The Atlanta City Council sat down with the Atlanta Board of Education on Dec. 12 to give the council an update on the school’s rezoning process, an initiative that’s worrying Buckhead parents.
The school system is trying to balance schools that are overcrowded with schools that are underutilized and have presented proposals that are based on demographic studies, but do not yet have public input. The school board is currently in the public input phase.
So far, Buckhead parents have learned that proposals suggest Students at E. Rivers Elementary might be zoned to Bolton Academy, and some Bolton students might be zoned to Scott Elementary. Another suggestion has some students in the Pine Hills neighborhood attending Garden Hills Elementary instead of Sarah Smith.
For about two hours, consultants with APS gave City Council members all of the information given to parents at presentations throughout the school district. City Council members asked questions about what methods the school system has used to contact parents.
Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean, District 8, said the school board needs to make sure it’s thinking about other stakeholders besides students’ parents. She said business leaders, and public works departments need to be involved as well.
“We’re all sharing the same infrastructure,” Adrean said. “ … It’s a mistake to just consider the parents of children as the only stakeholders.”
Councilman Howard Shook, District 7, said he’ll be keeping an eye on proposals to build a new middle and elementary school in his district.
“I think I was pleased to hear just how preliminary these plans are and just how important it is for parents to provide input,” Shook said.
District 4 Atlanta Board of Education member Nancy Meister stressed that the plans are preliminary and said, “Panic is unnecessary.”
“This effects people’s lives and I completely understand that,” Meister said. “This is a starting point and things will change.”
Leslie Churchill, the education liaison for the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, attended the Dec. 12 meeting and said she understands the current discussion about rezoning is a “starting point.”
“I think it’s important to get the City Council on board and informed,” she said.
Early February: Two alternative proposals will be presented to the public for additional input. These proposals will reflect the public input on the first proposals.
March: Proposals will be delivered to the school superintendent.
May: School board can approve zoning proposals by May.