.reporternewspapers.net/Articles-c-2009-08-06-166222.113118_Rader_Gannon_determined_to_fix_Buford_corridor.html

Gannon and Rader are highly visible and accessible and I'm certain that if asked, they would collaborate with the school system when planning development in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

After listening to Dr. Lewis yesterday as he talked with teachers. I am waiting to hear about school closings. He hinted at this at the end of his speech at Lakeside.

Cerebration said...

HInted at what, exactly? They've already closed the buildings on the North Druid Hills property. Did he do more than drop "hints"?

Anonymous said...

My guess is from what I have been told.... Any school with less than 500 is targeted to close. The state does not support those schools... They come out of our pocket.

So Hawthorne, Henderson Mill, Evansdale, Briarcliff, Oak Grove are going to be under fire this time. Stay on top of everything guys and be very vocal. My guess is that one school will close and maybe 2 and consolidate everyone else.

My thinking is... Maybe it is time to think about closing DSA, DESA, KMS (yes I know very touchy, but times are tight) These kids could do so much better at their home schools. I know DSA really helps students that are more theatre bound.

Look to schools that already have outstanding programs. There are many schools (not DSA) that can compete with DSA and probably blow them (DSA) out of the water.

Same with KMS.. I know that Henderson Middle was tops in several areas, based on CRCT test. The beat Chamblee.. If KMS is so great shouldn't Chamblee's CRCT scores top Henderson's? From what I was told... They (HMS) did not beat Chamblee by a little but a lot.. Kudos' to Ms. Allen for all of hard work.

Cerebration said...

Hmm - curious - if you close Oak Grove (which actually has 638 students - with 6 trailers), or Briarlake, or Hawthorne, or others - where exactly would you merge them?

At any rate -- My big list tells me the following schools sport under 500 students --

DeKalb School of the Arts (285)
Avondale MS (527) borderline -
Ashford Park ES (391)
Atherton (435)
Avondale ES (461)
Bob Mathis (364)
Briarvista (386)
Briarlake (420)
Brockett (460)
Clifton (440)
Evansdale (489)
Flat Shoals (411)
Glen Haven (463)
Gresham Park (355)
Hawthorne (422)
Henderson Mill (463)
Kelley Lake (387)
Kingsley (431)
Kittredge Magnet (416)
Knollwood (315)
Laurel Ridge (379)
Livsey (354
Meadowview (312)
Medlock (325)
Midvale (397)
Montgomery (449)
Peachcrest (350)
Rock Chapel )468)
Rockbridge (493)
Rowland (467)
Sagamore Hills (470)
Sky Haven (339)
Smokerise (481)
Toney (443)
Wadsworth (187)

Then you have all of these specialty and/or charter schools -
DeKalb Academy of Tech & Environ. (338)
DeKalb Alternative (213)
DeKalb Early College (215)
PATH Academy (281)
Transition Acad (108)
Truancy (40)
Destiny Academy (99)
Gateway to College (100)
International Charter (388)


And - as far as I know - we own the following buildings, which have been shuttered and sit empty -
Heritage Center (tiny ES school seats 365)
Open Campus, DSA former Briarcliff HS complex
The WM Bryant Center
The former main offices (AB buildings)

And all of this rental property -

The Old Rock Gym (which probably should be condemned) is the original high school gym in the city and is an historic building. The city rents it for the recreation department.

The old Clarkston High School facility was leased to the Clarkston Community Center for something like 25 years and the community center has raised lots of money (maybe a million or two) to renovate the place) and it is used for recreation (the soccer fields), community meetings and classes.

The building leased to the Health Department for a health center is not big enough for anything.

And the old school leased to Destiny Charter Academy is being used to house a program for at-risk youth.

None of these are buildings that would be used for much of anything by DCSS because of their size. IMO, the Board's renting them out is the best use --- makes the community happy and the system can't really use them nor sell the property for much money.

Also -

I think there is a state law that says that once a governmental entity declares property surplus it has to be offered to other governmental entities first....considering the interest in the North Druid Hills Rd property and the Heritage school, which neighbors would like to see sold to the county for parkland, that could get interesting - if the law exists.

Lawyers? Care to research this one?

Cerebration said...

Forgot --

The former Shallowford ES, which also served as the former Chamblee MS, sits empty. Complete with new gym...

I'm sure there are many more. Please share what you know about dormant, under-utilized buildings.

No Duh said...

I thought the state didn't support schools under 400. When did it become 500?

Anonymous said...

You know how Crawford likes to pad. Whatever he needs he takes a lot more. When it came to cuts.. The first time he needed 10 million and took 20. When he let teachers work but took the retirement he took another 2.5 times what he needed.

Also, go back and read an ajc article from this summer. I believe that he states that was the magic number for him. Closing schools came up during the summer and talks about which schools to close was going to be determined by September or October.

Anon from 1:57 again. Forgot to add that.

fedupindcss said...

Maybe this is a DCSS rule. DCSS tends to pay for things above and beyond the state limit.

This is a tough one. I can see the positive benefits of a small, community school. But I can also see how expensive it is to maintain all of these separate, small buildings, with their replication of resources.

What I would be interested in hearing is what they plan to do with the displaced kids. None of these schools can physically handle more students, and they don't have land around them to build out. Coralwood has the most property of any school around.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I'm not so sure about the 500 - I think it is still 400.

The reason given that Kingsley's
4th and 5th graders would not be attending the new Dunwoody ES was that would put the student population at Kingsley below the line to keep the school open.

themommy said...

I think that (as before) they can only close buildings where they can send students to other schools with room. Look for Avondale Middle and Avondale High to be on the list (the regular program at the high school) and for all of a sudden AHS to be a "perfect" spot for a k-12 arts magnet school.

The threshold for full state funding for middle and high schools is higer than the 450ish which is for elementary schools.

Anonymous said...

What happened to Tilson and Forest Hills - I thought both had "closed" I've heard about a future single gender school for Forest Hills but what about Tilson? Does anybody know.

Anonymous said...

My memory was that the first architect told the DCSS that the addition and renovation could not be done with the funds alloted for the project. It was not the community's inability to come to a consensus, it was Pat Pope's arrogance and disregard of any input from the community stakeholders.

I've also heard that Pope never told the contractors currently onsite that the building is full of asbestos.

Finally, imagine if you will, demolition of a half wing of a school building while classes are being conducted in the other half of the wing. Is DCSS gonna provide asbestos/dust/mold filter masks to all students and staff?

How dare Pat Pope blame the Cross Keys community! It's another example of her arrogance.

