We all know the magnets are front and center in the discussion, but what happened to the theme schools:
I feel duped once again by DCSS.
I was initially impressed with all the effort DCSS put into the public meetings and their website with all that accessible information. I felt compassion for DCSS decision makers and the tough decisions that need to be made ... and then I came back to reality. Where are the Theme Schools on the redistricting maps? DCSS is redrawing district lines, considering moving successful magnet programs, changing neighborhoods - but not the Theme Schools? No where could I find in the DCSS goals - at least in their presentations - anything about Theme Schools.
Let's look at DCSS's goals, according to their presentation:
- Provide students with equitable access to quality programs
- Minimize the distance non-choice students travel to school
- Support community cohesion by minimizing split feeder patterns and maintaining intact neighborhoods
- Operate school buildings that create safe and healthy learning environments and support educational programs
- Improve utilization of school facilities
Here's why I care. DCSS currently proposes to send Pleasantdale students to Evansdale Elementary and Livsey Elementary, even though it means causing both schools to go over capacity, change elementary schools, and change high school feeder patterns. Oakcliff Theme Elementary School was created to relieve overcapacity schools - Pleasantdale, Dresden, and Carey Reynolds. Oakcliff is currently at 90% capacity. I have to ask why is DCSS allowing Oakcliff to remain undercapacity? According to a recent news article, Oakcliff has received over $200,000 in cash and technology support from various sponsors. Oakcliff was the 2009 Intel School of Distinction -http://www.intel.com/about/corporateresponsibility/education/soda/winners.htm.
DCSS already provides a bus route for the Pleasantdale neighborhood to Oakcliff. http://quikmaps.com/full/9472 or http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/oakcliff/ - click on school maps and the red bus route.
When evaluating the pros and cons of redistricting, I have to wonder why DCSS did not include Oakcliff in their options. Oakcliff is at 90% capacity - the same as Evansdale; and 2.5 miles from Pleasantdale, same as Evansdale. Yet, the school is not even considered. I realize that Theme Schools require parent participation, but if DCSS really wants to alleviate overcrowded schools, then a simple paper exercise is the logical decision vs. disrupting successful programs and neighborhoods, and overcrowding other schools. It seems that DCSS is being arbitrary and capricious. I would imagine further examination of Theme Schools and their enrollment is merited.
The DeKalb County School System has seven traditional theme schools including Edward L. Bouie, Sr., Marbut, Narvie J. Harris, Oakcliff, Robert Shaw, Wynbrooke Traditional Theme Elementary Schools and Champion Traditional Theme Middle School located in various areas of DeKalb County, Georgia.