Archive for March 5, 2012
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3:23 pm – Davis discussing renovation efforts in district 6 represented by Yolanda Johnson.
3:24pm – Brenda Muhammad now speaking. Families in Kirkwood have worked really hard on Coan. It is my hope to make sure they are not overlooked with a school being right there in their neighborhood and them not being able to attend it. In regards to Cook, we have a community, Cabbagetown, that has been lost. They have been trying to find a home. If it is Cook and we are trying to redirect them somewhere, then we should consider the closest school which is Parkside. Parkside has the space. I ask for the consideration for Centennial having k-8.
Muhammad asks that David T. Howard building be brought back online in Old Fourth Ward which would allow more space for middle school students & reduce transportation time.
3:30pm Supt. Davis says if there is any thought that Coan is being closed to be repurposed to a 6th grade academy, that is not the case. Coan is being closed. Our recommendation, independent of any location for a 6th grade academy, is that the school be repurposed for another use. If you don’t want to use it for a 6th grade academy for Inman, I’m not sure its any more fair that students drive past an empty school than a school used by another cluster. Our decision to use this location as a 6th grade academy comes after its closure.
We will make the public more aware of the level of investment we plan for King. From a physical perspective and program perspective. Many of the investments at Coan are transferable (mentions Confucius Institute). ”We want a different King.”
3:33 We will be implementing an IB program at Jackson and at King as well. We are not convinced that IB is needed at the elementary level at any school. I’ve gotten a number of comments about Grady and overcrowding, but it does not have a long term overcrowding problem. Our problem has always been Inman not Grady. Magnet is entering its final year at Grady.
3:37 Courtney English – If you’re asking this Board to swallow the closing of 13 schools, so be it, but what are we going to do with those buildings so that those communities don’t continue to suffer. Many of those of us around this table didn’t create this equity or quality issue, but it falls to us to solve it. APS has reputation of chasing program after program…silver bullet after silver bullet. This is a problem for all of us. Its interesting to see the comments come in from all over town and what we’ve seen are that folks are concerned about their schools. People on the south and west side will tell you “Our schools have been hurting for a long time,” which is how we got here.
Those neighborhoods that think this doesn’t have anything to do with you. ”Your school is great compared to other APS schools,” but if you zoom out and compare it to schools around the nation we are at the bottom. This is a chance for us to be honest. We live in a time in which a child who drops out of Coan MS can easily walk across Dekalb and make a problem in your neighborhood.
*big applause for Rep. English* We’ve got to get away from this idea of “relative success.” If you tell me we have to cloe 13 schools, so be it, I want to know what we are going to do to fill those 13 holes in those communities.
Davis says “I would clap as well if it were politically acceptable to do so.” ”We ‘ve made some lifestyle decisions here.” We are spending $4,000 more per student than the state average but not getting the results. One of the reasons is that “you” chose a small schools model. We have 450 teachers for which we get no support from the state because of their small classrooms. That represents $27 million. This is an expensive system to maintain in its present form. I will stay on the point that we are robbing children of the money that is there in a form they can use. Not getting any of 27Million robs them of all the things we said we are in line to put in place. Counselors, resources, we can’t afford to support them in our present model.
3:46 Davis – those areas of the city that were easier to deal with were easier because they have had stable clusters in place for years. That’s what we’re trying to put in place all over the city.
McDaniel – We have not seen the maps yet ourselves as a board, so we have questions about the different lines. On March 12th we will have conversations surrounding K-8 and other issues. We need to buckle our seatbelts for all of March I believe.
Davis – we will be with the Board 2 more times and can answer questions and concerns. We will have 73 meetings this month, total, about redistricting.
3:50pm -5 minute break-
See the Board of Education Meeting Agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public
4:13 Davis speaking to Byron Amos says that Kennedy MS could be used as temp site for Jackson High. I don’t want to write off every initiative in the district, but we want to be very careful about the adoption of such things. We will use an enhanced focus on Pre-k, 0-5, because the imbalance starts there.
4:17 Harsch-Kinnane says that she takes issue with English’s slighting of the good schools that exist in the district. I think I’ve made it clear that there is a lot in this proposal that I hope is going to change. I have to raise the question of Grady. When I look at the timing we are increasing the number of schools coming into Grady, while still respecting the students that are in Grady (admin transfers), we will also have some kids coming in if this goes into effect next year, that I would hope, would be allowed to go to Grady if they are currently at Inman in 8th grade.
