CSD Adds 9th Redistricting Map Based on Resident Feedback

Asst. Superintendent Thomas Van Soelen alerts us to a 9th map option added to the mix in CSD’s ongoing discussion with the community about redistricting Decatur’s K-3 school enrollment zone, in order to bring Glennwood back into the mix.

While this map is titled “Map 9”, it is really one of just three redistricting options still on the table.  You can still view and give feedback on all three maps here.

Here’s part of a note, just posted on CSD’s website, announcing the additional map.

In response to public input received during the Board public sessions, Map 9 has been created. In this map, revisions are made to keep neighborhoods whole as much as possible. In addition, a programmatic decision was made to continue the current practice of serving K-3 students who need English as Second Language services at Winnona Park.

I would also point out that the “non-white” percentages, which have received a lot of the focus in DM conversations, are now all in the 31%-39% range in this 9th scenario.


44 thoughts on “CSD Adds 9th Redistricting Map Based on Resident Feedback”

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Map 9 look like it is answering all those questions and concerns that have been brought up? WP has more students, Clairemont has fewer, GW has a few more, the percentages even out better, the lines are for the most part drawn by neighborhood. Hmmm…is anything being broken with this map? Or is this that elusive “least unperfect” map?

  2. After scrutinizing maps #8 and #9 (and leaving nose- and forehead-prints on my monitor), it seems to me that the programmatic decision to put all ESL services at Winnona Park has made the biggest difference.

    Moving from #8 to #9, I see where Glennwood’s and Oakhurst’s zones have increased a bit, leaving fewer kids at Clairemont. Winnona Park’s zone actually shrinks a little; however, its attendance jumps from 284 to 305. Again, I’m speculating that ESL at Winnona Park accounts for the difference. Who knows?

    In any event, the distribution of kids appears most equitable at #9, but I’d be curious to hear from others re intangibles that aren’t readily apparent.

  3. In my opinion, the percentage spreadmost relevant in terms of resource needs and student performance scores is the percentage of free/reduced lunch which has an ~6% spread among the schools, with Oakhurst (15%), Winnona Park (15%), and Glennwood (17%) being very similar and Clairemont being slightly higher at 21%. (I round to the nearest hundredth, i.e. percentage point, because there’s only so much precision that projections can have).

    For those interested, this map translates into a 5% percentage spread for % Black students:
    Clairemont 23%
    Oakhurst 24%
    Winnona 18%
    Glennwood 22%

    Overall (K-3) 22%

    Where the tuition/courtesy students go will affect the actual percentages of students attending because those 61 students are 33% Black and only 8% low income.

    None of the schools seem to be busting in terms of the population/facility size ratio and hopefully boundaries are now more in line with neighborhood lines. The income and racial diversity disparities seem better addressed. Am I wrong? Do these numbers add up? Like CSD Mom, I am asking whether this map could be a winner?

    Impacts on the northside, IF I am reading the map right: The central Decatur Housing Authority homes are divided up between Clairemont and Glennwood. The Gateway homes that were originally Westchester, then Clairemont, will change again to go to Glennwood. The half of Allen Wilson Terrace that was going to Winnona Park will now go to Clairemont with the other half. (Evidently the Allen Wilson split originally was perpendicularly opposite and was between Clairemont and Glennwood). The Nelson Ferry/Coventry/Woodlawn/Fairview etc. area that once went to Westchester, then to Oakhurst, will now go to Clairemont. But Pinetree and the Lenox ?Hill? area, formerly Westchester, will stay at Oakhurst. I think most of the original Clairemont zone will remain at Clairemont and most of the original Glennwood Elementary returns to Glennwood plus a piece of western downtown that might have been Clairemont before but probably doesn’t have many families in it.

    I don’t know the southside impacts well enough to describe but I think that some of the former Oakhurst students are now zoned to Winnona Park. The original and more recent Winnona Park families seem to all remain at Winnona Park, except for those at Allen Wilson Terrace.

    1. After reading Don Calder’s reply, I noticed that I missed a northside impact–the Willow Lane, Eastland, etc. corner alongside Church, which I think has always been Clairemont, will now go to Glennwood.

