Decatur School Board Approves K-3 Rezoning To Accomodate Westchester

Decaturish reports that the School Board approved “Map 7a Revised” with little fanfare this evening, making one final tweak before voting.  According to the site…

The change affects a handful of residences on the south end of South McDonough Street. Students on properties facing that street will move to the Winnona Park attendance zone from the Oakhurst zone. They’re already attending Winnona Park.

60 thoughts on “Decatur School Board Approves K-3 Rezoning To Accomodate Westchester”

  1. NO!!!!!! URGH!!! This means we have to change schools and my daughter will have to spend 2nd grade starting over for no real reason. Yes I know kids are resilient, and I am luck I live where there are good schools, blah… blah… blah
    It still stinks and seems unfair. You think living in Decatur you are insulated from unnecessary drama but it is just not the case.

    1. “You think living in Decatur you are insulated from unnecessary drama”
      Huh? Decatur is an amazing place and all, but we are all still humans, us Decaturites. With that will always come drama. Decatur affords us many great things, but avoiding humanity is, thankfully, not one of them. We have first world drama, sure, but there’s gonna be drama.

    2. What do you mean, “no real reason”? They had to re-open another elementary school due to dramatic student-age population growth. That’s a real reason.

    3. “blah… blah… blah”

      If you have so little appreciation of how fortunate your kids are to be able to attend CSD, why are you living here?

      “seems unfair”

      Not in the least little bit. This process and outcome couldn’t have been more fair. Stop whining.

    4. Our son was in three different schools between ages 3 and 9 and each time adjusted immediately, making new friends and seeing it as an adventure.

      This is not a tragedy, just a new opportunity. If you see it that way, so will she. “Starting over” the third time, in 4th grade, was a wonderful experience.

    5. “You think living in Decatur you are insulated from unnecessary drama but it is just not the case.”

      I’d like to nominate this for a Comment of the Year Award in the category “Most Kafaesque.”

  2. I am happy this process is (finally) over and that “Map 7a Revised” was approved. If ppl are able to think about the big picture, about the collective good – which has clearly been really hard for many ppl – this is the map that presents the most workable solution for the most ppl.

    This change is now happening. If you are against it, try to get excited about it b/c it will be reality soon. Going on and on about how awful it is might indeed make it awful. Time to make way for the future.

  3. Like any political decision, not everyone is ever going to be happy with a school redistricting plan. Generally speaking, if 85 percent or more of constituents are satisfied with a final plan than it’s a job well done.

    1. I can’t figure out where that could even be unless you are really strrrreechhing those 2 blocks.

      There is definitely a small percentage of Decaturites that will be disappointed about the choice. Stinks when it’s you. I hope that the transition won’t be too painful for you and your kids.

      I’m slightly worried that OAK seems to still be very close to capacity. That should be interesting in the coming years.

      1. I know this was a rhetorical question, but:
        If you live at or near W. Howard and Adair, you are 2 blocks from Oakhurst, but your kids will not attend that school.

        1. And before, if you lived in Oakhurst on one THIRD West Hill & West Benson, you had to cross McDonough and Candler to get to Winona while your next door neighbor was sent to Oakhurst. About two-three blocks away…

      2. Sugarmama, this was a great map with regard to Oakhurst capacity, believe it or not. The reason it’s better than it could have been is that Lenox Place was rezoned for Westchester. On one of the other maps, with Lenox Place at Oakhurst, there were something like eight spots left at Oakhurst. That’s it, and that’s right – fewer than 10 spots.

    2. I live 3 blocks from Oakhurst Elem. and was previously zoned for Winona park (over a mile away). The rezoning makes sense for many of us.

    3. NotJustaHatRack – do you perhaps live in the southern section of Lenox Place? I’m happy to explain to you why the rezoning of Lenox Place to Westchester makes total sense.

