Chamblee Charter High School parents angrily voiced their frustration with DeKalb school system officials March 15 over delays in renovating the school.

School officials told more than 60 parents and students gathered at the high school for a report on the construction project that it will require up to $10 million more than the original budget of $68 million.

“I think it’s an example of extremely poor management on behalf of the county,” said Joey Reasor, whose daughter is a 10th grader in Chamblee’s magnet program. “A $10 million shortfall means a lot of millions were passed until somebody raised their hand and said, ‘We’re in trouble.’”

Daniel Drake, director of planning and forecasting for the school district, told parents that the first portion of the project to be completed would not be done until the winter break in 2013, months after the original plan. Final work will be wrapped up in the summer of 2014, he said.

A construction timetable and new cost estimates should be available after a meeting later this month between school officials and officials of the construction company, Drake said.

The answers school officials provided did little to appease parents’ concerns.

“What have you people been doing? That is the question,” Leslie Marwitz told school officials during a meeting to discuss construction delays. “It’s unconscionable that you have a multi-million-dollar corporation that you’re running and everything is in shambles. It’s our children we’re talking about. How can we believe anything is going to change?”

Some parents did find some good news in the district’s presentation. David Tench, chairman of the construction progress advisory committee of Chamblee High’s governance council, was pleased the project was going forward as planned.

“The thing I heard tonight is it’s still on, but it’s been pushed back six months,” he said. “I came tonight not knowing whether they were going to build the school.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.