As most Dunwoody residents are aware, the opening – and subsequent redistricting – of Austin Elementary has been top of mind as we move through the 2019-2020 school year.

Through several rounds of “community feedback” sessions, the leadership of DeKalb County School District has drafted and presented several maps outlining potential redistricting options for the children of the Dunwoody school cluster.

It is – to put it mildly – not going well. DCSD has not approached this process in a way that is thoughtful or considerate to the community.

With each map presented, emotions run high. Communities are divided, neighbors are fighting, and the students are quite frankly stressed out at not only the idea of changing schools, but the fact that the process has divided their community in such a significant way.

The latest option, presented on Nov. 20, proposes 533 children moving from one school to another – more than the new seats at Austin Elementary represent. With, at last count, 4,226 students in the cluster, 13% of children in the Dunwoody community will have their school lives upended.  Many of these children are moving in small groups, unnecessarily disrupting a community with no real impact to the school’s student load.

DeKalb County School District, and especially Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson, if you’re reading this: please understand that this process has placed a dark cloud over this school year. Consider the stress you’re putting on our community, and approach the final stages of this process in a way that benefits all of the schools in the Dunwoody cluster, not just the one with the loudest voice. The latest map benefits Austin and Hightower, and gives a small amount of relief to Dunwoody Elementary, but leaves Chesnut, Vanderlyn and especially Kingsley with extreme overcrowding issues in the immediate term, not to mention that with projected growth the situation will be worse than it is today in only a few years.

We ask that whichever map ends up being the final – and you’ve made it clear that the final version may be a completely different option that anything we have seen during the community feedback sessions – consider a longer-term solution for the Dunwoody community. Our middle and high schools are facing the same overcrowding issue as the elementary schools. Consider the option that disrupts the fewest children in the immediate term, as we will face this issue again very soon.

Thanks for listening, Dunwoody community. Please encourage DCSD to approach the final stages of this process thoughtfully and with consideration to the most important stakeholders in this process – the children.

Marissa Evans
Dunwoody Trace HOA/Huntington Hall