APS wants to close 13 schools. Echoes of DeKalb’s experience.

The Atlanta school board will take up school closings today. (AJC file)

The Atlanta school board will take up school closings today. (AJC file)

Atlanta school chief Erroll Davis is recommending 13 schools close and new attendance lines be drawn across the district.

While the names of the 13 schools have been released, the new attendance lines/feeder systems have not. (You can read the AJC news story here.)

If you remember, DeKalb started with a plan to shutter 14 schools, but the public outcry pared the list down to eight schools. I wonder if the same retreat will occur in Atlanta if enough parents rise up in protest.

Thus far, the most attention has been to the proposed redrawing of attendance lines in those APS neighborhoods where the elementary schools have become community focal points. But there are several beloved neighborhood schools on this closing list, so I suspect parents will be upset and will seek a reconsideration.

Davis wants 10 school clusters, but those boundary lines – which parents are anxious to see – will be released later this week.

The APS board meets today and Davis will present his school closing recommendations. (Note that a few of these schools had the most serious allegations of cheating.)

The 14 schools are:

Parks Middle School

Capitol View Elementary School

Thomasville Heights Elementary School

Boyd Elementary School

F.L. Stanton Elementary School

White Elementary School

Fain Elementary School

Cook Elementary School

Coan Middle School

East Lake Elementary School;

Humphries Elementary School

Kennedy Middle School

Herndon Elementary School

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

130 comments Add your comment


March 5th, 2012
12:02 pm

Atlanta will follow the collapse of other failed inner city systems such as Kansas City, Mo Memphis TN , Detroit,Michigan, Dekalb Cty, Ga , Cook Cty. Illinois 50% of all city schools closed or closing students population down by at least 50% from peak enrollment.

Common factors: Focus on keeping obselete facilities , padding staff, corruption in administration
Deteriation of grades and alleged cheating, focus on throwing Federal dollars(created magically by Fed govt) into proven bottomless wells of corruption and tax payer deception.

One other common factor: most students are the left behind financially , with no morals for the leadership in their lives.Mass exodus by those who can afford to go to better performing sytems will continue trend of downward spiral. Perhaps can increase enrollment by allowing more illegal aliens into system!!!!!


March 5th, 2012
12:03 pm

Oh let’s see if I can play Nostredamus. He said 13. The public will issue an outcry, they will complain, the will mobilize, they will threaten. He changes his recommendation to 4. And next year when they still have a deficit, crumbling schools, overcrowded schools right next to empty ones, the circle will start all over again.

Have we not see this movie before?

Paula Morris

March 5th, 2012
12:04 pm

I don’t know if we will have the same outcry. But the reality is that we need some change. I just hope this will help in the long run.

Thank You APS!

March 5th, 2012
12:07 pm

You just lowered my property value!! Handing Coan MS to my affluent neighbors North of DeKalb Avenue and re-zoning Toomer and Whitefoord to King MS (when they are both within 1/4 mile of Coan MS) just clarifies the depth to which segregation among race and class is part of the official APS doctrine. “For Sale” sign going up in 30 days…


March 5th, 2012
12:11 pm

HeyThomas! News flash. They aren’t following the collapse they lead it! Close them!

Beverly Fraud

March 5th, 2012
12:18 pm

Clearly the fault of teachers. If they would only teach “research based” lessons, parents would FLOCK to APS and there wouldn’t be a shortage of students for these buildings.

What we need is a BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION to EXONERATE all staff at 210 Pyror Street and put the blame SQUARELY where it belongs:

-Not on demographics
-Not on moving patterns
-On the TEACHER and their steadfast refusal to teach “engaging” lessons, when they get such WONDERFUL support downtown. Shameful. Just shameful.


March 5th, 2012
12:21 pm

Here is the gist of why Kirkwood and East Lake have a real reason to be upset-

1) East Lake Elementary- closing- big change!

2) Toomer absorbing East Lake- big change!

3) Completely new middle school- big change!

4) Completely new high school- big change!

I don’t know of another area that would have to have so many changes happen at every level. I think that Kirkwood and East Lake have many reasons to be upset.


