Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Enrollment Numbers Game - Let's Play!

Ok, this is strange. When you check out the scans of the DCSS Powerpoint presentation posted at Atlanta Unfiltered, you get a whole new picture of enrollment projections than we have ever seen before. We at the blog have been tracking these numbers for about a year and have a chart of data that we update as we receive information. The chart is posted above. Our graphics person has set this up so that if you simply click on it, you will be taken to a large copy to view and/or print out. (Same goes for the attendance zone map below.)

Basically, we see a wide range of predictions, which is not usually a problem, except that the most recent predictions - obtained from the data on the Powerpoint, are the numbers the administration is basing its' decisions for school closings and consolidations. As a community, we need to ask our board for more research into this data and a presentation of solid, reliable data with citations from which to make these very important decisions. For example, the DCSS planning department projections dated July 23, 2009 (found at this link) show Avondale as under-enrolled by 650. Even adding in 300 DSA students, the school still would have 350 available seats. However, the Powerpoint figure says that Avondale is only under by 146 and will only be under by 48 in 2016. Further, Lakeside figures from the planning department's most recent projections show 268 over capacity. But the Powerpoint puts Lakeside at 350 over now, dropping to 23 under-enrolled by 2016. But the jaw-dropping prediction is for Southwest DeKalb - which the Powerpoint says is currently over capacity by 278 now but will drop to being under-enrolled by 657 in 2016! Get a cup of coffee and digest this chart for yourself.

UPDATE: Now that we have received the enrollment data used by the planning department in their Oct 23 presentation, we thought it was important to add their updated enrollment projection chart above. (At least for high schools.) The new data clearly shows that even with the planned additions, by 2016 Dunwoody will be over-crowded by 587 seats, Stone Mountain over by 223, Cedar Grove by 102, Lithonia by 125, Druid Hills by 190 Chamblee by 27 and surprisingly, Cross Keys will be over-crowded by 265 seats. The chart also includes the most recent October enrollment count, FYI. To download your own copies of these documents, click here for enrollment data and here for the powerpoint presentation .

Click maps below for a general overview of HS attendance zones (left) and school locations (right).


Dekalbparent said...

I have a cup of coffee, as instructed. I still cannot make much sense of this. How can a school go from a significant over-capacity figure in 2009-2010 to an insignificant figure the very next year? Where are all those kids going to disappear to? And it seems they will then come back at great rates in 6 years...

Paula Caldarella said...

I'm with DeKalbparent - I've been looking at this for an hour and comparing it to the previous projections. It does not "jive".

Cerebration said...

Great -- I'm glad you have both endorsed the fact that I haven't lost my mind (yet!) These numbers cannot possibly be reliable enough to base such important decisions on. Everyone needs to let your board rep know that we are suspicious of these numbers and demand more research.

Paula Caldarella said...

LOL - they don't even know when
Chamblee HS opened?

Paula Caldarella said...

With the exception of DSA, all these schools had higher enrollment than projections, according to this chart. I am skeptical.

Cerebration said...

Sorry, DM, any missing or incorrect info on this chart is the fault of those of us here at the blog who compile this info -- If you know when Chamblee opened, let us know and we'll fix it -- I see that we need to fix the input for Open Campus - we're missing the capacity number.

Paula Caldarella said...

I'm sorry, cere, I didn't know you put the chart together. I thought that was DCSS.

Paula Caldarella said...

Chamblee opened in 1917. The current building was completed in 1973, if I remember correctly. It was built in stages, we were in both the old building and new building. We had this really cool "bridge" we used to travel between the new and old facilities.
Ah, the memories, as we start plannning for our reunion next summer.

Anonymous said...

Chamblee opened in 1917 but later burned. The current building was constructed in 1942 but Dun Mom is correct that different sections were subsequently added. The last significant renovation was in about 1973.

Cerebration said...

So I guess N/A would be accurate after all??? tee hee

Anonymous said...

I can't figure out the projections either.

