The team of independent demographers contracted by Atlanta Public Schools to conduct a lengthy demographic and capacity study for the school district, has submitted its recommendation to superintendent Erroll Davis. According to the demographic timeline, posted on the APS website, the superintendent will post his preliminary recommendation on the district’s demographic study page, this Sunday, March 4.
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.
CONSULTANT TEAM RECOMMENDATIONS
FOR REDISTRICTING OF THE ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
February 28, 2012
The following pages outline the Consultant Team’s preliminary recommendations to Superintendent Davis regarding the development of a single “preferred” redistricting scenario. These recommendations were developed after (1) reviewing the demographic trends/forecasts of the district’s attendance areas; (2) considering public input given during the January 30 to February 2 community meetings; (3) reading written comments received since the community meetings; and (4) making a final recalculation of all facility capacities. At this point we have not addressed the appropriate phasing of these recommendations or their fiscal implications to the District. We have also chosen not to prepare a map of illustrating the recommendations outlined below and instead direct reviewers to appropriate sections of the Options A and B maps currently posted on the APS web site. The Consultant Team will instead focus our time on preparing maps to support the Superintendent’s preferred plan to be released on March 5. Our recommendations are as follows:
SRT 4 North
With the planned expansion of Brandon and the rebuilding of Rivers, the District should have sufficient capacity in this area to accommodate expected enrollment increases over the next 5 years. No elementary boundaries should be changed. The new E. Rivers (at a capacity of 792) should be able to absorb the preschool enrollment “bubble” and Bolton will stay below 100% capacity if the proportion of preschool students entering the school occurs at the rate forecasted. Garden Hills is the facility that has the highest probability of exceeding the 100% capacity threshold over the next five years and we recommend that APS continue to study alternatives for accommodating projected enrollment growth at this facility. Absent of expanding or redistricting a portion of Garden Hills, additional elementary school capacity will probably still be needed in the out years of the forecast. However, we are not recommending a location or attendance zone for a new elementary school at this time.
As for the middle schools, there is sufficient combined capacity at Sutton MS and the new North Atlanta MS to serve SRT 4 for at least the next 6 to 8 years. A configuration of either a 6th grade center at Sutton and 7-8 grade center at the current North Atlanta HS, or two grade 6-8 middle schools at each location will work. This recommendation assumes that additional capacity will be created within SRT 3 to accommodate grade 6-8 enrollment growth in that area.
SRT 4 Southwest
We recommend making Grove Park/Woodson a K-2/3-5 center and closing Boyd, White and F.L. Stanton. Merge Towns and Fain, reserving the final decision on which facility to keep open after considering other factors not addressed in the scope of this study. We strongly recommend that APS consider opening CSK/Best to district wide enrollment. District-wide enrollment is particularly important at the high-school level, as current/forecast student population in the existing combined CSK/Best and Douglass HS attendance zones is not sufficient to support both the gender academies and Douglass HS. Allowing a greater portion of CSK/Best capacity to be used by out of zone students would help to ease downward enrollment pressure on both Harper-Archer MS and Douglass HS. Absent of opening attendance to CSK/Best as recommended, the Grove Park/Woodson and Scott elementary attendance zones would remain as the main feeders to the single gender academies.
Expand Springdale Park or create a kindergarten center that would serve Springdale Park, Mary Lin and Morningside. Close East Lake Elementary and merge with Toomer. Merge Hill Hope and Cook, reserving the final decision on which facility to keep open after considering other factors not addressed in the scope of this study. Keep both Whitefoord and Burgess Peterson open for 3 years to ensure that utilization of these schools doesn’t rise too fast due to the large preschool bubble entering those schools. In the event that the additional capacity is not needed, Whitefoord could eventually be merged into Burgess-Peterson.
Build a 6th grade center for SRT 3 using a new site or retrofitting a current APS owned facility (a 6th grade center must have a minimum 500-student capacity). This action would allow Centennial Place to remain in the SRT 3/Grady Cluster. Our preliminary analysis also indicates that the alternative of developing a 5-6 grade center at a suitable location within SRT 3 could simultaneously resolve elementary and middle school overcrowding at Inman, Springdale Park, Morningside and Mary Lin. Absent of building a 5-6 grade center, the above recommendations do not provide capacity to absorb forecasted enrollment growth at Springdale Park. APS should continue to study alternatives to expand SPARK or explore other options if on-site expansion is not feasible from a cost or engineering perspective.
Close Thomasville Heights and merge into Benteen Elementary. Close Humphries Elementary and merge a portion of that attendance zone into Cleveland Avenue and the balance into Heritage Academy. Close Capitol View ES and Parks MS. Consideration could be given to delaying closure of Capitol View for one to three years until enrollment levels at Perkerson decline enough to comfortably absorb Capitol View’s enrollment. Consideration could also be given to delaying the closure of Parks MS for one year, until issues associated with merging this area into another middle school zone can be resolved and to ease the neighborhood impacts of closing two APS facilities that are located in close proximity to each other.
Merge Herndon and Bethune elementary Schools, reserving the final decision on which facility to keep open after considering other factors not addressed in the scope of this study. Make Adamsville and Miles a K-2/3-5 center. Close the Kennedy Middle School.
Preferred Redistricting Map(s)
The consultant team recommends using the attendance zone boundaries and feeder patterns associated with Option B as the baseline for SRT’s 1, 2, and 4 as these zones do a marginally better job balancing enrollment over the long term. We recommend using Option A as the baseline boundaries for SRT 3, based on Lin K-5 and East Lake consolidation into Toomer. Option A would also work if a new 6th grade academy or combined 5-6 grade center was developed somewhere within SRT 3 as recommended above.
While the above recommendations improve upon APS’ existing feeder patterns, the Consultant Team acknowledges that these measures do not fully accomplish Superintendent Davis’ objective to eliminate all split feeders and maintain consistent school clusters throughout APS from the elementary through high school grades. The main impediment to achieving consistent clusters throughout the School District is the lack of sufficient existing capacity to feed Therrell, Mays and Washington High Schools from single middle schools in each of those clusters. If consideration is given to selectively expanding middle school capacity as needed at the Bunche, Brown, Young and possibly Long middle schools, it may be possible to achieve consistent clusters throughout the District. Selective capacity additions to the south of I-20 may also make possible the development of better solutions to reduce excess capacity represented by the Kennedy, Parks, Coan and ML King middle schools. We would be open to evaluating such alternatives in order to assist Superintendent Davis in making his recommendation to the School Board.