4:21 Burks asks that she is allowed to go to all of the meetings in her district. Current schedule for closure/redistricting meetings has meetings at her schools taking place at the same time.
Davis says that the Board member may not be able to make both school closure meetings (must have 2 for every closure). Only 1 meeting for schools impacted by the moving of boundaries are not required by law but we want parents to be able to comment.
4:23 Muhammad asks for a clear understanding about Cook. It appears that Cooks is split between HopeHill and Whitefoord. Now I have something that looks like its going to Parkside. I think we should get all of Cook into Parkside. This is a great time for us to clean up the Grant Park area. For some reason the area north of 20 gets thrust into the Grady cluster, but this is a part of Grant Park. Let’s put the whole of Grant Park together. Being in the community, Grant Park is one big neighborhood that comes over to Memorial Drive.
Davis – On the Cabbagetown issue, you are correct, a request was mad to go into Parkside, Coan and Jackson. *Davis makes notes about this issue*
4:26 Courtney English asks if there is a timeline about the repurposing of schools. Davis says Steve Smith is the chair of that committee and answers will be given this month. ”Until such time that all of our schools are excellent schools, there is work to be done.” English aks what if every member of the board had to send their child to a school blindly…until then, there is work to be done.
4:31 Davis says that he has a growing list of communities that tend to get “tucked away.” Before we ask you to make a final vote, we will give you a sense of what has changed since the last maps and some time to reflect. Talks about how Whitefoord was left open “A good school that serves a good purpose for us.” We are not saying that any school of a certain size will be closed or kept open, it is on a school by school basis.
4:34 Davis – If we have a school that is say 450 and its old and run down and it is right between 2 brand new schools with capacity of 600/better facilities and if I look at the 3 of them together I see that we’re still heating, cooling, lighting additional seats. If we shut one of those 3 we will get money. We will get money from closure even if we don’t get money from teachers. Ratio is 2:1 for what we might get for teachers as opposed to closing. We will get sources of money from both in 2 different directions.
4:36 Harsch-Kinnane The request that we got from the neighborhoods of the Cook district is that they see their community as a part of Parkside, a natural alignment. I see that Bethune and Herndon were added in Centennial and I wonder why.
Davis – I think part of the reason is that if you look at Centennial and the number of out of zone transfers, it should go to a much lower number in the future, then you wonder if we would have enough students in the school in the future.
4:43 Harsch-Kinnane What is the timeline for knowing more about Springdale Park? Davis – We certainly should be able to work thru answers within this month.
Davis – From an engineering perspective, there is no doubt in my mind that we can make anything work. But the question is whether what you create is what you want as a standard moving forward. As I look at the child who is not born yet, the current parent may say they are willing to undergo discomfort but do I want to say to someone that we knowingly built a gym with classrooms above and below it…that its ok to start lunch at 9am…these are engineering issues and the bias is to expand but I don not want to expand there at any cost. ”When all is said and done it may not have been a good idea to put the school there in the first place.” There is money there to build a gym. I don’t know if a state that ranks at the top for obesity that we should be building schools without gyms. We see people put up with things to get a great education. There is nothing pretty about the traffic at Ponce and Briarcliff and to put more students there…we have to think about it. The question you have to think about as a Board is if that is a situation you to want to knowingly create.
4:50 Muhammad – I’d like to help out Ms. Kinnane and Mr. Davis. Seems like problem is overcrowding of SPARK, Lin and Hill Hope population and Centennial. A suggestion – what about the possibility of closing Hope Hill reconstituting a new K-5 at the existing Inman Middle, putting David T. Howard online as a middle school and you can get all of the children you’ve had at the existing school Inman school – you can get all the elementary children in there – you would reduce the crowding at SPARK and Lin and hold the Hope Hill children and you would have your new middle school. You can’t expand Inman because you don’t have anywhere to expand it to….take the money from all the schools we are trying to expand, take that money and put it into that blighted area and turn it into a new middle school? We have nothing but room and space there to do it.
4:53 Harsch-Kinnane Elementary capacity is not a concern, middle school capacity is a concern.
4:56 Muhammad wants to make it clear that if HopeHill were closed to become a part of the Inman elementary that it would be repurposed as a “Center of Hope” by the city.
This part of the session has concluded. Committee of the Whole Meeting now beginning.
I will not live blog this portion of the meeting unless questions come up from Board members. Supt. Davis currently reading the agenda. View the agenda here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ga/aps/Board.nsf/Public
5:25 Conversation taking place now regarding Latin Academy. Byron Amos would like report no 11/12-4309 pulled from the consent agenda. Latin Academy is asking to lease the former R. Wright Elementary School. Allen Mueller of the charter office says that he has asked charter schools to pick one facility and stick with it.
