The controversial plan to convert Coan Middle School into a is dead, Atlanta Public Schools officials said Friday.
"It's not happening at all," Betsy Bockman, APS' executive director of the cluster of schools that include Coan, told East Atlanta Patch.
But the plan to close Coan as APS seeks to reduce the number of number of empty seats in the district and relieve overcrowding is still in the mix.
The , developed by APS Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. and publicly released March 4, calls for its closure and 12 other schools.
Davis recommended the closure because Coan — Georgia's first established middle school — has room for 900 students but only has 319 enrolled pupils. Of that number, 53 are from outside the Coan zone, which includes Edgewood, Kirkwood, East Lake and East Atlanta.
Coan's kids would be rezoned to attend King Middle School some four miles away in Grant Park. The idea would save APS $6.5 million a year — or reduce losses by $500,000 per each school closed — APS says.
The more controversial part of the plan called for Coan to be converted into a sixth grade academy to alleviate overcrowding at Imnan Middle School in Virginia-Highland.
But Steve Smith, APS deputy superintendent, told parents the idea for an annex at Coan is dead.
"The decision and recommendation to close Coan was never intended to be a setup for Inman," Smith said Friday, speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of students, parents and Coan supporters, to discuss the closure.
Some audience members heckled and laughed in disbelief.
The superintnendent has said whether the sixth grade academy found a home at Coan or someplace else, Coan had to close because it was so under utilized.
It was a point Bockman reiterated with Coan parents.
Small schools such as Coan, Toomer and East Lake elementary schools are very hard to operate because of the low numbers, she said, noting the get less funding, which in turn results in fewer full-time resources such as counselors, social workers and assistant principals.
"With larger numbers, it would be better," Bockman said. "You're not going to have larger numbers in this community for a very long time."
While Coan parents and supporters don't want the school to close, they were more incensed at the idea that their children would be taken out their neighborhood school, so students of another community could use the facility.
Stung by the perception that they were seen as invaders kicking out Coan kids for their own children's benefit, Inman Middle parents, also objected to the idea. Some also opposed traveling to Coan because of its distance and traffic concerns.