Thanks to our Schools Committee for this great summary. Please see below for Next Steps, Lake Claire’s position, things you need to do now, upcoming meetings, and talking points to help us convey our position in a positive and constructive manner.
A big thank you to everyone who came to the demographer community input meeting Monday night. Mary Lin was out in force and made great points during the question / comment period.
What’s next? Now we enter the feedback phase for the second round of maps. We have until February 24 to submit our input to the demographers, school board members, and APS leadership. There are several ways to share your feedback, including a survey, Board meetings, and writing to our representatives.
Lake Claire’s position: In December’s special meeting, Lake Claire voted overwhelmingly to keep Mary Lin elementary K-5, to support the addition/expansion at Mary Lin, and to stay in the Inman – Grady cluster. This is still our position. For those reasons, Lake Claire supports option A. By comparison, Option B has us merging with Kirkwood’s Toomer Elementary in a “split model” and not getting the long-promised expansion for Mary Lin. (Note: our support for option A pertains only to our neighborhood. We are NOT suggesting that this option solves all issues in every APS school zone; nor are we purporting to tell other neighborhoods what is best for them.)
We ask that you do the following — and please see some key points at the bottom of this email that you may choose to include or not as you see fit.
1) FILL OUT THE SURVEY BY FEBRUARY 24
Go here: http://www.survey2go.net/aps/?sidx=203 and let the demographers know which option you prefer and why. It is critical that you explain your answers. The demographers will tally numbers for the options, but they will also look for key themes in the comments, which are highly impactful. Please reference the talking points below. You can also complete a paper copy. I will see if we can get a copy scanned and emailed to the group for printing and distributing.
2) CONTACT DECISION MAKERS — Let the demographers, school board members and APS leadership hear from you so they will take our concerns into account.
- Erroll B. Davis, Jr., Superintendent of Schools: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Steve Smith, Deputy Superintendent/Chief of Staff: email@example.com
- Larry Hoskins, Deputy Superintendent of Operations: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Betsy Bockman, SRT-3 Executive Director: email@example.com
- Dr. Brian Mitchell, Mary Lin principal: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ken Bleakley of the Bleakley consulting group (demographers): email@example.com
- Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our school board members:
- Cecily Harsch-Kinnane (District 3), email@example.com
- Reuben McDaniel, At-Large (3&4), firstname.lastname@example.org
Other school board members:
- Brenda Muhammad (represents Inman Park), email@example.com
- Courtney English (at-large for Inman Park), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nancy Meister, email@example.com
- LacChandra Butler Burks, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Yolanda Johnson, email@example.com
- Byron Amos, firstname.lastname@example.org
3) ATTEND TWO IMPORTANT MEETINGS
Monday, February 6, 6:00 pm
What: APS Board Community Meeting
Where: APS – The Center for Learning and Leadership Auditorium, 130 Trinity Avenue SW, Atlanta, 30303
Notes: Please arrive no later than 5 pm to sign up to speak (earlier if possible)! They will stop taking sign-ups at 5:30 and last time this filled up fast. If you plan to speak or have questions about speaking at the meeting, please let me know!
Thursday, February 9, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
What: Atlanta Board of Education Listening Session with the SRT3 Community – Hosted by CINS
Where: Grady High School Auditorium, 929 Charles Allen Drive, Atlanta, 30309
Notes: The ABOE members from District 1 Ms. Brenda Muhammad, District 2 Ms. Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, Seat 7 At Large Mr. Courtney English, Seat 8 At Large & Board Chair Mr. Reuben McDaniel, and Seat 9 At Large Mr. Emmett Johnson will join the SRT3 Comunity for a listening session on redistricting in SRT3. The board members representing Districts 3, 4, 5 and 6 will also be invited to participate.
Note: It’s important to get to these meetings very early. Monday night’s meeting was full long before it started. Also, we’d like to sit together as much as possible.
4) KEEP IT POSITIVE!
