LIVE BLOG – Monday, January 30, 2012 – Maynard Jackson High School – Demographic Study Community Meeting
600 community members present with demographers and lots of maps!
There is a serious block on the APS twitter account at Jackson this evening. So I’ve taken to live blogging instead. REFRESH your browser every few minutes for updates. Meeting started about 10 minutes ago. I’ll try to catch you up and I’ll be sure to blog the Q&A session. It’s an OPEN MIC tonight!
6:50pm Demographers give an overview of the maps and summary of options. Asked the audience for a show of hands of those who had NOT reviewed the maps. No hands went into the air. He’s moving quickly through the study since the majority of the room is familiar with the documents.
“We are looking forward to your feedback and hearing what you think about some of the maps,” says the demographer.
6:52pm “We are aware that the mid-town middle school is not in mid town so we will call it the middle school over there” says the demographer. Audience laughs.
6:53pm Demographer giving more advice on how to interpret the maps. Understand the old zones vs the new zones. No high schools are recommended for closure in the district but all zones change for high schools in SRT3.
6:54pm In option B no elementary schools split from elementary to middle school but there are splits in middle school. If you’re wondering why a line looks a certain way, go back to the elementary school for a reference says the demographer.
6:55pm There were 8200 comments last time and the demographers encourage you to fill out the new survey form online. (I will post as soon as I get a link).
6:56pm Question and Answer portion of the meeting about to start. This open mic will last at least an hour and then everyone will go out to the maps to answer questions one on one tonight.
GROUND RULES for Q&A
2 minute limit
Please do not repeat questions/comments
Limit to SRT3 concerns
Understand that demographers may not be able to provide immediate answers to detailed questions without being able to access the data.
Q: Lin Parent – When will you be posting the updated data online? Will you provide it like you did in the first round?
A: Information online IS the updated data with the 2010 census information included. Right now there is no plan to develop a forecast for option a or option b.
Comment: Old Fourth Ward parent says that the forms in paper form are flawed because there was no address or other identification indicator. She says that because those documents were copied, that Lin parents had more influence over the process. The feedback forms favored larger group. “Our voices were not heard.” She says the most connected and affluent parents were heard.
Comment: Toomer parent/Kirkwood resident – Wants to offer an alternative to the options that show a split that makes them unhappy. “I would like for Lake Claire to attend Tommer and I would like to see Mary Lin attend their middle school, Coan.” She says that Inman park is afforded the opportunity to avoid going to a black school over a white school and we need to right that wrong. (extreme applause)
Comment: Lake Claire/Lin parent says her child can walk “safely” to Mary Lin and cannot walk “safely” to Toomer. Parent says that she was hit by an 18 wheeler while five months pregnant on Dekalb Ave and that it is not a safe place for children.
Comment: Old Fourth Ward parent reads the O4W statement put out earlier today. You can read the entire statement here: www.O4weducation.org
Comment: It appears that Centennial Place isn’t wanted by anyone in the north or south says a parent. We are closer to Inman and Grady says the parent. Please keep Centennial Place at Inman and Grady.
Q: Morningside parent says that walkability is an issue with the new maps for Morningside. Mentioned in the comments is a line that the new elementary school is subject to future real estate decisions…how will that happen by May?
A: One of the issues in option A and B are that we haven’t identified sites for the new elementary schools. Once an option is chosen, APS would choose a site and only they would know what sites are available. In an urban area like Atl that is a complicated question to answer.
Q: If someone is a junior at Jackson, would they be grandfathered in as a part of this process?
A: Demographer says that is a policy question that they cannot answer.
Comment: O4Ward parent says that Springdale Park was built to keep children from having to attend Hill. “Now these same low income students are kicked south again and out of the Grady cluster.” She gives the history of Walden Middle School and how students were bused to King instead of nearby Inman when it closed. (big applause)
Comment: East Lake parent says that the demographers have eliminated her child’s walkability. “Our school has a higher capacity than other schools that are not zoned to be closed.” We are not Mary Lin she says, but we are still strong and just as important. (huge applause)
Comment: O4Ward parent says “I was completely shocked and dismayed by what I saw in the new maps.” It appears the principles were used selectively in certain communities she says. Parent goes point by point thru the major guiding principles that were violated. It is an absolute travesty if Cook and Hope-Hill merge and Hope-Hill is closed.
