DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — It has been three months since the Georgia Department of Education issued a corrective action plan of mandatory repairs at Druid Hills High School after video of the problems inside went viral at the end of the last school year.
DeKalb County Schools said it’s been working all summer to make crucial repairs. 11Alive has been asking for months to get inside Druid Hills High School – and others – to see any progress for ourselves, but the district repeatedly denied those requests.
Now, we do have updated photos and videos of repairs at Druid Hills High School but it’s because the district provided them to us.
Before and after pictures show snapshots of scenes the viral video highlighted and what the school district says they look like now. The pictures show five areas: a peeling wall, a water fountain, outside the weight room, ceiling tiles in the girls’ bathroom, and a plaster ceiling.
A short district-provided video shows additional shots of the inside of a bathroom, pipes in the ceiling and the weight room.
Senior Student Body President Darion Frazier told 11Alive he could see a difference walking into school this year.
“I would say this is better than when we left it. The drinking fountains, majority of them, have been fixed. There has not been sewage spewing out of the drains outside at lunch,” he said. “I haven’t noticed any mass changes. I know that it feels different.”
In May, the Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) issued a corrective action plan for the school. By the time school let out for summer, 62 of the 106 items on the list were fixed. As of mid-August, the district has crossed of 93 items.
Special advisor to the project Dr. Tanzy Kilcrease, hired by GADOE, said the district should finish the last 13 repairs by the end of December.
“We’re waiting on some carpet. Of course, some lighting. We’ve been switching out some of the lights to LED lights. So, they’re still working on that. There’s some window glazing that has to be done, but that will be done during the modernization. And the gym floor maintenance will be done in the latter fall I think, when the kids go out on break. They’ll do that work because it will require for everyone to be out of the school,” Dr. Kilcrease explained.
She has been monitoring the progress with weekly status reports and occasional site visits.
“Our facilities team at the Georgia Department of Education, we have made four site visits. So, we go to check on the progress,” she said.
Dr. Kilcrease explained that over the summer, the district has worked on maintenance issues at all 22 high schools and every middle school campus in the district. The school board approved to contract out some of the work so they had the staff to do it. There was no mention of work at elementary schools.
“They really and truly have taken this on and made sure that there is the same type of process for all of the middle and high schools,” Dr. Kilcrease said.
Meanwhile, Frazier said that the district’s operations team wasn’t the only one doing work over the summer. Almost every Saturday, parent and student volunteers helped make improvements to Druid Hills High.
He told 11Alive the improvements he’s seeing now that school is back in session is a start, but there’s much more work to do.
“We obviously want the major things that were promised to be done,” Frazier said.
The repairs made over the summer were mostly cosmetic. The big $50 million modernization of Druid Hills is supposed to start this Fall. School board member Marshall Orson said the project may be delayed since the board has yet to vote on the latest SPLOST VI project list, which is how the project would be funded.
Orson also said since the process typically starts with a design phase that costs a much smaller amount, it’s possible the project could still start on time, although that still requires school board approval.
In the meantime, State Superintendent Richard Woods plans to do another walk-through sometime in September.