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Patch Poll: What Should Happen With The Westchester Building?

The current administration building used to be an elementary school.

What will happen to the old Westchester Elementary?

That's a question the Decatur School Board will talk about in coming months, possibly at a Jan. 23 meeting at which the board will discuss how to spend SPLOST money.

The Decatur system is growing fast, .

The system already has a building designed as an elementary school -- . The building was not used as a school in 2010 when the administrative staff moved in.

Will Westchester be turned into a school again? How soon?

A committee that studied enrollment trends has recommended against rezoning or reopening Westchester or any other school buildings for the 2012-13 school year.

In a Jan. 10 Power Point that summarized the committee's work, Assistant Superintendnent Thomas Van Soelen went over some of the pro and cons of reopening Westchester.

The simple availability is the big plus, but he noted that neighborhoods around Westchester have the lowest concentration of early-grade students in the city.

If Westchester were opened, it could become a school for students through third grade with a small or "controlled choice" enrollment zone, he said.

The administration has been considering the Westchester conversion for a while. In a FAQ before the November SPLOST referendum, the administration said:

"Central Office employees have been working out of the Westchester building. If enrollment continues to rise, the building may again be needed to house students. The administration has looked at the possibility of renting space within the city. The approximate annual rental cost of $250,000 must come from general funds, not SPLOST funds."

When Westchester was converted into administrative offices, some Decatur parents grumbled because students had to take classes in trailers while the 4/5 Academy was under construction, according to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

For a full picture of how the school system is working to predict the size of the student body, check out the Power Point for the full report on enrollment trends. Decatur Metro provided a good synopsis of the report.

The Jan. 23 meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the administrative offices at 758 Scott Blvd.

Tammy January 19, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Turn it into a Wal Mart, Decaturites seem to really like that.
Jan January 20, 2012 at 02:48 AM
"The system already has a building designed as an elementary school -- Westchester on Scott Boulevard. The building was not used as a school in 2010 when the administrative staff moved in." Actually Westchester was a k-5 elementary school when the CSD school board voted in February 2004 to close it at the end of that school year. It was then used for two years to house overflow students from Clairemont Elementary, and the CSD administration moved into the building in 2006. Referring to "the old Westchester Elementary" is a bit misleading. CSD spent $2.5 million to enlarge and renovate the school in 1998-99 (because yes, it was overcrowded) then closed it just seven years later, so the facility is hardly in "old" condition.
Nick January 20, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Reopen it as an elementary school, it would be great for the area!
LR January 20, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Perhaps a main reason the area surrounding Westchester has the lowest concentration of early elementary students is because students in those neighborhoods must be bussed to to school. When families shop for homes in Decatur, the school district really does make a difference. My thinking is that if Westchester is reopened as an elementary school, we will see more young families moving into the district. "Build it and they will come".
Meg Clark January 20, 2012 at 08:31 PM
As a Westchester graduate, I say re-open it-- I would love for my kids to go to the same elementary school I went to! It's one of the reasons I moved back here, and is the inevitable conclusion of the closing Westchester down scandal of several years back.

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