Cerebration said...

Here are some items I pulled out from Dr Lewis' Powerpoint on redistricting & consolidation (2008- 2009) Most of this has been done.


Background for the Proposed
Consolidation and Redistricting Plan
The Superintendent assumed the responsibility
to develop a plan to address the following district
concerns:
•Relieve overcrowded schools
•Take advantage of empty seats in
low enrollment schools
•Redraw attendance lines to help
balance enrollments
in specified communities
•Continue to utilized open facilities

The Superintendent asked staff members to develop
a plan for consolidation of low enrollment schools and
redistricting of students that was based on the following
criteria:
􀂃Is it philosophically based?
􀂃Is it educationally sound?
􀂃Is it fiscally responsible?

Phase II
(2008-2009)
Forrest Hills ES
(Avondale ES & Midway ES)
Nancy Creek ES (Huntley Hills ES &
Montgomery ES)
Kittredge Magnet (Nancy Creek ES)
New McNair Area ES
(LJ Steele ES, Terry Mill ES, & Tilson)
Wadsworth ES (Columbia ES & Toney ES)
Browns Mill HA to Wadsworth ES
Design Teams (Begin School Choice Options)
Expansion of Montessori at Midway
(add an Elementary 2 class)

Phase III
(2009-2010)
Relocation of
Performing Arts
Magnet Programs

Wadsworth
Elementary School
to transfer to
Columbia and Toney
Elementary Schools

Browns Mill Magnet
Program to transfer to
Wadsworth
Elementary School

2008 – 2009 Maximum Class Sizes
􀂄 Pre-kindergarten–18 to 20 students with paraprofessional
􀂄 Kindergarten – 18 to 20 students with paraprofessional
􀂄 First Grade – 21 students
􀂄 Second Grade – 21 students
􀂄 Third Grade – 21 students
􀂄 Fourth Grade – 28 students
􀂄 Fifth Grade – 28 students
􀂄 Special Education – Based On Needs

Cerebration said...

And here's something I copied from the Parent Involvement Metrics -- since Lewis is proclaiming this "The Year of the Parent" --

In an effort to bring continuity to parental involvement in DeKalb County School System, we have adopted Dr. Epstein’s six types of
parental Involvement…
• Parenting…Providing for the health and safety and encouraging learning and good behavior in school
• Communicating…Schools reaching out to parents with information about all that is happening
• Volunteering…Parents having significant involvement with school functions and the environment and the school being flexible to make this happen
• Learning at home…Assisting children with homework and other activities with the guidance and support of the school
• Decision-making…Parents, with the school’s encouragement, taking part in decision-making
• Collaboration with the community…Schools can help families and community groups collaborate in student achievement

Cerebration said...

And as far as Pat Pope's comment goes, I'm disappointed. I don't understand how some parents and school personnel would cause an architect to quit. It doesn't make sense. They shouldn't have much input whatsoever... I mean, what do they know about school design? Shouldn't they just share their wish list, like they did - and then have the architect draw up plans? Lakeside has been back and forth for over a year with their design plan -- if architects can deal with the Lakeside people without quitting, why not Cross Keys?

Anonymous said...

I talked to a school board member about Cross Keys. The member has totally bought into the Lewis adminstration's line that the student population in the Cross Keys area is declining.

???

This board member didn't want to hear anything about the gerrymandered attendance zone. Look for Cross Keys to become a tech high only or tech school/charter school, but not a general popualtion school. This school board doesn't get it, and is going to allow the Lewis administration to continue with the ridicluous, borderline illegal attendance zones.

Cross Keys should have been completely torn down, and done in the same exact style at the new Arabia Mountain high school. A bunch of families in the Brookhaven area now sending their children to private schools would suddenly consider sending them to Cross Keys. But the $20 million renovation is lipstick on a pig.

themommy said...

The changes coming to Buford Highway will impact enrollment at CK. If they tear down housing and don't replace it with housing, or they replace it with a different kind of housing, then the families will be displaced.

I know this because it happened about 3 years ago in Dunwoody. Two of the most affordable (ie slums) apartment complexes in the DHS district were torn down.

These two complexes sent about 100 students to the elementary school alone. When they closed, nearly 80 percent of those children left the county immediately. It was several years before anything was built on the properties and now, between the two new complexes, there are fewer than 20 children at the elementary school.

When you are paying very little for rent, you generally can't afford any increases. With the demolition of those two complexes in the Dunwoody area, demand increased and rents rose. You can expect any demolitions of complexes in the CKHS area to have the same impact.

Students (and their families) will be displaced. Many will head to Gwinnett.

Cerebration said...

So, I've been thinking -- here's the deal regarding development in the CK area. Cross Keys and Chamblee are very close in location. Chamblee sits on 14 acres of land. Cross Keys sits on 37.4 acres (with and additional 13.6 acres that Woodward ES is sitting on, virtually next door - for a total of 51 acres the school system owns in that spot.)

Say that development occurs and many students move away (which is debatable and maybe even a bit prejudiced to state). But - if even half move away (which would be far over-estimating), Cross Keys would still have 500 students to educate. What should we do? Send them to Chamblee? Chamblee has 1564 students with a capacity for only 1260.

Chamblee is scheduled for an auditorium/career tech addition ($11.5 million) plus more.

Cross Keys is scheduled for a $20 million renovation.

Why not, instead, make Chamblee HS into a true, high tech, high performing math/science magnet - offering an option in the north end of the county to the excellent programs at Arabia and SW DeKalb - but open to anyone. Not a program in a program -- a true, high level teaching school for kids in the 90th percentile and above. Renovate the building and build them a regular sized auditorium for about $6 million. No need for career tech labs. And it's a bad idea to try to make Chamblee larger, as it's in a horribly congested area with a very small piece of land.

Then, make Cross Keys the area attendance school - on it's big expansive property. There is room to set it up like a small college campus. One building for career tech (vocational), one building for regular classes, one really nice auditorium to be shared by all - including Woodward ES. Anyone in the Chamblee district who is too far to the north for Cross Keys, could attend Dunwoody, which is scheduled to be built into a large-scale model school holding over 2000 - or some could be redrawn into Tucker, which is now brand new and large.

The Tucker HS tear-down and rebuild to include an auditorium/career tech and excellent PE, indoors and outdoors & tracks, fields, tennis courts and a parking deck, will cost about $53 million - and it was budgeted for $66 million - so we saved $13 million on that project! 1493 students currently attend Tucker - there's room for more. Check it out - it's gorgeous.