March 5th, 2012
12:27 pm

great point ” Thank You APS ” take a look at all the areas of town in metro atlanta where white families have left and are now almost completely black.. that is what the entire metro atlanta will look like within 30 years. there will still be a few pockets of nice neighborgoods sprinkled in north of the city where wealthy white families remain but for the most part atlanta will look like clayton county south dekalb, and the west end do now… it will be one big ghetto !!!

intown parent

March 5th, 2012
12:28 pm

To “Thank you APS” – be patient a bit longer…
There is still way more bloodletting to go.
I sincerely doubt that the Morningside/Va-Hi parents are going to be willing to truck their darlings all the way down to Coan. I fully expect the howling to begin (have started already -?) for Howard to be converted for that purpose. So then Coan is still in play – lobby to get King closed instead and bus those kids to Coan rather than vice versa… I don’t know which of the two is the better facility however, which must figured in.

Happy Kine and The Mirth Makers

March 5th, 2012
12:38 pm

Sounds like a good start. Lets just hope all teachers, admins etc employed at these schools receive their pink slip!!

Congrats on a job well done to all those that contributed to the down fall of these schools.


March 5th, 2012
12:43 pm

Here is the deal…. APS has too many schools. Look at other districts the size of APS. They have half as many schools. It is about being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

B. Killebrew

March 5th, 2012
12:45 pm

The list is pretty good except that I would keep two of the schools open:

Coan Middle
Capitol View Elementary

Coan is an emerging focal point for the communities around it. Capitol View has the potential to become another Toomer, Mary Lin, or Bolton.

Thank you 2

March 5th, 2012
12:46 pm

Kirkwood got SCREWED. Thanks APS for only listening to the rich, white communities.


March 5th, 2012
12:56 pm

Peralte, don’t forget that East Lake also feeds into Coan. As an East Lake resident and a parent cosing Coan so that another community can use it for a 6th grade academy is a slap in the face.


March 5th, 2012
12:56 pm

Sorry, hit the send button too fast.

Grady Gram no more

March 5th, 2012
12:58 pm

At least y’all aren’t having to deal with the Macon Miracle…bad news.

school rulz

March 5th, 2012
12:58 pm

Holy Cow! Kirkwood is getting screwed in this proposal!

Raquel Morris

March 5th, 2012
1:02 pm

How is Douglass High School, a one-time premier school that Beverly Hall systematically ruined, supposed to survive with only two elementary schools feeding it? Two of the schools in the Young MS cluster should be reassigned to the Douglass feeder pattern.

Toomer parent

March 5th, 2012
1:02 pm

The Inman 6th grade academy proposal taking over the Coan MS building is a gerrymandered mess serving the interests of Candler Park and Candler Park only, while disrupting communities from Va-Hi to East Lake.

In the case of Kirkwood/East Lake/Edgewood, it’s more than a disruption – it’s devastating. This recommendation turns our own neighborhood middle school into a wealthy annex with doors locked to its own neighbors. Shame on APS.

Zane Smith's teeth

March 5th, 2012
1:09 pm

Way to go APS. I can already hear the lawsuits cranking up. You will spend hundreds of thousands trying to defend your blatent discrimination against the Kirkwood/East Lake communities in favor of their richer/whiter neighbors to the North. Instead of actually using tax money appropriately, you have pandered to the vocal minority and will now have to spend even more money as a result. There is no way closing the neighborhood MS (Coan) and GIVING it to Candler Park/Lake Claire/VA-Highlands while you bus poorer neighborhood kids three times the distance away will stand.

Atlanta Mom

March 5th, 2012
1:20 pm


March 5th, 2012
1:24 pm

Shut APS down completely! Everything about it is corrupt and stinks! Too many bad apples! All of these schools fall within County school systems anyway. Close the shish down! NOW!

APS Grad

March 5th, 2012
1:29 pm

Not surprised by some of the schools on this list. A strong PTA and parent participation in their child’s education is the key!


March 5th, 2012
1:38 pm

Davis’ summary on the APS website says that this plan will only eliminate 7,200 of the 13,000 unused seats for the system. This seems like a partial fix, and invites the assumption that additional changes will be needed quite soon. Davis goes on to say that the savings from these closings will be used “in direct support of students – that is, to provide more counselors, assistant principals, paraprofessionals and special education resources. Also, we will be better positioned to coordinate resources for children from birth to five years old, our pre-k programs and school nutrition services.”

Why not more classroom teachers? Why plan to add to an already top-heavy and redundant bureaucracy? And why on earth is APS spending money to “coordinate resources for children from birth to five years old?” Where is social services’ responsibility?

A sixth grade off-site for Inman is a reasonable compromise for keeping Old Fourth Ward and Centennial in the Grady cluster. It reflects the effort that is currently made to keep 6th graders physically separated from 8th – the size differential of the students is just too great, and in the event of fights kids can be hurt. I agree that putting it in Coan seems nutty, though – intown parent is right, Howard would be a much more practical choice. However, it may be that investing in Howard (which has been allowed to crumble) may be just too expensive.

