Open Letter from Lake Claire Neighbors to the Lake Claire community, the Local School Councils representing Mary Lin Elementary, Inman Middle, and Grady High schools, the Atlanta Public Schools, our elected representatives on the Atlanta Board of Education, and our elected representative on the Atlanta City Council
To our community:
On Saturday, December 10, 2011, Lake Claire Neighbors (LCN) held a special meeting to inform the community about and discuss the LCN response to redistricting recommendations for the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) community. The goals of this meeting were to give feedback to Lake Claire residents on the consensus in our neighborhood as to how to respond to the survey currently available on the APS website, to allow LCN to craft this position statement, and to provide talking points for Lake Claire residents to use when advocating for our children and schools.
LCN believes creativity combined with critical thinking is the best way to participate in a path back towards a strong public educational system for the City of Atlanta. As a neighborhood steeped in a love of learning and exploration of ideas of community, we would like to work with our neighbors and APS to provide the best possible course for our city when it comes to public education. We believe that the process placed before us by APS and the scenarios and statistics of demographers take into account only a small part of what we want to achieve. We would like to see visionary leadership in all parts of our city come together and use the resources at hand to create the best possible future for our city and the world.
LCN notes that we are at a particular point in time in a process where stakeholders in the APS community are being asked to respond individually and collectively to proposals with both specific rankings of the proposals themselves and additional information and scenarios for consideration. LCN also notes that LCN speaks solely for Lake Claire residents based on the consensus reached by Lake Claire residents. The following positions are taken as those that best serve the Lake Claire neighborhood in connection with its community schools. They do not indicate an acceptance of aspects of the proposed options that affect other communities and should not be viewed as endorsing aspects of the proposals that are not favored by those communities. We recognize that none of the currently proposed options for school redistricting serve the interests of all stakeholders or neighborhoods. We publish our consensus in the spirit of participating in and fostering an ongoing discussion with other stakeholders in the APS community. We urge all stakeholders to work together to reach a resolution that best serves all children in the APS and express our willingness to participate in such an effort.
To that end, LCN approved the following positions:
I. With regard to the work of the Local School Council at Mary Lin Elementary in their state-mandated role as liaison between the Mary Lin community and the Atlanta Board of Education:
Lake Claire Neighbors supports the work of our Local School Council on behalf of our school community and supports the LSC priorities of:
a) Keeping the current Mary Lin community at Mary Lin;
b) Seeking an addition & renovation of Mary Lin to relieve overcrowding at Mary Lin; and
c) Maintaining Mary Lin’s current feeder pattern of Mary Lin à Inman & Grady.
II. With regard to the considerations that Lake Claire residents view as important in the ongoing demographic/redistricting process:
Lake Claire Neighbors shall promote the following list of considerations as factors that the demographers, the LSC, the APS administration, Superintendent Davis, and the ABOE must consider in addressing the overcrowding and underutilization issues facing the APS:
A. Maintaining a community school where children can attend school close to home;
B. Maintaining schools with a proven track record of academic success, specifically with regard to:
1. not transferring students from performing schools to underperforming schools, and
2. working to establish a quality education at every level in APS;
C. Developing and maintaining consistent feeder patterns for all schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels;
D. Maximizing transportation safety and minimizing traffic bottlenecks and delays, recognizing that:
1. the establishment of school zones that require crossing the freight and MARTA line tracks at DeKalb Avenue will create dangerous conditions for students and will impede traffic flow along both DeKalb Avenue and Moreland Avenue;
2. major geographic features and roads should be considerations in establishing school zones as these features impact traffic and safety concerns;
3. maintaining walkable and bikeable access to elementary schools is a strong value of our urban communities; and
4. the DeKalb Avenue-McLendon Avenue corridor is a feeder to Downtown and a traffic change on either also affects traffic on the other.
E. Spending APS dollars wisely on infrastructure improvements and additions (both to existing structures and in the context of new construction) in the Grady cluster;
F. Keeping neighborhoods intact in terms of school attendance;
G. Maximizing student security and safety;
H. Relieving overcrowding;
I. Maintaining reasonable student-teacher ratios; and
J. Carefully considering implementation strategies to minimize transitional issues for all students.
III. With regard to resolving the current overcrowding and underutilization challenges facing the APS:
Lake Claire Neighbors supports and promotes the consideration of additional facilities (such as a fifth-and-sixth-grades or sixth-grade academy, a ninth-grade academy, and/or the construction of a new middle school) and the use of SPLOST dollars in the Grady cluster as realistic alternatives to the four options currently proposed that better serve the considerations adopted by LCN.
IV. Finally, with regard to the four currently proposed options for redistricting within APS, attendees voted on the options at each level (elementary, middle, and high) to provide guidance to LCN and the Lake Claire community for prioritizing options when completing the demography survey. These votes are not binding on LCN but are intended to reflect the consensus of the neighborhood of the effectiveness of the proposed options at (a) supporting the principles of the LSC as endorsed at this meeting and (b) addressing the list of important considerations approved at the meeting, both of which are outlined above. LCN views none of the options as acceptable in their entirety and acknowledges that other neighborhoods may be negatively affected by the option that is considered as best promoting the interests solely of Lake Claire residents and of their three current schools. With these considerations in mind and without endorsing any of the options, LCN rated the following options as the ones most consistent with the principles adopted at this meeting:
A. For elementary school, Option 3 is most consistent with the needs and concerns of the Lake Claire neighborhood and the positions of the Mary Lin Local School Council.
B. For middle school, Option 3 is most consistent with the needs and concerns of the Lake Claire neighborhood and the positions of the Mary Lin Local School Council.
C. For high school, Option 2 is most consistent with the needs and concerns of the Lake Claire neighborhood and the positions of the Mary Lin Local School Council.
LCN looks forward to working with other neighborhoods, the APS administration, Superintendent Davis, and the Atlanta Board of Education to reach a resolution of the issues facing our district and to put our district back on the path toward a strong public educational system for all our children.
Lake Claire Neighbors