Lakeside expansion challenged

General Standers

 

A group of community stakeholders from the Lakeside High School attendance area have united to oppose the school’s scheduled expansion.

The expressed opposition is in response to the planned construction of a two-story, 750-seat, 38-classroom addition as well as a three-story parking garage.

The project is part of DeKalb County School District’s (DCSD) E-SPLOST V list, which also calls for the expansion of Chamblee Charter High and Dunwoody High. DCSD hosted more than 20 public meetings during an 18-month period about items on the list beginning in 2015, including several on additions and new facilities.

On Nov. 4, DCSD board of education member Stan Jester published a letter on his blog from members of the Lakeside High community. The letter states DCSD should rethink its decision on five factors: Lakeside High School’s student population has already increased to its breaking point; too few residents are aware of the decision; the DeKalb County Commission recommended a new high school; the expansion will negatively impact the student experience; and watershed flooding issues will impact student safety.

Rather than expand Lakeside, Chamblee and Dunwoody, the letter suggests the board halt planned expansion actions to listen to community concerns; provide more time for stakeholders to understand what has been decided and why; and prepare to reopen discussions with the goal of adopting long-term solutions.

“We stand ready to take on much of the work required to get people out to learn from our BOE officials, the DCSD administration, and other experts who best understand the issues,” the letter concludes.

Further, the school district’s own enrollment projections show that these schools will be at capacity when these expansions are complete and to our knowledge, there is no identified plan for additional growth.

This fact heightens our assessment that this is the right time to stop and ensure longer-term solutions are considered so that our students will be inspired and able to achieve [the district’s] vision of educational excellence.”

The letter was addressed to DCSD’s board of education, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, CEO Michael Thurmond, the Lakeside High school administration, SPLOST oversight committee, members of DeKalb County’s Planning, Development & Public Works department, as well as DCSD chief operations officer Joshua Williams, executive director of operations Daniel Drake and Region 2 superintendent Trent Arnold.

Jester introduced the letter by stating, “Various residents and civic associations have caught wind of the 750-seat expansion project and are doing the research the school district should have done in the first place.”

On Nov. 6, Debbie Miller, Kay Colson, Ed Ewing, Kenneth Lippe, Mike SanFratello, and Angela Maki expressed their concerns during DCSD’s November public input session.

Miller said, “it’s never too late to do the right thing.” She said the stormwater management system near Lakeside is frequently flooded by rain, suffers from erosion and that no development should take place until such issues are addressed in the Briarcliff area.”

Colson said she didn’t know about the expansion until April 2017. She said DeKalb County Commissioners are not supportive of the plan because it is a bad, short-term plan.

“Far too few residents were involved in the discussion,” Colson said. “Who speaks for the community when a major decision like this is going to impact more than buildings being upsized to house more students?”

Ewing said Lakeside’s expansion lacks critical economic, social, political and technological considerations.

“If you want to do the job right, you hire an interior designer before you remodel your house. You hire an architect before you build a new school building, and you hire a strategic planning consultant before you expand a school system,” Ewing said.

Lippe said traffic around Lakeside is “pretty much abysmal.” He said any further additions to Lakeside would only bring more.

“A three-story parking garage will cause unprecedented daily traffic,” Lippe said. “Imagine three stories of parking spaces attempting to be filled or emptied while dealing with intersections of two-lane roads.”

Maki said classrooms are inadequate in addressing Lakeside’s overpopulation problem.

No realistic renovations can enlarge the original building’s corridors or the narrow staircase where literally thousands of students enter and exit Lakeside each day,” Maki said. “These narrow hallways, which access key common spaces, provide an effective place to hide unsavory activities in plain sight due to the wall-to-wall congestion, and have been the location of violent fights as recently as this fall.”

 

861 total views, 3 views today

Facebook Comments

Leave a Comment - Comments may take up to 48 hours to appear