Cross Keys could be a crown jewel - it's an awesome piece of property. And the community would be very supportive -- I've spoken with many and they would love to have access to nice tracks for recreational use - as well as the fun of attending plays and performances at the local school auditorium.

Could this cost more than $55 million, like Tucker? - Already, $20 million is set aside for Cross Keys, we have $13 million saved from Tucker, as well as money saved from not adding a career tech component to Chamblee and projects in SW DeKalb that have been found to be unnecessary. Not to mention, how much money the system could collect if they started selling off some of the unused property. Add to that, SPLOST 3 collections are above projections - even in this economy.

To compare, Clarkston HS is getting a career tech addition at a cost of $ million - and they only serve 934 students. DSA got $10 million for a move and renovations to Avondale HS, and they only serve 285 students. Lakeside is about to undergo an enormous addition, auditorium, career tech and renovation (?? millions). Anyone know the projected cost of this? Lakeside serves about 1600 students.

I don't understand the apprehension of investing in a really nice "showcase" school at Cross Keys. If the attendance lines were redrawn to include most residents in the Chamblee district, the school would be full. Not to mention the people who may choose a new Cross Keys over private school (the choice currently made by many, many residents in the area - simply due to the conditions they see at Cross Keys.

Anonymous said...

Cere is right on about a "really nice "showcase" school at Cross Keys".

The freaking idiotic attendance zones are a major part of the problem. The Brookhaven area is right next door to Cross Keys. It's an upper middle class area that sends most of its kids to private school. The attendance zone needs to include greater Brookhaven, instead of just snaking up and down the Buford Highway corrdior.

Build an exact copy of Arabia High at Cross Keys, and you'll see an influx of non-transient families come to the school and support the school. But since its a predominately Latino school with a quit parent base, the DCSS Central Office is happy to just spend money to make it habitable, instead of knocking it down as needed.

Crawford Lewis has been part of the DCSS Central Office leadership for decades. The crazy Cross Keys attendance zone happened while he was one of the system's top decision makers. It's sad that the school board members representing Cross Keys refuse to ask Lewis and his administration and tough questions. It's sad that they allowed this administration to ignore the facility and maintenance needs at Cross Keys until the building was ready to fall down. This school board turns a blind eye to schools in this area of the county, especially Sequoyah.

It's not going to change until we convince someone who gets it, like Kim G., to run for school board!!!

Anonymous said...

I think the Chamblee neighborhood folks would have a fit unless they are guaranteed a spot at the redone Chamblee.

As it is, there has been much resistance to adjusting attendance zones if that meant more CKHS cluster students came into Chamblee.

Keep in mind, that in the not so distant past, the feeder elementary schools for CKHS were very, very overcrowded and the Chamblee feeder elementary schools were very underutilized. When it was suggested to move some of say Cary Reynolds neighborhoods into Huntley Hills, for example, WW III broke out.

So, as always, the system ducked, avoided the fight and added on to several of the CKHS elementary schools.

Over time, what has happened is that many new Latino families who once always settled on MARTA, started going straight to places like Gwinnett, Hall and West Cobb. The CKHS elementary schools aren't as overcrowded as they once were.

I believe that as low income housing is torn down, families will migrate northward to Gwinnett, etc.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I think the Chamblee neighborhood folks would have a fit unless they are guaranteed a spot at the redone Chamblee.

Most of the Chamblee neighborhood students go to private schools - I do not think you'll hear much of anything from them.

Ella Smith said...

The rumor from the bus barn (which may or may not be true) is that Cross Keys is going to be closed.

I do see Cross Key being closed due to the sale of the property in the area. The number of students at Cross Keys will probable drop and when it does the school will probable will turned into a technical school.

Due to the addition at Lakeside the students could be moved to Lakeside and Chamblee in the future. This would definitely eliminate Lakeside and Chamblee as being able to take in other students which might not be good for the county as a whole. Briarcliff could also be remodeled in the future and turned into a high school or a new high school built.

I would like to see Cross Keys attendance lines changed but without the support of the local school board members this is not going to happen. I felt a great deal of anger from the local members when I spoke about Cross Keys so I would be shocked, if the lines changed and Cross Keys stayed opened. I would like to see it stay open but this may actually not be what is best for the entire school system.

andi said...

Themommy and Anonymous are right about families moving to other counties if they tear down apartments on Buford Hwy. I also see more young families moving in. At National Night Out, we had several little kids from 8 weeks to 5 years old in our CKHS neighborhood. I still think more families will move into the area looking for affordable housing ITP.

I would hate to see them sell CKHS because they could never replace that amount of land in the area.

Anonymous is right getting Kim on the board. Can we add Cerebration and Ella to the list? :-)

Kim Gokce said...

Long post - sry! I'm still hearing from many faculty members that they will "believe it when they see it" regarding the renovation. I was really surprised by this attitude but they've been through this before and the construction sign doesn't impress them.

I have been telling my friends, neighbors, and public school officials that Cross Keys HS is the key (yes, Keys is the key) to our region's future. The decisions we make at Cross Keys this year and in the coming years will tell us everything we need to know about DCSS' future. I call it the canary in the mind shaft. (get it? "Mind" shaft? - Sry, I'm nerding out here).

Everything DCSS has done poorly it has done worse in CKHS' zone. With apologies to Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra, if DCSS can make it here, they can make it anywhere. I believe the System's decisions regarding CKHS zone will clearly indicate whether we are, in fact, going to get business as usual in DeKalb or a new way.

Regarding Cross Keys HS closing, not going to happen any time soon. A) nobody wants our kids, B) the much ballyhooed dramatic decline in enrollment is not going to happen with or without redevelopment in the area immediately around CKHS, C) the only "out" for DCSS would be the possible reconstitution of the North Druid Hills property but this is a very, very long shot.

Regarding Buford Hwy re-development, please realize that the only section that is subject of discussion by Rader and Gannon is the tiny strip between North Druid Hills and Briarwood Rd. This is only 1 fragment of the elongated attendance zone that stretches the entire length of Buford Hwy in DeKalb. Also, for the foreseeable future these plans would only affect 3 apartment complexes if they ever go forward.

Also remember that we are still in a financial crisis and the anticipated re-development along this corridor is going to be pushed back for years as a result. Sorry folks, no "white-washing" of Buford Hwy coming soon!

As mentioned above, the ESes along Buford Hwy are "less over-crowded" than before. Did anyone else notice that "less" part? There is a bulge in the attendance pattern for CKHS zone and it will start to show up in The Keys with this incoming freshman class.

