An expected population boom will add pressure for more seats in classrooms overall by 2021, Atlanta parents were told Thursday night at a meeting to discuss several rezoning and redistricting proposals.
But even with that projected growth in students, several public schools in East Atlanta Patch will continue to be underutilized. Atlanta Public Schools consultants told parents that by 2021 they foresee:
- Coan Middle School at 38 percent capacity
- Whitefood Elementary at 38 percent capacity
- Burgess-Peterson Academy at 48 percent capacity
- East Lake Elementary at 43 percent capacity
- Toomer Elementary at 55 percent capacity
- Hill-Hope Elementary at 55 percent capacity
- Crim High School at 58 percent capacity
Other schools, namely Mary Lin Elementary in Candler Park, are overcrowded now and will remain that way unless school attendance zones are reconfigured.
That reality is fueling APS' ongoing push to close some schools and merge others.
Parents in East Atlanta Patch have four preliminary options from which to choose. Over the next several weeks, APS and its consultant, Bleakly Advisory Group, will be taking input from residents via a survey.
Taking those survey suggestions into account, the goal is to whittle the four options down to two by January. Ultimately, APS' goal is to have newly configured schools operating at 80 to 90 percent capacity.
Not surprisingly, the process has created plenty of angst in several neighborhoods such as Inman Park, which is zoned for Mary Lin.
One of the better performing schools, Mary Lin is overcrowded and under the proposals, it could add more seats or be merged with Hill-Hope, which hasn't performed as well.
Various neighborhood listservs have been abuzz about how the changes being proposed threaten their property values and split communities by zoning children to go to different — and some argue — worse schools.
Demographers said their intent isn't to create problems; they want to keep neighborhoods intact as much as possible. But some pain is inevitable, they said, because they have to look at it from a district wide viewpoint, not a neighborhood one.