I think we need to know the actual enrollments based on the October count. Plus we need to know if the projections include only the true resident students, or whether they include the magnet, charter, theme, and NCLB transfer students. Last we need to know if the projections of over/under take into account planned additions that are already aproved for construction.

No matter what, I forsee a bunch of elementary schools on the chopping block and that always causes an outcry.

Anonymous said...

The board needs to question how projections are made, as the projections and actual numbers don't make sense.

To do the school system restructuring and school closings real data and intense thinking and planning need to happen. I am not sure if the current administration is capable of this level of thinking, or if the board will ask the tough questions that need to be asked in order to ensure that large mistakes are not made.

It's very sad to me that we have so many open seats, which means waste of tax paying dollars.

Unfortunately, I don't see the administration team also being cut, which needs to happen to save even more money.

Cerebration said...

That's why we posted this data - to show the outrageous inconsistency in the numbers. We don't think a good decision can be based on the data we have at the moment. Where exactly did it come from? Who made the projections for 2016 and what formula did they use? These are very serious decisions with long-range consequences. Reliable numbers are vital.

Anonymous said...

How could anyone trust the Crawford Lewis administration with these projections, especially when he is clearly going to us them to justify school closings? Was DeKalb County asked to assist with these projections? Will Lewis cut his administration as the system's enrollment declines dramatically as he predicts with these numbers?

Crawford Lewis can't even keep non-residents out of our schools. He allows teachers and staff who don't even live in the county to send their children to DCSS schools for nothing, costing us $12,000 for every one of those students. He has allowed so many administrative transfers, that he has actually caused a decline in many neighborhood schools, allowing too many engaged parents to leave their "home" schools for alledged greener pastures.

These forecasted enrollment numbers stink to high heaven. Let's see if the BOE actually investigates these numbers, or if they buy them hook, line and sinker. Oy veh.

Anonymous said...

Google Daniel E. Drake. He is a civil engineer with a long history in transportation planning. Seems to have a good professional background in that area. Unfortunately, the DCSS is not building a new highway or bus system. I wonder how much he has been involved in social service delivery, such as school systems.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, I'd also like to see a map of the elementary school attendance boundaries. (Something to add to your "to do" list.)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Drake just started his new job last month so I doubt he created these numbers. But let's wish him well and good luck-he will need it.

At least someone with private industry experience was hired and not someone whose only qualification is being a friend of Lewis and company.

Anonymous said...

"a civil engineer with a long history in transportation planning"

Unbelievable that an engineer who's experience is in transportation is now the head planner for the third largest school system in the state. Talk to an engineer like I did, and he/she will be amazed that someone went from a trasnportation civl engineer to head of planing for a school system.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 12:00 am, DCSS is using the numbers from the Demographers report. This report was conducted a few years ago and so far has been pretty close. Most agree that most of the population increases will be in the P'tree and Buford Hwy corridors along with Dunwoody.

DCSS really can't do anything about staff members that live outside of DeKalb bringing their children here. This is something that is done across the state. They did tighten up the rules where the children can only go to either the same school or within that cluster. This is what caught the Jackson family and caused their children to leave DESA. All in all, we probably are not talking about that many children. When you consider the DeKalb children that may be going to other districts that their parents teach in, this may end up being a wash.

I believe Dan Drake was a planner with the City of Milton. He has only been with the school system a few months so he is basically getting up to speed with the analysis that had already been done. Over time, I'm sure we will see his stamp on things. He did say he expects to collaborate heavily with the Planning Commission with respect to new permits for single and multi family housing so he can factor those into future projections.

We do need to see the FTE count that was conducted in late September/early October. Our student population is slightly higher than projected. Some say this is due to several schools losing their charter, a few private schools closing, along with the economy having an impact on several families that had their children in private schools.

Also, Murphey Candler (near Stonecrest Mall) also did not have a date built with it. Probably for the same reasons that Chamblee High School does not. They say some of the original school built in the early 1900's is still in use. Seems Don McChesney's wife taught there at one time.

Cerebration said...

