A meeting at Chamblee High School to draw people in to comment on DeKalb County’s efforts to redistrict schools did just that.

The school’s gym was overflowing with parents from around the county. The school’s cafeteria was elbow to elbow as the meeting began. Police shut down the high school’s main parking lot near the beginning of the meeting because it was too full.

“There’s just no space,” said Uwe Neuhaus, a teacher and soccer coach at Chamblee High School.

Despite the crush of people, concerned parents quickly and sometimes informally organized at individual tables and various spots in the gym’s bleachers.

Parents from all around DeKalb County showed up en masse at Chamblee High School

The concept behind the meetings was for parents to provide input that would be integrated into two plans that the district disseminated Jan. 3.

One is a “centralized” option that would relocate the magnet schools in the county to Avondale High and Middle schools and redraw attendance boundaries for all schools in the district, particularly elementary schools.

The other is a “decentralized” option that would keep the magnets intact, and the proposal would have less of an impact on elementary school boundaries in northern DeKalb.

For maps that show attendance boundaries in northern DeKalb Count, click here.

William Carnes, with the district’s consulting group MGT of America Inc., said that parental input would create a third option that could build consensus for the changes.

“The options we have are simply the place to start,” he said. “That is what we’re looking for is option three.”

Parents who did not attend the Chamblee meeting can voice their opinions in online. Click here.

The concept behind the entire redistricting effort is to consolidate schools to eliminate 11,000 empty seats across the district.

That includes closing schools. However, in northern DeKalb no schools are proposed for closure. Kittredge, which is only a magnet school would become a resident elementary school, under the “centralized option.”

Some parents at the meeting were feeling the uncertainty of the shifting boundaries and what it may mean for their children.

Kathy Arnold, of Doraville, has a child attending the high-achiever magnet program at Chamblee High School.

If the magnet were to move 15 miles away to Avondale, it could be a difficult decision. Right now, Arnold’s child can walk home if he needs to.

She said she would let her kid make the call on what he ultimately wants to complete his high school career. He could possibly transfer to Dunwoody High School, she said.

“I’m going to let him drive the train on that,” Arnold said.

– Jason Massad

Upcoming meetings on the school redistricting are at 6:30 at these locations:

  • Jan. 25, at McNair High School; Wednesday
  • Jan. 26 at Bethune Middle School
  • Jan. 27 at Stone Mountain Middle School.