Apr 21, 2022 - News

DeKalb favors districtwide repairs over Druid Hills High upgrades

Druid Hills HS sign
Students and parents Monday outside DeKalb County School District's central office encouraging the Board of Education to modernize Druid Hills High School. Photo: Dean Hesse/Decaturish

Sewer backups. Mold in ceilings. Peeling paint. Flooded weight rooms.

Driving the news: These were some of the issues that appeared in a video uploaded by Druid Hills High School students this month, spurring the DeKalb County Board of Education to consider a resolution to modernize the nearly 100-year-old institution.

  • But a majority of board members opted to widen the focus and on Monday voted to tackle the most serious maintenance and structural issues at all district schools.

However, the board’s latest decision doesn’t come with a timetable, nor does it outline which funding sources the school district would use to pay for the projects.

What they're saying: Board members in favor of the broader approach say the district is responsible for ensuring repairs are done at all schools suffering from structural integrity problems.

  • “This is a win-win situation,” board member Joyce Morley said during Monday’s meeting. “Our children are suffering throughout the district, not the north by itself. The south is too.”

The other side: Two board members, Allyson Gevertz and Marshall Orson, voted against the broader approach. Orson, whose district includes Druid Hills, said the school’s condition poses a danger to student safety.

  • “We should be ashamed of ourselves,” he said. “The disservice and the harm we are going to do to the students and the future of this school is just beyond comprehension.”

Reese Fisher, a Druid Hills High School senior, said her classmates are “concerned about the health” of current and future students.

  • “The truth is that Druid Hills students do not feel safe in our buildings,” she said.

Students and parents held a demonstration outside the district’s central offices during Monday’s meeting, according to Decaturish.

Druid Hills High School is the oldest in DeKalb County, with its first building dating to 1928, according to its website.

Of note: DeKalb’s comprehensive master plan, which took an inventory of the physical state of its schools, recommended spending about $52 million renovating and modernizing the Druid Hills campus.

What we’re watching: Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris said the district hasn’t had the chance to review the board’s new direction and said work on Druid Hills High School would not begin any time soon.

  • “I wish we had time so that we weren’t making unfulfilled promises as we have been accused of as a school system,” she said.
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