Friday, May 15, 2009

Dunwoody Elementary School Update & lack of public notice for Community Council Meetings

This evening after a busy day at work, I rushed over Dunwoody High School to listen to the final update of the new Dunwoody Elementary School that was given by Principal Jonathan Clark, Ms. Pat Pope, Dir. of Operations / Construction, Ms. Robin Burch of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association who was also representing the City of Dunwoody to obtain several building and landscaping changes, and the head of transportation / busing, (I missed his name).

Below is the recording of the meeting which lasted about 53 minutes.


Here are a few highlights from memory, so I encourage you to listen to the meeting instead of quoting me if you are going to rely on the information. The school will open on time with about 750 - 800 students and the capacity of the school is about 950. Most of the teachers are from the three feeder schools (Austin, Chesnut & Vanderlyn) and the school website will be updated the first week in June providing the names. Dress code is plain solid colors (Jeans & shorts are OK, collared shirts preferred.) or school spirit wear (either Dunwoody Elem School or from any other school in the cluster including DHS). Start time is 7:45 until 2:15 pm with the students from Austin riding in separate buses and the children from Chesnut & Vanderlyn sharing the buses with their local school. The shared buses will pickup at the house bused students from the Elementary school (greater than 1.5 miles walking miles from local ES) and bused students to DES (greater than 1.5 miles from DES) and then drop off at the DES before bringing the younger students back to the lower elementary school. In the afternoon it is reversed, picked up at DES, head to the lower elem and then drive home. A number of complaints and suggestions were provided on the tentative transportation plan but it will not be final until June so things can still change. Landscaping is much improved near Windhaven Court, nicer fence lines. The school health clinic has been reconfigured, doubled in size. The playground equipment is age appropriate but the speakers couldn't describe it. There will be after school care available and the list of activities will be released prior to the start of school.

As far as the complaints of environmental damage highlighted in an AJC article and stop work orders, Ms. Pope dismissed both claims and stated that the school was in full compliance.

Over all I was happy with the presentation, I like Mr. Clark, I know and trust the leaders of the PTO and am looking forward to being a Dunwoody Elementary School parent for the next four years.

Immediately after that meeting I headed over to the Community Council to listen to a presentation on a Special Land Uses application for transitional housing in an existing apartment complex behind Peachtree Middle School. The Community Council is the first step of the rezoning process which is then followed by the Planning Commission and then the City Council. I mentioned the CC meeting on the blog but there were only seven residents in the audience and four of us were either Planning Commission or City Council Members and are not allowed to ask questions nor influence the conversations.

It was discovered that the City, unlike DeKalb County, does not require rezoning signs nor notice to neighbors prior to these Community Council meetings therefore the odds of the community actually showing up to fight or support the application is very minimal. I will be looking to have these policies reviewed and changed thereby allowing the community more notice of what is going on. The other item is that the City website should be making the complete packet of information which is given to the various committee members available on the internet for review to everyone. What appears to be happening now is that just the agenda is being provided on the web and that doesn't have the same detail as the full committee receives.

Before that meeting was fully over, I left to catch the last couple of innings of my son's playoff game at Murphy Candler, which was then followed with my boys and I viewing of the Ivy Riders Classic Cars and the Dunwoody Police Soap Box Derby Car.


Paula Caldarella said...

The fact that the community was not made aware of this meeting, via rezoning signs, is disturbing to me. Hopefully, this gets rectified. I'm sure more people would have been in attendance had it been "advertised", either via street signs or some other manner. I would think the Crier (our, so-called "legal organ") would carry these types of meetings as well.

Since I was not at the meeting could you enlighten us as to what is meant by "transitional housing" with respect to this complex.

Thank you.

DunwoodyTalk said...

As predicted over a year ago, the new school will open 25% empty (capacity is 986 and projections are for 756 kids). Meanwhile, Vanderlyn will be 120% capacity and Austin 108% capacity.

Now we learn the kindergarten (K-3) kids get to ride over to the new Womack Road Pre-Middle School every morning before going to their 'home' school. At least the K-3 kids will have some AM entertainment (on the bus) instead of rotting in the cafeteria before school starts. That will make for a great start everyday; sitting in Dunwoody traffic. And I'm sure the 4th and 5th graders will enjoy riding past their home/apartment on the way back to the school they still should be attending, so they can pick up the K-3 kids, then backtrack to home. Maybe the buses could have fold-down work stations installed on the back of seats so the Pre-Middle school kids (4th and 5th graders) can start on homework.

I still doubt those 200+ seats will remain empty.

Mom99 said...

I don't think the seats will remain empty for long. Governor Perdue just passed a law allowing students to transfer to any school within the district. The folks in Dunwoody who fought so hard against redistricting may be having second thoughts. DES should have been a traditional elementary school filled with students from the cluster.

themommy said...

Actually, the new law has an exemption for new schools...

•Transfer provisions do no apply to charter schools, nor to newly opened schools for a period of four years after the school opens.

DunwoodyTalk said...


do you now think we should push for redistricting?

DunwoodyTalk said...


Can kids from 'failing' schools request a transfer to the new school via NCLB or is their a prohibitive 'new school' clause there as well?

themommy said...

First, DeKalb has already announced the receiving schools for NCLB AYP transfers. Since so few elementary schools actually fail and have to offer transfers, DCSS has only three or four elementary options. Dunwoody Elementary is not one of them (nor is Dunwoody High this time around, though Chamblee is).

I think that now is not the time to press for redistricting, especially since Dr. Lewis said at DCPC that he wasn't going to be making any line changes in Dunwoody any time soon.

dunwoodydad said...

I loves me some trailers, for schoolin'.
And dust bowls for chillrens to playin'.