See all those little tiny black lines on the map? Those are ESs zones. You really couldn't read the map if I included them. You have to get a big blow up size to really have a good look at the whole system (hopefully the board uses one of these during these consolidation discussions.)

To download a map with the locations of all of the schools in DCSS, go here for the pdf (it's a big one!)

But -- you can go to these web pages for more info

For the Demographer's Reports go to the Planning Dept link:

Enrollment history -

The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

Superintendent's Redistricting Plan
Updated 14 May 2007 (the last round of closings)

Paula Caldarella said...

cere, here the presentation. I don't post links well, so you may have to redo:

Paula Caldarella said...

This one, too. It's the enrollment and capacity chart.

Anonymous said...

It is really, really important that everyone sends the links from Cere below, the link to the ATL Unfiltered story, and the links here on DCSW to all the DCSS parents you know. Redistricitng and school closures are incredibly important stuff, and for once, parents and taxpayers need to be made well aware of it in advance.

The MIS Dept. needs to get any nerw information online. The Superintendent needs to hold public meetings and advertise them well and with proper advance notice.


November 2-6 – small group meeting with members of the board
December 1 – publish plan on website
December 1,2,3 – public hearings to receive feedback from community
January 4- formally present recommendation to the board
January 11 – ask for up/down vote from the board. It was clearly stated that the board would need to approve the plan in January if they wished to begin implementation in August 2010.

Cerebration said...

Wonderful links, Dunwoody Mom - thanks for sharing!

(You did them perfectly too!)

Cerebration said...

So according to the PPT, Arabia IS included in the calculations, it's just not mapped.

Same for DSA and Open Campus (Elizabeth Andrews HS) - Champion Theme MS and these ESs:
2. Dunwoody ES
3. Edward L. Bouie Theme ES
4. Kittredege Magnet ES
5. Marbut Theme ES
6. Narvie J. Harris ES
7. Oakcliff Theme ES
8. Robert Shaw Theme ES
9. Wadsworth Magnet
10. Wynbrooke Theme ES

Cerebration said...

Not Included in Analysis

Special Education (4)
1. Coralwood Ctr
2. Eagle Woods Acad.
3. Margaret Harris HS
4. Shadow Rock Ctr

Other (6)
1. DECA (Early College)
2. DeKalb Alternative
3. DeKalb Night School
4. DeKalb Transition
5. DeKalb Truancy
6. International Center

Cerebration said...

Wow - according to the classroom addition slide (#15), Lakeside is going to end up waaaaay bigger than Dunwoody. Lakeside will go from a capacity for 1332 to a capacity for 1942 - Dunwoody will go from a capacity for 1421 to a capacity for 1633. In fact, the only schools larger than Lakeside will be SW DeKalb (cap will be 2095) and MLK (cap will be 2174).

Other future capacities after the additions are built -

Columbia - 1533
Druid Hills - 1355
Avondale - 737*
Redan - 1370
Cross Keys - 1034*
Tucker - 1654
Clarkston - 1249
Lakeside - 1943
SW DK - 2095
Dunwoody - 1633
Chamblee - 1474
MLK -- 2174
Miller Grove - 1643
Towers - 1342

no construction/expansion to these high schools - (these are numbers from our files, not the PPT)

Cedar Grove - 1430
Lithonia - 1518
McNair - 1701
Stone Mt - 1298
Stephenson - 2200

(*Odd - these capacities were higher in the 2006-08 data - Avondale used to have cap for 1254 and CK had cap for 1342)

Cerebration said...

As I check through the School Enrollment and Capacity chart Dunwoody Mom provided the link to, I see that our former capacity numbers for the schools not receiving construction have also changed --

Official capacity numbers for 2016 for those schools are:

Arabia - 1505 (We had 1600 with expansion to 2200)
Cedar Grove - 1388
Lithonia - 1427
McNair - 1663
Stone Mt - 1263
Stephenson - 2237

They must have changed how they calculate capacity a bit. Avondale sure got small - I wonder if this is just the Avondale part of the school - not the DSA part? I don't see a capacity # for DSA.

