Friday, September 17, 2010
Where The High School Students Are
Some of you may be too young to remember Connie Francis singing this song but I thought about it as I reviewed the latest data posted by the DCSS Planning Department. A play on the name of this song, “Where the High School Students Are” is the latest informative report to help citizens understand student mobility in our high schools. Interesting things to note:
• Lithonia and ML King, Jr. send more students to other schools than Avondale and Chamblee each have in their attendance zones.
• Arabia Mountain is providing relief to Lithonia and ML King, Jr. but more could be done if it were made into a neighborhood school with an attendance zone. Perhaps that could also help save expansion costs at several schools.
• Lakeside sends more students to Chamblee than any other in the district.
• Other than schools with choice or magnet programs, Druid Hills is the only school with students from every neighborhood high school.
It would be interesting to know the grade level breakdown of the students at the receiving schools along with the type of transfer they are (Admin, AYP, Choice, other). It would also be nice if this type of data could be provide for the past 3-4 years to determine any trends (realistically this may be challenging to provide).
Several have discussed closing the Avondale and Chamblee clusters as neighborhood clusters, based on the initial data provided. Ironically, Chamblee was scheduled for closure in the early 1990’s until the magnet program arrived. This would allow the district to repurpose Avondale as a ‘magnet’ cluster in the middle of the county by relocating and housing all the high achievers programs with DESA and DSA. Perhaps the Chamblee/Cross Keys cluster could be housed at the Cross Keys site or build a new comprehensive high school for 2000-2200 students in either the Buford Highway or Peachtree corridor.
This would be just one piece of the complicated puzzle of school closure, consolidation, redistricting, and repurposing. The district also needs to look at all small elementary schools that are in close proximity to one another and determine if they can be consolidated into a larger facility ala McNair Discovery Academy. This could both reduce the number of building while providing newer facilities capable of handling today’s electrical and HVAC demands. Making them LEED certified should be a goal for all new buildings in the district.
Yes we are talking about buildings but at the end of the day, the focus should be on ensuring we provide safe and healthy learning environments for our students. All of this will be moot if we cannot improve student performance. Given the dwindling revenues from our tax base, suggestions like above can help us spend less on maintaining buildings and more on instruction.