Smoke Rise Rising

Smoke-Rise-PlanThis summer marks a huge milestone for a project three years in the making. Contractors for the DeKalb County School District are expected to break ground in the next couple of months on a new, state-of-the-art elementary school to replace the existing Smoke Rise Elementary. The project, which is located on the old Sears site at Hugh Howell Road and Mountain Industrial Boulevard, is expected to open in time for the 2021-’22 school year.

There are two main problems being addressed by the construction of the new school. One is that Smoke Rise Elementary is one of the older facilities in DeKalb County. It was important not just that the building be replaced, but that concerns with an overburdened septic system be addressed.

Secondly, a new, larger school building, combined with redistricting, will help alleviate overcrowding in elementary schools across Tucker. Idlewood Elementary, for instance, is projected to be at 134 percent of its capacity for the 2021-’22 school year. With redrawn lines, some of those students could potentially find themselves zoned for the new elementary school.

Redistricting is an issue that will be talked about next year by the School District, parents and community leaders. Right now, there is no definite plan in place at the District level about which students could be redistricted to the new elementary school. There will be a public engagement process starting in Fall 2020, where the community can weigh in on how they would like to see redistricting handled. Ultimately, the Superintendent, then the School Board, would approve a plan in Winter 2021, about five months before the new school opens.

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