“I’ve been laboring with the staff on this for seven weeks,” she said. “I do not take your angst lightly. The guiding light must always be do what’s in the best interest of children, and I will stand by that. This … probably isn’t the solution that some want.”
The district’s plan sends 102 students from Dunwoody Elementary to Austin Elementary, 108 students from Hightower Elementary to the new Doraville United, 381 from Dresden Elementary to the new Doraville United and 209 students from Cary Reynolds to the new Doraville United. More than 30 portable classrooms would be removed in the plan, officials said.
Tyson said much research went into the proposal and its guiding principles included balancing school facility utilization, establishing clear feeder patterns and continuity, accounting for future growth, minimizing impact on students and considering economic, cultural and ethnic diversity. She said the group that prepared the plan did so with a realistic timeline in mind while embracing collaboration and community engagement. During the presentation, she rattled off names of parents and teachers who sent emails and other notes. Some of the suggestions, she said, were used in the proposal.
“I want you to know we listened,” she said. “And while the solution may not hit the mark … in the long term, I believe we will mark every check that will need to be marked, but in the appropriate way.”
Some Dunwoody-area parents said they felt they attended DeKalb Schools engagement meetings for months without ever being heard.
“They have sought so much community input and feedback and it seems like they didn’t listen to it and instead are not providing the relief to the overcrowding that we have,” said Hela Sheth, who has a first-grader at Dunwoody Elementary. “Kids are going to suffer because of that.”
About 1,175 students are currently enrolled at Dunwoody Elementary School, in a school district region where much of DeKalb County's recent growth is taking place. The current building is fitted for just 955 students. The entire third-grade class attends classes in portable classrooms behind the main school building. A portable bathroom sits near the off-shoot classrooms, parents said, calling it an eyesore for anyone who visits the area.
The school community took part in the engagement meetings as well as meetings held by DeKalb County Board of Education member Stan Jester, whose district includes Dunwoody Elementary, and were presented with several plans to which they provided input, including several that looked to immediately resolve the school’s overcrowding by sending hundreds of students away to the new Austin Elementary School.
“Dunwoody Elementary is in a bit of a crisis,” said Kim Schneller, who has students at the school in kindergarten and first grade. “Of all the options presented, the superintendent plan gives Dunwoody Elementary the least amount of relief.
“Meanwhile, empty seats are going to sit in a building two miles away.”
Elementary Schools Over Capacity
As of October 2019
School Enrollment Building Capacity Percentage Over Capacity
Ashford Park ES 734 549 134%
Austin ES 708 500 142%
Cary Reynolds ES 784 587 134%
Chestnut ES 458 358 128%
Dresden ES 1,020 747 137%
Dunwoody ES 1,177 955 123%
Evansdale ES 625 549 114%
Hawthorne ES 370 325 114%
Henderson Mill 537 476 113%
Hightower ES 752 568 132%
Huntley Hills ES 508 460 110%
Idlewood ES 959 750 128%
Indian Creek ES 962 750 128%
Jolly ES 753 675 112%
Livsey ES 352 313 112%
Montgomery ES 826 660 125%
Pleasantdale ES 623 550 113%
Sagamore Hills ES 439 378 116%
Stoneview ES 831 700 119%
Vanderlyn ES 695 516 135%
Woodridge ES 523 463 113%