UPDATED: APS Redistricting: Close Coan Middle School, Convert To A Sixth Grade Academy
Superintendent's recommendations call for closures of East Lake and Cook elementary schools.
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. released his recommendations for the rezoning of schools late Sunday, which puts Cook and East Lake elementary schools on the closure list.
Davis' plans also calls for the closure of Coan Middle School in Edgewood and converting it to a sixth-grade academy that would help relieve the overcrowding at Inman Middle School in Virginia-Highland.
Students at Coan, who come from Edgewood, Kirkwood, East Lake and East Atlanta, would attend King Middle in Grant Park.
"Inman will use the former Coan facility as a sixth-grade academy for a system-saving cost of approximately $20 [million] to $30 million," the superintendent wrote in his letter posted to the APS website late Sunday night.
"Should this recommendation be unacceptable to the board, we will seek an alternative location for the sixth-grade academy."
Cook Elementary, which is in the Capitol Gateway neighborhood and the worst performing primary school in East Atlanta Patch, should close, Davis said. "Repurposing opportunities will be explored" for the school, which is only 48.9 percent full.
The redistricting is necessary because APS has capacity for 60,000 students but only has 47,000 pupils. Another 3,000 attend publicly funded charter schools.
"Data show that the majority of empty seats are in the southern part of our district, while the northern section of the district is experiencing overcrowding," the superintendent wrote.
In all, Davis' recommendations, which follow months of study by a consulting firm and parental input, call for the closure of 13 schools and divide the rest into a group of 10 clusters.
The closures would reduce the 13,000 excess seats by 7,200.
At Coan for example, the school has 307 students, but only 34.3 percent full. King, in comparison, has 551 students but is 62.3 percent full.
Coan & King at a glance:
|Total Attendance||School Academic Rank of 479 Middle Schools Statewide||Change From 2010|
|Coan Middle||Edgewood||307||422||Up 1 spot|
|King Middle||Grant Park||551||391||Up 44 spots|
The Coan recommendation is somewhat surprising. Though it ranks lower than King in terms of academic performance, some parents felt the school had some momentum given that it received $1.5 million last year in private grants and to boost student achievement as part of the Graduation Generation-Atlanta initiative.
Coan also is the only middle school in APS to offer Chinese language instruction through the Confucius Institute.
An APS spokesman told East Atlanta Patch the district will make a determination about Graduation Generation after the board of education approves of a final plan.
"Funding is for students, not buildings," district spokesman Keith Bromery said. "The children stay the same and together. We are optimistic that the funding will follow the students."
As for the Chinese language instruction: "We also have supported programs such as the Confucius Institute that easily transfer."
In a Feb. 13 interview with Patch editors, Davis said all configurations were being considered. No school should feel "safe" because the greater need is to develop a plan that makes sense for the district as a whole, not any one school, he said.
It was a point Bromery reiterated Monday.
"Erroll Davis has said from the beginning of this process that district-wide redistricting will never make everyone happy," Bromery said. "The process involves developing a plan that will be equitable for the district as a whole so that the system’s main mission of educating children can be carried out in an efficient, cost-effective and sound manner.
"We are not abandoning anyone. Our proposal will make needed services more available to those most in need."
For the schools of East Atlanta Patch, Davis recommends:
Hope-Hill Elementary, Old Fourth Ward: Rezoned to Inman Middle School.
Mary Lin Elementary, Candler Park: About $15 million earmarked for select renovations and additions; no relocations of students.
Cook Elementary, Capitol Gateway: Close. Some students go to Hope-Hill, others zoned to other primary schools.
Coan Middle School, Edgewood: Close and convert it to a sixth-grade academy to relieve the overcrowding at Inman Middle School in Virginia-Highland. Students go to King Middle.
East Lake Elementary, East Lake: Close. Students go to Toomer Elementary.
Thomasville Heights Elementary, Thomasville Heights: Close. Building to be repurposed. Students go to Benteen Elementary.
How the schools will be clustered:
Carver High School cluster would include:
- Benteen Elementary School, Benteen Park
Jackson High School in Grant Park would have in its cluster:
- King Middle School, Grant Park
- Burgess-Peterson Academy, East Atlanta
- D.H. Stanton, Peoplestown
- Parkside Elementary, Grant Park
- Toomer Elementary, Kirkwood
- Whitefoord Elementary, Edgewood
Grady High School Cluster would include:
- Hope-Hill Elementary, Old Fourth Ward
- Mary Lin Elementary, Candler Park
"We wish to stress that this is a preliminary recommendation — the first from the leadership team at APS," Davis wrote. "We fully anticipate that changes will take place as a result of community input, just as changes took place in the demographer's models."
The district has scheduled a number of public hearings for the public to voice its concerns that start March 12.
Davis is expected to make a presentation of his recommendations to the Atlanta Board of Education March 5.