ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Public School board has voted to approve a contentious plan that would close and merge several schools within the district.
The 7-2 decision came down shortly before 10:30 p.m., despite strong opposition from parents.
Under the newly-approved plan, the following changes were adopted:
- Jackson Cluster -- Close Whitefoord Elementary school at the start of the 2017 school year, redistricting students to Toomer Elementary and Burgess-Peterson Academy. Redistrict a portion of Parkside Elementary School students to Banteen Elementary School.
- Mays Cluster -- Close Adamsville Primary at the start of the 2017 school year. Restructure Miles Intermediate as a Pre-K through five school and redistrict some of Adamsville and Miles students to West Manor Elementary.
- Douglass Cluster -- Relocate BEST Academy to the Coretta Scott King campus at the start of the 2017 school year. Officials would then phase in a new middle school at the current BEST facility starting in the 2017 school year.
The plan also calls for a phase out closure of Harper-Archer Middle School at the start of 2017. Fain and Towns Elementary Schools would be closed at the start of the 2019 school year and merge to open a new elementary school at a renovated Harper-Archer facility.Finally, officials will launch a new partnership in 2019 at Woodson Park Academy with KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools. The new school would not be a charter school and all students zoned to the Woodson Park would be be able to attend. The current Woodson Park building would close to make way for a new YMCA facility, an early childhood center and a health clinic.
- Citywide -- The West End Academy would relocate to the Crim Open Campus High School.
Superintendent Meria Carstarphen argued that the plan to close and consolidate some of the schools would free up more resources to serve students. She indicated that some of the schools are not operating at maximum capacity and amounted to a strain on resources.
But some parents argue that school officials are not listening and considering what they want.
"The superintendent needs to go, and we need to vote the board out," one parent picketing outside told 11Alive's Duffie Dixon. "The community spoke loud and clear in those neighborhood meetings. We don't want any school closures or merges. Here they are tonight going forward with a vote. That is total disrespect."
11Alive's Duffie Dixon was at the 6 p.m. meeting Monday where parents and educators spoke out against the plan that would affect thousands of children in the school system.
"We asked you to vote no on this, if nothing else, based on process," said one person said during the public comment portion. "You have not given us a literacy plan. You have not given us a plan for us to come into the community and help. You're pitting communities against each other."
According to school enrollment data, capacity for APS schools is 100,000 students. Current enrollment sits at about half that with 50,000 students.