What are the comparative physical conditions of the schools on the closing list? Are any of them recent beneficiaries of SPLOST investment?


March 5th, 2012
1:43 pm

Looks like the Grady Cluster will now be saddled with having to carry Hope-Hill (aka Boulevard ghetto apartments). probably a good choice for “the system” but, not for the rest of the kids in the cluster. If this holds, hopefully the cluster will do more good for the Hope-Hill kids than the Hope-Hill kids harm the cluster. And by kids, I’m picking on their parents. The kids, in better hands, would turn out fine.


March 5th, 2012
1:49 pm

Some of the Dekalb changes were just common sense.

One elementary school that was kept open was geographically isolated and some students would have to go 12 miles to school.

Another, since nearby schools were full, was kept open instead of bussing students past 4 closer schools across two interstate highways to reach a school that wasn’t full.

Two others were magnet schools that were going to be closed without any review of their plan for handling gifted education. That could be considered kept open by parent pressure, but it really made no sense to close them 1st and figure out the plan later.


March 5th, 2012
1:50 pm

the market for private schools continues to grow thanks to the APS AND THE DEKALB BOARD OF ED !!!


March 5th, 2012
1:55 pm

The David T. Howard building would provide enough capacity for a combined 5th and 6th grade academy, which would relieve the over-crowding at Mary-Lin, Springdale Park, and Inman Middle. I’m not sure on the interior condition, or the expense to upgrade the facilities, but it certainly seems to have the greatest amount of support within the community, and makes the most common sense geographically. Additionally, the Howard building is located adjacent to the Freedom Parkway trail and two blocks from the NE Beltline corridor, which would allow a large percentage of the potential students to safely travel from their respective home neighborhoods to the Howard building using the bicycle paths.

APS Grad

March 5th, 2012
1:59 pm

@Tony- Don’t forget to add Clayton county in the mix!


March 5th, 2012
2:03 pm

Boulevard / O4W kids have been zoned to Grady High School for many years, so the recommended changes are just fully implementing the “cluster” model, where there is an earlier integration with the neighboring high performing elementary schools. In theory the program would work to relieve tensions and disparity of education levels at the High School, and bring the entire High School further up.

ATLDawg, ya dig?

March 5th, 2012
2:21 pm

“pandering to a vocal minority” = that’s politics. That’s the way our system works. If you want to fight for your local school, then I suggest you organize, mobilize, and GET your voice heard, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself on some blog. FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD.

Thank You APS!

March 5th, 2012
2:30 pm

Here’s a thought – if you want to prevent me from trasferring my child to a better school out-of-zone and you don’t want to make the hard decisions to improve my in-zone school, then let me, Joe/Jane Taxpayer, take my school taxes and pursue a school choice that meets the educational needs of my child? You can either improve your schools, allow me to transfer to the better APS school, give me a voucher for my school taxes to spend elesewhere, or I will choose with my feet and APS will lose another middle class family to the suburbs or private schools. It’s that simple.

And as the schools in the more affluent areas become more overcrowded and the educational environment suffers, those parents will start walking, too.

APS has operated a dual system for far too long (one poor and Black, one rich and white) and this redistricting plan continues the disparity. Oh, and you got to love the fact none of the high schools on the South side currently have an IB curriculum (lower standards, lower expectations, lower performance).


March 5th, 2012
2:32 pm

All the schools on the list are in the hood. This is a good move. There are so many APS schools that are not full, I lived in a neighborhood where Douglass high have lost so many student, Anderson Park elem., was closed down, Turner went from High school to middle, Never understood why Ms.Hall tore down West Fulton and build a new middle school,FL Stanton don’t a big enrollment,Kenndy always had problems..
I’m glad to see that APS will be making big changes, instead of cheating and big salaries going out the door.


March 5th, 2012
2:37 pm

@Thank you APS, the proposed Jackson High School and the revamped MLK middle school will have IB programs.

Taking your school taxes and putting them into a private school will not get you very far, particularly if you have more than one child and will have to stretch that tax money to cover multiple tuitions. You, like every other parent in public school, are depending on other people’s tax money to fund your child’s education. It’s painful – I know, because both of my daughters had their lives threatened in APS schools and APS decided that they were expendable. I felt differently, so I moved them out although my son stayed through 13 years.

