Several years ago, Brookhaven residents were stirred up by plans to turn Kittredge Elementary into a magnet school. Now they’re stirred up again by a school district proposal that would move the magnet and return Kittredge to a neighborhood school.
“It seems like a complete waste of time and resources,” said resident Collette McDonald, a real estate agent with two children in nearby Montgomery Elementary. “The magnet is here and they need to keep it here.”
As part of a “centralized” option presented to the DeKalb Board of Education in early January, the Kittredge magnet and ones at Chamblee High School and Chamblee Middle School would be moved to Avondale schools.
Dunwoody parents are also concerned about the impacts of redistricting.
Gil Hearn, the father of a second grader at Chesnut Elementary, is in a residential pocket that would be a part of the footprint for Kingsley Elementary School, under two of the scenarios presented to the board.
He said a change to a new school would be a little frustrating because he has worked hard to build strong relationships at Chesnut Elementary. But, he’s got three more children that will be entering the public education system. There will be time to build new ties if a change happened, he said.
“It’s personally disappointing because I have spent the past year building relationships at Chesnut.”
Across the county, more than 20 schools would be closed. The northern part of the county would see attendance lines redrawn for the bulk of the elementary schools.
Most of the controversy surrounding the schools revolves around the “centralized” proposal. Under a “decentralized” proposal, Kittredge and Chamblee high and middle schools would retain their magnet programs.
Ramona Tyson, interim superintendent, is scheduled to make her final recommendation on redistricting to the school board Jan. 31. The board is scheduled to make a final approval of a plan at a meeting scheduled for late February.
The aim of redistricting is to reshape DeKalb schools to fill 11,000 seats that are currently unoccupied throughout the district’s schools.
Nancy Jester, who was sworn in as a new board member at the meeting, said that the idea of centralizing magnets to the middle of the county assumes accessibility that doesn’t exist.
Kittredge programs, for example, would be relocated to Avondale Middle School, which are 13 miles away.
“The concept of central to me just doesn’t seem to fit,” Jester said.
McDonald, for her part, agreed. Moving magnet programs from places like Kittredge, and Chamblee high and middle schools would mean less participation from students in north DeKalb County.
“I think the impact from the neighborhood is that parents will pull their kids out of the magnet programs to avoid a 13-mile commute,” she said. “There will be attrition and parents will send their kids to the neighborhood schools or private school.”