A citizen committee will recommend the closure of possibly four schools this summer as the DeKalb County School System works to cut costs by closing severely under-enrolled schools across the county, a district official said this month.
The committee of 20 residents picked by school board members and Superintendent Crawford Lewis will recommend the closure of four schools – possibly fewer or more – by August, said Dan Drake, the district’s director of planning and forecasting.
“I think we could easily close four schools,” Drake said.
Lewis provided a list of 23 schools considered as candidates for closure. A number of school closure scenarios will be created and debated, and the committee will present a final recommendation for the 2010-11 school year to the board on April 14 – the end of phase one of possible closings.
To determine which schools it will recommend for closure, the committee will look at projected school enrollment, proximity of schools to students’ residences, the impact of closure on the neighborhood, district long-range capital plans and the condition of the school, according to a district presentation to the committee on Feb. 9.
The district will hold public hearings on the first phase of recommended closures on May 6 and 11, and the school board will approve the closings on May 14.
Once the committee is finished with the first phase, it will move to the second, which will end in August with a second recommendation of school closures for the 2011-12 school year.
The closures will be part of a broad effort to consolidate space, save money and correct heavily lopsided enrollments throughout the district, particularly in areas where some schools have more than 500 empty seats. Otherwise, the district anticipates nearly 16,000 empty seats over the next seven years.
The enrollment imbalance is widespread in elementary, middle and high schools. Projected enrollments for next school year show schools across southern, central and southwestern DeKalb County with dramatically low enrollments, and the situation is projected to worsen by 2016-17, the last year of the school district’s capital improvements plan, which Lewis began in 2006.
Reasons for the districtwide imbalance are varied. Shifts in the housing market have pushed people outside central DeKalb. More students have enrolled in private, charter and home school programs. The district is also analyzing how serious No Child Left Behind’s school of choice policies contributed to the imbalance. The federal legislation allows parents to transfer their children out of an under-performing school to a better-performing one if they choose.
The committee plans to meet again March 4.
DeKalb County School System Superintendent Crawford Lewis selected 23 schools to be considered by a citizens committee for possible closure this summer. The committee will make a recommendation to close possibly four by April.
1. Allgood Elementary School
2. Atherton Elementary School
3. Avondale Elementary School
4. Bob Mathis Elementary School
5. Clifton Elementary School
6. Columbia Elementary School
7. Dunaire Elementary School
8. Flat Shoals Elementary School
9. Gresham Park Elementary School
10. Hambrick Elementary School
11. Jolly Elementary School
12. Kelley Lake Elementary School
13. Knollwood Elementary School
14. Meadowview Elementary School
15. Midway Elementary School
16. Peachcrest Elementary School
17. Rainbow Elementary School
18. Sky Haven Elementary School
19. Snapfinger Elementary School
20. Toney Elementary School
21. Brockett Elementary School
22. Midvale Elementary School
23. Smoke Rise Elementary School