Taking your money and walking is fine and can be a great choice, but you can’t take other people’s money and walk. Therein lies the political problem for vouchers.

Hosed in East Lake

March 5th, 2012
2:42 pm

absolutely disgusted…how is the proposal to bring kids from the Inman district into our district while our kids are shipped 5 miles away across I-20 even considered as a solution let alone recommended? wasn’t it enough to zone us out of the grady district? this is a huge blow for east lake, kirkwood, edgewood, etc..apparently the outcome of all this was directly related to the t-shirt and sign budget of the various neighborhoods. sad commentary but the results speak for themselves.


March 5th, 2012
2:56 pm

The demographer’s final plan from last Friday recommends the creation of 6th grade academy explicitly because “this action would allow Centennial Place to remain in the SRT 3/Grady Cluster.”

Now that the academy has been revealed to be Coan, the obvious question is why Kirkwood give up it’s middle school just to allow an elementary school across town to be included in Grady at the expense of Toomer being displaced from Grady.

The creation of this 6th grade academy makes it possible to include an additional elementary school in the Grady cluster. Being that Kirkwood is making this possible, logically, Toomer should be that additional elementary school rather than Centennial Place.

C Jae of EAV

March 5th, 2012
3:14 pm

@ Really!? 03/05 12:21pm – Let’s take a step back and reality check (a bitter pill though it may be).

EL closing – A change that demographically makes sence. Bigger question is what becomes of the building.

Toomer absorbing EL – change but not necessarily earth shattering. The two schools are within 2 miles & 5 mins or less of each other. Besides EL has a cematary in the back of it which always seemed odd placement of school to me anyway.

New middle school (King) – Now you have a BIG CHANGE!! The hike from neighborhoods served by Toomer & EL (an even to some extent Whiteford & Burgess) is significant compared to feeding those students into Coan.

New High School- All things being considered its less impactful than the Middle School change although likely equally less desireable for newly gentrafied residents who pride themselves on feeding into Grady currently.

Taken in sum total, there is good and bad in the proposed feeder cluster in question. Clearly Kirkwood/EL is taking on the chin


March 5th, 2012
3:23 pm

I’ve always wondered what would happen if we shut down APS and sent the kids to their corresponding county schools. It’ll never happen, but might be interesting to see. Large metroplex city districts are largely failures across the board (Baltimore, Chicago, DC, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and so on and so on).

C Jae of EAV

March 5th, 2012
3:34 pm

@ Acer – Your suggested re-purposing of the old Howard Building makes more sence than busing Toomer, EL, Whiteford kids to King.

@ Raquel Morris – Its a travisity that under the Hall regime, millions were poured into new buildings for B.E.S.T & C.S King single gener academies both square within the Douglass zone (which itself saw a multi- million dollar upgrade). Both could have continued to operate out of surplus facilities which have sence been left to rot. It makes it extremely difficult to consider shuttering any of the 3 considering the recent investments made in them. Thrown in KIPP operating a charter high school (as I understand it) in the old Turner High building and now you have quite a log jam in that area of the city.


March 5th, 2012
3:39 pm

if you have more than one child and cant afford private school the best thing you can do for you child is to sell your intown home and move to north fulton !! your childs education and overall saftey is more important than your easy commute to work. if you have not been up to johns creek and alpharetta lately it is EYE OPENING on how nice the schools and neighborhoods are it reminds you of atlanta 35 years ago… it wont be nice forever so while your children are young take advantage of the schools and the neighborhoods and move now while it is still nice and when your children are grown move out of atlanta all together…. now that is a plan!!!


March 5th, 2012
3:51 pm

Really disappointed in E. Davis on this one. Some of these proposals don’t even pass the most basic of smell tests. Why will my kids have to go to a middle school miles away when Coan is virtually across the street? Guess it’s more important that Candler Park have a middle school all for themselves…in another neighborhood. CP kids are more than welcome to go to school with Kirkwood kids but not run them out of their school altogether. My face is still stinging from that smack.


March 5th, 2012
3:52 pm

What about the Buckhead SCHOOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Davis knows if he mess with them he will be in COURT. THE POOR CLASS NEED TO RAISE HELL!!!!!!!!AND STAND UP. Don’t let Davis move the lower class around but the rich stay put.

Thank You APS!

