UPDATED: APS Redistricting: Close Coan Middle School, Convert To A Sixth Grade Academy

Superintendent's recommendations call for closures of East Lake and Cook elementary schools.

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. released his recommendations for the rezoning of schools late Sunday, which puts Cook and schools on the closure list.

Davis' plans also calls for the closure of in Edgewood and converting it to a sixth-grade academy that would help relieve the overcrowding at Inman Middle School in Virginia-Highland.

Students at Coan, who come from Edgewood, Kirkwood, East Lake and East Atlanta, would attend King Middle in Grant Park.

"Inman will use the former Coan facility as a sixth-grade academy for a system-saving cost of approximately $20 [million] to $30 million," the superintendent wrote in his letter posted to the APS website late Sunday night.

"Should this recommendation be unacceptable to the board, we will seek an alternative location for the sixth-grade academy."

Cook Elementary, which is in the Capitol Gateway neighborhood and the worst performing primary school in East Atlanta Patch, should close, Davis said. "Repurposing opportunities will be explored" for the school, which is only 48.9 percent full.

The redistricting is necessary because APS has capacity for 60,000 students but only has 47,000 pupils. Another 3,000 attend publicly funded charter schools.

"Data show that the majority of empty seats are in the southern part of our district, while the northern section of the district is experiencing overcrowding," the superintendent wrote.

In all, Davis' recommendations, which follow months of study by a consulting firm and parental input, call for the closure of 13 schools and divide the rest into a group of 10 clusters.

The closures would reduce the 13,000 excess seats by 7,200.

At Coan for example, the school has 307 students, but only 34.3 percent full. King, in comparison, has 551 students but is 62.3 percent full.

Coan & King at a glance:

Total Attendance School Academic Rank of 479 Middle Schools Statewide Change From 2010 Coan Middle Edgewood 307 422 Up 1 spot King Middle Grant Park 551 391 Up 44 spots

The Coan recommendation is somewhat surprising. Though it ranks lower than King in terms of academic performance, some parents felt the school had some momentum given that it received $1.5 million last year in private grants and to boost student achievement as part of the initiative.

Coan also is the only middle school in APS to offer Chinese language instruction through the .

An APS spokesman told East Atlanta Patch the district will make a determination about Graduation Generation after the board of education approves of a final plan.

"Funding is for students, not buildings," district spokesman Keith Bromery said. "The children stay the same and together. We are optimistic that the funding will follow the students."

As for the Chinese language instruction: "We also have supported programs such as the Confucius Institute that easily transfer."

In a Feb. 13 interview with Patch editors, Davis said all configurations were being considered. No school should feel "safe" because the greater need is to develop a plan that makes sense for the district as a whole, not any one school, he said.

It was a point Bromery reiterated Monday.

"Erroll Davis has said from the beginning of this process that district-wide redistricting will never make everyone happy," Bromery said. "The process involves developing a plan that will be equitable for the district as a whole so that the system’s main mission of educating children can be carried out in an efficient, cost-effective and sound manner.

"We are not abandoning anyone. Our proposal will make needed services more available to those most in need."

For the schools of East Atlanta Patch, Davis recommends:

Hope-Hill Elementary, Old Fourth Ward: Rezoned to Inman Middle School.

Mary Lin Elementary, Candler Park: About $15 million earmarked for select renovations and additions; no relocations of students.

Cook Elementary, Capitol Gateway: Close. Some students go to Hope-Hill, others zoned to other primary schools.

Coan Middle School, Edgewood: Close and convert it to a sixth-grade academy to relieve the overcrowding at Inman Middle School in Virginia-Highland. Students go to King Middle.

East Lake Elementary, East Lake: Close. Students go to Toomer Elementary.

Thomasville Heights Elementary, Thomasville Heights: Close. Building to be repurposed. Students go to Benteen Elementary.

How the schools will be clustered:

Carver High School cluster would include:

  • Benteen Elementary School, Benteen Park

Jackson High School in Grant Park would have in its cluster:

  • King Middle School, Grant Park
  • Burgess-Peterson Academy, East Atlanta
  • D.H. Stanton, Peoplestown
  • Parkside Elementary, Grant Park
  • Toomer Elementary, Kirkwood
  • Whitefoord Elementary, Edgewood

Grady High School Cluster would include:

  • Hope-Hill Elementary, Old Fourth Ward
  • Mary Lin Elementary, Candler Park

"We wish to stress that this is a preliminary recommendation — the first from the leadership team at APS," Davis wrote. "We fully anticipate that changes will take place as a result of community input, just as changes took place in the demographer's models."

