The DeKalb County School District has cut funding for the anticipated new Cross Keys High School.
DCSD had nearly $85 million set aside for the planned 2,500-seat school in its E-SPLOST budget. Now, the funding has been cut down to $80,000 due to “insufficient unit cost estimates and insufficient escalation provided by Education Planners,” according to a budget update presented at a Jan. 13 Board of Education meeting.
The new high school was one of the priorities for the current E-SPLOST budget. It was planned to alleviate overcrowding at the current Cross Keys High, which is located at 1626 North Druid Hills Road.
In November 2018, the BOE approved a $90,000 construction management contract for the new school. The school was slated to be located at the former Briarcliff High School site on North Druid Hills Road, despite opposition from some groups and residents who say the new location would be inaccessible for many on Buford Highway due to the traffic.
At a press conference discussing the 2016 E-SPLOST budget, former superintendent Stephen R. Green said $230 million of the $500 million would go toward alleviating the severe overcrowding in DeKalb County schools, most notably in the Cross Keys district.
At the Jan. 13 meeting, Ramona Tyson, the district’s interim superintendent, also 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 interim plan has been introduced following a controversial redistricting plan that affected several Brookhaven schools.
It is unclear what the long-term plan for Cross Keys High School is. In the interim, DCSD will be adding portable classrooms, according to the district. The plan is still under consideration by the BOE and could be voted on as early as the Feb. 10 board meeting, the district said.
Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said he hopes in the meantime, the district will explore other options for the location for the new school.
“I have said from the beginning that a new high school should be constructed north of Interstate 85, within the city limits of Brookhaven, as that is where the vast majority of Cross Keys students live,” Ernst said in an email. “We hope that this postponement will provide the time necessary to further explore locations which make sense to the community.”
This story has been updated with a comment from Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst and DeKalb County School District.
-Dyana Bagby contributed