DeKalb County School administrators will announce their recommendations for redistricting to address the Cross Keys cluster overcrowding on Feb. 11 during a public meeting at the high school.

The school district in January presented five options to alleviate overcrowding at schools in the cluster and have been gathering input from the public. Schools affected by the redistricting include Briar Vista Elementary School, Cary Reynolds Elementary School, Chamblee High School, Cross Keys High School, Dresden Elementary School, Fernbank Elementary School, Montclair Elementary School, Warren Tech and Woodward Elementary School.

Parents discuss redistricting plans during a recent public meeting at Cross Keys High School. (Photo Dyana Bagby)
Parents discuss redistricting plans during a recent public meeting at Cross Keys High School. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

Many parents at a Jan. 14 public meeting expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposed redistricting plans. They said three options presented for elementary school redistricting remove students from their neighborhood schools.

“You’re pulling kids out of their neighborhoods, moving them from the Woodward area to a place where none of them live … and many parents don’t have cars,” said Lynn King at the Jan. 14 meeting. “What happens if there is an emergency during the day? How do you propose getting parents to the school? There has to be more concern about lack of transportation.”

More than 100 portable classrooms, or trailers, have been installed at the Cross Keys cluster schools to help with overcrowding; DeKalb school officials say the cluster has nearly 2,000 more students than it can really hold.

The redistricting options are, according to DeKalb County Public Schools, a way to reduce portable classrooms for the next school year. A superintendent recommendation on redistricting will be made at the March 7 board meeting.

On Feb. 1, the DeKalb Board of Education approved a joint resolution with Atlanta Public Schools and City Schools of Decatur placing the proposed fifth Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax before voters in May. If approved, collection of funds would begin in July and end in June 2022.

“The joint resolution laid out in five paragraphs is the referendum that will be voted upon May 24. On Feb. 12, DeKalb County School District will publish a pamphlet and PowerPoint that will outline the budgets for these five paragraphs, one of which is for new or replacement schools and additions, including those needed for the Cross Keys Cluster,” said DCSD Spokesperson Quinn Hudson.

The budget for the new or replacement schools and additions is $230 million, Hudson said. The amount of the $230 million that would go to Cross Keys will be decided in the fall, after the May vote and after the Secondary School Feasibility and Planning Study that will look at the middle and high schools in the overcrowded clusters of Cross Keys, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Lakeside, Druid Hills, Tucker and Clarkston.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.