March 5th, 2012
3:59 pm

@ Shar -

You are correct regarding the limitations of vouchers in terms paying for quality private education. I only want to stop paying into a system that has largely disregarded and ignored the parents and educational quality of schools on the South side. I don’t want to take other tax payer’s money, I just want the system to stop taking my tax money and providing services that differ based upon geography. If I live on the North side of town, I expect the same water quality and service as I would get on the South side of town. If you can’t provide the same quality and service, then don’t make me pay for lesser service and quality.

You are also correct about Jackson HS and King MS implementing an IB curriculum going forward. My statement was really more about “why is this more rigorous standard only now making its way to these schools?” Again, a dual system serving no one for the better.

I currently have a student in private school (my child was threatened/harassed, as well). For the cost of having two students, I would rather move to another area with better public schools and devote those private school dollars towards the difference in housing and commuting costs.


March 5th, 2012
4:06 pm

@Shar 1:38 PM
13,000 extra seats reduced to 7,500 didn’t make sense to me either. Until I looked at the demographic data.

Total enrollment today = 47,196
Projected enrollment 2021-2022 = 52,846
Davis recommendation 60,000 – 7,200 = 52,800

Looks like it has the right amount of headroom built in for expected growth.



March 5th, 2012
4:18 pm

@thank you, just fyi Walden was the only IB school for years that fed into North Atlanta, and in fact the IB program at North Atlanta was there to serve the Walden kids. I don’t know where else APS offered IB, and I know that the bureaucracy did its best several years ago to squash all IB as its existence (much like charter schools) was ‘different’ and thereby threatened to show up the approved curriculum. But it survived thanks to parent insistence, and had almost 100% black students to boot.

I am still not convinced that IB is better than AP-level classwork, which in my opinion should be robustly available at every APS high school and which to date is only sketchily offered. AP is much more useful to most students as it can save a great deal of college time and cost. However, if you are convinced that IB is the hallmark of quality curriculum, you should be aware that it was supported at “non-Northside” schools.

Taxes? On the North side, we pay more in property and sales taxes than we “get back” in services. Atlanta only receives about 65% of the state taxes and fees collected here. Services always differ based on geography, as taxing bodies try to fulfill needs. With schools getting the same per-pupil funding plus Title 1 and compensatory extras at the lower-performing schools, the better-performing ones end up with less per-pupil than those that struggle. The biggest difference is not money, but the expectations of the parents for their children’s work and success and parental involvement at the school.


March 5th, 2012
4:19 pm

Ah, parent, that does make better sense. Thanks for pointing that out.


March 5th, 2012
4:25 pm

Just one more item to reinforce me moving out of the City of Atlanta. Truly sad if Atlanta has even average schools the city would benefit greatly. It’s all just too much, there is no certainty anymore. After seeing Bev Hall and the gang run the system into the dirt all while getting major kudos and fat bonuses this just takes the cake.


March 5th, 2012
4:57 pm

@ATLDawg, ya dig? What a surprise when you got your way you simply assumed no other parents were out fighting for their kids. What was left out of the “vocal minority” was the word wealthy. Money talks and it always has. It doesn’t really matter how many parents fought for Kirkwood/Edgewood/East Lake (and plenty did), our neighborhoods don’t have the money/clout to get themselves heard.

We’ve worked hard in this area to build strong neighborhoods around racial diversity. We’re some of the only areas in the APS that truly reflect the racial makeup of Atlanta. But I guess old habits die hard elsewhere. The lily white children north of Dekalb Ave. are going to have to come to our neighborhood, but only if they don’t have to go to school with our kids. It’s shameful that separate but equal is still the way of our world.

I had hoped Atlanta was better than that.

To Thank you APS gm

March 5th, 2012
5:12 pm

Thank you,
You wrote “Handing Coan MS to my affluent neighbors North of DeKalb Avenue….”
I am that neighbor you speak of and I can speak for all of us North of Dekalb…we don’t want to go to Coan. You can likely keep Coan because we don’t want to go there and yes, of course, we are preparing for battle.

Intown Parent is Right

March 5th, 2012
5:18 pm

Intown Parent is right. Heshe said “I fully expect the howling to begin (have started already -?) for Howard to be converted for that purpose.”
It already started last night, as soon as the results came out. We North of Dekalb avenuers are already organized and will continue to fight the steady efforts of APS to push us south of the border into Coan.
So Kirkwood, yes, please push back at APS and say you want to stay in COan and not get pushed down to King MS because we North of Dekalbers sure do not want Coan. Coan is the big bad wolf everyone is afraid of. With horrible scores and later, horrific cheating and the ever-present crime-ridden neighborhood, trust me, no one of us above Dekalb wants to go there.