The Closing of Forrest Hills Elementary


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In light of the planned school closings in DeKalb, the AJC’s Bill Torpy reflects this morning on how the 2004 closure of Forrest Hills Elementary affected its surrounding community.

Formerly active residents and many young parents have moved away. Community gatherings have grown smaller. The recession makes the impact on property values hard to determine, but many residents believe they’ve been damaged. And the sense of neighborhood renewal and momentum that the effort to better its school fostered has diminished.

11 thoughts on “The Closing of Forrest Hills Elementary”


  1. This is a perfectly fine school and it’s sad to see it slowly deteriorate due to vandalism, graffiti, and general lack of use. However, I have a huge unused field to let my dogs run around in by the playground. It’s like a neat urban sanctuary that no one knows exists.

  2. It’s really silly that Dekalb won’t let the International School or the Avondale Museum school lease/buy the building. It would bring in revenue for the struggling district and put an unused building to good use as a school again.

    As for the people like JB who like it as a place for there dogs to play, I have a dog and like it for that too. However, I wish all the dog owners would clean up after their dogs when they let them play there. The field has quite a few “landmines.” from irresponsible pet owners!

  3. Sad. And with Midway possibly closing it means more kids trying to get into the Museum school (meaning less of a chance for my kids in a couple of years). I really don’t want to move, but I check realtor websites all the time.

  4. In my short but not miniscule experience, when schools are closed, whether they be 5th Avenue in Decatur or schools in DeKalb County, it is said they can be reopened if enrollment changes. But then they are left to deteriorate rather than used for another purpose and they have to be razed and rebuilt if the space is needed again. That’s why careful enrollment predictions based on actual numbers of young children, not projections from hospital births, should be used. But in these financially tight times, I think we’ll see more and more school closings, just based on budgets, not on enrollment. I hope and pray that closures or large classrooms based on budget do not come to Decatur. I hope that preventing such events is the number one priority of decision makers.

  5. It is very sad to see to see the school close and the neighbors move. They are missed. But, still there is hope that Dekalb County Schools will see the light and allow a charter school to operate in our neighborhood. The school is presently in good shape and with some renovation could be ready quite quickly for school children. It is nowhere in as bad of repair as Fifth Avenue, but, of course, that will eventually happen if it is left empty. To top it all off, the county has made the school a bus barn. We have empty busses coming in and out of the neighborhood on a regular basis, so we feel really loved by Dekalb.

  6. The Forrest Hills principal, Mr Reed, was wonderful. Does anyone know where he wound up?

    I agree that DeKalb Co is crazy not to let the International School or Museum School use this space. It would totally rejuvenate the area…

  7. Why can’t the Museum School apply to take it? Wasn’t there some sort of charter school thing that allows them to do that?

      1. I have no special information on this, but from reading the newspaper, it sounded like the DeKalb School Board was not interested in cooperating with independent, publicly funded charter school operations. And allowing the international school to use this building would be that kind of cooperation.

        I’m a huge supporter of public education, but this charter school sounds like a way to revitalize local schools, help the local community etc.

        I suspect that the big public school system doesn’t want to give up control of that school and that money. It does seem awfully short-sighted to me.

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