Austin Elementary School will be rebuilt as a 900-seat school on Roberts Drive in Dunwoody, a school official says.
While negotiations are still underway concerning a land swap, Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green and other school officials told five board members of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association Dec. 9 that the school would be rebuilt and expanded.
The location is not yet known, but the school would either be built on the baseball fields at Dunwoody Park or on the school’s existing site.
“Our intent is to keep the school on Roberts Drive,” said Dan Drake, director of planning and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax programming at DeKalb County School District, who attended the meeting.
DHA Board member Stacey Harris said the school board should know the location in six to eight weeks.
She said the DHA wanted to meet with Green simply because he is the new superintendent, but members of the community have been waiting for an update on Austin Elementary.
Harris said Green impressed her with his ability to express himself simply.
“I was impressed with how he explained his plan,” she said. “There was no psycho-ed babble. And I understood it. I walked out of that meeting more optimistic than I’ve ever been.”
Some parents had said keeping the school smaller than 900 students would be best, but Harris said she understands the financial benefit to expand. She said when a school expands to 900, more state funding is available.
“One item [Green] talked about his years in Kansas City was [how] he decreased their contractors/vendors from 6,000 to 600,” Harris said. “When he talks about cutting costs and putting money back into the classroom, I actually believe him.”
Harris said she brought her eighth-grade son, Liam, to the meeting, too.
A prototype was developed by a 14-member committee for a 900-seat school to be developed at seven sites, Drake said. The first two have been completed: Peachcrest Elementary School and Fernbank Elementary School. It’s a 58-classroom building that stands up to three stories in height in places.
Harris said her son asked about what would become of the STEM program and he was happy to hear about a new Science Technology Engineering and Math lab, which is part of the prototype.
“This is Liam’s fifth superintendent and I feel like Dr. Green is going to make a difference,” Harris said.