I knew this would finally happen. The DeKalb BOE wants to redistrict without moving any students and redrawing any of the current lines. How novel. This shows a complete lack of intestinal fortitude and an unwillingness to do the job for which they were chosen. How are they going to do this? I bet I know. They are going to use social engineering. Instead of facing the crisis in the Cross Keys and Lakeside areas they are going to create a new district to balance the Latino and Caucasian populations.
There is a much simpler way to do this. Reopen Briarcliff High School. Take the Cross Keys overflow and the Lakeside overflow and put them at Briarcliff. Move students based on geography. This is much less expensive and makes much more sense from a neighborhood point of view. Cross Keys can remain and Lakeside can remain without trying to crunch another addition into the already overcrowded Lakeside campus. This was how Lakeside was created in the first place. Briarcliff grew so large in the late 60’s that Lakeside was created as a reliever school. Let’s let Briarcliff return the favor.
Let’s look at some money questions. According to the street news, Briarcliff and Kittredge will be sold and a new high school will be constructed somewhere to the west of I85. I am not yet sure what they are proposing for Adams stadium which just received several upgrades, including artificial turf on the field. To buy land and construct a new high school in the area proposed would cost $60-$70 million. Recent research by the BOE shows that Briarcliff can be refurbished for about $30 million and would serve for another 25 years. It is also important to note that at the last appraisal I saw the two most valuable pieces of property the school system owns are #1 Cross Keys and #2 Briarcliff. There needs to be some real thought put into this that leaves the politics out.
Folks, Druid Hills is the property that should be sold. As I am sure you know by now that Emory Univ. has been asked to be annexed by Atlanta. Recently the district school board member crusaded privately for the Druid Hills area to be annexed by Atlanta while publicly advocating that the Druid Hills area not be annexed. He was caught red handed and asked to resign his seat on the BOE on at least two occasions.
Folks, Druid Hills High School sits right next to the Emory campus. It is landlocked and has almost no parking and no place to expand. Approach Emory U. about a purchase. This property would bring a good sum. I guess anywhere from $40 to $60 million. Emory Univ. would love to have it. This would pay for a Briarcliff refurbish and possibly an elementary or middle school. There is also no rule that says that if the BOE sells Druid Hills it reverts to Emory or some estate. The DeKalb BOE owns that land.
We need to face a reality here. Emory U. is going to Atlanta. It is only a matter of time before Druid Hills goes with them. Even the state legislator from the Druid Hills area advocated annexation by Atlanta. If Druid Hills goes then the county taxpayers may be on the hook for all BOE property that is annexed.
Now let’s ask, who suffers from the new Brookhaven school? It is the long suffering neighborhood of Sagamore Hills. I see by the new plan Sagamore will be a feeder to the new Brookhaven district. The Sagamore folks have endured years of hardship in the past. They were one of the split feeder neighborhoods that were divided into attending middle schools and high schools that did not lend themselves to the closest neighborhood. Lakeside was right around the corner and the Sagamore kids were bussed to Druid Hills. No neighborhood relationship here. After years of trying to end the split feeder situation, finally in 2011 or 2012 all of Sagamore was put into its natural and closest high school Lakeside. Now it appears that they will be on the move again.
It would seem that Mr. Orson and Mr. McMahan would fight for this long maligned neighborhood, but alas we know that Mr. Orson has wanted to get rid of Briarcliff since he came on the BOE and his only real interest is in taking care of Druid HIlls. Mr. McMahan, as usual , just goes along to get along. He won’t fight for Sagamore even though he lives there. If Orson thinks it so does McMahan.
I know not everyone will see this as I do, but if you do, you better start complaining now because this vote will be taken in December 2016 and it will be a done deal.