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Is a K-8 Public School Coming to Southeast Atlanta?

Coan Middle School. PHOTO CREDIT: APS
Coan Middle School. PHOTO CREDIT: APS
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. is expected to make a recommendation to board of education next month on one of three plans that would create one or possibly three K-8 schools in Southeast Atlanta.

APS could bring the K-8 model to Burgess-Peterson Academy in East Atlanta, Toomer Elementary in Kirkwood and Whitefoord Elementary in Edgewood, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report.

An alternative scenario could combine all three schools — currently K-5 — into one K-8 institution, the AJC reported, adding parents are meeting this month.

The move comes amid a push by parents across the affected neighborhoods to get the K-8 model to better compete for students and keep them.

All three elementary schools faced closure or consolidation when the district embarked on its redistricting plan in 2012 in part because they were all under-enrolled.

Though they all staved off closures, they still compete for pupils with area charter schools that are K-8, such as Drew in East Lake, Atlanta Neighborhood Charter in Grant Park and Ormewood Park and Wesley International in Capitol Gateway.

If all three schools combine, Coan Middle School would close.

Ironically, Coan opened in 1967 as the first middle school to open in the state.

What do you think of the possibility of converting one or more of those schools from K-5 to K-8? Tell us in the comment section below.
Tank January 03, 2014 at 09:18 AM
A third option, mentioned in Superintendent Davis' letter earlier this week, would combine Whitefoord and Toomer at Coan, but leave Burgess Peterson in their current building located in East Atlanta. Some say that the BPA building is better suited for the K-8 transition and the school is the only traditional APS school in the East Atlanta neighborhood. As an East Atlanta resident, I personally would prefer either the option where all 3 go K-8 together or where Toomer and Whitefoord combine in the Coan building. I think their current locales (all within a mile from each other on Hosea Williams) lends itself to a smoother transition than does BPA and this would leave Kirkwood, Edgewood, and East Atlanta all with adjacent public elementary and middle schools.
H.A. Hurley January 03, 2014 at 12:12 PM
As a former educator and resident of APS, I strongly disagree with a K-8 school. Years ago, schools were set up in that fashion and appeared to work OK. Today, with such behavioral issues in our schools, especially in middle schools, why would we combine young children with middle school age children. Young children will observe and learn from that age group, police officers will be present for middle schoolers, ISS.... Many experiences we should shield little kids from as long as possible. Also, the bus rides will be combined. Are cops going to monitor those rides? I often read the headlines of crime committed by middle school kids in APS. Dr.Davis, this is a terrible idea! Many parents in APS will send their children to elementary school and look elsewhere for middle school, because of discipline issues. What a reckless plan! The East Atlanta& Kirkwood areas are constantly dealing with crime committed by young people. Where do you think they come from? Please rethink this soon! APS will end up with empty schools again, because parents with options will not hang around until APS responds to the next crisis.
Ormewood Park Mom January 03, 2014 at 02:30 PM
put them in uniforms, add some discipline to the school and give then a safe environment to learn and that would be a nice start. It just stinks to see the mass exodus of parent that are starting to move due to crappy schools. Yes, it is happening. We know 3 families with 2 kids under 3 that are planning to move and that sucks.
James Palmer January 03, 2014 at 03:21 PM
OP Mom. Not my experience at all. In fact, homes are still selling in Boulevard Heights which is currently zoned for Parkside. I don't know what metric you're using for "mass exodus" but I see a very different picture where I live and given my experience. Parents I know are very happy here. If parents are feeling strongly like their options are limited, may I suggest that they really do their homework on local schools before making the decision to leave. We have more options now than ever and I think that, given where SE ATL was even five years ago, we should be very proud of the hard work being done at our community schools by educators and community members.
James Palmer January 03, 2014 at 03:25 PM
And another quick point... I know that there are a lot of folks like myself who would be more than happy to share their experience with young parents who have children preparing to enter kindergarten. I understand that it can be scary and very overwhelming when you have young children, but please do a little work in getting to know your community schools before you commit to pulling up stakes and moving. There are awesome people here doing a lot of great work. Take a minute to check it out.
Tank January 03, 2014 at 04:11 PM
Well said, James. The amount of people who liked to talk down about the SE Atlanta public schools, but had never set foot inside of one, continues to astound me.
Péralte Paul (Editor) January 03, 2014 at 05:28 PM
Parents and parents to be also should familiarize themselves with Southeast Atlanta Communities for Schools (http://seacs.weebly.com/) for those in SE ATL and the Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools (http://www.cinsatlanta.org/) and the two School Board reps who represent the districts over the schools of this Patch: Leslie Grant (http://www.electlesliegrant.com/) and Matt Westmoreland (http://www.mattwestmoreland.com/).
H.A. Hurley January 03, 2014 at 06:02 PM
The new issue proposed by the Superintendent is NOT whether the schools are of quality in the SE APS district. The issue is changing K-5 schools to K-8. Schools that have been successful are on the list to be converted to K-8. I strongly recommend that APS backs off this idea, given today's problems related to educating middle school kids, especially in urban settings. These same neighborhoods are meeting often to address the increase in dangerous crime. Where do you think the young criminals come from? Much crime is committed by middle & high school age kids. K-5 children do not need to be exposed to middle schoolers during the school days. Read my previous comment to review details. Too Dangerous! If this experiment is implemented and fails, then families with options, will leave. APS has had a long history of running off parents, slowly winning them back...only to run the risk of losing kids again. Please do the right thing! We love living in town for a reason, but only as long as it makes sense and is safe.
Chris Murphy January 04, 2014 at 08:26 AM
Courtney English is the at-large district rep. on the Board for this area: cenglish@atlanta.k12.ga.us
Ormewood Park Mom January 04, 2014 at 09:12 AM
We wish the families/kids in the neighborhood weren't leaving but they are...
H.A. Hurley January 04, 2014 at 10:03 AM
Dr.Davis often throws the baby out with the bath water. He is not good at leaving some things alone and Fixing Things That Ain't Broke! Addressing low attended schools by mixing K-5 and 6-8 is careless and irresponsible. We need to shield K-5 kids from the issues surrounding middle schoolers.Of course, most middle schoolers are disciplined kids, but enough need ISS,OSS, Tribunals,Police, arrest, juvenile court...that K-5 do not need to see anywhere near their school. What are Dr.Davis' plans about bus transportation? Combining kids on buses, too? Walking to and from school? Irresponsible! Outrageous!
Chris Murphy January 04, 2014 at 10:13 AM
The proposed K-8's are not Davis' plans: they are the result of the parents at those schools asking for the option. Davis' letter outlines possible moves, and infrastructure issues that result from those moves.
Jay Suever January 21, 2014 at 08:47 AM
The article above is somewhat misleading because ANCS - while having a middle school - it is at a totally different location.

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