English showing concern about the Boards ability to control how long a charter stays in a building. Mueller says that the BOE can ask the charter to amend its charter to focus on term of stay in the building.
Byron Amos puts motion on the floor. Board is very slow to give a second. English does for the “sake of discussion.”
McDaniel asks what is different with this lease than other leases for charters the board has approved in the past. Answer is “none.” Motion failed. New motion to approve the lease passes.
6:46pm Community meeting now beginning. 52 speakers tonight.
1. Parent of two speaking now. Happy about Springdale Park and Hope Hill as reflected in superintendent’s plan. Speaker unhappy about closure of Coan. He is aquainted with the great progress made at Coan and investment by Zeist, Emory and others. Concerned about message the closure will send to other non-profit orgs. ”Inman and Coan are not close to one another.” There are not a lot of good ways to get from the Inman cluster to Coan. *gives board members 2 maps* “Howard would be an ideal spot for a STEM magnet school.” Believes enough people will opt in to this magnet and relieve Inman Middle.
2. Jackson/Smith Elementary area parent speaking. Shocked at most recent recommendations. Upset about the closing of Sutton to be used by an elementary school not a part of the community. ”100% of the the people I spoke with want 2 Middle Schools, except for the PTA President.” I don’t see the benefit, she says, for a 6th grade annex. ”Please consider the 2 middle school option.”
3. Coan area parent says that it is insulting to close Coan, remove them and use Inman students use their facility. Now its alright for people to cross the horrible, impassable barrier to send their kids to the Coan building. ”There is strong support around Coan whether they believe it or not.” I oppose the closure of Coan.
4. Toomer parent, at the school by transfer, now speaking. Speaks to all the changes that will take place in the Kirkwood area in one school year. What is your plan to combine Toomer and East Lake? Do you have a plan in place? We want to know that the resources will be there for that plan? Will King have Chinese? Please look at what you are doing to those neighborhoods all in one year.
5. Kirwood mother with 4 yr old and 2 yr old now speaking. Each round is worse and worse for our kids in Kirkwood. Each round I think it can’t get any worse and I am wrong. It ensures that all the kids in Kirkwood are harmed. You are giving our middle school to Inman, making us drive by the school and harming us by denying us access to the school in our own backyard. Population is 99% free and reduced lunch, busing us to King is concentrating poverty. You are creating a mega low income neighborhood and that is not ok. In addition to give Coan away, you are kicking us out of Grady. Then adding more elementary schools to the Grady cluster. I know its redistricting, but we’re giving more than everybody. It seems like these wealthier communities are getting everything. Don’t try to bus our children off and sweep them under the carpet.
6. Farm to School representatives now speaking. Farm to School partnered with 10 APS schools and Georgia Organics last year and learned how to incorporate school gardens into their lesson plans. We want to build on this momentum. We have more than 400 followers on Facebook. APS could become a model for farms in schools. Research shows that growing, tasting, that kind of learning will change children for a lifetime. With Farm to School we have a huge opportunity to educate children.
7. E Rivers parent speaking. We want the plans to be shown as soon as possible. We want to make sure traffic studies are addressed. We had to work really hard to even get a bus to come down our street in Underwood Hills. I left repeated messages with transportation, I was hung up on or calls not returned. Its been such a difficult and tedious possible, but make sure the important and what might seem like small details don’t fall through the cracks. Old Fourth Ward parents welcome any overcrowded schools to come to Hope-Hill.
8. Brandon/Sutton parent speaking. Thank you for putting all students in our district on one campus. Before you make your final decision, that you take note of Supt. Davis’ comment made earlier today to make sure we have adequate facilities such as gym access. I would like for you to visit Brandon primary which currently does not have a gym. This elementary school serves 1200 students, the most of any ES in the district. The promise was that if we continued to grow you would build us a gym and 4 classrooms. I ask that while doing construction please consider solar panels on buildings. I appreciate the job you have done.
9. Old Fourth Ward parent speaking. We are happy about our inclusion in the Inman Grady cluster. This is our rightful place and we ask that the Board support this part of the proposal and we are happy to see Hope Hill remain open. We are unhappy about the hyper-segregation of Hope-Hill. I ask the board to consider how much better these children would be served in a more diverse building. Don’t isolate these children only to introduce them to new cultures as a pre-teen. Don’t send these poor children to a school where they may be shunned or feared. Speaker asks Cook to be zoned to Parkside and stresses that Parkside has room to take them there.
