Redistricting is a chilling experience for everyone involved, the affected families and the school administrators. It’s especially true when families feel they are being drawn out of a beloved school or feeder system.
That is a deep concern in north DeKalb, where parents are gathering tonight at a redistricting meeting at Henderson Middle School at 6:30. Parents in the Leafmore neighborhood fear the possibility that they will be shifted from the Oak Grove/Henderson/Lakeside feeder system to the Sagamore/Shamrock/Druid Hills system.
At this point, DeKalb is in the discussion and planning stages of redistricting. As the recent school closing hearings in DeKalb demonstrated, parents will rise up quickly even at the suggestion that their children could be tapped for redistricting.
The challenge in DeKalb County is that growth has slowed in the south end of the county, which had been a hotbed of new housing a few years ago. During the school closing hearings, system officials shared stark numbers that showed half-empty classrooms in many south DeKalb areas. But many schools continue to draw new students in the north end of the county.
That north/south line is both a geographic and a racial one in DeKalb, which makes this conversation all the more strained.
DeKalb Schools are surveying parents. Most of the responses have been from elementary school parents. The survey gives the number of respondents by schools. The top five were Fernbank Elementary with 150 responses; Montgomery with 106; Vanderlyn with 105; Austin with 62 and Briar Vista with 46.
Asked the most important factors in redistricting, respondents listed these as their top three: Keeping communities intact (672), geographic proximity (610) and instructional capacity (486).
I don’t envy anyone in DeKalb as redistricting is never easy, and there are factors in this discussion that will make it even more complicated and volatile.
–By Maureen Downey, AJC Get Schooled blog