Editor's note: Parents and supporters from the Edgewood, Kirkwood and East Lake communities rallied March 10 in opposition to a proposal by Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. that calls for the closure of Coan Middle School. Located in the Edgewood neighborhood, Coan, the first middle school established in Georgia when the state adopted the concept, serves the Edgewood, Kirkwood, East Lake and East Atlanta communities. What follows is a statement from Save Coan Middle School, an organization formed to keep the school from closing.
Just before midnight on Sunday, March 4, 2012 Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. released his much-anticipated .
The middle class and working class communities of East Lake, Edgewood and Kirkwood were left in shock. The plan deviated from the previously presented demographers plan. The newly released plan calls for an unexpected closure, Coan Middle School. This closure is in addition to the closure of East Lake Elementary School. The proposal also outlined a new high school feeder cluster for the communities of East Lake and Kirkwood. The children of East Lake, Kirkwood and Edgewood will now be bussed almost five miles away to King Middle School. While local students are being bussed to a school five miles away, students from nearby, predominantly white and middle- to upper-middle class Inman Middle School, will be bussed in to occupy the Coan building under the new moniker of Inman 6th Grade Annex.
The change of middle schools not only impacts children who currently walk not only themselves to Coan, but who are also responsible for accompanying younger siblings as they walk to nearby elementary schools. This change creates a hardship for working parents who will now have to find affordable childcare solutions for younger siblings, as parents can no longer depend on older siblings being nearby. The transportation issue will also limit after school activities and after-school tutoring options for students. While a school bus will provide transportation to students before and after the normal school day, APS is under no mandate to provide transportation for those who participate in after-school activities.
Coan Middle School has a number of partnerships that may not follow the children of Coan as they are zoned to a new middle school. These partnerships are crucial to the success of the children of the East Lake, Edgewood and Kirkwood communities. The Whitefoord Community Program provides free in-school health and dental care for students. Mentoring and college preparation provided by Graduation Generation, which helps many of these students reach their goal of being the first in their family to attend and complete college. Programs such as these are proven models for successful urban communities and are crucial to revitalization efforts and the success of urban youth.
By closing Coan, APS may be walking away from all of these free resources. Can APS and the city of Atlanta really afford to leave millions of dollars worth of aid to urban youth on the table?