Q: Candler Park and future Lin parent – If Dekalb ave is not a zoned boundary, then what is? Have the demographers considered a 5/6 academy at Hope Hill? When will Mary Lin be renovated? At what point does APS pay attention to the commitment that they made to the voters and tax payers of Atlanta?
A: Splost is a question only Aps can answer. To the other questions, there may be times when we cross a busier road like Dekalb but it does something like not splitting neighborhoods or rezoning kids that were recently affected. We have to look at all the criteria as a whole. We can’t focus on just one or the other. We brought up a 5/6 center to APS but it doesn’t fit with the educational delivery of the district. District would have to develop a completely new educational tract.
Q: Inman/Grady parent says that “We do not want Centennial zoned out.” As you all went through options 1-4 to options A and B did you correct your enrollment numbers that had some pretty significant errors in them?
A: The forecasts are, a forecast. Not sure how we can say a forecasted number is incorrect. They use the current attendance zones, most current enrollment and latest census.
Comment: Summerhill parent talks about the small but historic neighborhood. Talks about how the schools in the area have underperformed in the past. We support keeping Hope-Hill open. Calls Stanton “run down.” We would like to be zoned to Parkside Elementary and zoned into the Jackson cluster. “We are not asking…this is what must be done to honor the great legacy of our community.”
Comment: Grady parent says that Grady is the sum of all the great schools that feed into it. The documents on which the demographers numbers were based were incorrect. The numbers must be accurate. Grady currently has 1478 students. “If we only had zoned students we would be under capacity by 100 students.” “This is not the demographers problem, this is APS’ problem. You do not cut people out of their high schools so you can put in whoever you want willy-nilly.” Parent suggests opening Grady back up as a magnet so its fair to all. (huge applause).
Comment: Parkside parent/Summerhill resident talks about the organic merging of Summerhill and Grant Park. Talks about having far more in common with Grant Park than any other area. “I want you to highly consider putting Summerhill into the Parkside.”
Comment: O4W parent reads from their position statement: “Accept that you as a board and superintendent have been complicit in the historic and systematic discrimination against poor minority students from the Old Fourth Ward for decades by excluding them regularly from attending elementary and middle schools with the student populations from Inman Park, Poncey Highland, Candler Park, Lake Claire, Virginia Highland, Sherwood Forest Morningside/Lenox Park, Midtown, and Ansley Park; Recognize that it appears your demographers were heavily influenced by supporters of Mary Lin Elementary, Springdale Park Elementary and Morningside Elementary to the complete and total exclusion of the Old Fourth Ward interests that were clearly communicated via the same feedback process
Demographers respond to O4W comments about merging 90% plus Title One schools with other 90% Title One schools. Demographer says that racial and socioeconomic issues were not factored into this study and no one was excluded based on those issues.
Q: Parent says “I am two blocks from Toomer and I am not zoned for it.” Have demographers thought about using Coan to relieve overcrowding at Inman? (Demographers mentioned earlier that there is no relief in sight for Inman overcrowding). We ask that you look at walkability in an equitable way.
A: You have to look at the areas on the fringe to provide relief to a school. This is a city and it will have boundaries. Moving the Lin area down would impact more kids because its a dense neighborhood….
Comment: Systematically children with disabilities are shifted out of NEast schools. APS needs to account for the space at schools.
Q: The new plans have building taking place but not in the areas that are overcrowded and neighborhoods that need it most. Why aren’t closed schools being brought back on line.
A: There have been conversations about closed schools being re-opened. We have looked at it and these things are in discussion. We are working with the parameters that we have…where we know funds are allocated for SPLOST…we are aware and the district is aware that you need relief in this SRT.
Comment: Cabbagetown parent requests that she and her neighbors be zoned to Parkside Elementary School. Currently we are zoned for Cook and not a single student from our neighborhood attends Cook because it is so poorly performing and none of us have plans on attending. We are a part of the solution. We can help the Jackson cluster but not if we don’t have a viable option next school year.