We have years of GROWING enrollment at The Keys as far as I can hazard. This is in line with the demographer's projections commissioned by DCSS and I see no reason for us to turn a blind eye to these facts.

Also, as Andi mentioned above, there are growing number of young families still in-migrating to DeKalb in these areas. Does anyone not see that there will be more folks like Andi and I every year? What will they have to say?

We only have to look to Ashford Park ES to get a preview. This neighborhood was one of the first of the older neighborhoods to be the subject of infill housing and "gentrification." There are so many babies and toddlers now in APE's zone, the community needs to think about where they're going to put a few more trailers and stop arguing about where the 1st 4 were placed this year.

Boy, if DCSS thinks things are hard now and their contractors are spooked by a couple of squeakers, just wait until the zone is full of parents who r willing and able to speak out more for their kids' schools in this area.

Neighborhoods like mine and many like them in CKHS zone have started seeing the young families and infill homes - what's the plan DCSS? If we don't get one soon, St. Martin's, Immaculate Heart, Our Lady of Assumption, St. Pius and others surely will.

Lastly, regarding expanding CKHS zone (esp. northward), sad to say but I think the resistance would be epic. Images of Charlton Heston with a musket raised over head come to mind ...

We've created a fine mess with this HS and working our way back to a workable zone is going to take enormous courage and creativity. We'll need more of both than I've seen yet from the BoE as a whole and from Dr. Lewis.

I've said it before but I will repeat, our area private schools should be paying commissions to DCSS for all the families they send their way.

Kim Gokce said...

There were a couple of mentions of the Board of Education and my name in the same sentences above - I have to be honest with you ...

While I appreciate the compliment and I am humbled to have anyone have confidence in me in this way, a run at the BoE is not on the horizon for me. I have a family to raise and many years of skin-thickening before I would ever take a run at that office.

The BoE members have my respect for what they have signed-up to do. Every time I have spoken to Don McChesney I sincerely thank him for his service and ask him with a wink: "How's your new part-time job going?"

If he didn't know before, he now knows that it is more than a full-time job and much less than a part-time salary that earns you the ire of an average of 50%-80% of your constituents.

Kim Gokce said...

@ella: "I would like to see it stay open but this may actually not be what is best for the entire school system."

This is intriguing and begs the question: "What would be best for the school system?" Where will we put the 900+ and growing number of high schoolers at CKHS?

I really struggle with this point and genuinely would like to hear your vision for this Region.

I have felt that something has to give but it is looking more like status quo to me than anything and that is why I'm focusing on support for CKHS as it is constituted now - they sorely need the help, they are my neighbors and as far as I can discern, there is no vision to be had.

Kim Gokce said...

@cerebration: "I am still perplexed as to why there are no plans for an auditorium/career tech addition, as was promised for every high school in DCSS when we voted for SPLOST 3 funding."

If a commitment was made to all high schools, then where do I sign up CKHS?

What possible reason could there be to have CKHS be the only HS not receiving one? Overlooking CKHS is no longer an option - someone please tell me what form I need to fill out or a good reason why we're not on some list somewhere.

This nonsense has to stop! Does anyone know the story on this question? Before I go and blow a gasket over this I'd like to know the history and some facts.

Sheesh! How many ways can DCSS say: "We don't care about Cross Keys" ?????

Cerebration said...

Talk with Jay Cunningham. He made the statement, in voicing for SouthWest DeKalb that they were the only school that doesn't have an auditorium - and is not slated to get one. Well - there was an uproar from the Cedar Grove crowd -- saying that "how could Jay not know that they didn't have an auditorium either?" He profusely apologized (as was written in "Common Grounds" news) and voila! Cedar Grove is now also on the list for an auditorium.

Sadly, when several folks piped up to say "Hey Cross Keys doesn't have an auditorium either!" -- all you can hear are the crickets...

Jay? Don? BOE? Lewis? Pope?? Hello???

=========

As far as running for the BOE -- thanks for the compliment - but I've already been called a nutcase by one of them. I don't think they'd like to "work" with me... I'm better off serving as their watchdog.

I do think, however, that it is imperative that we put a Hispanic rep on the board. This minority group - which has almost as many students as the white student group - has virtually no voice in the school system.

Anonymous said...

Someone who's been here in DeKalb for a while tell me why the BOE and this administration is so content to let so many families in the Cross Keys/Brookhaven area send their children to private schools? Crawford Lewis, Pat Pope and the BOE are basically saying that Cross Keys was a shoddy and ignored facility and will stay a shody facility, and if you don't like it, go to private school 'cause we don't need you!

Anonymous said...

I heard that Cross Keys fell through the cracks when the Pat Pope whistleblower (a lawyer who worked for her for only a short time) turned her in to the District's county office late last year. Service center employees still see this lawyer around (in Building B), but no one at Plant Services knows what is going on or why or how Pope could still be in power. We smell a cover up. Anyone who has had to work under Pope hates her. What you see (or think you see at BOE meetings) is not what you get.

Dekalbparent said...

@Anon 8:11 So what is going on? I know there is a mystique around Pat Pope; when she was at DHHS prior to de- I mean con-struction starting, school personnel were not allowed to talk to her. You had to talk to your principal, who would talk to someone on her staff, who would talk to her.

I am also aware that there were substantial delays because basic permits (land disturbance, etc) from the county were never applied for, and the Fire Marshal suspended de-/ construction for 4 weeks because they eliminated the fire exits from half the building, and did not provide alternatives. Doing these things seem pretty basic, and I wondered about her staff at the time.

Cerebration said...

I wish I knew. It was way back in early December that Dr. Lewis said the "results of the investigation" into Pat Pope's files and computers (which were confiscated by the DA) would be available in a week or two.

Again, crickets...

Anonymous said...

Interesting, anonymous 0811 - from what I've heard the people that have issues with Patricia Pope are the leftovers from the previous regime.

Dekalbparent said...

Cere - I looove the "crickets" observation. Perhaps it can become one of our bywords: "Crickets"

Maybe a slogan...

Kim Gokce said...

Bad news today for those who expect to see CKHS enrollment declining ... attendance taken today was 809. That number is likely to rise as more student are expected to enroll in the coming week.

I'll be very curious to see the distribution of this enrollment to see if each successive class is larger than that above it. I believe that is what we'll see and it will point towards an enrollment north of 1,000 within the next few years.

With the exception of a few dozen tech students, all these are attendance zone kids, too. If I'm not mistaken, this would make CKHS the HS in our region with the highest total enrollment from its own attendance zone. Clearly a school that has no future ... right.

themommy said...

