District’s Plans to Spare Schools

Morgan Thomas

From March 2011:

Chamblee’s magnet students took a sigh of relief after Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson’s unveiling of the 2011 redistricting and consolidation plan.

At the February 7 meeting, Tyson proposed less dramatic shifts of students and fewer school closings, veering away from the “centralized” option.

For the time being, high achieving magnet programs are to go untouched, and eight rather than 14 schools are planning to close. Among those closing are Avondale Middle and High School, Medlock, Glen Haven, Sky Haven, Atherton, Peachcrest, and Gresham Park elementary schools.

“Is there a plan that makes everyone happy? No,” said Tyson. “These difficult decisions will allow the school system to redirect $12.4 million toward student achievement in the first year alone.”

The plan will allegedly fill 5,125 seats across the district, as well as lessen the initial 15,000 students to be transferred to 9,000.

Public hearings will take place on March 1 and March 3, at which parents can attend and voice their opinions on these recommendations.

The board will make their final recommendations on March 7.

“For the longevity of the magnet program, the centralized option is probably most effective,” said junior magnet student Thomas Penland. “However, they should taper the move, not suddenly make students change schools. At some point the centralized plan could be beneficial.”

Tyson’s change of plan came about after considering the thousands of comments and complaints from DeKalb parents who ultimately voiced three concerns: the process is moving too fast, there is not enough financial data, and the magnet program should not be centralized.

“I’m just really relieved,” said junior Rebecca Reid, who attended several meetings on the centralization of magnets. “That’s my senior year and I didn’t want to see it go down the drain.”

As of now, the board is responding to the majority. The central and northern DeKalb parents made their stance known and their massive upset has now proven successful.

“Our magnets are the foundation of Chamblee High School,” said coach and P.E. teacher Caesar Burgess. “Why would you want to take them away? Just as an athletics team needs talented players, the school needs talented students.”