Thursday, June 20, 2013

Austin Elementary Has To Move, DeKalb Nixes Current Site

Our sources tell us the DeKalb County School System has decided the current neighborhood site is not suitable for a new school, citing the high-voltage power lines and the buried pipeline as safety concerns.  These power lines have never been an issue before.  One theory is the logistics of moving students to Kittredge for a year (moving Kittredge students south to Avondale for a year) was too much.  Worries from the Kittredge crowd were that if the magnet moved to Avondale for a year it would never return to Nancy Creek.

On the topic of Kittredge, this is the wrong place for a magnet.  That school is needed for the neighborhood students.  Montgomery and Ashford Park are growing yet the Board did not put enough SPLOST funds on the north side (faithful readers here know that we have pointed out that SPLOST funds were not allocated to needs, but instead divided so each Board member's district got "their fair share").

If the school system had a real planning program they would have renovated Austin and Chesnut (adding more seats at Chesnut) and built a new school in Dunwoody.  This new $20 million dollar school adds 250 seats to the Dunwoody cluster - that's it.  Our continuous growth bubble (at what point does the school system acknowledge it is not a bubble but actual long-term growth?)

The Austin community needs to now accept the fact that the school system will not build a new school at the current site.  This has been a concern for a couple of years now, but many were lulled into believing the site was okay.  Even Senator Fran Millar has mentioned at DCPC meetings that the site was okay, according to his sources with the State Dept of Ed.  Millar has worked hard for Austin and all schools in Dunwoody and DeKalb so expect him to be involved in a solution.

There are some guidelines on building near the pipe line but the State had granted waivers for this project, with certain conditions to be met.  So why are we now hearing the current Austin site has been thrown out by DeKalb?  As in past years, do we need to follow the money?  I thought Mr. Thurmond put all that behind us?

The yellow highlighted area is the 'no go' zone.  Of course it is okay for trailers and Austin's gym, just not for a school.

What happened?  Is the school system adding a new wrinkle to delay the project to see if the independent school Bill passes in the GA House and Senate next year?  Or, is the site really a danger?  After all, that school has been there for only 30 years and only 18,000 or so students have safely attended Austin.

Now what happens?  Well, DeKalb School System starts shopping for a new site.  Real estate deals makes many folks in DeKalb happy.  How about a site near Perimeter Mall?  I hear land is cheap in that area, and so many kids live in the nice ranch houses in the PCID.

No matter where the new school goes there will be redistricting in Dunwoody, oh joy.

Good news for the DeKalb School System and taxpayers alike.  There is a simple remedy to the Austin issue.

1.  Dunwoody Park, now home to two baseball fields, is traded to DeKalb School System. The new Austin is built where the baseball fields are now.

2.  The baseball fields are moved to Brook Run (sorry dog park and Save Dunwoody, we need baseball fields because the Peachtree middle school team is awesome)

3.  The Nature Center stays but now has a bigger role, working with the science teachers at the new Austin (Alan will need more staff, maybe the Red Shirts can help)

4.   The City of Dunwoody receives the current Austin site.  The building is knocked down for a local park.  A previous park study showed the need for a local park in this part of town. There will be discussion of using it for a senior center or something else, but the only non-residential building needed in a neighborhood is a school (not a senior center, not an arts n' crafts building, not anything but grass, swings, a few benches, and a picnic pavilion).

5.  The City of Dunwoody receives the abandoned school on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.  This site has potential for many things from retail, recreation center, fire station, homes, the home of the new Dunwoody community swimming pool, etc.

Stay tuned as this story is moving in many directions.  I know Superintendent Thurmond wants what is best for Dunwoody residents and the children of DeKalb.  Expect to see Mr. Thurmond and Fran at city hall soon having tea with Warren.  Mr. Thurmond, when discussing the issue please feel free to contact the people living in the Austin area.  We are here to help  :)

Also, next week former Board member Dr. Walker gets his say in front of a judge.  Walker will make valid points next week regarding the SACS investigation, but it won't matter what the judge says.  The governor has made his position clear. Walker's fate is in the hands of the Georgia Supreme Court, not the governor's.  We still expect Walker to win his case with the GA Supreme Court based on due process and the taking away of my (and yours) vote.