  4. Interesting question. It’s not easy to put your hands on this information quickly. I think this year’s enrollment numbers showed up somewhere on the CSD website or this blog in the past. But can’t find them now. The most recent data I can find right now are on the 2009 School Report Cards which probably reflect 2008-2009 data so it’s two years old : http://www.csdecatur.net/public-information/district-publications.

    Clairemont 2008-2009 enrollment: 308
    Projected for Map 9: 278

    Oakhurst 2008-2009 enrollment: 267
    Projected for Map 9: 311

    Winnona Park 2008-2009 enrollment: 341
    Projected for Map 9: 305

    So these old data would indicate that Oakhurst would grow alot while Clairemont and Winnona Park would shrink a lot, hence shed the trailers. But maybe Oakhurst has already grown to that size by this year? One good side to growth if it doesn’t result in large class sizes or trailers–at least your school will probably never be closed! Shrinking size was what killed Fifth Avenue and College Heights Elementary Schools.

      1. I don’t know. I got it from Vonnegut. I use the third pronunciation because it rhymes with harass, no–really, for no good reason at all.

        1. And I always thought your name was in honor of Alek Karass, famous football player and star of the “Webster” sitcom…

    1. I’m pretty sure Oakhurst is well over three hundred this year. Winnona is about 390 and Clairemont is around 360. This is all from memory ( scary thought)…..Maybe Dr. van Soelen can provide the correct information on current school enrollments.

  5. I may have missed a post, but has there been any word on the results of the survey of pre-K programs? At the first public information session, the population estimates of the Oakhurst community in particular were of concern. CSD indicated they were in the process of trying to gather additional data from the pre-K’s to test the assumptions built into all the maps regarding the inumber and location of in-coming kindergarteners.

  6. 2/3 of the current Clairemont PTA lives on Willow/Eastland and I’m not sure why this neighborhood was changed. That neighborhood’s kids would now have to cross Church Street to get to Glenwood, instead of going to their neighborhood school.

    1. Oh, dear. Speak up. Important info would be the approximate number of children that corner would contribute. That would help figure out the impact if that corner were to stay at Clairemont, rather than move to Glennwood. Perhaps the 61 tuition students, whose race and income level seem to provide a lot of balance to the data, are going to be the key to keeping reasonable (not too high, not too low) population and class sizes at each facility.

      In my opinion, the new Glennwood K-3 may be a great new school community, especially if parents are allowed a lot of input and chance to contribute time, energy, and excitement. But easy for me to say. I have to admit that it took a few years for the new 4/5 Academy to gel after the last reconfiguration and several years for the new Clairemont K-3 to get stabilized. The upcoming transitions at Clairemont, Oakhurst, and Winnona Park shouldn’t be too traumatic this time because the schools are not going to be completely dismantled and reconstituted like Clairemont and Winnona Park were last time. Even the new 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue should be a relatively “easy” transition because the whole school will move en masse over there. (I hope!) But the new Glennwood is an unknown quantity so far. Hopefully, there will be a huge amount of energy within CSD to optimize it, right from the beginning,. I would insist upon that.

    2. That’s happened to a number of streets and a lot of kids aren’t in “their” neighborhoods. Kids have to cross the tracks and two busy streets to get to Oakhurst and other kids who live in Oakhurst have to cross McDonough to get to Winona Park. Someone pointed out on here a while back that the school board needs to base this not just on current enrollment but on future projections, so who is on the PTA right now cannot – and should not – be a consideration to zoning decisions.

      1. Well it looks like Map #9 allows for both sides of McKoy to attend Oakhurst now. I am squinting but I think that is what I see now.

        1. Roo, I am a lousy map reader! I don’t know how you can tell that. But I think West Hill and other parts of Oakhurst are still Winona…. But again, I fail Map Reading 101

          1. Hill St, east of McKoy is still WP. I am not a fan because we lose a lot of Oakhurst friends along with our MAK neighbors. I would love to keep these people as Oakhurst but I think there are so many students (& future students!) that would skew Oakhurst crowded & with trailers. Gotta draw the line somewhere, ya know?

            I asked in a previous post if Adair and other people on the other side of the tracks mind crossing the tracks and they responded that it’s a non issue and not a big walk for them. The other option of Clairemont just isn’t very walkable for them.

