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After Months Of Debate, A Vote — And For D.H. Stanton, A Reprieve

Marathon meeting of parents and APS officials results in adoption of redistricting plan — with modifications.

Following months of discussion and sometimes cantakerous debate, the Atlanta Public Schools' Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a set of rezoning recommendations that results in school closures, but spares D.H. Stanton Elementary and two others.

The vote — which came at 11:31 p.m. — followed several hours of discussion from parents and supporters of D.H. Stanton, F.L. Stanton and Towns elementary schools who pleaded with board members to keep the three institutions open.

Rueben R. McDaniel III, APS' board chairman, suggested the submitted earlier Tuesday by district Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. be revised to take them off the list of 10 slated for closure.

McDaniel's move was welcomed by those schools' supporters, particularly D.H. Stanton in Peoplestown and Towns in northwest Atlanta, which were last minute additions to the closure lists.

The two schools only learned they were in danger of closing , as the district went on its annual spring break holiday.

The board vote which keeps them open was meet with shouts of joy, fist pumps in the air and applause.

"The past 10 days have been dificult for the D.H. Stanton community. We've have to shift from working to improve our school to working to get it off a closure list," Kevin Lynch, president of the Peoplestown Neighborhood Association told East Atlanta Patch following the meeting.

"Now that D.H. Stanton will remain open, we'll gor hs will remain open we'll go back to working with school and district leaders, neighbors and parents,
faculty and neighborood stakeholders to make it a school we can all be
proud to send our kids to."

But while the East Atlanta Patch neighborhood of Peoplestown, celebrated victory, another Patch community, Capitol Gateway, lost its battle to keep its school, Cook Elementary, open.

Cook, along with East Lake Elementary and five other schools will close at the end of the school year; the changes in Davis' plan are to to be incorporated by the time school resumes in August.

Cook supporters and other neighborhoods vowed they would not forget what they saw as a slight to their communities and that if they lost this fight, they would remember come election day next year, when several board seats come up for a vote.

The redistricting plan's other key points:

  • It opens enrollment at the district’s two single gender middle and high schools – Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy and B.E.S.T. Academy – to students districtwide.
  • It also creates nine clusters of elementary schools feeding into the same middle schools and then specific high schools. The goal is to keep students together from kindergarden through 12th grade.

For a recap of minute-by-minute events and highlights from Tuesday night's meeting, please click on .

Please click on the video clips above to see the historic board vote and the advocacy of Peoplestown residents for D.H. Stanton.

Nick April 11, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Congratulations to all who had a hand in fighting to keep the schools open!
Péralte Paul (Editor) April 11, 2012 at 03:31 PM
They certainly worked hard, Nick. But the fact remains, the district is tight on money. Some folks said the board was just being political and shirking its responsibility. What do you think?
South of the tracks April 11, 2012 at 04:42 PM
APS's mistake was to add new schools to the closure list at the 11th hour. Next time put all the possible-closure schools on the list from Day 1 for complete transparency. Then shake it out from there. Take the time to sell the neighborhoods on it and make the case. Explain the how's and why's. Is the school failing? Is it under-enrolled? Is it a problem with the building/site? How will the closure result in a better educational outcome for the kids? Is the new school better? Will there be transportation for after-school activities? And what will happen to the shuttered facility? If neighborhoods get these answers, and have an opportunity to digest/adjust, more of them will get on board with closure. Use the East Lake scenario as a blueprint. They are sad about losing their elementary school but by and large, they get the why's. They are merging into a successful neighboring school (Toomer). And APS has at least a short-term plan for reuse of EL Elementary. As a result, no histrionics, no angry mobs.
Jason in GP April 12, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Does anyone know the how/who/when/where the final school boundaries will be decided?
Péralte Paul (Editor) April 12, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Hi, Jason: The zone boundaries are here, based on what they voted on Tuesday: http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/Page/413
Péralte Paul (Editor) April 12, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I heard from lots of folks who feel as you do, South the tracks.
Jason in GP April 12, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Those maps assumed closures of 10 schools. Now that there's only seven closing, won't the maps have to be redrawn? I have been and will possibly be further affected by the DH Stanton redistricting/closure/un-closure. As of now, I don't believe I know for sure what elementary school we will be zoned for.
LVR April 12, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Jason - you are right. There is a statement on the site referenced by Mr. Paul stating, "The Atlanta Board of Education amended the superintendent's final recommendation at the April 10 board meeting. APS staff members are modifying maps, cluster models and the approved recommendation. The new approved recommendation will be posted momentarily." That page of the website indicates that the page was "Last Modified Yesterday at 12:25 PM"
Jason in GP April 12, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Thanks, LVR - that's the piece info I couldn't find. Either that statement wasn't there when I looked or I glossed right over it. It's a little unnerving that there is so much that could still change.
Péralte Paul (Editor) April 12, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Thanks LVR. I assumed they updated the maps already.
Péralte Paul (Editor) April 12, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Jason, in which neighborhood do you reside?
LVR April 12, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Jason - I am really sorry you are having to wait. I think most of us were hoping it was going to be over on Tuesday. The process has been long and it has been very stressful for a lot of people and it continues to be so.
Péralte Paul (Editor) April 13, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Hi, everyone: APS tells me they will post the updated attendance zone maps tonight.

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