Monday, March 30, 2009

Will Sembler still buy the property on North Druid Hills from the DeKalb County School System?

I see the school property on North Druid Hills as nice as many of the schools in the central and the north side of DeKalb County. Is the county commissioners and school system planning to condemn these school structures on North Druid Hills Road?

However, there is not doubt that the school property itself, along with Adams Stadium, is irreplaceable to the school system and the residents of Central DeKalb. Would this campus not be a better place for the military high school than the small Heritage facility? According to my sources, the Heritage facility only holds 396 ELEMENTARY students. The military facility is supposed to serve 600 high school students in the future.

At least one school board member and many commissioners got political donations to their campaign by Sembler. Of course, this cooperation wants something in return. Could it be the property on North Druid Hills and will our new school board allow this to happen? I hope they will not! Nevertheless, it is my understanding that only two school board members out of nine are fighting to keep the property on North Druid Hills from being condemned if these buildings could be remodeled. What do you think? Will the citizens of Central DeKalb allow this to happen? Do we really want the property sold on North Druid Hill's road to Sembler or any other company as this property will never be able to be replaced at the price it would be sold.


Anonymous said...

oooh Ella! you go girl! this is a can of worms -- a big can of worms!

Anonymous said...

Gene Walker is the main culprit behind the scenes pushing in support of Sembler. And he's going to get his way. Sembler has paid off pretty much every elected
official in DeKalb.

Gene Walker is an absolute disgrace.

Cerebration said...

I don't know - this Sembler issue has been going on for a long time. Sembler made contributions to BOC members first - Elaine Boyer got $20,000 for her daughers and the rest of the cheerleaders at Lakeside. But Walker did get $18,000 in Sembler contributions - pretty much securing his win on the school board - running right over a very excellent candidate - Ernest Brown.

Things could have been so different if people had just voted for the candidates I endorsed... ;-)

Ella Smith said...

I am so hopeful this property will not be sold to Sembler, but I am concerned as the county wants to comdemn it.

There also is a petition @ regarding Heritage School becoming the Marine HS. This is what is posted on the petition:

Heritage Center has been proposed as the location for a new US Marine Corps Military Academy High School. Originally, Heritage School was placed in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood to serve local children who could walk to elementary school. The features of the neighborhood that made this location ideal for that purpose make it inappropriate for a high school. We note that:

*Heritage Center is off Briarcliff Rd, which is already severely congested by another high school within 0.6 miles;
*It is on Heritage Dr., a two-lane street, which is already congested by school buses serving a school of 50 students and which cannot accommodate the traffic associated with a high school (up to 650 students plus employees);
*Its parking lot is inadequate for a school of the size envisioned;
*It is next to Charles McDaniel Park, the only small park and playground for miles, which will be adversely affected, if not eventually eliminated;
*The numerous buses, cars, and teenage drivers would pose a potential danger to the many young children who play on neighborhood sidewalks;
*The school is not centrally located in the county, leading to excessive transportation costs and associated pollution; and
*That this preliminary decision has been made without any community involvement.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, urge the Superintendent of the DeKalb County School System and the DeKalb County Board of Education to reconsider the location of the US Marine Corps Military Academy High School. Before any move to Heritage Center, we request a feasibility study to ascertain whether the facility meets the needs of the proposed school, a traffic engineering report to determine the effect on traffic and the neighborhood, and real and meaningful engagement with the community.

Dekalbparent said...

Passing this on verbatim from another list:

I had occasion to ask one of our BOE members about some of these issues, including the following item that was on the BOE agenda:

It is recommended that the Board approve a resolution to phase-out the current facilities used for Open Campus High School, DeKalb School of the Arts and Hooper Alexander Elementary School. These facilities will no longer be used as K-12 facilities.

Here are some excerpts of the reply I received that you may find informative:
"The item you refer to on the agenda was pulled. We did not vote on it. The old Briarcliff HIgh is slated to be closed probably this summer. We are being severely penalized tax wise for the unused seats in that building. We are trying to get the seats off our inventory so we receive more tax benefits from the state. The Open campus will move to the new central office building on Mountain Industrial. We will look at Briarcliff in the next year to find out what the costs of renovation will be and if we should proceed to renovate. I believe the building will be vacant. The building will not be sold. That piece of property is the second most valuable piece of property the school system owns. Unfortunately that school is going to take a great deal of expense to get it back up to minimum standards. We wanted to use it as the military school, but it was cost wise not feasible.

We will however have to vote on consolidation and the closing of some buildings in the near future. This is necessary because of the tax penalties. We get penalized by the state for unused square footage in a building. That cost us millions last year."

Cerebration said...

Tell that BOE member that we can send at least 400 students from Lakeside to anywhere they have empty seats that they are being "punished for".

This is enlightening. So - maybe they can't put the military academy in that building because they won't fill enough seats. Maybe that's why it has to go in a teeny weeny building. But really - simply moving pre-k thru 1st over to Heritage from Oak Grove would fill up more seats at Heritage than the military academy would - and it wouldn't leave empty seats at Oak Grove, since they are severely over-capacity (why are there no penalties for squeezing children into trailers?)

Put the Military Academy as a program within a high school like Towers or Stephenson - they each have well over 250 available seats. Would that solve some of the "punishment" for empty seats?

Ella Smith said...

Cerebration,your comments are excellent regarding where to put the military school.

Cerebration said...

Glad you think so, Ella. We're all just brainstorming here at DK School Watch. A better alternative would be for the school system themselves to start a blog or a Q&A online thread for people to ask questions and make suggestions. The new city of Dunwoody is doing this and it will make for a better city and more informed citizens.

I researched a bit about Stephenson HS. It seems that they have enjoyed a massive addition for their ninth grade academy. With a capacity published as 2058 and an enrollment of 1893, they have 165 available seats - and the largest campus in DeKalb at 241,181 sf.

Interestingly, according to the contractor, Moody Construction's website, Stephenson's brand new 9th grade academy is 42,000 sf - about 7,000 sf larger than Heritage Elementary school - the planned location of the military academy. Read the description - from Moody's website (where I learned more about DeKalb school construction than I did at DK schools website.)

The Stephenson High School ninth grade academy is the largest freestanding addition to the DeKalb County School System. The school’s addition is two stories with a brick exterior to match the other buildings on the high school campus. Thirty-five classrooms include six state-of-the-art science labs, wallmounted closed circuit televisions, and five administrative offices. The satellite kitchen has two serving lines, warmer-cooler units, and a spacious dining hall with an outside patio and separate generator and environmental controls.

Not only that - Moody has a a very well-written statement about the importance of maintaining our schools - A school is a statement ofbelief in a positive future and an investment in a better life for our children

(An aside - I think DeKalb may possibly also own the building on the Moody website called, Scottsdale Child Development Center)