      2. I agree. Since Glenwood became the 4/5 Academy, numerous kids have been safely crossing Church St. to get to Clairemont from Glenwood Estates every morning. Also, fourth and fifth graders have been crossing major roads all over the city to get to Glenwood without incident for years. Crossing guards are at all of these intersections. Factors other than street crossings should be used in making the final decision.

  7. So… I would hope that there has been some thought as to how Renfroe will handle the 900 or so middle schoolers coming their way in a few years… which will eventually move up to 1200 or so high schoolers. What does capacity look like at Renfroe and DHS?

    1. Hands over ears, la la la la la la la! Seriously, this was asked in an earlier thread but I can’t remember the opinions or answers. Since Garrett hasn’t panicked yet, I’m not. Garrett?

    2. I believe that back when we looked at that during the annexation debate, Renfroe and DHS weren’t all that close to being near capacity yet, even with the proposed annexations. But that’s just a recollection.

      I yield to Garrett.

  8. Logistically, if only two schools are going to be open as K-3s on the northside, and those schools are located centrally and on the east side, the zones are going to be lop-sided. It’s too bad but just a logical consequence of the choice of locations. The neighborhoods that have always been served by Clairemont over the decades are logically centered around the school. But now the school also serves the Northwest area. To keep the total enrollment reasonable, it’s hard not to change the traditional zone lines or accept a weird racial and income imbalance. Clairemont is a quaint, historic facility (with some kind of bad drainage aura) that, in the 2004 reconfiguration, along with Oakhurst, had more polticial support than did Westchester or Glennwood, not to mention Fifth Avenue and College Heights which were already defunct or about to be. Since then Clairemont has had a massive, expensive addition, a major playground remodelling plus a recent resodding, and several years of emotional, academic, and financial investment by the community and staff, plus it still has a lot of political support, so we just have to deal with its unideal location. I keep hoping that playing with the tuition student numbers might solve the logistical problems.

    What would an Option 9b with Willow/Eastland zoned back to Clairemont look like? I know requests for more and more ways to look at the options must drive the CSD Central Office crazy but reconfiguration is always a big deal and is worth the extra effort to get it as right as possible with everyone understanding which hard choices were made and why. It would be great if a de-identified raw data set of projected students (that didn’t break any confidentiality requirements) could be available for all to play with so folks could exhaust all the possibilities themselves. Who knows? Maybe the best fit model would be developed by a smart fifth grader!

  9. I would like to see a map 9c that kept Woodlawn and the other streets off of Coventry and Scott at Oakhurst and keeps Willow at Clairemont, just to cut down on the switching of schools for those students. I have to be honest that crossing major roads has not been too big of a deal for us. We have crossed Scott Blvd (the only posted 40 mph road in the city, although speeds frequently top 60) for 6 years and it has not kept us from walking/biking.

    1. Makes sense to me, as long as the folks on those streets want to stay where they are, which is what I hear they want to do. The students should be pretty interchangeable in terms in terms of income level. But they have to speak up for themselves.

      Agree that crossing or walking along Scott is doable, especially if you don’t know any better as in the days of Westchester. It’s not the same as residential streets but it’s by no means Buford Highway either, at least not along the section between Superior and Ponce. We always found the crossing at Coventry and Scott more than adequate.

  10. Again–I think at some point you have to stop making these decisions based on the kids who are living where they are right now. They are not going to be living there next year, or they will be moving up a grade, or they are going to move to a different part of the city, or whatever. We cannot draw these lines based on actual individuals, races, income levels and ages!

    We must draw the lines as geographically as possible. We certainly can’t be changing streets depending on who moves in and who moves out.

    1. Actually, one of the points made by the staff at the open meetings was that the size of our district means that we do have to keep doing this every five (or so) years as different populations age in and out of k-3 to keep the numbers balanced. There is no way given our size, to re-district once and for all.

  11. Moving the Willow Lane neighborhood from Clairemont to Glennwood means the kids will have to go twice as far to get to school. It’s a 0.6 mile walk (13 mins.) from the corner of Willow and Pensdale to Clairemont, and it’s a 1.2 mile walk (25 mins.) from the same corner to Glennwood.