10. E.Rivers & Berkley Park resident speaking. Thank you for keeping E.Rivers and the SRT 4 boundaries in tact. I am also grateful for the future option for a 6th grade academy. I believe Sutton is a wonderful school. I would also like to speak to you as an architect. I ask you to explore alternatives to the complete demolition of E. Rivers. This building decades ago when it was built was in national magazines and applauded for its design. Rivers’ design was cutting edge. Consider the demolition of one wing, perhaps two but preserve some of Rivers.
11. Parent from the N.E. Brandon neighborhood speaking. We are pleased with your recommendation to keep one middle school in our cluster. Thank you for you time.
12. Hope Hill parent speaking. Thank you for recognizing that Hope Hill is included in Inman and Grady. I have a problem with you merging Cook with Hope Hill. As with any community we want parity at the elementary school level.
13. Old Fourth Ward parent speaking. He also advocates against Cook merging with Hope-Hill.
14. Community member speaking. Graduate of SW High. We all are parents and we all should care about all children. It has been fashionable for large populations of African Americans to be run out of their communities. *speaker talks about Coan Middle* Let’s slow down the process and stop school closures right now. How can we come here from North Atlanta and say we are happy with the superintendent’s decision when we have schools closing on the south side. I would say to North Atlanta, changes are in the wind, I ask that you look back and ask if its ok to invest hundreds of thousands in one school when we’re closing down other schools.
15. Kirkwood resident & pre k mom who has been volunteering at Toomer for 10 years now speaking. We knew that we were possibly being kicked out of Grady. Nowhere did I anticipate that we were going to be losing our neighborhood middle school. Not only to be kicked out of it, but for it to be given to another school altogether. That is insulting. We would like to see all of Kirkwood zoned for Kirkwood schools. Do not take our resources out of our neighborhood and give it to someone else.
16. Kirkwood resident now speaking who also is upset about Coan being zoned to King. Nothing that I’ve seen in all the data to date, support the closure of Coan middle school.
17. Old Fourth Ward resident speaking. Thanks the board for acknowledging that Inman is the rightful middle school for O4W. Wants assurance that the O4W students attend school at Inman this fall. Expresses angst about displacing another community from its “rightful school.”
18. Speaker has relinquished her time.
19. Speaker has yielded time.
20. Community member now speaking. ”The north is building and growing. The south is crumbling, thanks to you.” The first maps you sent out were a slap in the face to the Vine City area. ”Are we still in Jim Crow?” As a group collectively this is not going to fly. Someone is going to get peeved off about this. What about stabilizing the lives of children who were a part of the worst cheating scandal in the country. Table this situation for at least 2 years. I am happy Beverly Hall is gone, but her legacy lives on. Right now you are creating a civil war. I can understand why parents from the north would not want to come to the south because they can see what you are giving us. If you stabilize the system, people wouldn’t have a problem about where their kids went to school. Even the schools that didn’t cheat are affected as a part of the same school system. *huge applause – chant begins, “save our schools” within the audience*
21. Current speaker asks “What is the end goal?” What are the steps to provide a rigorous curriculum. I don’t see parental involvement because I don’t see it mandated in the school systems. We say we have the best interests of the children but we are closing schools and packing classrooms.
22. District 2 Community member is reading an email sent to the Board. ”We believe that our district is yet again being asked to willfully accept an unequal and separate education system….”
23. Speaker has relinquished time.
24. East Lake resident speaking. APS is going to decimate East Lake. You are closing our elementary school, closing our middle school and moving us to a new school. The majority of the children at Coan live in the neighborhood and walk to school.
25. Kirkwood parent speaking. Tired of the district giving “mixed messages” to parents.
26. APS teacher/advocate speaking. ”We have to find a way to get those 3000 kids that are in charter schools back into our schools.”
27. Time Yielded
28. Graduation Generation co-manager now speaking from Coan Middle. Reads letter from parents at Coan who want their school to remain open. At this point we have no neighborhood schools beyond elementary. We were not given a chance to advocate for our school because Coan was not mentioned on any options. We did not realize we were on the supt’s radar to be closed.
29. Brandon zoned parent now speaking. If the community believes the school will be there, the school will get better. Stability begets investment. Wants to keep Sutton at current campus. “If we don’t need it let’s don’t go create it.”
