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DeKalb plans school closings to trim 16,000 ’empty seats’


UPDATE: DeKalb has posted its list of projected school enrollment for 2016-17. Amazingly, I only made one mistake: Getting the numbers for Princeton and Pine Ridge elementary schools confused (as noted below). Both are expected to have more than 200 empty seats.


DeKalb County expects by January to approve school closings to reduce the number of “empty seats” — as many as 16,000, the equivalent of more than 500 classrooms — projected for the next six years.

At-risk schools are clustered primarily in southwest, central and east DeKalb, according to maps released Friday. Lots of numbers floated around during a presentation to the board of education. The bottom line: By 2016, officials expect DeKalb will have 9,054 open seats in 38 elementary schools, 3,343 in nine middle schools and 3,574 in seven high schools.

(The math seems a little fuzzy, though; individual numbers for each school do NOT necessarily add up to the totals reflected on the maps. No one said you’d have to do math to close schools, right?)

Also, Premier DeKalb Schools likes to call it “enrollment balancing,” not school closing. That certainly makes a difference, doesn’t it?

DeKalb also expects 10 schools will be overcrowded (by 100 students or more) by 2016. Adjusting attendance zones can handle some of that, officials said, but new classrooms may also be required.

Draft recommendations for closings will be released by Dec. 1, but board members and citizen advisory committees will see them next week (Nov. 2-6). A final decision must be made by Jan. 11.

Officials made it quite clear they have not yet recommended any schools be closed, But they want parents and taxpayers to understand the financial difficulties that form part of the rationale for possible closings: inefficiencies in operating smaller schools, downsizing staff, teacher furloughs and pay freeze, cuts in the transportation budget.

State funding formulas also penalize DeKalb for operating smaller schools. Since 2003, Deputy Superintendent Robert Moseley said, the system has lost $170 million in state funds as a consequence.

Friday’s Powerpoint presentation will be posted on the district’s Web site soon. In the meantime, I snagged a hard copy Friday and am posting scans of the maps here. Maps projecting 2016-17 enrollment are inserted here. Scroll down to download the projections for 2010-11.

Each map is accompanied by a list (which I compiled) of buildings with the most empty seats. (School staff give lists to the board, but not to me.) I have done my best, but using these little maps to identify attendance zones for elementary schools can be tricky. My apologies in advance if there’s an error. Please notify me and I will fix.

(I also apologize if this post looks a little amateurish. It looks reasonably nice on a wide screen, but not so good on a narrower one. Nothing I can do about it until I get enough $$$ to hire a pro.)

HS map 2016-17

High schools (200 or more empty seats)

787 Stephenson

657 Southwest DeKalb

635 McNair

452 Martin Luther King Jr.

377 Columbia

207 Redan

MS map 2016-17

Middle schools (200 or more empty seats)

584 McNair

447 Stephenson

426 Chapel Hill

396 Stone Mountain

368 Columbia

356 Avondale

277 Chamblee

267 Redan

198 Freedom

ES map 2016-17Elementary schools (150 or more empty seats)

350 Oak View

322 Snapfinger

321 McNair

281 Pine Ridge Princeton

278 Clifton

278 Peachcrest

260 Hambrick

257 Flat Shoals

253 Sky Haven

253 Columbia

250 Jolly

243 Rock Chapel

231 Atherton

230 Allgood

223 Rainbow

222 Midway

215 Cedar Grove

215 Dunaire

214 Princeton Pine Ridge

214 Panola Way

212 Redan

206 Avondale

202 Gresham Park

196 Stone Mountain

195 Woodward

190 Bob Mathis

177 Midvale

171 Laurel Ridge

166 Briar Vista

165 Rowland

153 Toney

Download school maps:

High schools — 2010-11, 2016-17

Middle schools — 2010-11, 2016-17

Elementary schools — 2010-11, 2016-17

And for your reference, courtesy of Cerebration at DeKalb School Watch, current attendance zones for high and middle schools:






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10 Responses to “DeKalb plans school closings to trim 16,000 ’empty seats’”

  1. Dylieman says:

    For one thing they could redraw boundaries for Chamblee Middle School and relieve Henderson Middle School of overload. Trailers are being used at Henderson.

  2. O&T says:

    The condition of many DCSS school buildings is unaceptable. Cross Keys H.S., Sequoyah Middle and Lakeside are in truly pathetic condition. Superintendent Crawford Lewis, the Board of Education, and every staff member at the Sam Moss Facilities and Maintenance Center should be ashamed of themselves.

    The Crarford Lewis administration has been a failure in so many ways. It is also extremely top heavy and bloated.

  3. Dylieman says:

    I absolutely agree with everything you have said O&T – everything. And Cary Reynolds Elementary isn’t in the best of shape either and has way too many trailers. The teachers at Cary Reynolds are the best I have come across in years and the teachers and students deserve better.

  4. Lefty says:

    The DCSS maps are baffling. I believe it shows that Lakeside is under-populated by 23 students and Dunwoody over by nearly 600 students. Can this be? This must include Lakeside’s trailer capacity. Are there trailers at D’woody? It’s my understanding that Lakeside is overcrowded by several hundred students.

    Am I reading this stuff wrong?

  5. Dylieman says:

    Lefty I don’t think you are getting the honest and true picture; none of us are. If they count trailers or even if they don’t, Cary Reynolds is way over capacity and has been for at least five years. I volunteered there for five years. There is a huge number of trailers at Henderson Mill. The only schools, in my opinion, that are not over crowded are the Charter and Theme schools because they pick and choose who they want in their schools. Dunwoody just opened a brand new school, Womack I think is the name, for 5th and 6th graders. If you go over the list carefully you will find that most of them are in low income areas and not the more affluent areas. Before they do anything they need to clean house starting at the top and working their way down and get rid of so much overhead at the Superintendent’s office. I have NO respect for him at all.

  6. Ella says:

    I am floored by what I see. Chamblee Middle is the only middle school with more than 200 available seats in the north side. It looks like some middles schools need to be closed in the middle and south side to save the school system some money. It looks like many grade schools need to be closed. It also looks like a high school in South Dekalb needs to be closed.

    I see no numbers on Cross Keys. Is it that I am missing something? I thought Cross Keys was going to be closed. However it would appear according to the demographic study done the attendance will increase at Cross Keys High School over the next 5 years.

  7. Lefty says:

    The maps are showing 2016-17 projections. Kinda confusing. There are links to current projections at the bottom.

  8. Jim Walls says:

    Sorry for any confusion. Rather than post two sets of maps, I posted the ones for 2016 because “enrollment balancing” decisions will be based on those rather than next year’s numbers. They project some dramatic changes in the next 6 years:

    Cross Keys shows 100 empty seats next year, but 265 too many kids by 2016. Overall gain would be 365. There are similar increases for student population at Lakeside and Dunwoody.

    Stephenson, on the other hand, shows a decline of 311 students by 2016. MLK’s student population is projected to drop by 640, and SW DeKalb by 935!!!

  9. Dundevil says:

    I heard Commissioner Boyer say that the 2010 census would show that DeKalb County would have over 800,000 residents. This does not seem to square with the school closings. I guess that DCSS will be selling SPLOST IV on the basis that new schools have to be built in the north part of the county

  10. Sean Mahwir says:

    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.”