Dunwoody and the GLASS (Georgians for Local Area School Systems) folks are pushing for passage of HR 486 (which I support). In addition, using a feasibility study report that was commissioned, they are also pushing for an Independent Dunwoody School district which I support, sort of.
There is no question that the DeKalb County school system is broken. Perhaps broken beyond repair. Alternative options MUST be made available and with the recent denial of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster, the wheels are in motion . . .
But lets look at the bigger picture. A North DeKalb Independent School District!
The language of HR 486 is written to “authorize any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005″ to “establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system.” This section of the legislation applies to Dunwoody and Brookhaven. In between those first two sections is this clause: “and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005 . . . ” which applies to Doraville and Chamblee.
In looking at the area geographically, with Chamblee’s annexation taking affect in January 2014, there are now only 2 very small pockets of unincorporated DeKalb west of I-85. I would expect those pockets to be addressed in the upcoming legislature, especially with the potential of the city of Lakeside, Tucker, or Briarcliff. It would be safe to say that right now 95% of DeKalb County, west of I-85, exists within 1 of 4 cities: Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville. After the legislature, probably 100%.
So what you say . . . well that makes a really nice geographically controlled area for a school district not to mention it keeps a larger community of interest together. Those 4 cities are connected, inextricably, by 2 roads: Peachtree Blvd (Peachtree Industrial outside of 285) and Buford Highway. Buford Highway goes through Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville. Peachtree connects all 4 cities, serving as the eastern border of Dunwoody.
Now, here is the key for the region, economically . . . General Motors property. That little piece of property (165 acres and larger than Atlantic Station with MARTA direct access) lies entirely in the City of Doraville but is a stones throw away from Dunwoody and shares a border with Chamblee. When that property re-develops, and it will be redeveloped, it is going to become the economic hub of the region, in business, retail, and new housing. Meaning, from a tax base it is going to pump thousands and thousands of dollars into Doraville and into the DeKalb County School district . . . or perhaps a North DeKalb school district.
Here is the other piece that needs to be considered, Dunwoody and Chamblee NEED Doraville to grow, excel, and be a regional player in economic development and drawing people to the area. They share common borders and regionally, Doraville has better connectivity and access to the region than either Dunwoody, Brookhaven or Chamblee. Not to mention that in order to get to Dunwoody or Chamblee from the North or East, you almost have to go through Doraville.
Now, here is the issue for Doraville . . . and the beginning of 5 subsequent posts. Schools. Which brings us back full-circle to the beginning of this blog post. The majority of Doraville is in the Cross Keys attendance district. The General Motors property is in the Chamblee attendance district, and the balance of Doraville’s residential areas (property west of Buford Highway and outside I-285) is in the Dunwoody attendance district.
If you read the Dunwoody feasibility study report, specifically the section starting on page 22 entitled “Hightower“, you will clearly see that the initial proposal is to prohibit the children who live in Doraville from attending school in an Independent Dunwoody School District. I don’t blame them . . . those households in Doraville would not be paying Dunwoody School taxes to offset the costs of educating their children.
However, putting all of Doraville in the Cross Keys cluster will ensure that the City of Doraville will continue to stagnate and drag down the entire region. That is NOT good for Dunwoody or Chamblee . . . and with Brookhaven being the home to Cross Keys High School, but having very few Brookhaven residents actually attending Cross Keys (wait until you see the attendance maps), a regional school district is more viable, one that should produce the greatest ROI regionally and one that will establish some really great competitive rivalries both academically and athletically.
A regional school district should be objective of the cities of Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville and Dunwoody and I would encourage those 4 cities and their leaders to work together to conduct a regional feasibility study and not limit it to city specific school districts. Leaving one or two cities out in the cold will have long-term negative affects and that is not good for the region.
Stay tuned for future posts regarding Cross Keys Cluster specifics and how it compares to Chamblee and Dunwoody attendance districts . . . the results are telling and in some cases shocking.
Subsequent post subjects are:
Attendance District Lines
SPLOST Funding Allocations