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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 .

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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