In a recent email letter, Kathy Boehmer of the Home Park Community Improvement Association (HPCIA), urged her neighbors to take the Atlanta Public Schools survey and explained why the association does not favor either of the current redistricting options that have been presented following the demographic survey. The HPCIA also wants to keep Centennial Place Elementary School K-5.
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Home Park Neighbors,
Home Park needs your help! This issue takes 5 minutes of your time and affects our property values; and the quality and social fabric of our neighborhood.
Please complete the survey link and tell Atlanta Public Schools (APS) that Home Park wants to stay "Centennial-Inman-Grady." Include comments that will help build Home Park's case to stay in our current school feeder system. We want to continue in the current feeder track of Centennial Elementary, Inman Middle and Grady High.
Another way to look at it is to ask if you like the idea of Home Park being kicked out of the rest of Midtown, and being excluded from the better Middle and High schools. We are being offered a worse deal than we currently have.
Specifically, the demographic survey will refer to the current options, A and B, that have been presented to us. We are not in favor of either of these options. So if you are in agreement with Home Park, this is what we would request you indicate on the survey, especially if you agree with keeping Home Park in our current feeder system. We are in SRT3 Zone.
Option A "Most preferred"
Option B "Most preferred"
Option A "Dislike Both"
Option B "Dislike Both"
Option A "Dislike Both"
Option B "Dislike Both"
When you get to the comments section, use the information below to indicate why we dislike the options for middle and high schools. But in a nutshell...
For elementary, we prefer Centennial and keep it as a K-5.
For middle school, we want to stay in our midtown neighborhood and go to the school (Inman) that is not only in our neighborhood but is half the distance of the new North Atlanta Middle School. Additionally, the 6-10 children per year that go from Home Park to Inman will not affect Inman's overcapacity issue at all. They need a population with more critical mass to affect the overcrowded conditions at Inman. The demographers are looking at the wrong information.
For Grady High School, the biggest concern is that our kids will be going to a high school that's not in their neighborhood and is 7x the distance from our current high school which is only 1.1 mile away. Additionally, Grady High ranks higher academically and performs better than North Atlanta high school. APS needs to decrease the number of transfer students they allow to go to Grady which would have a highly positive affect on the overcrowding. There are kids going there from all over the metro area. There are even some who live as far away as Peachtree City!
We currently live in a great school district that's close to our neighborhood. While the majority of Home Park's residents do not have school age children, and therefore, probably feel like this redistricting has nothing to do with them, it really does affect everyone, some more than others. For everyone, it will definitely affect your property values. Home Park is slowly beginning to see a resurgence of families moving into the neighborhood and a lot of that has to do with the school district that we're in. Change that and people may rethink their decision to move here. Even people who move here who do not have children will think hard about it before making a decision because they'll be thinking about the resale potential down the road. And anyway, families help strengthen the fabric of the community and schools are important to this happening. So, this redistricting affects ALL OF US!!
I have attended several of the APS meetings with the demographers and the school board members. Home Park is getting lost in the noise because we're such a small neighborhood with so few children; and some of the neighborhoods who are screaming for their piece of the pie are big and well fortified with families with children. HPCIA has decided to bypass all the melodrama of the big meetings and meet one-on-one with various school officials and other officials to make our case to stay in our current feeder pattern (Centennial Elementary, Inman Middle, Grady High), but it won't mean anything if these people do not hear from you. So, please, please go to the website and complete the survey.
Following are some of the talking points and facts we've used with APS to state our case. Feel free to use them. Additionally, Centennial Place elementary has decided to pursue a slightly different route that most Home Park neighbors we've spoken with do not support.
We all really appreciate your help with this. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or Dan Noyd, President HPCIA. The deadline to complete this survey is Feb 24th.
Home Park Community Improvement Association
Here are our two current options as they stand and that we do not support:
Option One: Elementary school is Centennial, middle school is the new North Atlanta Middle School (not in operation yet, but will basically be Sutton Middle school moving into the current North Atlanta High School), and the high school is the New North Atlanta High School which will be built over the next two years.
Option Two: The neighborhood is split right through the middle along 14th street with kids to the north of 14th going to a new mid-Atlanta elementary school (location TBD), North Atlanta Middle school, new North Atlanta High School. Kids south of 14th go to Centennial, North Atlanta Middle School and new north Atlanta High.