Almost all of Dunwoody's students are from within their attendance zone. With the exception of the remaining AYP students from last year and a handful of admin transfers (also from previous years), the remaining probably 1300 Dunwoody students all reside within the attendance zone.

Square Peg said...

The report that came out in July on graduation rates had an interesting implication related to Cross Keys (and secondarily Dunwoody and Lakeside) enrollment.

The authors speculate about factors that might be related to low graduation rates, such as school size, but they have trouble clearly supporting their speculations from the data. One factor, though, jumped out at me. In places where high school dropouts have a decent chance to get a job, the report says that labor-market pull may play an important role in a student's decision to leave high school prematurely. They say there is a distinct pull for Hispanic youth. "High schools often post the lowest graduation rates for Hispanic students even though many persist into a fifth or even sixth year of high school in an effort to earn a diploma. With high schools ill-prepared to meet their needs, in the face of immediate family financial pressures the short-term economic payoffs may prove a powerful lure for students to discontinue their education and enter the labor market full time."

The report is based on 2005-2006 data. Two changes I can think of in Georgia since 2005-2006 is that the economy has gotten much worse, making it harder for high school dropouts to find work, and the state instituted the graduation coach program.

In 2005-2006, according to the gadoe website, the state-calculated graduation rate for Dekalb County was 64.6% overall (4523 out of a class of 7000 students) and 40.8% for Hispanic students (129 out of a class of 316). The 2008-2009 state-calculated graduation rate for Dekalb improved to 78.1% overall (5024/6430), but it zoomed to 71.2% for Hispanic students (205/288). I know we can disagree with the state's method for calculating graduation rates, but that's the data we've got, and it's dramatic.

One wonders whether the horrible economy is doing as much to keep students in school as efforts such as graduation coaches.

The report is at http://www.jff.org/Documents/graduating_america_072209.pdf

Cerebration said...

That's fascinating, SquarePeg. I downloaded the report and plan to read it.

I have advocated for vocational schools for over 10 years so far -- only to see no movement in that direction whatsoever. I was just posting at the AJC on this topic -- we were talking about Kathy Cox's student legislative program. Vo-tech could serve the needs of so many who otherwise drop out. And as far as calculating the rate - the current method doesn't tell the story. We currently count how many seniors there are in each "group" and then divide into the number who receive a diploma. This effectively ignores the thousands who drop out before reaching their senior year. Do we want to deal with truth and reality or do we want to make our schools look good? Seems like we've been satisfying the latter.

Quoting myself -- (I know - that's weird) --

I think this is probably a good program - akin to serving as a page in the legislature - but if the state REALLY wants to set policy that will effect and improve education for all, they need to start interacting with students other than high-achievers. I’d love to see Cox sit down with groups of drop outs or struggling students and listen to their input too. Not everyone can handle the standard college-prep route - in fact, a majority of people do not go to traditional four-year colleges. I’d like to see the state offer alternatives for students who need them. We also need great plumbers and carpenters! As it is now, we’re training them for Harvard U or Hamburger U.

Of course, I’m speaking about high schools. Georgia has some really excellent tech schools at the college level — I’d like to see more crossover into high school with these programs. As it is now, many of them require a high school diploma before you can begin the tech diploma. That’s causing us to lose a whole bunch of students in the process. If we had seamless transition - say as seniors in high school - you could begin your college tech program - we would serve so many. I think there was a new law called “Move On When Ready” that was attempting to introduce this kind of thinking…

Square Peg said...

I was surprised that the graduation rates as calculated in the report were not as far off from our state data as I would have expected. Other than the labor-market-pull hypothesis, the thing in the report that jumped out at me was that, according to Table 5, Georgia is listed as having no school districts with 8 or more low-graduation rate high schools (2005-2006). That surprised me, since according to Georgia's methodology 6 Dekalb schools had a graduation rate less than 60% in 2005-2006 (Avondale was 54.1%, Clarkston 51.1%, Columbia 55.7%, Cross Keys 46.9%, Towers 59.8%, McNair 45.7%) and two others came close (Lithonia 61.7%, Stone Mountain 62.4%, as I recall.) I believe the report's threshold for low-graduation-rate high schools was 60%.

Also, students who do not have legal status in the US are locked out of good jobs regardless of their education. So what incentive do they have to make sacrifices to get a diploma, other than personal pride?

Kim Gokce said...

@Square Peg: "One wonders whether the horrible economy is doing as much to keep students in school as efforts such as graduation coaches."

I think this is fairly intuitive - even adults who find the job market fruitless return to school to make good use of their time. No reason I can see why high schoolers should be that different.

I left school to work in the early 80's and went back during the recession of the early 90's to finish undergrad and grad degrees as an adult.

I could very easily believe there are many young people figuring that finishing high school is the best use of their time when over 20% of them that are looking can't find jobs. That figure is for the general population - I would assume higher in immigrant communities.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

"ANON asked: Someone who's been here in DeKalb for a while tell me why the BOE and this administration is so content to let so many families in the Cross Keys/Brookhaven area send their children to private schools?"

I don't have an answer for you but when I asked this question 10 years ago (to a couple of board members) the response was "they would have left DCSS anyway". Isn't that great?

Sure, there are many families who wouldn't ever consider public schools, but the attitude that you don't want to retain those kids and families? Don't improve the schools and be competitive, it's easier that way.

Cerebration said...

Worse than "allowing" students to attend private schools in the Cross Keys area, is allowing students to attend school in the building called Cross Keys High School. I disagree with Pat Pope - the building is decrepit. She certainly wouldn't spend her days in it -- she has already completely renovated her own office! Same for Lewis and everyone in the A/B buildings - and same for the Sam Moss Center -- millions spent on admin buildings -- BEFORE students!

When I voted for SPLOST 3 - I assumed the money would go toward school buildings with children inside -- shame on me for assuming.

Anonymous said...

I like Pat Pope compared to her predecessor Stan Pritchett, a former principal who had no background in facilities and operations, but Pat is completely CRAZY is she thinks Cross Keys is not a dump beyond repair.

It is shameful to spend so much money on Arabia Mt. and the new Tucker High while Cross Keys is a pit of a school. I thought Lakeside was the worst county high school facility until I checked out Cross Keys.

Pat Pope, you've lost your mind. If Womack and McChesney are the school board rep.'s for Cross Keys, shame on them for not demanding a complete tear down.

Ella Smith said...

Kim, an explanation about my statement:

I want to see Cross Keys stay open. If not I hope that Briarlake reopens or the county builds a school like Arabian Mountain.