Anonymous said...

You find the enrollment balancing powerpoint at

And the enrollmentprojection chart at

This seems to have the October 2009 FTE countminus the 10 centers and alternative schools.

Or go to and find the two presentations on the list at the left.

Kim Gokce said...

If I remember DCPC @ Dunwoody HS correctly, Dr. Lewis mentioned lessons learned from the last round of districting, attendance lines, and closure planning. He included not being aggressive enough and drawing out the input period too long ... just saying ...

Cerebration said...

The portables are not in balance either. As you can see from the new chart, MLK has the most portables (37) and is over-crowded by 188. Next, is SW DeKalb with 36 trailers and over-crowded by 278. But then we have Lakeside - the most over-crowded school in the system and for their extra 350 students, they have only 21 trailers.

Maybe it has to do with current construction projects?

Dekalbparent said...

Notice that the capacity of DHHS after the construction is smaller than the current FTE count and smaller than the lowest projected enrollment? Great planning, y'all. Sadly, this discrepancy was pointed out in the PTSA meeting held in late 2007, when the plans were still on the drawing board, but it made no difference. Something to keep in mind if your school is getting additions.

The chart says DHHS has 2 trailers as of Oct 2009; not true - there are 6. Doesn't seem like a lot, but there is nowhere but the student/faculty parking lot for them to sit.

Because of this, DHHS has 34 parking spots for students. Students who need to leave school for off-campus classes, joint enrollment, internships or jobs are parking in the surrounding neighborhoods, almost all of which are "NO PARKING". The police are having a heyday writing tickets.

If only the DK Recorder's Court was actually banking the fines, the county would be making a mint...

Cerebration said...

Oh, what a tangled web this county is!

Cerebration said...

Actually, I sincerely believe that putting a stop to the Administrative Transfers and the new state transfers (for crowded schools) would put most of the over-crowded schools in balance. SW DeKalb and MLK just need to send some of their kids (magnet or regular) to Arabia - it's only about 5 miles away from each school.

Anonymous said...

The new figures are much better than what I was looking at last night. Thanks to everyone for getting the information.

But I agree that the capacity data is questionable. How could schools go up or down several hundred seats overnight?

Cerebration said...

Actually, the kudos go to the school system - they actually posted this data on their website very quickly after the meeting!

We just want to ensure that the board and administration is making these consolidation decisions using reliable data and since the data seems to bounce around so much it seems questionable in some areas. We hope they dig a little deeper and ask Lewis the tough questions.

Anonymous said...

where is it posted. I just went to the Planning Division page and it just has the old data from July.

Cerebration said...

click the links mentioned at the end of the article -- they will take you to the data at the DCSS website.

themommy said...

One thing to consider in all this discussion is that this presentation was originally planned for late August early September, thus the projections that were shown rather than actual enrollment. It is my understanding that one board member in particular is being a bit difficult about closing schools and thus the presentation was delayed.

Capacity changed at the elementary and middle level because class size increased.

I think the board members need to ask hard questions about capacity. I suspect that the capacity figures are back to using every classroom as a homeroom maxed out in enrollment plus leaving no specials, resource rooms or areas for instructional support teachers (eSOL, math, reading etc). Even Livsey's capacity is higher than it usually is.

Make sure you tell your board members to ask about this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right. Capacity changes based on the teacher pupil ratio. Since the state raised it, the capacity goes up. Wish we could foresee when it would go down again. I would be willng to increase per pupil spending to get it down to 20 to 1. Of course then we would have to "rebalance" again.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the number of “seats available” can be misleading. For example, special education classes are smaller as per state rules. A special ed class with 12 students still requires a full size classroom. In addition, some full size classrooms house a music, art, gifted, or other special subject/activity. It might be a good idea to ask the principal in a school if there are empty classrooms before just looking at numbers. The county needs to save money so it will just look at “seats.”
If you want to have your child taught in a sardine can, just look at the “seats.”