      Start with the bottom of the city. Oakhurst itself is huge. It is big enough and has enough school-age children to completely occupy Oakhurst Elementary itself. If Lenox Place also went to Oakhurst, there would soon be no spots left for new students. So you might live in Oakhurst and have to go to another school that has capacity, since your “neighborhood school” would not have capacity. We are talking drawing the Oakhurst Elementary boundary so large that there aren’t enough spaces for the children (future children) who live *within* the boundary. It’s not really a neighborhood school if you live in the neighborhood but must go elsewhere due to your neighborhood school being over capacity.

      The way Lenox Place seems to see it, a school should sit in the very middle of its zoning boundary, due to walkability. This would mean that the northern part of Oakhurst and Lenox Place would attend Oakhurst, per this logic. Ok, that’s seems to make sense in the abstract. But if you look at the rest of the city – not just at Lenox Place and what it wants – it doesn’t make sense. Where would the kids in the middle and southern sections of Oakhurst go? If Oakhurst Elementary is at capacity with the inclusion of Lenox Place, they would need to go to Winnona Park? But that’s a school also very close to capacity. So perhaps then the northern section of WP would need to go to Glennwood to make room for the kids from the Oakhurst neighborhood who can’t attend Oakhurst Elementary?? Clearly this situation throws the whole city off. There’s nowhere logical for the Oakhurst children to go other than Oakhurst Elementary.

      We have more kids on the south side of town and more schools on the north side of town. That’s not ideal (just like College Heights and F.AVE being so far south that they’re completely inconvenient to people on the north side of town), but that’s the situation we have. It means kids will need to be **shifting north** zone-wise since there is more capacity in the northern schools. If you look at it as a whole, Lenox Place does need to shift north to Westchester b/c if it doesn’t, it throws capacity out of whack for everyone else (as described in paragraph above).

      The reality is that Lenox Place doesn’t “own” a school the way Great Lakes “owns” Clairemont, or Westchester “owns” Westchester Elementary, for example. In other words, Lenox Place does not have a true, obvious neighborhood school the way some neighborhoods do. If Lenox Placers would think about the collective good for the school system as a whole, and not just about themselves, they would hopefully understand that while the southern section of Lenox Place is indeed closer to Oakhurst Elementary than to Westchester, for the good of everyone, Lenox Place students do need to switch to Westchester. And will.

        1. That’s my understanding too. The problem is that the ratio of students/building capacity is higher on the south side because three of the five schools on the south side cannot be used for K-3. On the north side, only one of the four schools isn’t are able to be used for K-3.

  4. While we didn’t get the outcome we wanted either, I do feel as though it was ultimately a fair process. I was involved from the beginning, and I know that our comments were heard and considered, and the board did try it’s best to accommodate as many people as it possibly could. It came down to shear numbers and capacity. While we won’t be able to walk anymore, to me the bottom line is that my son will continue to have a fantastic education.

    1. Nice to hear from someone with a little perspective. There have been a few too many “oh the humanity!” comments regarding not being able to walk…although you probably still can walk or bike. We’re 1+ miles from our current K-3 (Clairemont) and my daughter who is in K rides her scooter some days. We cross Scott and Clairemont and nobody has gotten run over yet.

      1. Yes, Decatur schools are very good. Among the best in Georgia. Why? One reason is highly involved parents who aren’t complacent and are willing to challenge authority. It bugs me that these parents are often dismissed as whiny or not appreciative of Decatur’s schools. We should thank them and stop telling them to sit down and be quiet.

        1. One thing all parents can do, regardless of their position on any issue, is attend School Leadership Team meetings, request that their issues be put on the agenda, request that the system-wide team (something like System Charter Leadership Team) meet more often and address system-wide issues that parents are interested in. I know those meetings have stilted School Board-like non-interactive formats and can be deadly. But that can change if parents, teachers, and the community show more interest and start pushing the use of those legally-mandated teams the way the System Charter originally intended. Plus there are work groups formed by the SLTs that are more interactive and impactful. The new Board is supportive of SLTs so it is a good time for school communities to use them more.