Home Park produces a handful (approxiamately 6 - 10) of the 25 children that matriculate from Centennial to Inman yearly.
We understand that Inman and Grady have capacity issues. However, the numbers being used by the Demographers for Centennial are the wrong numbers required to solve this anticipated capacity issue. The demographers have not taken into account the fact that Centennial has largely a transfer/commuter population that doesn't live in the district and will not matriculate to Inman. Therefore, it only sends about 25 students per year to Inman; and out of that number, only about 6 - 10 students are from Home Park. As Centennial serves neighborhoods that are further west and southwest of the Midtown area; and a majority of transfer students, we are only advocating on behalf of the Home Park neighborhood, with Centennial's blessing. So, if you just take into account the student population of Home Park, 6 - 10 students per year, pulling us out of our current cluster is going to do nothing to decrease or increase the crowded conditions of Inman and Grady. You would need a neighborhood that could provide critical mass (eg 75 families or more) to accomplish that.
Home Park is currently in the Centennial - Inman - Grady cluster. We would very much like for our neighborhood to stay in that cluster rather than the one that has been set forth in the latest set of options which would be Centennial- North Atlanta Middle School -North Atlanta High School.
Home Park is a small neighborhood situated just between Georgia Tech and Atlantic Station. The I-75/85 connector is our eastern boundary, 10th street is our southern boundary and 16th street is our northern boundary. Georgia Tech is highly integrated into our neighborhood with facilities, students and faculty. We are advocating on behalf of the Home Park/Georgia Tech neighborhood to stay in our current feeder system since many of our students who attend APS schools are the children of GT parents.
The reasons for our desire to stay in our current cluster are compelling, logical and reasonable.
First, Home Park is part of the Midtown Alliance and very much an active, integrated member of the Midtown community. We do not want to be separated from our Midtown neighbors. This is our neighborhood where we live, work, play, and go to school. Our kids have grown up within the Midtown community and their friends are here. We have nothing in common with the Buckhead neighborhoods that would make up the vast majority of the student population at the new North Atlanta middle school and North Atlanta High School.
Second, Home Park lies 1.7 miles from Inman Middle School but will be almost 4.5 miles from the new North Atlanta Middle School. We are 1.1 mile from Grady High School but will be 7.5 miles from the new North Atlanta High School (from the southeastern boundary of then neighborhood). Besides the fact that we will be geographically too far away from our local schools to make the commute anything short of a daily nightmare regardless of whether the kids take a bus or are car riders, it doesn't make sense to make our kids go so far to school when their current schools are so much closer. We've actually ridden our bikes over to Grady and Inman. We do not believe it is a reasonable or fair requirement for APS to make on our kids and parents.
The current options as they stand, violate all of Superintendent Davis' priorities where they concern us. He developed guiding principles for how his redistricting decisions would be made and posted them on the district Web site. He grouped these principles in priority order. They include proposing school boundaries that will be functional for at least a decade; assigning students to schools as close as possible to their homes; keeping current feeder patterns intact as much as possible; and ensuring student safety and transportation efficiency. In Home Park's case, every top tier priority was violated and we were left sitting in the dust.
* Assign students to schools closest to their homes - as stated above, our students will be considerably farther away from their "local" schools than they currently are now. They won't even be attending a school in their own neighborhood.
* Avoid splitting neighborhoods by using boundaries as determined by generally accepted definitions used by the City of Atlanta. In our case, the demographers used the Connector as a boundary, but the City Planning department doesn't use the I-75/85 corridor as a boundary but rather they have it run down the middle of the community as the City Planning Dept long ago recognized the commonalities between communities on both sides of the freeway. Additionally, the 5th, 10th, 14th and 17th Street bridges that cross the connector give us great connectivity to the rest of our midtown neighborhood. It is counterproductive that the long range community building work performed by the City's Planning Department would be so undermined by APS splitting communities away from their most obvious common ties, already institutionalized by the City.
* Ensure student safety and transportation efficiency...give weight to traffic patterns, energy efficiency, etc. Consider time spent on buses. Again, it goes without saying that our students would be spending an inordinate amount of time commuting to school. Considerably more than they do now. This will also have a negative effect on parental involvement with the schools.