New enrollment projections may mean Dunwoody High will get a bigger expansion than expected. But that does not ease community concerns for what will be done with the overcrowded school in the meantime.

The projections were discussed at a Feb. 20 meeting held with DeKalb County School District administrators who also explained the upcoming redistricting process for Austin Elementary. The planned Dunwoody High $17.7 million expansion currently includes a two-story, 29-classroom addition and is expected to be completed in 2022.

Hanz Williams, the DeKalb County School District’s planning director, talks about Dunwoody High enrollment projects at the Feb. 20 meeting held at Kingsley Charter Elementary School. (Evelyn Andrews)

“That’s three or four years down the road. What are you going to do right now?” a parent asked at the meeting, which was hosted by the Peachtree Gateway Council on Schools at Kingsley Charter Elementary School.

The enrollment forecast study done in 2015 for Dunwoody High projected attendance to be 2,093 by 2022. But it’s climbing faster than expected and is now projected to be 2,316, according to the presentation.

The news comes as DeKalb is already over budget on some of its other expansion and new schools as construction costs skyrocket.

After the preliminary design is completed for Dunwoody High, the project may be held temporarily while the school board decides whether or not to put it on the list for more TSPLOST funding to afford a bigger expansion, said Dan Drake, the interim chief operating officer.

A parent of Dunwoody High student requested administrators and school board members visit the school to see the overcrowding conditions before making a decision.

“I feel like until administration sees the stress on schools, they shouldn’t make capacity decisions,” the parent said, which received applause from other meeting attendees.

Another parent said the district needs to work on improving facilities now, including the bathrooms, eating spaces and field that are in poor condition.

“The students do not have good facilities to learn and thrive. It’s looking like 2022 may not be any better,” the parent said.

Some teachers don’t have room for a desk, a parent said. Other parents expressed concern about the rising number of “portable classrooms,” or trailers, and that more may be needed if enrollment continues to rise quicker than expected.

Drake said that any safety problems parents and teachers reported at the meeting like bathroom doors that don’t close properly or security concerns caused by the overcrowding will be addressed immediately.

Redistricting

The district recently wrapped up its process redistricting process for a new Brookhaven school and is preparing to start it for Dunwoody’s new Austin Elementary.

The new school is being built on about 10 acres of Dunwoody Park, where the Dunwoody Senior Baseball fields were located, and is slated to open in fall 2020.

The school has about 200 open seats that the district hopes to fill by moving students from other, overcrowded schools.

Dunwoody Elementary is “the most concerning elementary school” in the Dunwoody cluster, said Hanz Williams, the district’s planning director. The 2021 enrollment at the school is projected to be 488 students more than the school is built to accommodate, according to the presentation.

Williams said the redistricting public meetings will begin in September.

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