30. Grady cluster parent speaking. Wants the cluster to remain as is.
31. Inman Middle/Grady HS parent speaking. We are at a time when the capture rate of the existing Inman school is increasing as the population in the neighborhoods is increasing. I would like for you to take a look at the demographers work as it relates to the Grady cluster. Its relying on too low of a capture rate. Seems to be artificially low.
32. Summerhill parent now speaking. Parent says she was zoned to Cook now zoned to Stanton. Wants to be zoned into Parkside. Inman Park she says, gets to leave their district to attend better schools. Why don’t they attend Hope-Hill which is closer? If its ok for Inman Park to go to Lin for better schools, then it has to be ok for Summerhill to attend Parkside. We will hold every board member accountable.
33. APS Parent and graduate speaking. I have done my own study and I have learned of some areas where we can save money and not demolish our schools. My recommendation is that you bring back the magnet program and do away with the small schools.
34. District 2 community member speaking. Asks other district 2 parents to stand. We believe the state of Georgia’s future hinges on having an educated workforce. As measured by test scores, speaker says that no schools in district 2 are of quality. We have failed to educate children for the last 20 years.
35. Mays parent speaking and congratulating APS for its efforts in south Atlanta. I want us to remember that technology has gone astray in APS. We need to put that SPLOST money into upgrading the schools. I am happy to hear about equity in all schools.
36. Yields time.
37. Boyd Elementary school Partner now speaking. Her organization has had a relationship with Boyd for 18 years. ”Boyd is an important source of stability and hope. Boyd has met AYP for 9 consecutive years. This is not true for other schools in the same area that will remain open.” Boyd has a staff of caring teachers who are here today. These teachers will be punished by the closing. *chants of “don’t close Boyd” begins.*
38. Parent at Springdale Park and of a special needs child now speaking. Asks board to plan the space appropriately for special needs children either in the school or in the cluster so that the kids don’t have to travel all over the city for services. Please expand SPARK. Asks that Coan remain open.
39. Beecher Hills PTA President speaking. Happy with latest maps. Speaker notes that there was no discussion about renovation for the school, heating and cooling issues – leaks need to be resolved. More students are being added to the school. ”It would be nice to have a gym.” Advocates for the entire Mays cluster to become IB.
40. LSC President from Beecher Hills speaking. If you expand our zone, we will get more students. Our building will not survive. Parent asks for more money but expresses that they will still do well without it.
41. Yields time.
42. Yields time.
43. Speaker is community member, substitute teacher, who says that she is reminded tonight of Brown V Board of Education. ”Let us not recreate that horrible time.”
44. Mays parent speaking. I feel we should slow down the mergers and closures until we have a concrete plan. I am very concerned about Latin Academy and their solicitation of parents and teachers from my community. I am worried about a school that broke the rules before even being approved. I ask you that you do your due diligence before approving more charter schools.
45. Bethune parent speaking. She is upset about 6th graders not being able to play sports. Complains that the board never comes to Bethune Elementary. I grew up with Kennedy Middle School and we had a swim team back then and a pool. Complains that vo-tech has been taken out of school.
46. Boyd Elementary parent speaking. Boyd has nature walks, my child is in 3rd grade and our school is like a family. I can’t imagine my child going to any other school. It doesn’t make any sense to close a school due to its location. Despite everything that went on last year that school has achieved everything it was supposed to attend.
*save our schoools chant has broken out again.*
47. Young 3rd grade student, Jayden from Boyd Elementary, speaking now. ”I love Boyd Elementary. All my teachers are wonderful.”
48. Yelds time
49. Boyd Elementary parent speaking. Says that since her son arrived at Boyd he as “done a 360.” Her son speaks as well. “My class are scholars and we always pass our CRCT tests.”
50. Yields time
51. Yields time
52. Last speaker for the evening – Community member reads quotes from BOE members that were made regarding Beverly Hall and student achievement in the past. Says the board is not taking the opportunity to improve APS.
Community Meeting is adjourned. Legislative meeting will take place next. Legislative meeting is televised and there will be no live blog.
Erroll Davis, superintendent for Atlanta Public Schools, has released his first recommendation for district wide school redistricting and school closures on the APS website’s demographic study page.
According to the demographic timeline, posted on the APS website, the superintendent’s final recommendation is expected to post online on April 9 with a formal presentation to the Atlanta Board of Education on April 10. The Atlanta Board of Education will vote on the final recommendation regarding all school zone redistricting and/or school closures during the April 10 monthly meeting.