Anonymous said...

Yes, we all need to ask the county and our board members to quiz the planners on capacity.

Both Sp Ed and ELL mandata smaller class size.

And the older school classrooms often were not designed for 32 students.

To come up with the increased capactiy figures did they count the bathrooms and breakrooms? In my child's high school we have multiple trailers plus a number of teachers who don't even have a classroom. They are like homeless teachers pushing a cart from room to room with books and a laptop on it. They use other classrooms when those teachers have their planning period.

Anonymous said...

They are just numbers. Projections. Guesses. Estimations at best. How many of you are in a school now? Ask the principal in MAY what his expected enrollment numbers are for August. Then check the real enrollment numbers in August (even better - after Labor Day). The numbers won't match, more than likely not even close. At our school (I'm not in the system anymore) we would be told during planning week our numbers are expected to be X. They were always off by several hundred. Most years we were overcrowded, one year we were under by about 150.
1. Its not the school's fault, or the district's fault. You are asking them to predict how many people will show up on a given day in August to get their child enrolled.
2. People move. People take their kids out of one school and dump them in another. A new school opens up and sucks a bunch of kids away from every district. The number of kids, illegally, commuting in from Atlanta changes. Some kids get kicked out of a school system, so they are dumped into another one.

We never new at the beginning of registration week in August what our numbers were going to be at the end of the week, soi how can anyone say what the numbers will be like seven years from now with any degree of accuracy.

Kim Gokce said...

@various posters re: Dan Drake ... I went to the NDH LCI kick-off meeting held by DeKalb County last night and ran into Dan.

When Mrs. Pope told me at DCPC she had hired a dedicated planner that would be responsible for, among other things, attending County Planning Commission meetings I was thrilled. Now that I have had a chance to talk with Dan in person, I am even more pleased.

As someone mentioned above, he did work for Milton. He also is a GA Tech grad (bonus! Sry UGA fans!), a CH2M HILL employee (at Milton), and GRTA veteran.

Putting aside his specialty in transportation planning, I found Dan to be obviously in possession of innate intelligence and logical thinking ability. I asked him who was leading up the analysis being used as a foundation for the recommendations on attendance and closure decisions and it turns out it is he.

After talking over some of the data superficially, it as obvious that he is very well-equipped to conduct the necessary analysis and he seems to be very deep into this work after just a few weeks on the job. He also seemed to be very welcoming of community input as I shared some of the unique dynamics affecting our demo in CKHS.

Long/short is I think we have scored a great resource who understands the problems DCSS faces going forward. He has good working relationships with planners in public and private roles in our County. He knows how to manage data gathering and analysis and is familiar with how to exploit the latest technologies to support decision-making.

He'll been an asset to Dr. Lewis and the BoE. Let's see if they know how to leverage this professional resource to put quality data behind decisions we all can understand.

Lefty said...

That's very encouraging news, Kim. Dan Drake sounds like a great find for DCSS. Thanks for sharing.

Cerebration said...

On the subject of the bad idea to build Lakeside's capacity to 1,943 on it's mostly unbuildable 31 acres (third largest capacity -- at 438 more than Arabia and only 231 less than MLK, which has nearly 100 acres more land -- here's a PTA announcement regarding the traffic problems at Lakeside - with it's current enrollment -- imagine adding several hundred MORE cars on Briarcliff Road --

Traffic during morning and afternoon carpool continues to be a challenge at Lakeside. Our first and foremost concern during these times is the safety of our students. Please review the following recommendations for how we can best keep our children safe during these busy traffic times.