        2. +1,000,000

          I love how all the Johnny Come Latelys to Decatur want to bring their subservient, I’m just glad to be here, attitude to Decatur. Decatur is all about challenging and pressing for the best result. I applaud the parents who want the best for their children and don’t simply lie down assume the CSD or Council will make the best decision just because they’ve been sprinkled w/ some magic CoD dust. If your child is 2 blocks from the closest school and you have to probably drive or send them via school bus to another school, that’s problematic. Is it the end of the world? No. Is it a legitimate concern for a parent? Of course.

          1. Decatur Heights Dad, that is the best comment I have read in a while. This board use to be more of a free exchange of ideas, but it has turned into a cheerleading squad for whatever CoD/CSD does. Any different ideas or objections are shouted down, usually by the same few posters, some of whom don’t even live here. It’s bad enough for those that lost out on their hoped for school choice, but to be chastised for expressing their disappointment is alienating.

            1. Wait a minute. If I disagree with something you say on here I’m suppose to bite my virtual tongue so as not to “shout you down” and ruffle your feathers so as to keep free the exchange of ideas? This doesn’t make sense. You lament the shift away from idea exchange but chastise people for offering their opinions on others opinions? I’m confused.

              1. of course not Warren, just noticing a general change in courtesy IMO on the board in the last few months. Awfully snipey (is that a word?) these days here. I will get off my politeness soapbox now, don’t really have time for a long winded exchange today. Merry holidays to you all.

    2. Thank you Julesag! I wish more ppl had your attitude. I hope a lot more ppl have your outlook come August 1!

  5. This map posted with the article is not Option 7a revised, that map was posted on DM December 17. Correct?

  6. I am tickled by Garret Gobel’s comment in Decaturish that the empty auditorium means that we all accept this. It was a done deal. What were we supposed to do – picket the central offices?

    1. “accept” doesn’t necessarily equal “like”. If you weren’t there voicing your opposition, you have accepted it. And, I don’t think he meant all.

    2. Speaking only for myself. -I did not mean to imply agreement when I inferred acceptance from the level of attendance at last night’s meeting.

      The process was open, transparent, and iterative. The options were revised, tweaked, and made better for the work of the committee and as a result of community and board input.

      I learned a great deal through this process from community members. And while I recognize that Option “7A revised” impacts some neighborhoods more than others, I believe that in general folks understand the trade-offs which were made in order to reach a consensus around an option that attempted to balance individual and neighborhood concerns across the greater community.

      Whether or not they agreed on the outcome, I hope everyone who has been rezoned will embrace and be involved in their new schools. Our involved and active community is a large part of what makes Decatur and our schools great.

  7. While not everyone is happy, we now have a job to do. We need to move forward and make our schools a place our children enjoy and will adopt as their own, without negative commentary.

  8. Before this redistricting was settled, news for the possible annexation of more residential and commercial territory for the City of Decatur was announced. Will that require another redistricting in the next 1 – 5 years? It certainly will. My kids were redistricted between 1st and 2nd grade and, as a result, knew a lot more kids when they landed at FAVE this year. I think it worked in their favor. Bottom line, all the schools are fabulous and the kids are fine with these transitions – its us parents who have trouble with change or slight inconvenience. I think smaller class sizes for K – 3 is well worth it!

  9. 1. Sounds like process this time was much more transparent and receptive to input than was the 2004 process. Since more CSD transition is probably in our future, hope the new Board continues this approach.
    2. Most students survive transitions fine, but not all do, and school transitions aren’t the only ones in many children’s lives. Transitions should be held to the minimum number necessary.
    3. Don’t be too harsh on those undergoing the transition. You catch more flies with…. A little more warmth, welcoming, and empathy back in 2004 would have prevented a lot of ill will. I hope the Board members and Superintendent are there at opening day of Westchester to welcome the new families.
    3. Doesn’t “Accomodate” have two ems, not one?

    1. Supposedly, at a previous meeting, the Board gave clear direction to CSD Admin to give the option. But not sure if it was mentioned at latest meeting. I’d get it in writing before minds are changed.

