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UPDATED: APS Board Of Ed Votes To Rezone Summerhill To Parkside Elementary

But board fails to take action on Custer/McDonough/Guice, which remains the only neighborhood split-zoned to two grammar schools.

The Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education — following more than an hour of discussion from the public and board members — voted Monday to rezone Summerhill to Parkside Elementary in Grant Park.

The decision — Nancy Meister, who represents Buckhead Patch schools, was the lone dissenting vote — avoids a lawsuit Summerhill residents against APS.

Meister, a real estate agent, did not directly explain her no vote. But in an e-mail to East Atlanta Patch, she said she does support D.H. Stanton Elementary, the school Summerhill was slated to attend.

"I believe that with support from the system and community D.H. Stanton will be a great school for all children. The residents of the Peoplestown community are dedicated to building this school and it is my hope that an early learning center will be a major part of this," Meister wrote in her e-mail.

"I am excited about the opportunity that exists here and personally want to be an active, hands on partner with my colleague, Brenda Muhammad in participating in DH Stanton's success."

Summerhill had been zoned to attend Parkside, following months of . The work paid off. The request was reflected in Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr.'s final set of recommendations.

But when board members to close just seven schools instead of 10 schools, district officials changed the attendance zone of Summerhill from Parkside and into D.H. Stanton in Peoplestown.

D.H. Stanton, one of the schools on the closure list, has 230 students in a school built to accommodate 726 pupils.

APS officials changed Summerhill to D.H. Stanton's attendance zone because it said that made fiscal sense give its under enrollment. The district argued that by adding Summerhill's student population, D.H. Stanton would still be under enrolled, but it would be eligible for additional resources and funding.

Davis reiterated that point during the meeting.

"The programming options for very small schools turn out to be less than for larger schools," Davis said.

By closing seven schools, when Davis initially wanted 13 shuttered before scaling it back to 10, the district still has plenty of what the rezoning was meant to address: under enrolled schools.

Indeed, eight of the nine schools that ultimately feed into Jackson High remain under enrolled under the new attendance zones.

The recommended closures were designed to redeploy savings from those ceased operations to the schools that would remain open.

"The fewer we close, the fewer resources we have to redeploy."

By failing to address the under enrollment issue more aggressively, the board essentially guarantees APS will have to revisit the issue again in three or four years, Davis said.

And the board risks undermining the very schools, like D.H. Stanton, because they will remain under enrolled and eligible for fewer resources, the superintendent said.

"I also don't want Stanton and the Peoplestown community to be working thinking that we're setting up the school for failure."

For their part, D.H. Stanton and Peoplestown supporters say they have a , which underperforms academically.

But Summerhill parents said they didn't think it was fair to use their children to fill a near-empty school.

What's more, they said APS was moving their neighborhood from Capitol Gateway's , one of the worst academically performing schools in the state, to D.H. Stanton, which is even worse.

Cook, which the board voted to close at the end of this school year, is ranked 1,081st out of the state's 1,178 elementary schools, based on 2011 standardized test scores.

D.H. Stanton is ranked 1,098th.

Parkside is ranked 674th.

"We're the only neighborhood being zoned down," Summerhill parent Suzanne Mitchell said before the board's vote. "Summerhill deserves a performing school. The neglect that we have seen is really immoral...Our children are really being shuttled around like garbage."

Summerhill residents in attendance at the APS board meeting left happy having received what they wanted.

But the Custer/McDonough/Guice community remains split-zoned between two schools — Benteen Elementary and Parkside.

The neighborhood wants to be in the Jackson High School cluster and gets it in the final attendance zone plan the board approved.

But while the entire neighborhood is zoned to attend King Middle and Jackson High schools, Custer/McDonough/Guice is split at the elementary school level.

Under the new attendance zone maps, which are to be enacted in the coming school year, the area of Custer/McDonough/Guice south of Custer Avenue SE is zoned to Benteen. The area of the neighborhood north of Custer is now zoned for Parkside.

The neighborhood has 80 kids from pre-school age to fifth grade. Alfred L. Brooks II, a Custer/McDonough/Guice father, asked the board to reconsider the split zoning and have the entire community wholly zoned to one elementary school.

But board members, including Brenda J. Muhammad, who lives in the part of Custer/McDonough/Guice now zoned for Parkside, did not address his concerns.

When Davis presented his , one of them was to avoid splitting neighborhoods.

Grant Park and Custer/McDonough/Guice are both split to different elementary schools, under the attendance zones currently in place.

The new attendance zones unifies all of Grant Park to Parkside, a courtesy Brooks said he wished the board had extended to Custer/McDonough/Guice.

"I'm glad they brought us into the Jackson cluster, which is what we had been fighting for," Brooks told East Atlanta Patch. "It would have been better if they kept the entire neighborhood together rather than continuing the split of the neighborhood on the northside."