1-Encourage your student to ride the bus to and from school to decrease the number of cars in the carpool line.
2-Students need to be prepared to exit the car as soon as you reach the "drop off" zone. Retrieving belongings from the back seat or trunk or swapping drivers significantly slows the flow of traffic.
3-Please park in a visitor space if you need to enter the school during morning carpool. Parked cars are not permitted in the circular driveway during morning carpool. There are 10 visitor spaces on the 3rd row of the student lot for your use.
4-Please do not stop along either side of Briarcliff to allow your student to exit the car. This creates a dangerous situation for your student and also slows the flow of traffic.
5. Remind your students to cross the street only at the traffic lights (Oak Grove/Briarcliff and Briarlake/Briarcliff). It is very dangerous to cross Briarcliff between lanes of traffic and we are seeing this often! (The school council is in conversation with the county about the possibility of installing a pedestrian crossing but until then....)
6. Everyone cannot arrive between 7:55 a.m. and 8:05 a.m. so plan to leave home a few minutes early to avoid being late to class!

Unfortunately, our school has a very congested traffic pattern and there are many "moving" parts, many "rushed" drivers and many inexperienced teen drivers - Please help us keep our students safe!!

Cerebration said...

Just an FYI - I recently noticed this on the school enrollment and capacity chart linked in the post -

We currently have 518 portable classrooms in DeKalb County School system. How can that be? Why on earth are we paying for 518 trailers when we have by some estimates, 16,000 empty seats?


For example, Browns Mill has 17 trailers, but they are only over capacity by 85 students. (Narvie Harris is nearby and has 99 seats available.)

Fernbank - 8 portables but over-capacity by only 61 students

Dresden - 6 portables - over capacity by 3 students

Woodridge - 10 trailers but only over capacity by 4 students

Pleasantdale - 14 trailers - over capacity by 119 (nearby Evansdale has 78 seats available)

This is odd - MLK is over-capacity by only 188 but has 37 trailers. SW DeKalb is over-capacity by 278 and has 36 trailers. But Lakeside is over-capacity by 350, and has only 21 trailers!

Anonymous said...

Trailers, trailer, trailer everywhere.

A) Getting rid of the needless trailers is in no way a priority for the Crawford Lewis administration or the BOE.

B) The companies that receive the trailer contracts are politically connected and have been for a while.

InTheOG said...

Is it possible that those capacity numbers include some trailer capacity? e.g. I believe the capacity of Fernbank's building is around 525, maybe less. I told my board member that the redistricting should eliminate portables at all schools.

Anonymous said...

Trust me, we will always have trailers for the school system. The whole history of trailer contracts is convoluted and the favors run deep.

Anonymous said...

The capacity numbers in the chart are really off and that is part of the reason that the new planning person asked to delay the redistricting plan.

It appears that the numbers presume no classroom use other than homerooms (so no art, music, special ed etc) and class size in Georgia has increased and so that was factored in as well.

It is important, if you are communicating with your board member about this issue, that you remind them that building capacity should be based on instructional needs and common sense.

Cerebration said...

Interesting InTheOG, I have several different capacity charts from over the last few years - none of which have matching numbers - one claims Fernbank's capacity to be 561, another says 573 and the newest numbers from the county claim Fernbank will hold 614. (BTW, the official FTE count in Oct was 682.)

Cerebration said...

Same with Lakeside, first capacity number I have is 1386, another says 1353 and the newest chart says 1332. FTE count in Oct was 1,721.

Looks like the new planning person has some work to do!

InTheOG said...

There you go Cere - I knew it was in the 500's. I just recalled low.

Nevertheless, how does it go from 561 to 614? Same for Oak Grove. I recall OG's bldg capacity being below 500. DCSS has it at 576. Sagamore's building capacity is 420. DCSS shows it as 475.

I can only assume that DCSS includes trailers in their capacity estimates. That's stinky BS to me.

Anonymous said...

Have we all forgotten about Jameel Herrera? any news on that situation? I wonder how much that is going to cost the taxpayers of Dekalb.

Anonymous said...

Geez. This is a lot to digest! Thank you to whoever is staying on top of the numbers and publishing the information for us all to read. They redistricted our schools 2 years ago and it was based entirely on bad data. We had all the facts to prove that but it meant nothing and they did it anyway. It's so discouraging but websites like this give me hope that someday things will improve b/c everyone is motivated and armed with information. Keep it up!