Fixing crowded schools around Clarkston High could displace hundreds

12:30 p.m Monday, Dec. 4, 2017 Education
This map shows one of the redistricting options the school district is considering.

DeKalb County School District officials held the second round of deliberations for redistricting to alleviate overcrowding in the Clarkston cluster of schools, which includes relocating some students to a newly built elementary school.

The second public meeting for the second round of the redistricting, held Thursday night at Clarkston High School, was for feedback on criteria already approved by the school board, said Dan Drake, the school district’s director of planning and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) programming. District officials have said a majority of the schools in the cluster — which feeds into Clarkston High School — are over capacity, using dozens of portable classrooms on the grounds to accommodate students who won’t fit in the traditional building.

“The primary driver for this … is the fact that we have a brand new elementary school and we want (students) to come to that,” Drake said. “It fits hand-in-hand with the overcrowding.”

Under the redistricting plan, more than 1,000 students could be relocated to different schools, depending on the option school district officials decide to use. Some options would remove more than a dozen temporary portable classrooms from school sites that are currently in use.

Drake said the plans also would help to fill Stone Mountain Middle School. With no student routing changes, the school is expected to have 924 students by the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, about 69.7 percent of its 1,324 capacity.

“We’re going to look at all the feedback, and take all of that into consideration that will be presented Jan. 11. We may take a component of one and some of another.

“We have to weigh all of the comments against each other to ensure efficient and economical operations.”

Parent Janice Ivery said the redistricting plan doesn’t take all her concerns into consideration. She’s worried her high school freshman would be shipped to Stone Mountain High school, which performed lower on the state’s annual school report card for progress, released last month.

“My worry is the quality of education,” Ivery said at the meeting. “Is the school on a ‘Needs to Improve” list? They said that was never taken into consideration.

“This is not something I want.”

Latonia Willingham said she was worried about the distance her son, a freshman at Clarkston, would have to go if he was redistricted to Stone Mountain High School, as they live just a few minutes away from Clarkston.

“It’s a different environment,” she said of the other high school. “They told us to submit feedback with all our information and how close we are to the school. But will he be moved, or won’t he? I just don’t know.”

Affected students who will be in the fifth, eighth, 11th or 12th grade as of the 2017-2018 school year will be able to stay in their current school. Those who stay will not have access to school-sponsored transportation, officials said.

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