Parents who want to visit the maps are now exiting the room to speak with one of the demographers. Others are remaining in the auditorium to hear more questions and comments.
Q: Why was Hope-Hill not included into Inman Park when it is only 1 mile on the Beltline at the closes and 2 miles at its furthest while others get to have a 7 mile commute from Kirkwood.
A: We cannot add more students to Inman. We are looking at cluster concept as well…its problematic to add zones with significant children to Inman. It would make Inman more overcrowded.
Comment: Atlantic Station parent asks to stay at Centennial Place with Grady as her high school.
Q: Kirkwood resident talks about how her neighborhood has worked hard to make Toomer what it is today. “There is no north Kirkwood and south Kirkwood – there in one Kirkwood.” Kirkwood cannot be split! I support Kirkwood being one community and one elementary school. I would like to know the thought process was behind splitting our neighborhood.
A: Areas that have been successful, they grow and in certain areas of the city we are constrained in how we can expand. I must apologize, I am getting to know the neighborhoods as I go. Option B – There is a lot of excess space at Burgess, East Lake, etc and we were trying to balance the space and work within the criteria. We will take a look at it and see if there is any potential solutions to help not split Kirkwood.
19 people remain in line.
Q: Burgess Peterson parent – Can we become K-8?
A: The school district didn’t want to pursue that option. The K-8 discussion was related to curriculum and implementing a new endeavor in order to deliver that education. This was not a concept the district wanted to explore.
Rebuttal: There is a K-8 model working in a charter school right here in Grant Park. Why not use them as a model.
Q&A will close in 10 minutes.
Comment: Lin parent – I am tired of other neighborhoods throwing us under the bus. We are a diverse school. We do not want a split school k-2/3-5. People live where they want to and they live where they want to send their kids to school. Its important to look at the curriculum and how that would affect things if you blend schools. There is not just a matter of utilizing two buildings, we want to stay with option A.
Comment: Peoplestown resident wants a K-12 IB feeder pattern into Jackson High School.
Comment: East Lake parent – “We’ve been labeled, our kids have been labeled and we don’t want to send our kids to a school (Lin) where they have already been labeled.”
Demographer talks about not liking the idea of closing schools, but there are schools in this district that are 66% empty.
Comment: Toomer parent – “You’re using Toomer as a satellite campus for Mary Lin – don’t do that.”
Comment: Candler Park resident talks about the Lin expansion. “We are certainly sympathetic to other neighborhoods. We have been counting on this expansion to fix a school that is in need of repair.” Roughly a 1/3 of our kids are in trailers right now.
Meeting has ended.
UPDATE: 1/31/12 6:30am
The link to the online feedback form is now available.
All meetings begin at 6:30pm.
During the meetings, new proposed scenarios will be presented that incorporate community input obtained over the past several months from throughout the district. The original scenarios were intended as a starting point to provide parents and community members examples of redistricting proposals to elicit comment and recommendations.
Independent demographers will conduct the meetings and explain the new scenarios, after which they will again solicit community input that will be considered for the next set of scenarios. The new scenarios will be available on the district Web site (www.atlantapublicschools.us) under Demographic Study.
The first round of community meetings was held November 28 through December 1, 2011. The community input obtained during those meetings and afterwards was included in new scenarios that will be posted on the district Web site prior to the next round of community meetings. The community meetings follow a demographic survey launched in June, which allowed the public to provide input regarding the district’s student capacity situation. Focus groups were held in each of the four SRTs on this subject last year. The information has been available since last year on the district’s Web site.
Following the next round of community meetings, Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. will develop new scenarios based on community input to present to the Atlanta Board of Education for consideration. Community input will also be part of the Board’s consideration of Davis’ proposed scenarios. The Board is expected to consider the matter in the spring.
“From the beginning, our goal has been to make this process transparent with input from parents and the community,” said Davis. “The opportunity for public input will continue up to the point when the Atlanta Board of Education approves a redistricting plan for implementation beginning the next school year.”