The district has scheduled a number of public hearings for the public to voice its concerns .

Davis is expected to make a presentation of his recommendations to the .

Sophist March 05, 2012 at 08:47 PM
http://www.theshaunsays.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/school_segregation_cartoon1-300x231.gif Replace 2000 with 2012.
Nick March 05, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Thanks for the info, flux! I see it now...it is not ok to send children north of Dekalb AVENUE/"the tracks" further south, but it is ok to send children north of INTERSTATE 20 (proverbial tracks) south of 20? Just looked at Google maps, King is FAR away from Coan...
ESL March 05, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Nobody is gloating in the land of NOD. People advocated for what they thought was right for APS and the city and to a large extent the superintendent concurred. As someone said this morning whose father was a superintendent of another major metropolitan school system.- "watch out they( the new Jackson Cluster) may be gaining on you ( new Grady Cluster) in the years to come". There will be the resources to focus on what matters most- the students. Regardless of SES level and geographic location if the system can reinvigorate itself to develop a life long love of learning and openness for every student then we are the stronger for it. I also concur with Fluxtration that APS should go the next step and locate another facility in Dekalb Ponce Corridor either a renovated Howard or the 9th hole in Candler Park. Ultimately placing facilities closest to where kids can use bike and pedestrian paths of Freedom Parkway and Beltline makes sense. I like the vision of a 9th Hole science center( academy) where students throughout APS can learn stewardship of the environment by studying the living classroom of the restored wetland and beaver pond within Candler Park and the surrounding watersheds of the Frazer and Fernbank forest- the largest forest system of any major metropolitan area in the US. We need to teach and practice stewardship of the environment and what better place than a public school system to take care of this shared public resource.
Acer March 05, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Anyone want to address the impact of Charter Schools on the closing of these schools? The slow transformation from public to public charter continues. Fluxtration, why don't you go vent some frustrations with the parents in Grant and Ormewood Parks for establishing the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter Middle School? If they hadn't gone and attempted to improve their own kids education by establishing a middle school charter, King Middle would still be at capacity and King/Coan wouldn't have to merge! Shame on them, huh?
bearcatn8 March 05, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Your allegation that the Lin community is "self serving" is comical. Of course Lin is self serving. EVERY community in this is self serving. There is nothing wrong with wanting (and advocating) for what you believe is in the best interests of your children. Kirkwood's centerpiece argument in this fight has always been - fix Coan by sending us Lin families. If you are willing to drop that request, than my guess we would have a lot of common ground in terms of the resources that APS should devote to improving Coan.
Nick March 05, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I can't help but raise the question, "Is Segregation/Separate But Equal Ok?"... If north and southside parents choose to segregate themselves and their children from one another, and resources are distributed equally among the schools, is that "ok"? How did these schools that were once at full capacity reach undercapacity, while some schools are overcapacity? Families move from neighborhoods to neighborhoods for any number of reasons...that's ok, right?
bearcatn8 March 05, 2012 at 11:03 PM
According to greatschools.org, Inman middle (where Lin families want to stay) is 51% african american (state average 38%), 42% caucasion (state average 46%), and 5% hispanic (state average 10%). In other words, Inman Middle made up of a majority of African American/Hispanic students. How exactly is wanting to stay there "segregationist." FYI - here is the website where my stats came from: http://www.greatschools.org/cgi-bin/ga/other/35#toc
Nick March 05, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Thanks for the stats, bearcatn8, It seems to me that the trend is to segregate schools, thru charters, vouchers, redistricting, etc...I'm listening to a radio program about this topic right now, the common consensus seems to be that closing schools in any neighborhood will erode the fabric of that neighborhood, create huge empty buildings which "become" havens for crime and other nefarious activities...pushing that idea further, then that neighborhood's property values will see a tremendous decrease, developers can buy low...perhaps even buy out the existing residents, then sell high to a newer demographic....and...wait for it...reopen the schools, now serving this new population...but again, just a theory...