    That’s just too far for kindergarten legs. For the last several years, much of our neighborhood has walked to school together in the mornings. Map 9 would make that impossible. It’s maybe not a big deal for some to switch from being walkers to car- or bus-riders, but from our perspective, I think we’d really miss those communal walks.

    1. I completely agree and hope the change can be made in a way that doesn’t negatively impact anyone else.

      But just so folks understand some of the old pain better — this is what happened to children at Westchester and Glennwood when the last reconfiguration occurred. When parents tried to point out consequences like this and show evidence of a huge preschool boom and posit other reasonable options, they were told that they didn’t care about all the children in Decatur, which felt like being called racists. If four K-5s had been kept open, we wouldn’t have this particular logistical issue. But we also wouldn’t have the 4/5 Academy, which has its benefits. But the latter’s moving to Fifth Avenue means that many children will have to walk or bike over 2.5 miles (by street, not as the crow flies since children don’t fly) which is great for exercise but takes a lot of time that some families just don’t have in the morning, either because of working parents and/or multiple siblings. But, for some of us, Fifth Avenue was better than having the 4/5 Academy share space with the middle school. For CSD, all options have trade-offs. But I disagree with those who claim that, since no option exists that will please everyone, one might as well just make a decision and stick with it. That’s what made the deciders so defensive last reconfiguration and the community so hurt. Open dialog, feedback, reconsideration of options, and sharing of data helps both the final outcome but also the understanding of what was chosen and why. No secret emails I hope this time!

      1. Thanks for that perspective, karass. And I certainly agree that once you get to the city-wide schools, some kids’ commutes will necessarily get much longer. But with the “neighborhood” K-3’s, I think it’s much easier and much more important to keep actual neighborhoods together.

        In that context, I’m not wild about the idea of having to go right past our current school to go twice as far to a new one in another neighborhood. We’d be taken out of a school that’s just two streets away, and be sent to a new one on the other side of the park, in a neighborhood from which we’re otherwise entirely disconnected. Clairemont is our closest and most contiguous school. The board certainly has a lot of variables to juggle, but I hope that will count for something.

      2. Families who live on the northernmost side of Decatur will in fact have to walk 4 miles to get to Fifth Avenue…..in the snow, with no shoes! 🙂 The families who happen to live near the center of down town Decatur get to walk two miles to get to Fifth Avenue.

        PJK makes a very good point about the Willow families having to walk past their old school to get to their new.

        No other families have been asked to do this in any of the other maps.

        1. You are right re the mileage. I was able to get our mileage to 2.6 something miles ONLY by manipulating and manipulating Mapquest. The route that came up with that mileage is NOT what we would probably choose to do given traffic, the tracks, and the condition of roads and sidewalks; the route we usually take to Oakhurst for fun is something over 3.5 miles. But I feel like I have to admit that there is a surface street route that is only 2.6 something miles. And we are not the farthest from Fifth Avenue by any means. Many live farther than us. I think it’s fair to say that the 4/5 Academy concept has its pluses but universal walk/rideability for students is not one; only a central location could provide that and even then, the tracks/College/Howard would be a barrier for half the group.

    2. No “walk-to-school” noise is loud enough for our board to hear. We went from being 0.8 miles from our elementary school (GW) to being a good 2 miles from our elementary school (WP). In the last six years, we have NOT ONE TIME walked to Winnona Park. Why? Because it would take our younger kids at least 45 minutes to get there, and with six of us having to be somewhere in the mornings it’s not worth the hassle–even if we get dirty looks on Walk to School Day. I don’t need to prove to anyone that I can walk to school no matter where my school is. I tried my damndest to preserve “neighborhood schools” six years ago and it didn’t matter. Why should it matter now?

      That being said, I’m thrilled to have Glennwood back and we will walk our youngest to school every single day.

      1. Re thrilled: You deserve it! Enjoy! My guess is that all it will take to reconstitute a great K-3 at Glennwood is a good principal who is allowed to choose some good teachers and then the community will coalesce and contribute lots of energy, enthusiasm, caring, and support. IMHO, those elements, plus a reasonable student/teacher ratio and adequate paraprofessional and special student support, is what it takes for students to perform their best.

