APS Redistricting: A Counterproposal To Closing Coan Middle School

East Lake, Edgewood and Kirkwood communities develop plan in the hopes of saving Georgia's first Middle School.

Editor's note: Since APS Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr.'s March 4 recommendation that , the Edgewood, East Lake and Kirkwood neighborhoods — three of the four communities zoned to attend the school, have mobilized to save it. The communities developed this proposal to present to Davis today. They shared their proposal with East Atlanta Patch.

by Earl Williamson

The following is a proposal to keep Coan Middle School open for the students of it's core neighborhoods of Edgewood, East Lake and Kirkwood. It was developed in response to Atlanta Public Schools Superindent Erroll B. Davis Jr.'s plan to close Coan and his repeated suggestions to the community that a viable plan would be needed to reverse that recommendation.

The following was developed with the input of many including Coan Middle School parents and teachers, the Educations Committees of the Kirkwood Neighbors Organization and East Lake Neighbors Community Association, experienced educators from APS and other systems and many concerned residents of Edgewood, East Lake, and Kirkwood.

We feel quite strongly about the value, efficacy and future of our middle school and believe this proposal remains solidly within the parameters required by Superintendent Davis.

Please take a few moments to review the proposal and if you are in support of it and keeping Coan Middle School open please communicate that to Superintendent Davis and the Board of Education. E-mail addresses are as follows:

The New Coan Middle School

Beyond The Status Quo:

A Dual Purpose Middle School Featuring On Site APS Leadership and Public-Private Partnerships

A Collective Effort of the Coan Middle School Communities of Edgewood, Kirkwood, and East Lake March, 2012

Our Vision for Coan Middle School:

The 1st Choice Middle School among its communities and beyond

A traditional neighborhood middle school

A humanities school with Challenge programming to include Gifted teachers in English, Social Studies, and Science

A mixed-delivery model where one level cultivates learning in another level

A new home for the APS Office of Gifted and Talented Education


  1. Recreate Coan while keeping it available to its community as a middle school
  2. Utilize Coan as the pilot program for APS Middle School Transformation, building on community engagement and participation
  3. Improve educational choices and outcomes for Coan Middle School customers by providing a competitive educational product of excellence
  4. Embrace Superintendent Davis' goal of effective leaders that hire their own assistants and teaching staff
  5. Annual growth in student population of 10% 

Existing Strengths

  • Graduation Generation, a partnership with Emory University.
  • Continuity of partnerships throughout the Coan feeder pattern.
  • Walkable, bikeable, and central to its customers.
  • Modern and well maintained with a 16.5 acre campus and athletic fields.
  • Coan Farm garden.
  • Three languages offered: Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and French.
  • The Confucius Institute bringing Chinese culture and language along with global awareness to the school.
  • An award-winning debate program.
  • Coan Health Center, a partnership of the Whitefoord Community Program & Emory School of Medicine.
  • Community support, engagement, and activism.
  • Atlanta Music Project.
  • Walkable after school programming at Coan and Branham Recreation Centers and the Boys and Girls Club.

Curriculum Improvements

  • Maximize Gifted certified staff.
  • Full Visual Arts (sculpture, drawing, painting, printing, and graphic design).
  • Rich music program (strings, brass, chorus, and jazz ensemble).
  • Dramatic Arts.
  • Expand Coan Farm programming by implementing an integrated curriculum to establish a local food system including preparation, production, and sales modeled after Patchwork Farms of Brown Middle School.
  • Service Learning teaching strategy using student volunteerism to reinforce academic and community goals.
  • Effective athletic and physical activity programs. Expand current sports programs and develop new programs.

Current Public - Private Partnerships (Annual Value $500,000)

Emory University

The Whitefoord Community Program

Emory School of Medicine

The United Way


  • Fiscally responsible options providing greater variety for students and taxpayers.
  • Contributes to building stable and engaged communities.
  • Fits with the mission and scope of APS and Coan Middle School's partners.
  • Preserves and builds on existing strengths.
  • Gifted programming brings funding.
  • Free or reduced cost after-school tutoring for students needing it through Gifted programs.
  • Service Learning attracts funding through the Learn and Serve America program and Title programs including Title I and Title IV.
  • Utilizes Superintendent Davis's preferred cluster model.
  • Fits current and future Jackson High School curriculum.

Mr. Williamson is chairman of Neighborhood Planning Unit-O, which represents the interests of the Edgewood, Kirkwood, East Lake and Villages of East Lake communities.

AnotherKirkwoodParent March 29, 2012 at 07:31 PM
As a Kirkwood resident and parent, I really want to see Coan stay open and I'm somewhat surprised that we aren't advocating to close Toomer and have a K-8 at Coan. There are lots of studies siting how the middle school model doesn't work and we have Drew Charter as a great example of what is possible with a K-8. It makes sense and immediately addresses the primary concern of under-utilization while maintaining a walkable neighborhood school.
dina b March 31, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Sounds Great. I hope Coan stays open.
Earl Williamson, RN March 31, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Superintendent Davis has already stated that K-8 is not under consideration for this re-districting, anywhere. Beyond that a K-8 at Coan will still fail to generate the numbers to bring the site to capacity, would remove walkability for approx. 2/3 of Kirkwood, and fails to preserve the middle school and programs in place at Coan that are beginning show significant improvement with students after less than a year.
roger May 01, 2012 at 04:26 PM
ehh they took my phone. Other then that i really dont like it


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