The neighborhood, he said, will continue to press to be zoned to a single elementary school.

Josh Murtha April 30, 2012 at 09:43 PM
And the vote is in. Summerhill gets to go to Parkside and D.H. Stanton stays open. Great news for both communities.
Terry Roth May 01, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I am still interested in the McD-G. Why is that neighborhood still split between two elementary schools? Alfred Brooks didn't ask for the neighborhood to be zoned to Parkside or to Benteen. All he asked for was to have the neighborhood zoned along official city-recognized boundaries into one elementary school, either Benteen or Parkside. Why wasn't that addressed? It was an easy fix. Instead the Board didn't even take up the topic. Our school board at work.
karleen May 01, 2012 at 01:43 AM
"Great Job" to the residents of "Our Summerhill Community" for speaking up and standing up for what is right for our community...We fought for those that did not even know there was a battle and we fought for a better soultion for the children of the Summerhill community. No matter how you slice it..."It is The Best Thing and a great Blessing for our children of Summerhill...Thanks to APS for doing the right thing and "Thanks" to our families for supporting such a great cause....Lets tackle the next thing on our agenda....
Paul Franklin May 01, 2012 at 01:53 AM
So, whats going to happen to Stanton. Their enrollment is still very low. I know that they are working on adding a pre-k, but can a pre-k sustain the school?
Péralte Paul (Editor) May 01, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Hi, Paul: Stanton has a multi-pronged plan that includes having it be the SE ATL pre-k center for the cluster. You're right, as it is now the school will be under enrolled, but the parents and surrounding Peoplestown community has a few years to start turning things around.
Anjin-san May 01, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Was the vote really 8-1? I've seen elsewhere that there was only 6 "yea" votes, and that one board member abstained. Is there an official record somewhere?
Péralte Paul (Editor) May 01, 2012 at 10:07 AM
Konichiwa, Honorable Pilot: I have a request for the official vote count. I'll update it when APS gives me the tally.
Péralte Paul (Editor) May 01, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Hi, Terry: I asked APS' spokesman that last night and he said he didn't have an immediate answer because he didn't know right then. He did say the neighborhood was already split I'm following up, though..
Terry Roth May 01, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Thank you for continuing to follow the story of McD-G. I don't understand the answer you received though. "The neighborhood is already split up,". What does that mean? McD-g is the only neighborhood in the city that is split under this plan that I am aware of. And it's a horrible split! It's a small neighborhood (like 58 kids is what I heard). And they are not asking for one elementary school over the other. They just want the neighborhood's integrity recognized. And then there's the integrity of the APS process. When the zone line splits off Brenda Muhammad's home to what some would say is a more favorable elementary school then I have to ask what the real motivations are. Certainly it's not all of the neighborhood's children.
El Baker May 01, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Sometimes you get what you ask for...
David Mitchell May 01, 2012 at 04:03 PM
A Time for Reconciliation.... After yesterday's victory on the behalf of the educational future of the Children of Summerhill, I wanted to reach out to the people of Peoplestown as form of diplomacy. I know there has been tension created between our two communities over Summerhill's role in the future D.H. Stanton. While Peoplestown feels the way they do about their neighborhood school, I pray that they can respect last evening's vote by the Atlanta School Board, as an indication of their respect for Summerhill's vision for its children and community. With this behind us, and with the real work needing to begin, let's put aside our petty differences, cast out our demons, and remove the venom from hearts. All our "KIDS" can expect from us is to make sure they get the best opportunity to succeed. The "ADULTS" know that this starts with a good primary school education. For us to continue to work together and begin the process of affecting change, the personal attacks and public humiliation have to stop! Let's move towards reconciliation and making the Jackson Cluster a "World Class" place to get a "Public Education." What better gift could we give to our children, the Atlanta Public Schools, and the City of Atlanta? After all, we are living Martin Luther King's dream in the Jackson Cluster. Let's make him proud! David Mitchell 11 Year Resident of the Summerhill Graduate of the Atlanta Public Schools (K-12)
Debbie Gathmann May 02, 2012 at 01:37 AM
I wonder how the schools are ranked--when someone says that a school is 1098--does that mean the CRT scores or what? And what are the ranks for all the Atlanta elementary schools? I'm so curious.
Péralte Paul (Editor) May 02, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Hi, Debbie: the rankings are based on the standardized test scores — CRCT — for 2011. You can get them from the Ga. Dept. of Ed. and you also may get them via schooldigger.com.
Péralte Paul (Editor) May 02, 2012 at 04:33 AM
APS said the neighborhood is split-zoned so there was no change ultimately.
Anjin-san May 02, 2012 at 04:31 PM
O-shimbunkisha, any update from APS yet?

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