bearcatn8 March 06, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Interesting point Nic. I don't think that the intent is to segregate schools, but I can't really dispute that charters, vouchers, etc. can have a segregationist effect on schools (in terms of both class and race). However, I have a hard time believing that there is an institutional philosophy in place to destroy neighborhoods so that they can be taken over and resold to more affluent families. If that IS the idea, it is delusional. Families move into neighborhoods that are turning themselves, no? I suppose it is naive to say that race/class is not an issue in this debate, it clearly is. But I get really bothered when people claim that communities are making their arguments based on race - i.e. "they don't want their kids to go to Coan because they think it is too black." People want their children to go the school where they can get the best education today, not the school that might provide a better education to kids 10 years from now. That really is what it is all about.
fluxtration March 06, 2012 at 02:07 AM
The Coan plan is a Red Herring. It was put out there to get the SOD neighborhoods to stop worrying about Grady. Now that we are all unified, we will get Coan back and maybe some parity in funding and personnel. Kirkwood and East Lake will still lose Grady, but hey, we got Coan back right? We should be thankful. The great bait and switch will be how APS realistically plans to reduce over capacity issues at ML. I hope many of you were at the BOE meeting tonight - it was clear that Atlanta's citizens will not stand idly by while APS favors the north and casts the south aside. No longer. You have awoken a sleeping dragon ;)
fluxtration March 06, 2012 at 02:13 AM
This evening's BOE meeting illustrates my point about the land of NOD: a few people got up to speak and began by thanking the Supt. and the board. In this process, no one should be happy. We all should be making compromises. So why is it that for once the NOD neighborhoods were quietly content? It is because they have not had to make sacrifices. Meanwhile, and i dare you to argue this fact, Kirkwood and East Lake have born the full weight of this redistricting burden. bearcat, I'll reconsider my suggestion that ML join us at Coan when you publiclly admit that this most recent proposal is unfairly placing a huge amount of disruption, social costs, and educational damage to Kirkwood and East Lake. Once we can establish that all neighborhoods must share in this together, then we can get back to talking about solutions.
fedup with APS March 06, 2012 at 09:12 AM
The plain and simple truth is the flourish of NOD schools and the concentration of charter schools SOD is due to systemic failure of APS and their inequitable allotment of tax payers $ in SOD schools via facilities, administrative and teacher quality staffing, and quality instructional resources. That is the reason for the $40 mil cash infusion into Jackson. Bottom line is APS in past 20 years has failed our children miserably and continue to do so. I for one would like to see APS BOE SUPER etc take ownership (admit) for this FAILURE and produce a true road map to recovery with tangible outline to success. Not just more generic political wordy promises.
Kirkwood Parent March 06, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Erroll Davis does not seem like the type of person to throw out a red herring in order to get Kirkwood to quietly accept the Toomer-Coan-Jackson plan. I think we have to take what he's saying at face value. If you look at his live blog comments just before last night's meeting (around 3 pm) it is obvious that he sees nothing wrong with moving Coan kids to King and repurposing the building as a 6th grade academy to resolve overcrowding at Inman. The Candler Park folks don't seem to be up in arms about this plan--my impression is that they are fine with sending their 6th graders to Coan as long as the students who currently occupy the building are cleared out first. As a Kirkwood parent, my prediction and my hope, is that the neighborhood will come together to find a solution for our middle schoolers. Like it or not, the answer might involve another charter school, to serve the students leaving Toomer. I know there are mixed feelings about this idea, but if how can we continue to support APS when it gives us nothing but one unpalatable option after another.
Inman Park March 06, 2012 at 03:21 PM
As a north of DeKalb resident and parent of an Inman child, I found the 6th grade academy to be a complete curveball. I find it extremely unfair for both sides of DeKalb and Kirkwood has EVERY right to be upset with this proposal. Sending those childrend to King is unfair and simply doesn't pass the smell test but on the flip-side it seems strange to send the North of DeKalb residents south also. There has to be another location for this 6th grade academy that: A- doesn't cause unfair treatment to the Jackson cluster and- B: a location that it actually IN the Inman district. Unfortunately for Kirkwood, they have paid the price for complete inclusion of O4W (and Centennial) into the Grady cluster.
Nick March 06, 2012 at 03:32 PM