  12. In a letter sent home today to CSD second graders, Dr. Edwards says “At this time, I am recommending Map 9 for [the Board’s] approval.”

    Families with a second grader who would otherwise move can apply to stay at their current school, but no promises. And if you have a Pre-K, kindergarten or first grade student in addition to your second grader, then none of them are eligible to stay — even if you wanted to have the second grader stay by himself, and let the incoming kindergartner (in our case) start at the new school.

    1. That doesn’t seem right, not letting the second grader stay for one last year just because they have younger siblings starting at the school assigned by new zoning. I’d petition for it anyway and make a good case about your own particular second grader. We are a small enough system, with enough exceptions all over the place (for good reasons), that we should be flexible for this one year. I know the mantra is that reconfiguration has to be done in one big, painful step to get it done and over with, but that’s a system-centered perspective, not a child-centered perspective. A little flexibility and inconvenience on the part of the system, for just one year, can make a big difference in the experience of individual students. And if that makes Glennwood classes a little smaller than expected for just one year, that’s ok because the school administration, teachers, and families there have a big job pulling together a new school, staffing, operations, and sense of community. A little extra time and resources could only help.

  13. As of yesterday, Map 9 is being recommended by Dr. Edwards.

    Map 9 changes the boundaries of Clairemont in a significant manner that only occurred on Map 2, which was eliminated early on in the process.
    Maps 1-8 have been hanging on the walls of our schools for a couple of months.
    Maps 1-8 have been discussed at two public meetings and listening sessions and there have been several school board meetings during this time as well.
    Maps 4 and 8 and were recommended by Dr. Edwards a few weeks ago as the most viable alternatives.
    Map 9 was introduced this past Monday.
    Yesterday Dr. Edwards recommended Map 9 for adoption.
    Map 9 has not been hung in any of our schools and CSD told the schools it does not plan to produce large copies of Map 9 for the schools.
    There are no scheduled opportunities for public comment on Map 9 prior to the vote at the Dec. 14th board meeting.

    Does anyone else see a problem here?

    Karass, is this the kind of last minute switch a roo’s you’ve been warning against?

    1. Short answer: Yup, it feels darn familiar.

      Long answer: I’m sure that the point of view of the deciders is that the dialog has been going on for months and they need to make a decision. However, Nola makes a good point that plenty of communication and time for feedback occurred for the other options. So three days to read, assimilate, react, and respond to Map 9 is not equitable. And, whether intended or not, a consequence of coming up with a new option at the last minute is that the community has issue-fatigue and some will just accept it to get things over with. And some are so relieved to have escaped a change they dreaded with another option, that they’ll ignore the fact that this new map has equally difficult issues for other families. It’s a more subtle version of the Clairemont vs. Westchester issue during the last reconfiguration which masked the fact that both communities had good evidence that another elementary facility was needed.

      I maintain that a short delay to vet Option 9, 9b, 9c and get community feedback would be respectful of the voters, affected families, and whole community. Since rezoning lasts a long time–seven years for the last one, it is not easily modified later.

      1. Karass, thanks for the support of open decision-making. We appreciate it!

        Just FYI – based on the numbers listed on map 9, all of the willow/eastland kids could stay at Clairemont without needing an additional classroom. There is enough space in each grade to accomodate.

        1. So why do think they used a configuration that puts your corner of the current Clairemont district over into Glennwood? That’s probably key to the resolving the issue, or not.

  14. Walking to school is a laudable goal. However, I do not think that it should override other considerations. What happens during the school day is more important than how the student arrives. I know this won’t make me popular.

    One could argue that the compromise map, Map 9, has already been vetted by everyone.
    Even if they put up the map in all the schools, does anyone really believe that it isn’t going to carry the day?

    In a few years, you won’t believe how little you’re going to care about this.

    1. “In a few years, you won’t believe how little you’re going to care about this.”

      Wow, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m still not over the bitterness and disappointment of the 2004 reconfiguration!

    2. I think the fact that this reconfiguration is constrained by the choices of the last reconfiguration shows that the effects going forward will be long-lasting and cannot be ignored. For a family with just one child or two close together in age, one might get to “age out” of the elementary schools quickly and not have to worry about them again, but for the community, the impacts are never over.

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