      The advantage will be that a third grader gets to stay with teachers, staff, and a facility that he/she knows. Certain children, especially those with certain disabilities, need that. The disadvantage will be that most of his/her neighborhood peers won’t be there anymore. And if there’s younger sibs, the family will have to transition soon anyway.

  10. The only constant in life is CHANGE. Before I bought in Decatur, we lived in midtown and my daughter attended Inman. Her last year there APS made changes to the neighborhoods feeding into the school. Compared to that bloody process what we have gone through is a walk in the park. Additionally, while some families feel they could have been in a better position, no one is in a bad one.

    1. I think expectations have played a role for those who are disappointed in the redistricting outcome, even though the process was 1,000 times better than that in 2004. It would have been best if anyone buying a home in Decatur over the last 5-8 years, especially one that stretched their budget to the max, had been aware that redistricting would be occurring, maybe multiple times, and no one was immune, not even folks who had been recently redistricted or folks who lived close to a particular school. When you buy something at a premium price, you want to know what you’re getting. Some of us were saying that each reconfiguration as it happened couldn’t hold for long but I’m not sure that message got out to those who were moving into Decatur. Real estate agents are going to understandably emphasize the positive features of a neighborhood not the uncertainties. Experienced homebuyers know this but newer families often don’t have a lot of home buying experience Many folks only buy a house once or twice in their lifetime and so don’t know that it’s not enough to just look at what Zillow tells you.

      When people at work ask me about CSD, I tell them that it’s the best school district in Georgia for us but it’s certainly not perfect and I’ve always kept private school and moving to another state as options in case any of our children needed that. I remember when Morningside was the “in” public school to send your children to or Oak Grove or Fernbank. And some folks moved to Dunwoody or Alpharetta from Decatur. There’s no one right place for all students forever. Not even private schools. I’ve known folks whose children had a miserable time at places that cost an arm and a leg and are considered creme de la creme. Unrealistic expectations are understandable because parents hope for the “right” answer, just like picking the right stroller or formula. But it’s not that easy.

      1. It’s legitimate for someone to say, “We could have done a better job of managing our [customers’, clients’, residents’, stakeholders’] expectations. There are lessons here for us.” It is a cop-out for someone to say, “I’m upset because my expectations weren’t managed, and I’m entitled to throw a tantrum because of it.”

        1. Agreed. At Home in Decatur is one of the most thoughtful and constructive people on this blog, and one of the reasons I keep coming back.

  11. Lots of drama with Decatur schools over the years, but now that my children are grown I wonder why it all seemed to matter so much, and what all the fuss was about.

    1. It’s like giving birth. You mercifully forget the gory details and remember the wonderful outcome. But, in the moment, the details are relevant.

      1. I do remember the gory details-split grades in one class, one terrible teacher for an entire year, no air conditioning at all. Looking back it just seems that it mattered more to me and my husband than it did to our kids.

        1. I have often wondered what it was like with no A/C in our schools. It must have been hell on the teachers and staff, never mind the kids. It was bad enough up north in June with no A/C. I can’t imagine August down here.

  12. Is this where I get to give the southern version of walking to school 10 miles uphill both ways in the snow? My daughter never complained about heat in her no A/C K-1 years before CSD renovations. Last day before summer breaks (in JUNE) she had water parties with sprinklers & slip n slides. I grew up without A/C at home or school in DeKalb County till high school. Still recall the feeling of clammy skin sticking to the desks and the sound of the breeze rattling the Venetian blinds.

  13. Anyone who taught preteens in the days before air conditioning in schools in the South deserves a medal. Between puberty and sneaker feet, the um ambience is remarkable enough now. They should have deodorant and foot spray out in the halls right next to the hand sanitizer dispensers. I’m not sure what changes by the time they get into high school—more showers?, more deodorant:, or the hormones calming down?, but thank goodness something does. I don’t remember it being this bad back in the day. Hormones in foods? Triclosan in soaps and consumer products?

Comments are closed.