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Atlanta school board set to vote Monday on closings, consolidations. Opponents rally.


Atlanta Public Schools’ Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has recommended closing and consolidating elementary schools in east and southeast Atlanta to address half-empty buildings. She maintains the money saved by consolidation can go to improved instruction and services.

The school board will vote on the proposal Monday.

Under the plan, Benteen Elementary in the Jackson cluster would close and be absorbed by the D.H. Stanton campus. Whitefoord Elementary students would split; those from the Edgewood community would go to Toomer Elementary, while students from Reynoldstown would attend Burgess-Peterson Academy.

In the Mays cluster, APS would close Adamsville Primary School and restructure Miles Intermediate as a PreK-5 school. Some Adamsville students would be redistricted for West Manor Elementary. In the Douglass cluster, APS would change school models and reconfigure schools.

These recommendations will likely see some fine-tuning as each has unique challenges. However, the school board appears poised to approve the overall blueprint. Opponents are rallying this weekend against it, including a march Saturday morning at the Collier Heights Plaza.

Here is a piece from community member Melissa Wardley about her neighborhood's concerns over the proposed changes:

By Melissa Wardley

In an era where Atlanta Public Schools should be unified as one to fight against government takeover, vouchers and school choice, we are torn over the proposal to close our public schools by our Atlanta Board of Education.

We plan to march Saturday at 7 a.m. to make our voices heard and to loudly say "No" to this plan. We have joined forces under the banner of "Save Our Children." We are a group of parents, grandparents, and community members.

“We say #VoteNo" is our rallying cry and our message to our community elected members of the APS school board, which will vote Monday on Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s plan to close, merge, redistrict and restructure schools in the southeast Atlanta.

We have complied a list of reasons why the board should reject this plan:

•There is no evidence the proposal will improve student performance given it would lead to larger class and school size. Research has shown that larger class size contributes to low student performance and would not improve student behaviors.

•The turnaround strategy has not been given time to produce conclusive results. We have suggested a two-year moratorium but that has not been considered.

•There is no long-term plan for how to use the empty school buildings, which will create blight, lower property values and attract criminal behavior into our developing community.

•We disagree that closing, merging, redistricting and restructuring will create competitive schools. Instead, this unproven approach will add to the APS history of destructive trial and error strategies tried year after year in our communities and on our children.  We will not stand quietly by and allow our children and teachers to be cheated again.

 


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.