"I'm shocked by the process by which the system proposed and I'm disappointed they're voting on this tonight, especially with no community input or feedback," Sheth said Monday, adding that she participated in several community input meetings to address overcrowding last fall. "It seems very knee-jerk, hasty and half-baked."
District officials received letters from parent advisory councils from Ashford Park, Dunwoody, Huntley Hills, Montgomery elementary schools and the Kittredge Magnet School saying the plan was hastily done with no imput from those in the affected communities.
Another Dunwoody Elementary parent, Kim Schneller, said during public comment at the board meeting Monday afternoon that while she was pleased that the plan would alleviate the school’s overcrowding, she had concerns about seemingly little affect on neighboring schools and their overcrowding issues. She asked the board to delay the redistricting moves until plan implementation details are made public.
“I don’t know whether or not it’s a good plan,” she said. “The Dunwoody and Chamblee communities have spent five months on this, given our all and left it on the field.
“On Friday, we were thrown a curveball.”
Parents have suggested using empty seats in the new Austin Elementary School to help with overcrowding, too. Dan Drake, the district’s interim chief operations officer, said there were no empty seats expected when the school opens. About 750 students are expected from current enrollment. Another 102 would come from Dunwoody Elementary, and the district expects a 100-student bump from different variables — including the fact that parents often jump at the chance for their children to attend a new school.
“Just because there’s this brand new beautiful building, parents find a way to have their children attend,” Drake said.
Tyson said during the committee meeting earlier in the day that some concerns she’s heard from parents during the process reminded her of when Dunwoody Elementary School was set to open a decade ago, with enrollment projections not filling the school. It opened as a grade four and five academy instead.
Tyson said she’s fielded emails and phone calls from a “silent majority” of residents who appear to support her initial redistricting plan. Then, she read from a letter she said came from a parent whose children attended that first iteration of Dunwoody Elementary. The parent mentioned that the students from those first few years are now attending college at many known schools, including the University of Georgia.
“Change is hard. Change is necessary. But our children are resilient,” Tyson said. “You came together 10 years ago. You can now.”
Related to the plan, the district’s plan to address cost overruns in its Education-Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax V program now earmarks $35 million for a new elementary school in the Dunwoody school zone.