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The APS Redistricting Debate: Superintendent Releases 'Guiding Principles' In Schools Consolidation

Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. says principles not final, but will be changed based on community response

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. on Friday posted nearly two dozen "guiding principles" he is considering in developing a final plan for redistricting.

The principles are preliminary, he said in a letter to district parents posted on the APS website.

"I want to emphsize what I am releasing today is where my thinking is at the moment," Davis wrote in his letter. "These guiding principles will change based on your further input on the next two scenarios, and as I collect more information from others."

Davis said that he shared the principles with demographers who developed a first set of four options for APS redistricting and are now developing two proposals based on community input. But, Davis stressed the demographers are under no obligation to use the guidelines in developing the next two proposals.

The guidelines are broken into three sets of priorities.

In his first priority, Davis said he wants children in a neighborhood going to the same school cluster.

For example, in East Atlanta Patch, half of the East Lake neighborhood is zoned for the Grady High School cluster, with the other half zoned for Jackson High School.

It's not clear how much they will be incorporated in the two proposals the demographers present at the end of the month, but some of them would please parents in some neighborhoods in the Patch; others, not so much. 

Here are Davis' guidelines in order of priority:

Priority One

  • Propose boundaries that will be functional for 10 years based on forecasted enrollment.
  • Attempt to assign students to schools located closest to their homes. Allow K-8 students to walk where possible.  The proximity of ES’s to MS’s should be maximized.
  • Attempt to maximize/keep the school feeder concept intact. No more split feeders. Clusters only.
  • When evaluating consolidation/closure scenarios and determining which facilities should be retained vs. closed, consideration should be given to minimizing disruption to established educational programming (retain existing IB programs, magnet schools, etc.)
  • Ensure student safety and transportation efficiency by using major highway corridors and geographic features as zone boundaries. Give weight to traffic patterns, energy efficiency, etc. Consider time spent on buses.
  • Assume North Atlanta High School capacity of 2400.
  • Minimize impacts on areas that have been redistricted within the last three years.
  • Recommend school consolidation/closures in areas where forecasted enrollment does not support multiple schools.
  • Attempt to avoid splitting neighborhoods. (Neighborhood boundaries are determined by generally accepted definitions used by the City of Atlanta).

 Priority Two

  • Favor the retention of newer/larger facilities which have benefitted from recent capital investment in expansion or renovation.
  • Retain more accessible, less congested school sites which have better transportation access and can accommodate future long-term expansion beyond the forecast period of this study.
  • When consolidating, to the extent possible, avoid closing a high performing school to send children to a lower performing school.
  • Don’t eliminate an International Baccalaureate school within an IB cluster.
  • Retain Elementary School splitting (K-3, 4-5) as a planning tool.
  • Consider SPLOST funded school expansions as a planning tool.
  • Be careful in moving students from high performing Elementary School’s to low performing Middle School’s.
  • Balance current utilization of retained buildings to 80% to 90% of capacity.
  • In at least one model, minimize the number of transfers across the board.  

Priority Three

  • Before closing a school, consider the robustness of its partner support.
  • No K-8 schools planning until Board reviews/resolves policy issues.
  • Eliminate the 9th Grade Academy as a stand alone facility.
Péralte Paul January 20, 2012 at 09:41 PM
What do you think of these guidelines? Which ones do you like? Which ones don't you like? Any guidelines that are missing in your view?

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