All the changes in the Atlanta Public Schools turnaround plan - CBS46 News

All the changes in the Atlanta Public Schools turnaround plan

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Atlanta Public School's superintendent, Dr. Meria Carstarphen's plan to turnaround schools in Atlanta was approved by the school board late Monday, but it didn't go down without some fervent opposition.

The plan would close some schools, rezone others and merge yet others in what Carstarphen says is a push toward improving schools across the Atlanta Public School system.

However, critics contend the plan doesn't address what's at the core of the problem: opportunity.

We dug deep on the plan to break down everything that is inside it, here's what we found.

What's the plan?

Jackson Cluster

Parkside Elementary and Benteen Elementary will undergo rezoning to make their attendance zones align with the neighborhoods where they exist.

Whitefoord Elementary would close, and students would be redistricted into two nearby schools. Toomer ES would take in students from the Edgewood neighborhood. Burgess-Peterson would absorb students from the Reynoldstown neighborhood.

Mays Cluster

Miles Intermediate would become a PreK-5 school and absorb most students from Adamsville Primary School, which would close. About 50 students would be moved to West Manor ES.

Teachers from Adamsville and Miles would all have to re-apply for their jobs, in the merger. APS says the teachers would also be able to get a position in other areas of the district and recieve priority interview status. 

The Adamsville building is up for grabs. The district said the community would like to use the building or elementary schools; they could also use the building to partner with another group to provide educational programming. They said they hope to identify the use of the building by the start of the next school year.

Douglass Cluster

Some of the most significant changes are in the Douglass Cluster, which is home to B.E.S.T. Academy and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Academy (CSK). Those two schools would merge, but continue to be separate schools for boys and girls on the CSK academy campus, which would undergo some renovations.

Classes for boys and girls would remain separate.

The plan says students would also be able to attain an Associate's degree on the new campus.

Staffing would be "streamlined", Carstarphen's plan says, though it doesn't outline a clear number of teachers and administrators that would be required on the new campus.

Fain and Towns Elementary Schools would merge into a single school on the Harper-Archer Middle School campus, which would undergo some renovations.

Staff at those schools would have to re-apply for jobs at the new school. Here, again, the plan says staff would be “streamlined”.

At Harper-Archer Middle School, where the superintendent seeks to reset the school culture, teachers would be able to re-apply. They would then get interviews “with priority status to find opportunities within the district.” The school would be moved to the campus of B.E.S.T. Academy.

The Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP, is essentially a charter school system that partners with APS to run certain schools. They currently operate eight schools in Metro Atlanta.

With the passage of this plan, they will operate nine: Woodson Park Academy would, by 2023, become a PreK-8 charter school in the Douglass Cluster. 

“Our tuition-free, college-preparatory,  public charter schools are located in the educationally under-served neighborhoods of West End, Southeast Atlanta, and East Point. Our schools enroll all students, regardless of prior academic record, conduct, or socioeconomic background,” KIPP's website says.

Douglass HS would become a “magnet” school, that would seek to attract students outside its cluster (remember, it’s competing for attendance with BEST and CSK.)

Non-traditional schools

West End Academy and Crim HS would merge, again "streamlining" their staffs with the goal of realizing savings. West End Academy is a program to "accelerate graduation credit attainment for 11th and 12th graders who will most likely graduate with their graduation cohort."

Crim HS is designed to "school designed to accelerate graduation credit attainment for 9th – 12th graders who are severely off pace for graduation and will most likely not graduate with their graduation cohort."

APS Statement

A spokesperson with APS released the following statement regarding the plan:

Over the last three months, Atlanta Public Schools has engaged the community in conversations about possible school mergers and operating model changes.  Throughout this process, we have listened closely to the community’s input and ideas and we have adjusted our recommendations to the Atlanta Board of Education based on that feedback. In order for us to provide the strongest, most effective programs, we must look for ways to streamline resources to reinvest in quality programming for kids. The district is confident that the recommended changes will allow us to do just that.

Critics: There are no failing schools

For months, parents and protesters have said that APS is mounting a hostile takeover of their schools, accusing superintendent Meria Carstarphen of strong-arming and grade-shaming their communities and their kids as "low-performing and beyond help."

“There are no failing schools. There are schools with a preponderance of poverty-stricken, low-education aspiration, children that need more help”, says NAACP member Richard Rose.

The Atlanta NAACP is against Carstarphen’s plan to close or merge schools in several troubled clusters. 

They said they want to see the empirical proof that shuffling kids around to new schools will improve their grades when in fact it may hurt them.

Protesters say an untold number of kids affected by the enormous APS cheating scandal still live in the affected areas and insist that a school system that committed crimes against children needs to do more than merely close schools. 

According to protesters, there is no proof that closing or merging Atlanta schools will help improve performance. They are vowing to “erase the board” in November elections, if members don’t vote on the side of the affected communities.

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