The problem I see if from a big standpoint if the attendance does not come up. Dekalb County is being punished due to the formula for having so many schools open with so few schools. This is the reason schools are going to close. I could see Cross Keys possible closing because of this. This may be a decision that may be best for all the citizens in Dekalb due to the amount of money the county can receive back from the state.

Again, I know it is a great deal more complicated that just looking at it from a neighborhood prospective. I know that politically the school system are going to do something about the problem. Cross Keys may be affected. This may be why Cross Keys is not getting an auditorium.

Kim, members of the school board were very mad at me for speaking at the school board and defending Cross Keys. In fact it appeared that the person was mad at a group of us for the media coverage of Cross Keys which I had nothing to do with.

All I will say Kim is that some people are nice to your face and knife you in the back when you are not around. Some people will tell you what you want to hear when they see you and then tell me what a stupid idea to have a ground opening when the construction starts at Cross Keys.

I do not think it is stupid. The constrution is way overdue and very appropriate.

A bus driver or two told me that they were told by an administrator that the county was planning on closing Cross Keys. Now I do not know how true this is. This was what I was told by them about a week ago when I ran into them. They remembered me from the election and stopped and talked to me.

Cerebration said...

Womack's not. In fact, he's my rep and he told me to talk to McChesney about Cross Keys. It's McChesney's school - and he seems overly concerned about the proposed development in the area. He thinks it will make too many low-income apt kids move away so he's afraid to spend money on Cross Keys. He doesn't seem like he is willing to go to bat for Cross Keys - I find him much more interested in redistricting Sagamore to Lakeside (and away from his other HS - Druid Hills.)

If you take the time, you would see the opportunity for Cross Keys. The area is in steady growth - not decline - and the people moving in are every day families with young children - many of whom look to public schools for their kids. Kim is a great example - and from my experiences in the area lately - there are a lot more Kims in the CK district. I think investing in the CK property (at 37.5 acres) is much wiser than investing in the Chamblee property (14 acres on a very congested road) if it comes to a choice.

Plus - some redistricting needs to occur. Major redistricting. Many in the northern arc can go to Tucker - which after construction will have capacity for at least 1600 (their enrollment has dropped and they currently have less than 1200).

And I'll say it again -- Miller Grove does not need an addition! They are under-capacity by nearly 300 seats! PLUS - there are still hundreds of available seats at Arabia (just a few miles away). SW DeKalb is now slated for $20 million or more in further improvements - and a performing arts center. MLK is getting a multi-million dollar addition. Miller Grove's unnecessary plans can be transferred to a much needier Cross Keys, Chamblee and Dunwoody.

I would encourage the board to stop and take inventory again and make some better decisions about where best to spend the rest of SPLOST 3 - changes still need to be made. I would even question the need for an additional 28 classrooms for Lakeside, along with the auditorium and career tech classrooms. Lakeside does need a good reno, however.

The "number of students" attending CK is a thin argument IMO. Take for example, DCSS spent $10 million moving and renovating space for 286 DSA students. And millions more to renovate McNair HS - which, proportionately is less utilized than Cross Keys. Clarkston is similar in utilization and has received millions in renovations along with the auditorium/career tech package. Same story for Towers.

I would say that if the Board determines that investing in Cross Keys in order for them to have comparable facilities to the others mentioned is not in their plans -- this would make many of us seek a legal opinion regarding discrimination.

Cerebration said...

Ella, this is disappointing. Think about it - they school system has gerry-mandered the Cross Keys attendance zone for years -- take a look again at Kim's report - and diagram of the silly shape of CK attendance zone.

You can't create an unnatural attendance problem and then close a school because there's an attendance problem.

If you ask me - this is about the almighty dollar. The property is valuable. And no one on the board has nostalgia for it like they do the old Briarcliff HS. We need to keep both properties. Logically we should consider dumping Chamblee - that's a horrible property and location for a school. Also - we need to sell the Heritage school to the county for a park. That tiny little building does us no good. It only has 18 little classrooms. We can also sell the Shallowford ES (former Chamblee MS) property - now that they've built a brand new ES on Womack Rd instead.

If we close Cross Keys due to under-enrollment, then we need to close Towers, McNair, Clarkston and Avondale for the same reason.

Cerebration said...

Besides - where on earth do they plan to put the 800-900 or so kids when they displace them from Cross Keys? That would be ridiculous - there's no room in any other area HS.

Ella Smith said...

I hope also they do not close Cross Keys. I have always been a very big supportor of Cross Keys and this will not stop. I just think by listening to the comments of board members at school board meetings that they do not think the population is growing.

I did get a letter from the school super about Cross Keys I will share with you Celeb. Lets have coffee sometime.

I will continue to fight for Cross Keys. I do not think Kim has the support he thinks he does. I will leave it at that. I did asked about the lines of Cross Keys and I got an ear full and made someone mad. The more I talked the more upset I made someone. It is like I do not have a right to have an opinion or I will upset someone. I do not understand why adults cannot disagree but not get mad at each other because they do not agree.

I do wonder why Cross Keys is not getting an auditorium. This is a good question for Kim to ask his school board member. I do wonder why we were told that the construction would start by Aug. 1st. I drive by Cross Keys every day and I do finally see a sign so maybe by Sept. something will get started.

Kim Gokce said...

I take one day off from blogging and bam! So much covered ... 1 at a time ...

@Mary: It is worse than what you were told ("they would have left DCSS anyway"), DCSS not only seems to be unconcerned about wealthy families going private, they don't realize they are driving working/middle class families from our region to Cobb and Gwinnett. Noticing this fact was the first trigger that brought about my interest in CKHS.

As a civic volunteer in my community, I started noticing the pattern of families' decision to leave our area being driven in no small part by their public school options. My neighborhood looses families that move out of County for public schools rather than swim upstream in our region.

In a community like mine, many families see their choices as between maintaining and renovating their 50-year old homes or paying for private school. If they can't afford both, many move.

So, it is more than wealthy folks that are being dismissed by DCSS in this region and who knows how many homeschooling decisions have been driven by the attitude you've encountered.

I sense mixed messages coming from DCSS statements and actions. On the one hand, I hear lamenting about low enrollment causing funding issues. On the other hand, I see no interest in bringing into the system these middle class families I've mentioned. Very confusing ...

Kim Gokce said...

@ella: I appreciate your support for CKHS at the public speaking at the BoE. Don't worry, there will be many more voices coming to that mic now that folks are learning about the real situation at The Keys.

and re: "All I will say Kim is that some people are nice to your face and knife you in the back when you are not around."

