Atlanta Public Schools Restructures High Schools for Improved Quality and Efficiency
District to consolidate Small Schools
APS will consolidate the small schools within four its high schools to improve quality and efficiency. The New Schools at Carver, South Atlanta and D.M. Therrell high schools will be consolidated. The district also will merge the middle and high schools at each of its single gender schools—B.E.S.T. Academy at Benjamin S. Carson and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy.
“It is our mission to ensure that all students are ready for college and career,” said Dr. Carlton Jenkins, chief academic officer for APS. “Restructuring the small schools at our high schools will enable all students to gain exposure to a wide variety of college and career support without regard to school theme. Students will benefit from expanded course offerings and streamlined academic programs that will enable increased flexibility in master scheduling so that all students can meet their four-year graduation plans with fewer scheduling constraints. We are particularly excited about increasing the number of students in Carver Early College.”
On Monday, April 13, the Atlanta Board of Education voted to consolidate the small schools at Carver School of the Arts and Carver School of Technology, South Atlanta, and to formally close the small schools at D.M. Therrell. Students in those schools will remain on their respective campuses and will be assigned to Carver or Carver Early College, South Atlanta comprehensive or D.M. Therrell comprehensive high schools. The board also voted to merge the middle and high schools at both B.E.S.T. Academy at Benjamin S. Carson and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, where the respective middle and high schools will be consolidated into 6-12 academies at each of the single-gender schools.
Schools will receive a transition year during the 2015-2016 school year whereby one principal will be assigned to lead the schools of South Atlanta High School of Computer Animation and Design, South Atlanta Law and Social Justice and South Atlanta Health and Medical Sciences. At Carver one principal will lead Carver Early College, which will include the students from the former School of Technology. One principal will lead the new consolidated Carver high school. D.M. Therrell received a transition year for 2014-2015 and will formally close its small schools at the end of this academic year. The State Board of Education is expected to consider an APS waiver request to have one principal at South Atlanta and two principals at Carver during its next scheduled meeting in May.
In 2014, APS began the work of consolidating Booker T. Washington and D.M. Therrell high schools. Carver and South Atlanta high schools are the only remaining campuses with small schools. Consolidating the small schools will help APS to build stronger schools to ensure there are consistent, high-quality academics and focused programming across the district. Students will benefit from a rigorous curriculum with expanded course options, aligned course offerings and enrichment programs.
In March, the district held public hearings on the future of the high school small-schools model and invited the public to discuss and provide stakeholder input on the closure and consolidations.
The public had at least two opportunities to offer comments during public hearings for each of the impacted schools. These sessions were a forum for parents, students, employees and the broader community to discuss the future direction of the district’s high schools.
Implementation of a strong school culture with a common vision and purpose is not currently offered in small school structures. The transition will strengthen the sense of community through establishing an aligned parent teacher association and local school council structure to support the schools. Restructuring the small school model will provide for aligned staffing, academic resources, and teacher professional development to ensure that all student needs are met.