APS Redistricting: Why Custer/McDonough/Guice Is Split-Zoned
Superintendent's guiding principles regarding neighborhood cohesion were not mandatory.
In the final redistricting analysis, most of the neighborhoods that comprise East Atlanta Patch got what they wanted.
Among the highlights:
- Grant Park is now wholly zoned to one elementary school.
- Candler Park, Inman Park and Lake Claire stay put at Mary Lin Elementary and in the Grady High School Cluster.
- The neighborhoods of Old Fourth Ward that go to Hope-Hill Elementary also join the Grady cluster.
- Edgewood keeps its school, Whitefoord Elementary, open.
- Summerhill and Cabbagetown go to Parkside Elementary.
- Peoplestown's neighborhood school, D.H. Stanton Elementary, stays open.
Those communities got what they wanted, partly based on a series of guiding principles Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. established as a blueprint for what would shape the final outcome.
One of those key principles was to eliminate split-school attendance zones.
But in the neighborhood of Custer/McDonough/Guice, a hamlet of 1,257 residents, the community remains split.
The neighborhood is roughly bounded by Intrenchment Creek, Moreland Avenue, McDonough Boulevard and an artificial boundary to the east of Benteen Park Drive and Elleby Road.
It is wholly zoned to attend King Middle and Jackson High schools, both of which are in Grant Park.
But it remains split to two different elementary schools — Parkside and Benteen.
Under the new attendance zone maps, which go into effect in the 2012-13 school year, the portion of the neighborhood south of Custer Avenue SE is zoned to Benteen. The area north of Custer is zoned to Parkside.
The neighborhood, which has 80 kids in the Pre-K to fifth grade age range, was already split to Benteen and Thomasville Heights Elementary.
Residents hoped Davis would fix that and zone the community to just one grammar school, as he had done for Grant Park and other Atlanta neighborhoods.
But despite community efforts, including one petition to end the split-school zoning, that's not likely to happen.
"Keep in mind that guiding principles are not hard and fast rules governing decisions made on individual school rezoning issues," APS spokesman Keith Bromery told East Atlanta Patch Tuesday.
"Also remember that the main point of the overall redistricting effort was to increase enrollment in under-enrolled schools throughout the district so that they will be eligible for additional support to increase student performance."
As it is, even with the new attendance zones, APS still has a lot of schools — eight of them in East Atlanta Patch neighborhoods — that will remain under-enrolled.
"Specific rezoning decisions more reflect the larger effort to increase enrollment at under-enrolled schools than strict adherence to guiding principles," Bromery said.