As long as they don't do it when I'm there, I'm good! :)

andi said...

I'm seeing the same thing in our neighborhood too. We got wait listed at Catholic school. My neighbors moved to Norcross. Two other neighbors may move in the next couple of years due to schools.

DCSS does not want to invest in Cross Keys due to enrollment but enrollment will not go up if don't.

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "... he told me to talk to McChesney about Cross Keys. It's McChesney's school"

So, we haven't really changed "the way it works" with BoE/DCSS, then?

Also: "if the Board determines that investing in Cross Keys in order for them to have comparable facilities to the others mentioned is not in their plans"

Not an option - are we really prepared to tell another freshman class at CKHS that we treat all students equally it's just that we treat some more equally than others? Not an option ...

re: "If we close Cross Keys due to under-enrollment, then we need to close Towers, McNair, Clarkston and Avondale for the same reason."

What would the "acceptable" enrollment be for CKHS? I think this is a red herring - the real reason CKHS may have ever been in the cross hairs is because it has lacked advocates in the community.

re: "Besides - where on earth do they plan to put the 800-900 or so kids when they displace them from Cross Keys? That would be ridiculous - there's no room in any other area HS."

Moreover, I honestly think the demographer will be proved correct and we'll see CKHS enrollment rise even higher in coming years.

We also can't imagine that these 800-900 (current enrollment) students would impact neighboring schools like any other 800-900 kids. I believe everyone except the CKHS faculty is under-estimating the obstacles these kids face and the extra effort and resources required to succeed.

Everyone looses if CKHS is closed - not a good strategy. We need to take care of the living, breathing, red-blooded kids that are here now! It is not acceptable to me to see another incoming class face 4 years like the last 4 at CKHS. Not acceptable ...

Kim Gokce said...

@ella: "I do wonder why Cross Keys is not getting an auditorium. This is a good question for Kim to ask his school board member."

A lot of people are going to ask this question, don't you worry!

To paraphrase a community member's comments to me this week: "We tell our children to work hard, study, and to do the right things and to dream. Then, they see that their dreams don't matter as much as the other kids."

Not acceptable. Not acceptable ...

Kim Gokce said...

@andi: "DCSS does not want to invest in Cross Keys due to enrollment but enrollment will not go up if don't."

This very much compounds the already messed-up zone dynamics. A lot of families like mine are looking at the decisions made this year to tell us whether there is real hope for "Premier DeKalb" to visit our high school.

I'm a very stubborn person and will see that every effort is made to get equity for the CKHS district and students. In the end, we are influencers, not decision-makers.

Can I impose on thread readers with one more very heart-breaking example of the implications of this neglected zone?

An event producer wanted to help CKHS kids get exposure and told me about an opportunity for the band to participate in the annual Latin Festival at Underground Atlanta that includes a parade on Peachtree. This event is enormous with thousands of attendees from the entire southern region.

CKHS lacks the equipment and shoes for the band to take advantage of this ... in its own town.

This zone has been so under-minded it is hard to help even when folks want to help.

I told them I'd try to find a way but the event is in August and I just don't think there is time. So frustrating to learn how hamstrung the school is ...

Kim Gokce said...

@Cerebration: "If you ask me - this is about the almighty dollar. The property is valuable."

Yes, it is. And it will remain more valuable to the community if it remains public use land.

I imagine in my naive mind that there are options for us besides either/or, opened/closed, school/no school for the property. I am floating ideas about joint public/private, DCSS/DeKalb Co. partnerships to invest in the property for education, public arts, and recreation.

I hope naivete is contagious and infects our key influencers and decision-makers soon so we can take advantage of this very opportune moment.

Cross Keys is a school in search of a community and Brookhaven is a community in search of an identity. DeKalb's District #2 is woefully lacking in public spaces and recreational spaces. I think these needs intersect at 1626 North Druid Hills Road. A great deal is at stake for our area's kids and our communities' future.

Cerebration said...

"DCSS does not want to invest in Cross Keys due to enrollment but enrollment will not go up if (we) don't."

Truer words were never spoken. I find it so odd that the school system, over the course of many years, has created this very strange, worm-shaped attendance zone for this one school, then stopped spending any money whatsoever on the facilities and now that we have come to the point to pay the pauper, their rallying cry becomes, "But there are not enough students!" Huh? There aren't many students because the system gerrymandered the zone and let the building decay so that the only people left attending the school are the ones with literally no choice.

Circular logic like this hurts my brain.

Kim Gokce said...

... and yet, the enrollment continues to climb ... 893 as of today. Likely to top out just over 900. Way ahead of projections and in my humble opinion just a harbinger of the future.

New classes had to be formed and each class is at maximum. Enrollment at Cross Keys just fine in spite of the obstacles this zone has to overcome!

Dunwoody Mom said...

Kim, I see DCSS recognized your efforts - good job!!

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/newsroom/press/pdf/2009-08-17.2009-08-24.School_Has_Need,_Community_Steps_Up_for_Cross_Keys.pdf

Andrea said...

It appears that enrollment at Sequoyah is following that trend, too, as they are up 200 students over last year as of Friday. It is time for some honest dialogue from DCSS to admit that the issues regarding spending money at Cross Keys have little to do with enrollment.

Cerebration said...

Way to go, Kim! I'm also really proud of DCSS for sending out the press release and recognizing your efforts along with highlighting the need at Cross Keys. I think they may be hearing the rallying cry from you and the community! Cross Keys is really a wonderful school community - I know I was impressed when I visited and met the students and staff!

Kim Gokce said...

Thanks Dunwoody Mom and Cerebration - I'm only doing what anyone with a shred of humanity and civic-mindedness would do.

The only thing I'll take credit for is taking the time to learn about this extraordinary school and letting the broader community know about it - they did the rest with their response. Once you know, it's hard not to help in any way you can.

On a related note, I did receive verbal confirmation yesterday from Waffle House Corp that they will allow me to host a dedication ceremony at the Peacthree and Dresden Road store to recognize Abu Bangura.

This is going to be fun, fun, fun! If you're curious to meet some of these amazing students and faculty, plan on dropping by at 2:00pm (or earlier for lunch!) on Sept 19 at:

Waffle House
(404) 816-2668
4065 PEACHTREE ROAD/
ATLANTA, GA 30319

We'll be celebrating this young man's accomplishments, our immigrant families, our school, our community, and our great country!

No Duh said...

Right On!

