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APS Redistricting: Why Custer/McDonough/Guice Is Split-Zoned

Superintendent's guiding principles regarding neighborhood cohesion were not mandatory.

In the final redistricting analysis, most of the neighborhoods that comprise East Atlanta Patch got what they wanted.

Among the highlights:

  • Grant Park is now wholly zoned to one elementary school.
  • Candler Park, Inman Park and Lake Claire stay put at Mary Lin Elementary and in the Grady High School Cluster.
  • The neighborhoods of Old Fourth Ward that go to Hope-Hill Elementary also join the Grady cluster.
  • Edgewood keeps its school, Whitefoord Elementary, open.
  • Summerhill and Cabbagetown go to Parkside Elementary.
  • Peoplestown's neighborhood school, D.H. Stanton Elementary, stays open.

Those communities got what they wanted, partly based on a series of Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. established as a blueprint for what would shape the final outcome.

One of those key principles was to eliminate split-school attendance zones.

But in the neighborhood of Custer/McDonough/Guice, a hamlet of 1,257 residents, the community remains split.

The neighborhood is roughly bounded by Intrenchment Creek, Moreland Avenue, McDonough Boulevard and an artificial boundary to the east of Benteen Park Drive and Elleby Road.

It is wholly zoned to attend King Middle and Jackson High schools, both of which are in Grant Park.

But it remains split to two different elementary schools — Parkside and Benteen.

Under the new attendance zone maps, which go into effect in the 2012-13 school year, the portion of the neighborhood south of Custer Avenue SE is zoned to Benteen. The area north of Custer is zoned to Parkside.

The neighborhood, which has 80 kids in the Pre-K to fifth grade age range, was already split to Benteen and Thomasville Heights Elementary.

Residents hoped Davis would fix that and zone the community to just one grammar school, as he had done for Grant Park and other Atlanta neighborhoods.

But despite community efforts, including one petition to end the split-school zoning, that's not likely to happen.

"Keep in mind that guiding principles are not hard and fast rules governing decisions made on individual school rezoning issues," APS spokesman Keith Bromery told East Atlanta Patch Tuesday.

"Also remember that the main point of the overall redistricting effort was to increase enrollment in under-enrolled schools throughout the district so that they will be eligible for additional support to increase student performance."

As it is, even with the new attendance zones, APS still has a lot of schools — eight of them in East Atlanta Patch neighborhoods — that will remain under-enrolled.

"Specific rezoning decisions more reflect the larger effort to increase enrollment at under-enrolled schools than strict adherence to guiding principles," Bromery said.

Chris Murphy May 02, 2012 at 11:25 AM
I suppose you could accept the spokesman's statement at face value, until you look at the zoning map. The map boundary starts to follow Custer, but then there are what look like crenellations, putting some properties south of Custer into Parkside. The only justification I see for those anomalies is that the current Board member lives in one of them.
Anjin-san May 02, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Yeah, I agree with Chris. Did Bromery say that with a straight face?
Jason in GP May 03, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I suppose it's all over but the crying, and it's pointless to continue to discuss it. But, I can't see how "specific rezoning decisions more reflect the larger effort to increase enrollment at under-enrolled schools than strict adherence to guiding principles" applies in anyway to the CMG situation. I haven't seen the final maps/numbers, but I believe Parkside is the only school out of the ten in the Jackson cluster with ample enrollment. Did Parkside really need those select residences that happen to be within shouting distance from Benteen?
Terry Roth May 03, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Wow! Mr. Bromery's comments don't even pass the vomit test! CMG isn't asking to be sent to Parkside. They are asking for all of their kids to be zoned for one elementary school. All of the kids could go to Benteen, one of those "under-enrolled" schools he was talking about. I am not aware of any other neighborhood in APS that has been split between two grammar schools. Why CMG? Unless it has something to do with the location of Ms. Muhammad's residence.
JR Garcia July 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Since the norther portion of McDonough / Guice, around Custer Ave is incorrectly attributed to being in Woodland Hills and the Parkside enrollment will be bursting at the seems soon, all of McDonough / Guice / Custer should be re-zoned to Benteen Elementary, IMO. Most of Woodland Hills, which is south of Confederate Ave is closer or equidistant to Benteen - which has very low enrollment. It will hopefully grow even more, once D.H. Stanton finally closes and gets zoned into Benteen - as recommended by Supt. Davis.

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