Atlanta Public Schools is seeking input on possible changes to school zones, and Buckhead parents gave the system’s consultants plenty of it on Nov. 30.
Some of the parents who attended the meeting at North Atlanta High School learned their children might be attending different schools. Students at E. Rivers Elementary might be zoned to Bolton Academy, and some Bolton students might be zoned to Scott Elementary.
Some parents openly grumbled that they’d sell their property and leave if that happened.
The consultants, Cropper GIS, McKibben Demographic Research and Bleakly Advisory Group, stressed that the maps were just suggestions.
“The constructive feedback is key to us, but it’s very helpful for you,” company President Matthew Cropper said. “We feel we don’t know how many of the people in the crowd have the same feeling. If you put this on a piece of paper then we can quantify. So it’s important that you fill out the forms and be as constructive and detailed as possible.”
It was a point Superintendent Erroll Davis stressed as well. He said nothing had been decided.
“We are at the very beginning of a three month process,” Davis said. “What you will see this evening is essentially demographic data. It relates to cost. It relates to capacity. It does not reflect any of your concerns.”
Davis left the meeting before the presentation and the consultants didn’t answer questions during the presentation, opting instead to meet individually with parents afterward.
Parents who had hoped to ask questions interrupted the presentation, seeking additional information.
Cropper said the goal was to balance the schools with dwindling enrollment with schools that are overcrowded. That would also result in several school closures, but zoning changes were at the front of parents minds.
“These guys are only looking at the numbers,” said Kathy Smith, a Bolton parent. Smith noted that Scott, unlike Bolton, does not have an International Baccalaureate program, something parents are invested in. “My understanding is the human element has not been seen. This is the point where everyone who has a dog int his fight needs to start talking.”
Elizabeth Spangler and Erika Gross, two E. Rivers Parents, said moving to Bolton would increase their commute times. They said it would actually be closer for them if their neighborhood zone shifted to Morris Brandon Elementary. Gross said parents were told that Bolton is the next closest school to E. Rivers that has the capacity to handle additional students.
Spangler and Gross spent several minutes pointing out their concerns to the APS consultants.
Spangler and Gross, like the other parents, said they’ve both invested time and effort at their school.
“We all need to stick together and find an option that benefits all of us,” Spangler said.
“I think the biggest concern is that E. Rivers is the most severely affected,” Gross said. “We’re literally just getting decimated.
Gross said it’s nothing against Bolton, though some parents do have issues with student performance at the school.
“I think Bolton is where E. Rivers was five or six years ago,” she said, adding, “We need to be very careful about jumping to conclusions about the quality of schools.”
See the draft school zone changes here.