Or course, no one would send out a negative press release (they would call the reporter to bitch instead), but DCSS' willingness to display your release on the DCSS website indicates a small crack in the door of detente. Good for you.

I really think DCSS favors (i.e. better serves) schools that constantly send out good press releases about what's happening in their schools. When those communities play along with the emperor's lack of clothing, I think their needs are better and more quickly met. Maybe it's just years of DCSS-induced paranoia on my part! :)

No Duh said...

Just re-read my post. Kim, I'm not saying you and/or the Cross Keys Community are playing along. Sorry if it comes off that way. You rock!

Kim Gokce said...

No Duh: Didn't take it that way at all. I think your point is true everywhere in life - no one favors those who attack/insult them. So while I think criticism of DCSS is often fair, I would rather see more positive proposals and action. "What are we prepared to do?"

As bad as the situations often are, it is easier to lambaste the leadership than it is to try and help. I expect working with an enormous bureaucracy like DCSS to be painful so I guess I have a higher tolerance for how frustrating it can be. In the case of CKHS, my intent is to see what can be accomplished "all things equal."

A new coalition of public, private, and civic efforts has to fill the void of parental resources in our attendance zone. My hope is that this type of coalition will give CKHS a voice where it has had none in decades.

Kim Gokce said...

A quick heads-up for those interested in CKHS, the renovation looks to be gearing up and there's talk of accelerating it.

The principal will now be participating in weekly meetings with the operations/construction folks as the work begins in earnest. The team is discussing how they can accelerate the project so 2 wings can be completed by March 2010.

I think any concerns that the renovation may not go forward can be put to rest at long last!

Cerebration said...

CKHS Book Drive: "Thank you!" from Dr. McMillan

Posted by kimgokce @ COMMUNITY RADAR
22 hours ago (Editorial)

This is the text of an open letter to the community for supporting the recent book drive for the Cross Keys HS English Department:

"August 21, 2009

Dear Community Members:

I would like to thank each of you who helped conceive, organize, and execute the recent book drive for Cross Keys High School. I especially want to thank those that made the simple but important decision to contribute books to support the education of our young people.

Our English Department will put your generously donated books to great use in coming weeks. Our faculty could not be more excited to see your outpouring of support for their classroom needs and I pass along their gratitude to you. You truly have made a difference by your gift and have inspired support from others in our community.

I am proud to serve a community that understands its own critical role in Cross Keys' success and I am sincerely honored to serve in my role as Principal of your Cross Keys High School. Thank you!



Sincerely,

Dr. LaShawn McMillan

Principal"

Cerebration said...

Cross Keys enrollment up

Posted by kimgokce @ COMMUNITY RADAR
1 day 38 minutes ago FROM (http://brookhaven.reporternewspapers.net)

Cross Keys High School students returned from summer break last week to a different campus than they left. While there are still no signs of the improvements the long-awaited renovation promises to deliver, or even actual activity to indicate that construction or deconstruction has begun, there are signs of change, including a definite increase in the size of the student body.

Totalrenovering said...

Cool I hope that it could attract more enrollees this year. Thank you for the great and cool posting keep up the good work.

Kim Gokce said...

Cross Keys supporters will have a great opportunity to show that support publicly on Sept. 26:

2009 Graduate of Cross Keys High School to be Honored

Hope to see our happy bloggers there!

Anonymous said...

http://championnewspaper.com/cross_keys.html

Diversity spawns togetherness at Cross Keys
by Robert Naddra
Robert@dekalbchamp.com

Which of the following are things you’ll never see or hear at a high school football practice in DeKalb County:

Player bios that read like answers to a world geography test – Zambia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Honduras, Serbia, Mexico, China.

The snap count being rattled off in Spanish.

A former gang member starting on the offensive line.

Coaches helping players make sure their pads are in the right places.

Players going to tutorials instead of going to practice two days a week, if needed.

If you chose any of the above, you’ve probably never been to a football practice at Cross Keys High School.

It doesn’t take long to figure out why winning football games isn’t the most important thing to players and coaches at Cross Keys High School.

With little to no parental support, Cross Keys coach David Radford and his staff try to create a team environment on the most diverse team at the most diverse high school in the county.

Anonymous said...

Hi, im a freshmen student who now goes to Arabia Mountain High and i honestly think it is outrageous on how we can constantly build new schools but we cannot inprove the ones we have. when i had come to sequoyah middle [CKHS middle school]i had simply fell in love with the diversity,culture, and learning process of the school and wanted more of it. Thye have excellent spirit and have the chance like anyone else to learn in a good environment,so why cant they get an upgrade.I cant even ask my mom to go to the school without her laughing asking why do u want to go to that dump.I simply say because of the people, but not everyone sees that.What the people see is what the people think of the school, and its a bad thought from what i hear.I dont think they are a lost cause so why does the DCSS think so ?

Cerebration said...

Wow. That is the most eloquently spoken post supporting the Cross Keys/Sequoyah community we've had here at the blog. Thanks so much for sharing, Anon!

Kim Gokce said...

@Anon Arabia Mtn Freshman Ram: "I dont think they are a lost cause so why does the DCSS think so ?"

Firstly, congratulations on beginning your high school years at an amazing place like Arabia! Secondly, congratulations on distilling down the discussion about Sequoyah/Cross Keys cluster. These are great kids and great teachers. People do have perceptions about the schools that are out of sync with reality.

I do not think DCSS has given up on these schools. I think that the schools do not get the attention of others do because there is no organized parent group advocating for the schools.

For me, the best analogy is our schools as hungry children in a very large family. The family gathers around the table and all the siblings start grabbing at food and wolfing it down. The schools of the CKHS cluster are the quiet and polite kids. They do not get seconds or as large of a slice of pie as the demanding and loud brothers and sisters. The system is the overwhelmed parents in this home. The more quiet kids are every bit as worthy and capable but simply don't draw attention.

There are many community voices outside the schools starting to advocate on behalf of these "quieter children" and I don't want you to believe that anyone has given up on you or your peers at Sequoyah or Cross Keys.

Work hard at your new school and follow the progress of your peers and let's hope that by the time you graduate the mis-perceptions and inequities in the Cross Keys zone are a thing of the past. Thanks for caring enough to express your opinion!

Cerebration said...

In covering a recent Emory Lavista Parent Council meeting, The North DeKalb Neighbor reports,

The school system also is juggling 44 construction projects countywide including the $66 million reconstruction of Tucker High School and a $20 million renovation of Cross Keys High School.

School system Chief Operating Officer Pat Pope said both projects were running on schedule and should be complete in late 2010.