bear, Yeah, it's just something I heard, and I could see how their could be some merit to that (time would tell), but it could also be conspiracy theory! I agree with and appreciate your level-headed insight that race/class (some defiining factor) is a part of this discussion. And I agree, too, that ALL parents shouldn't be painted with the broad brush of i'm-not-sending-my-kids-there-because-of-x-y-z...It really is about what's in the best interest of the kids...it just doesn't "look" good, imho... the numbers can't really be denied, though, underenrollment and overenrollment are what they are...but it would be nice and laudable if APS would work to strengthen the kirkwood community instead of divide it! I like the idea of combining Toomer, Eastlake and Coan into a K-8 at Coan Middle.
Kirkwood Parent March 06, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Thanks for the reasoned view, Inman Park. I'm glad to know that someone outside of Kirkwood agrees that the Coan plan smells to high heaven. I didn't even think it was legal to have students drive past one school to attend another, but maybe that's the point of calling it an "academy." What Erroll Davis essentially said in his comments was "Why should Kirkwood kids care if they drive past a 6th grade academy that they can't attend? The alternative is to drive past an empty building."
Kirkwood Parent March 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM
@Ramiro It's not that hard to make AYP when you start off at the very bottom. If 29% of your students are meeting math standards in 2007 and you slowly improve that number to 52% by 2010 then you've made AYP in math standards and yes, we have to say you've made great strides. But you surely recognize that in spite of the progress, those numbers still suggest an underperforming school. Also, I don't know what the climate is like at King right now, but when I was teaching at Harper Archer Middle School, King seemed pretty comparable. That's been 10 years, so maybe it's changed.
bearcatn8 March 06, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Fluxtration - I hereby publiclly admit that this most recent proposal is unfairly placing disruption, social costs, and educational damage to Kirkwood and East Lake inasmuch as it seeks to combine Coan/King while at the same time giving Coan to Inman. As I said in another post, that is nutty and, the more I think about it, I am uncomfortble with the concept of giving a neighborhood school to another community while those neighborhood kids are bussed elsewhere. I also publiclly admit that this most recent proposal is unfairly placing disruption, social costs, and educational damage to Kirkwood and East Lake inasmuch as financially workable options to save Coan are not being considered for whatever reason, such as turning Coan into a K-8. I am not sure if it is what you are asking, but I will never agree that it is unfair to close Coan as opposed to "fixing" Coan by pulling Lin kids into the Jackson cluster. Aside from the discussion as to whether such a "fix" would even work, to me, that is robbing peter in a misguided attempt to pay paul, just as giving inman coan seems to be a misguided attempt at robbing peter to pay paul.
bearcatn8 March 06, 2012 at 06:19 PM
South of Dekalb Ave - I can't speak for the rest of the Lin community, but I don't know why you assume I specifically support the proposal to send inman kids to Coan as a 6th grade academy. As I've said before, I think that is nutty. What I don't support is the concept of pulling Lin families into the Jackson cluster to fix Coan. Once that scenario is tabled, I am for any financially workable solution that keeps Coan open and available to Jackson cluster students.
knotted March 06, 2012 at 06:47 PM
While we are all kept busy by this "divide and conquer" strategy, this monarchist is sitting on his $240,000 seat cushion doling out his bidding. From the Buckhead Patch: "He also showed a mix of amusement and distaste at what he said was the demanding tone of comments from across the city, particularly Virginia-Highland and Buckhead." Yes, demands to be represented and acknowledged can be so "noisy", can't they Mr. Davis? "I'm in no way bound by what the demographers have put out there," he said in the interview at APS' downtown headquarters. Great, so why did APS use our tax dollars to hire and pay them exactly? Davis said that the demographers will give him a fiinal recommendation based on their series of community meetings. He said he will weigh community comments he's received, along with the set of principles he issued. Of course! His principles...When you own the information, you can bend it all you want. How about the communities stand up together and refuse to accept the bullying of any of our neighbors?
dina b March 07, 2012 at 12:59 PM
You don't understand. They are not sending the inman kids to coan with coan's existing staff and students. They are creating a special school just for Inman's 6th graders! There will probably be renovations and then a special building just for Inman's students with no local students allowed.
dina b March 07, 2012 at 05:27 PM
You may not understand what they are doing with coan. They are not sending inman sixth graders to coan. they are closing coan, replacing the staff with inman staff and replacing the coan students with inman students. so it will be inman, just in a different building. the coan students now there will be sent to king.
