Dekalb County Board Approves New School Construction Plan

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    Scrapping an earlier plan that sparked outrage among parents, the DeKalb County school board on Wednesday authorized a new school construction plan for the next five years.

    The new plan will not include school closures and says nothing of the previous plans redistricting.

    In November, Dekalb County Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson fast tracked a school “organization” plan that included school closures and changes to attendance lines. One of the most controversial elements involved sending some middle school students to expanded high school campuses.
    The construction plan adopted Wednesday was approved by a 6-3 vote.

    It removes a proposal to stretch some elementary schools from fifth to sixth grade, and dismisses a proposal to convert Chapel Hill Middle School to a “theme” school for select students.

    “It appears they listened to us,” said Jennifer Hatfield, the PTA president at Evansdale Elementary in north DeKalb. “They’ve taken out everything that could potentially trigger controversy or opposition.”

    Hatfield said the new plan will satisfy parents in her area. The old one called for the closure of Livsey Elementary and would have shifted some Evansdale students into a different middle school attendance zone.

    DeKalb officials said the new plan had to be completed quickly to qualify for state construction funds. It was previously presented in conjunction with a redistricting plan and a December deadline.

    The facilities plan will be funded in part by local sales tax revenue and calls for the expansion of several buildings.

    Austin, Fernbank, Pleasantdale and Rockbridge Elementary Schools will increase to 900 students, while Smoke Rise Elementary expands to 600. McNair Middle will now be home to 1,200 students and Chamblee High School will expand to 1,600.

    A number of several schools will add an undisclosed number of students.

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