In the wake of controversy over a redistricting plan for the new Austin Elementary School in Dunwoody, the DeKalb County School District has announced a significantly different, temporary version that will take effect in July.

The “interim” redistricting will move 102 students from Dunwoody Elementary to Austin.

The interim plan was released at a Jan. 13 DeKalb County Board of Education meeting. Ramona Tyson, the district’s interim superintendent, recommended an “Interim Redistricting Plan” intended to prepare the way for a Comprehensive Master Plan, which will be completed in the 2020-2021 school year. The Master Plan process will include a permanent redistricting plan, but it is unclear when it will be put into effect or what the process will look like.

“This minimal redistricting recommendation is phase 1 for redistricting so as to not impact the comprehensive redistricting recommendations that are expected from the CMP,” a school district memo said. “It provides breathing space to develop a strategic vision for the CMP.”

The interim plan will affect a total of 800 students in the district and remove 50 portable classrooms, or trailers at schools. It also will locate land for a new elementary school for the Dunwoody/Chamblee clusters.

The district began a redistricting process in 2019 ahead of this month’s opening of the new, 950-seat Austin Elementary School. The surrounding elementary schools currently over capacity are Chesnut, Dunwoody, Hightower and Vanderlyn.

During the redistricting process, the district held three public meetings with a large group presentation and small group discussions held in individual classrooms at Dunwoody High School.

At the final meeting in November, the staff-recommended plan suggested moving 106 students from Dunwoody to Austin and 78 students from Vanderlyn to Austin. The plan also would move 90 Dunwoody students to Vanderlyn; 40 Dunwoody students to Chesnut; 21 Vanderlyn students to Kingsley; 65 Hightower students to Kingsley; 2 Kingsley students to Vanderlyn; 6 Dunwoody students to Chesnut; and 17 Chesnut students to Hightower.

The staff-recommended plan was controversial amongst Dunwoody parents, with many saying it would unnecessarily move students and does not equally share high-density housing areas.

The interim recommendation comes from Tyson, who is serving through June 30, by which time the Board of Education expects to have hired a permanent superintendent.

Hannah Greco

Hannah Greco is writer and media communications specialist based in Atlanta.