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.)
High schools (200 or more empty seats)
657 Southwest DeKalb
452 Martin Luther King Jr.
Middle schools (200 or more empty seats)
426 Chapel Hill
396 Stone Mountain
Elementary schools (150 or more empty seats)
350 Oak View
281 Pine Ridge Princeton
257 Flat Shoals
253 Sky Haven
243 Rock Chapel
215 Cedar Grove
214 Princeton Pine Ridge
214 Panola Way
202 Gresham Park
196 Stone Mountain
190 Bob Mathis
171 Laurel Ridge
166 Briar Vista
Download school maps:
And for your reference, courtesy of Cerebration at DeKalb School Watch, current attendance zones for high and middle schools: