The APS Redistricting Debate: In Support Of The Maynard Jackson Cluster

'Cusp of something wonderful' in Southeast Atlanta

by Southeast Atlanta Communities for Schools

We believe we are on the cusp of something wonderful: an Atlanta Public Schools redistricting that has the ability to create Atlanta’s greatest K-12 learning cluster.

When we reviewed the demographers’ maps, we saw a promising pattern. To address the empty seats at , demographers proposed that Coan’s district stretch east and west. That stretch means APS most likely needs to zone together neighborhoods who have in the past attended separate schools but who frequently come together to visit each other’s homes, parks, festivals, restaurants and shops. The neighborhoods zoned to Coan under all four of the initial draft maps begin in the west with Grant Park and stretch east to include Ormewood Park, Boulevard Heights, Benteen, Woodland Hills, McDonough-Guice, Edgewood, East Atlanta, Kirkwood, the Villages of East Lake and East Lake. We see tremendous opportunity in connecting these neighborhoods in a single APS middle school.

The potential in connecting these communities extends past middle school. , the school at the heart of our organization, is at the western end of the proposed Coan attendance zone. In counting students and capacity, we see that Coan (supplemented by the existing K-8 charters) can serve as the zoned APS middle school for Jackson High, which permits matching middle and high school footprints. We believe matching zone boundaries can aid tremendously in a continued building of community support around the Jackson cluster.

We are also thrilled that APS has recently expressed its intent to support the creation of an IB cluster in southeast Atlanta, beginning with MJHS (already an IB candidate school). Please join us in supporting APS’ substantial investment in creating a full IB continuum, similar to what exists now in north Atlanta. To support this international focus, we ask for clusters schools to prioritize foreign language instruction, particularly Chinese and Spanish, in order to build a continuity of curriculum within the cluster.

With all of this in mind, we ask you to join us in requesting the following new boundaries for a Coan/Jackson footprint:

  • To the west, the I-75/I-85 corridor.
  • To the east, the city limits.
  • To the north, the as yet to be determined Inman/Grady line.

To the south:

  • Between I-75/I-85 and Hill Street: Peoplestown’s southern boundary.
  • Between Hill Street and Boulevard, Grant Park’s southern boundary.
  • Between Boulevard to Moreland, depending on capacity after the northern boundary resolves:

— First priority: including all of Parkside.
— Other priorities: moving south by neighborhoods to include as much of S.A.N.D. as possible, and then returning Thomasville to Jackson.
− From Moreland – east, the city’s southern boundary.

We must note that we are asking you to join us in a proposal that of necessity closes the MLK Middle School facility. This is not without regret. Closing King Middle means losing great resources. But the Coan/Jackson zone exceeds MLK’s capacity. The only proposals presented to keep MLK Middle accomplish it by dividing Grant Park in half and by zoning Grant Park, Summerhill, Peoplestown and Cabbagetown away from its eastern neighbors. We believe those options lacks community support and will frustrate utilization goals. However, Inman Middle’s southern boundary is not yet decided. If large areas shift south, it could exceed Coan’s capacity, necessitating the retention of MLK as a middle school for this cluster. Alternatively, if only a smaller amount of extra capacity is needed, one solution might be converting Burgess-Peterson to a K-8.

We have an opportunity not only to build truly great schools but also an educational community that would benefit generations to come. To our southeast neighborhood associations and schools, please consider showing support for the creation of a new Jackson cluster. To those to our north, if APS district lines shift your neighborhood to the Jackson cluster, we ask that you join us in our work to build Atlanta’s greatest K-12 cluster.

Yours for Education,

Southeast Atlanta Communities for Schools

Founded in 2010 by Don Grant, SEACS is comprised of parents in southeast Atlanta who advocate for the schools in their corresponding neighborhoods.


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