dina b March 07, 2012 at 05:47 PM
ScottinVaHi, Jackson gets 36 million and it is the last high school to be renovated in the whole system. Long overdue. Grant/Ormewood/Eastatlanta have had tremendous growth and we will fill that school one day. More students are not added (Cook has under 200 I think) But a six grade academy at Coan is actually inman staff and students at coan's building with coans staff and students sent to another building. They are giving you someone else's local school building to have room for 500 6th graders from your original school building. so you are gaining at least 300 spots.
dina b March 07, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Yes, it is like redlining that banks did in black communities - did not make loans and waited for properties and businesses to fail, then scooped them up dirt cheap.
dina b March 07, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Earl Williamson, RN March 11, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Coan Middle School Is Not Just A School, It's A Community That Cannot Be Transferred Or Replaced ! - Smaller classes - Walkable & Central - Graduation Generation Program of Emory University - Confucious Chinese Institute - Coan Learning Garden (1/2 acre) of Southeastern Horticultural Society - Coan Health Clinic - Public Park & Recreation Center Adjacent - Accessible & walkable afterschool programs - Program funding not dependent on APS - Community partnerships that save public dollars For the kids most of all, Coan Middle School must remain open and growing!
Decaturite March 11, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I get wanting to keep a community school open, but at what expense? Who is going to pay to keep Coan open when know one from the protesting parade sends or plans on sending their own child there? It is not responsible to ask the rest of Atlanta to have to pay more tax dollars to keep your small and underutilized school open. I have yet to understand how certain Toomer leaders are protesting at the Coan rally, yet send their own kids to Decatur with mine. It's noble to fight for your community, but please stop the grandstanding and identify yourselves as charter schools parents pretending to care for Coan.
Kirkwood Parent March 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM
@Ramiro, I'm not trying to disparage King at all. I understand the plan-one middle school for the Jackson cluster. There are good arguments that King should be the school, although I do think the money that would have to be used to renovate King could be better spent. As I understand it, Coan is up and ready as a facility. Whatever the final decision is, I will get behind it and give it my full support. I am so optimistic about the changes that are happening in APS right now, for the whole system and for the Jackson cluster in particular. I started teaching at HAMS about 10 years ago, and left the system 3 years later in complete and utter despair. The place was an absolute hell hole. I had friends who taught at King and I did have the opportunity to visit the school a few times. From what I observed and heard, it was pretty similar to HAMS. I'm not trying to be unfair-I acknowledge that 7 years is a long time. A lot can happen. Hopefully a lot has happened. But a lot of times when people are talking about school change, they point to AYP as a measure of success or performance. I don't think AYP actually says a whole lot about success or performance. It can tell us that you're headed in the right direction (or that you've focused so exclusively on test scores that you've managed to move the numbers). But regardless of AYP, a school is not performing if only half or so of its students are, for example, meeting math standards.
dina b March 12, 2012 at 03:22 PM
decaturite - you don't get it. Grant/ormewood/cabbagetown and east atlanta can use coan with edgewood and kirkwood. we are in the area and below dekalb ave and 20 (most of grant park is) and we don't look down on our fellow SE atlantans.
Earl Williamson, RN March 12, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Coan Middle School is not small, with a capacity is on the order of 900-1100 (APS figures). Though currently underutilized it very clearly offers both the location and available space to resolve worsening overcrowding at Inman Middle School and support other areas as well. Hence the recent suggestion by some to add Mary Lin Elementary to Coan Middle School’s cachement area. The existing infrastructure and capacity at Coan Middle School can easily and inexpensively relieve the critical overcrowding at Inman Middle School (currently at 113% utilization with future estimates growing to 184% ). Coan Middle School is currently at 34% utilization and can accommodate hundreds of new students immediately with no additional cost to taxpayers. Kind of a no brainer if we’re talking about cost effective utilization of available public money and facilities. Particularly given the academic and non profit resources participating at Coan Middle School at no additional expense to tax payers.


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