Leading up to a May 4 town hall regarding the DeKalb County School District’s plan to improve school facilities, overcrowding and getting rid of classroom trailers has continued to dominate the Dunwoody conversation.
The DCSD’s Comprehensive Master Plan process began last August in an effort to update school buildings and prevent overcrowding. The master plan is expected to provide the school district with a district-wide facilities plan through 2031.
During a May 2 Dunwoody Homeowners Association meeting, Anna Hill – a member of the DeKalb County Board of Education representing District 1 – said that DCSD Chief Operations Officer D. Benjamin Estill II says he wants to remove trailers used for additional classrooms from district schools entirely.
“He’s told me that personally. He’s said that out loud in front of the board,” she said. “I think we should have zero trailers. This is not OK, and they need to go.”
The issue of trailers in the school district has been contentious for years. In 2019, the city hired an attorney to back up their claim that they could not force the school district to stop adding more trailers. The attorney found that the only government entity with authority over the DeKalb County School District is the Georgia Department of Education.
Still, during the meeting DHA members expressed concern over the number of trailers at schools, and whether the city’s code enforcement officers had any hand in the safety of those trailers. Richard McLeod, the city’s director of Community Development, said all code enforcement can do is inspect the trailers. A spokesperson for Dunwoody said they would only be inspected if someone complained.
“They’re exempt from our zoning code, the sign ordinance and everything else,” McLeod said. “So there’s not much we can do.”
Hill said as of a status report on April 19, “option generation” for the master plan is underway.
“They’re analyzing forecasts from their demographers [and] data from the assessments and stakeholder input,” she said. “We’re developing options that address overutilization, underutilization, and all those other things. Representatives of the various internal departments, including curriculum and instruction, are providing input.”
The Comprehensive Master Plan’s website currently has preliminary educational suitability scores and facility condition scores for each school in the district. A spokesperson for the school district said these reports will be updated as needed and won’t be finalized until late summer or early fall.
Hill said the district is expected to have a draft of the Comprehensive Master Plan by this fall. Because improvements are further away than some schools might need, some had concerns about what can be done in the short term.
“That’s one thing that I’m going to be asking,” Hill said. “It’s nice to know that help is coming, but in the meantime we still have to educate our students, and they deserve a certain quality of education.”