We are so much more convincing if we are positive and factual. We can make our points without engaging in any negativity to other APS communities.
5) TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS!
Tell your neighbors about 1-4 above! Spread the word. Some folks still don’t know. Talk to those with and without kids and to those with and without kids in APS!
If you have signed up as Neighborhood Education Liaisons, THANK YOU! We will be following up with you as soon as we have our official position statement. If you have not signed up, we have two slots to fill: McLendon from Sutherland to the traffic circle and Lakeshore to the city limits.
1. KEEPING MARY LIN K-5 IS INVESTING IN SUCCESS
- Mary Lin is one of the top performing schools in the city, and is in the top 10% of elementary schools state-wide.
- Mary Lin’s environment of excellence is the result of an overwhelming commitment by Mary Lin communities to APS and to our community school. Candler Park and Lake Claire have been part of the Mary Lin community since 1929; Inman Park, joined the community when its elementary school closed a generation ago. Very few school-aged children in the Mary Lin communities attend private schools. Of those children attending APS schools, 96% attend Mary Lin, not schools in other zones and not charters.
- Parents continuously roll up their sleeves to maintain the environment of excellence at Mary Lin, volunteering thousands of hours to the school each year.
- Splitting the Kirkwood neighborhood to use Toomer as a tool to relieve over-crowding at Mary Lin and to avoid spending SPLOST funds at Mary Lin would be an inefficient allocation of resources.
- Staffing and instructional changes, remediation of the facility selected to house older elementary students to provide sufficient science classrooms, increased numbers of crossing guards, duplicated or extended bus routes, and other changes must be funded through operating funds in the face of a $60 million deficit when SPLOST funds are already allocated to Mary Lin.
- Splitting Mary Lin and Toomer into grade centers would result in a loss of walkability for half of the student population at each center.
2. ADDING CAPACITY AT MARY LIN IS A “PROMISE KEPT”
- Lake Claire and the rest of the Mary Lin community voted twice to support SPLOST.
- SPLOST III and SPLOST IV allocated funds to Mary Lin for renovation and addition.
- Mary Lin last had a renovation in 1994, almost 20 years ago.
- A significant portion of our kids attend school in trailers; we have outgrown our space; and some areas of the current building need repair.
- Mary Lin has never received SPLOST funds.
3. PRESERVE OUR CHILDREN’S SAFE & EASY ACCESS TO THEIR SCHOOLS
- Children attending APS schools must have safe, efficient access to their schools.
- The CSX railroad corridor and MARTA line are a barrier to safe, efficient access due to limited access points from Boulevard to the eastern City of Atlanta boundary line.
- Tunnel-like crossings at Krog Street, Whitefoord/Oakdale, and Rocky Ford
- Major thoroughfares with elevated intersections at Boulevard and Moreland
- No access across Dekalb Avenue at Arizona
- DeKalb Avenue is uniquely dangerous major thoroughfare with three narrow lanes and center “suicide lane” with signals that periodically malfunction.
- A split grade center model with a school in another neighborhood would introduce significant transportation and logistical difficulties that do not currently exist.
- APS would need to increase operating costs in a time of budgetary deficit by increasing the need for crossing guards or by expanding or adding bus routes.
- Utilize the existing resources of the Beltline and Path to route children to school
4. ADDING INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE GRADY CLUSTER IS INVESTING IN SUCCESS
- The current Inman and Grady communities have created and maintained an environment of excellence, resulting in demand that may exceed capacity if appropriate infrastructure is not maintained.
- APS is committed to and should create and maintain consistent feeder patterns.
- APS must provide infrastructure necessary to handle current and future student populations.
- New middle school facilities, especially, are needed now in the Grady Cluster, and APS should consider creative alternatives (like a 5/6 Inman Annex) , not removal of students from the cluster, to address overcrowding.
- SPLOST dollars should be spent where there is current need, not just anticipated need.
- APS should make certain that administrative transfers are allowed only at schools with space for all in-zone students.