Davis' Final APS Redistricting Plan: Keep Coan Middle And Whitefoord Elementary Open
Among the casualties: D.H. Stanton Elementary and Cook Elementary schools.
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. released his final recommendation for the district's massive rezoning, which calls for 10 schools to shut their doors at the end of the school year.
The plan, released late Saturday night, calls for East Lake Elementary to close. That closure was widely expected since the seven preliminary plans called for it to shut down.
But Davis' proposal has a few surprises, too.
Among them: Whitefoord Elementary and Coan Middle schools — both in the Edgewood neighborhood — are spared from closure. Supporters of both Coan and Whitefoord fought bitterly to keep those schools open.
Though Coan stays open, its middle schoolers will go to East Lake Elementary for the 2012-13 school year. That's because Jackson High School in Grant Park will undergo a $30 to $40 million renovation, which will require its students to relocate temporarily somewhere else.
Jackson kids will go to Coan for the 2012-13 academic year.
Coan's feeder neighborhoods - Kirkwood, East Lake and Edgewood, along with East Atlanta Village — are zoned for the Jackson High School cluster.
D.H. Stanton Elementary in Peoplestown is another surprise. That school wasn't slated to close; it remained open in Davis' preliminary plan. In fact, D.H. Stanton was to be one of four schools that would take students from Cook Elementary School, which Davis pegged for closure in his first plan.
Some parents balked at sending their kids to D.H. Stanton, which they said was physically falling apart and lacked functioning equipment on its playground.
Cook's supporters fought to keep their school open, too, after Davis' first proposal.
But the superintendent's final plan calls for it to shut down as a traditional elementary school.
Kids currently zoned to attend Cook will attend Parkside, Whitefoord, Hope-Hill and Centennial Place elementary schools.
The sixth grade academy idea is sure to create a firestorm of protest from Cook supporters. That's what happened in the Kirkwood, Edgewood and East Lake communities when Davis' first proposal called for Coan Middle to close and be repurposed for the Inman Middle sixth graders.
Residents of the three neighborhoods, whose children would have been rezoned to King Middle School in Grant Park, were outraged.
In their view, they saw APS kicking their children out of Coan so kids from more affluent neighborhoods could use the school.
Inman Middle parents meanwhile, also opposed the Coan conversion idea. They cringed at being perceived as interlopers willing send their kids to the Coan facility if children from surrounding neighborhoods went somewhere else.
It's unclear whether or not they will support this conversion of Cook.
Those two neighborhoods are currently zoned for Cook, the worst-performing elementary school in East Atlanta Patch.
But Davis' proposal sends the two communities to Parkside as those parents wanted. His plan also rezones all of Grant Park, which is split to different schools currently, to Parkside as well.
Davis preliminary plan called for the shuttering of 13 schools, which would reduce the number of excess seats by 7,200.
This final plan cuts the total excess by 5,500. APS has 47,000 students but capacity for 60,000 pupils. (Another 3,000 kids attend publicly funded charter schools.)
The redistricting is being driven in part by the district's desire to have enough capacity to address child booms in the fast-growing northern parts of the city, and reduce excess capacity and underutilization in Atlanta's southern neighborhoods.
"Our proposal will eliminate approximately 5,500 of our 13,000-seat excess and generate substantial savings. As a result, we can allocate more funds in direct support of students — that is, to provide more counselors, assistant principals, paraprofessionals and special education resources," Davis wrote in his proposal.
"Also, we will be better positioned to coordinate resources for children from birth to 5 years old, our pre-K programs, and school nutrition services."
However, Davis warned that plenty of excess capacity would remain at the high school level.
"Of the remaining approximately 7,500 empty seats, 6,200 are in high schools," Davis wrote. "This issue must be addressed further."
Davis also wrote the district formed a team to study how the schools slated for closure ought to be utilized.
"We understand that closed and blighted buildings negatively affect communities and economic development, we are exploring meaningful uses for facilities recommended for closure."
Davis' final plan goes to the Atlanta Board of Education, which is expected to vote on it April 10 during a special meeting at Jackson High School.