Decatur Schools Posts 4th Rezoning Option Online

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UPDATE: Decaturish has a good interview with the Superintendent on this topic today.

The City Schools of Decatur have now posted digital lot-by-lot maps of the K-3 rezoning options under consideration and have included a fourth option, which you can view above.

NOTE: Since these are lot-by-lot maps, they are quite large and take a while to download.

62 thoughts on “Decatur Schools Posts 4th Rezoning Option Online”

  1. I sent an email asking them to keep (start?) looking into a pre-k/k-5 option with converting 4/5 to a grade school.

    1. Who did you message? I think this is the absolute best way to handle the school district since they claimed the only reason for 4/5 was that the enrollment had dropped. Clearly, that’s not an issue anymore! Not to mention, in two years there will be more kids than they can shake a stick at going through 5th Ave…

      1. I read the comment and while I am happy to have such passionate teachers in our school system, I did not appreciate being told to stop examining the information and putting forward my own opinion. My support for a k-5 model has nothing to do with neighborhoods or walkability, but just a desire not to re-zone every few years as the neighborhood demographics change.

        I am also not comfortable with a teacher who tells others not to voice their opinions just because they do not share the same view.

        1. Fair enough. I interpreted it more as a look at the good things that the 4/5 is doing rather than just deciding that the 4/5 is stupid and outdated.

          1. I haven’t read anyone call it stupid. Outdated from the idea that it no longer makes sense with our population but not in education.

  2. DM, not sure if this can be fixed, but your copied map cuts off the enrollment figures at the bottom which show that all 3 southside schools would already be at capacity with this configuration, and this doesn’t even take into account the dozens of recent teardowns. Simply put, this solution isn’t workable We would have to re-draw the lines within a year.

  3. I am surprised by how many of the plans include crossing the train tracks. It seems like that is just setting us up for more/continued traffic insanity for school day drop-offs and pick-ups.

    1. We in Winnona Park were surprised about that too, Demanda. Which is why many of us in the neighborhood have expressed extreme displeasure at the idea of splitting up our neighborhood. Particularly egregious is the fact that this new dividing line splits the most historic streets, which were laid out as a distinct neighborhood in 1914, in half. Some of the homes on Avery Street (which is same street that Winnona Park school is on) are less than a third of a mile away from the school, but in these current proposals, are siphoned off to go to Glennwood (likely in a car).

      1. Or bus, right? Bus transportation is a huge cost for CSD and CSD has been trying to keep the costs down. On the other hand, I’ve never seen a redistricting decision be deterred by the need for busing.

  4. Some community members are trying to gain traction and asking the board to put the rezone on hold so more options with better long-term solutions can at least be considered.

    The Facebook page is:!/groups/519785771451608/

    Please join if you want to add your voice. The main message is that we do not to be rezoned again in 3 years so let’s look at all options for a more permanent and manageable solution.

  5. There’s some comfort in seeing that under all proposed options (even the wacky 4th one), we move from Clairemont to Westchester. As I’ve said, if I had my druthers we’d stay zoned Clairemont, but at least we’re not still up in the air and can start mentally adjusting to the change. I feel for those folks in swing areas that still have no idea where they’ll wind up.

    1. I am right there with you Lump. Ateast we know we will be at Westchester, until the next need to redraw the lines. At the end if the day, I am still happy to be in CSD – no matter which school we attend.

  6. I’m still in Westchester!!! Well, my kids are too old to be, but it’ll be great when time to sell the house! Westchester: A Community Learning for Life!

  7. I understand that there a few things that people are more passionate about than their child’s education. However, I’m still baffled by the fear expressed over the possibility of being assigned to a new school. So your child might have to move from one 5 star school to another 5 star school. Parents in the Atlanta or DeKalb County districts would kill to have such choices. This is truly a first world problem.

    1. Forget first world, this is a One Percenter problem!

      [Please note that while I don’t have kids and I REALLY don’t understand you procreators’ borderline psychotic obsession over every little school detail, I do appreciate what your seemingly misplaced passion does for my property value. So carry on and keep it up!]

    2. I truly understand everyone wanting the absolute best for the kids. It’s what every kid deserves but I think the Tin Man has a point. The thing I’m questioning, and maybe I just haven’t thought of a good answer, is while everyone is concerned about walkabilty for K-3, no one seems concerned about walkability for 4th grade and up. The 4/5 school couldn’t be farther from my house. Why is this not a problem?

      I’m also questioning whether a school is really the defining point of a community. If your neighbor goes to private school or is home-schooled, isn’t he still part of your community? Aren’t we all a part of the greater Decatur community and shouldn’t we all be trying to do what’s best for it? Or are we each only part of our own fiefdom?

      Maybe I just never had the opportunity to be walking-distance close to a school growing up so I never saw the other side of it. Regardless, we love Decatur, and the schools and I’m hopeful that the powers-that-be make the best decisions for the city.

    3. you’re completely missing the point. i don’t think anyone’s questioning the quality of the schools. many people are upset over the prospect of sending their kids to a new school across town when their current school is right down the street (in the case of Winnona Park).

      1. I actually disagree. It sucks to get moved but….the actual point that should not be missed is that none of the maps offer a long-term solution. Laura and Todd Cooper call them band-aids. That’s what they are.

        1. Yeah, I agree that this is my greatest concern — that we’ll go through all the chaos of this redistricting and then be right back in the midst of it 3 years from now or so. I’m fine making making all of these changes, and suspect many would be, if they anticipate long-term realities, not just the next couple years.

  8. In the interview the Supt. talks about the decision to go to the k-3, 4-5 configuration based on the racial divide between north and south. This largely ceases to exist so somebody please give me an instructional rationale to continue it at the expense of true neighborhood schools

    1. There isn’t one that still holds true. Some have cited “stability” which is nuts given the number of children changing schools next year, and, more importantly, the fact that being in a school for 6 years instead of 4 would be more stable. Others cite intangible benefits (and an equal number cite intangible cons). Regardless, even assuming it was a good idea at the time and (this next one is a strecth) assuming it was implemented well, there is no good reason for it today. At a minimum, there have been enough drastic changes in the last decade to re-examine the model.

    2. Because CSD just bought new buses? They need to send the kids somewhere! 🙂 Oh yeah, you said instructional! Nevermind.

  9. This just doesn’t make sense. It sets a bad precedent to divide a neighborhood, especially as Winnona Park’s been divided here. It also makes people with no barriers to a school in their neighborhood face natural barriers (that section of College by the train tracks is very congested) that hinder a walk to school. It would be walkable, but a bad walk for 4 years for 5-8 year olds who could otherwise go to school in the same neighborhood.

    I also don’t get why kids are getting pushed from north to south when the extra capacity is up north?

    What’s the point to promoting neighborhoods if they’re going to be cut up for no good reason?

    Why not move some of the people who are going to be bussed anyways and bus them to different schools if this is a capacity play?

  10. This fourth map was presented at the meeting Monday night. So it doesn’t reflect community input. As others have noted, every single option so far splits a few key blocks off of Winnona Park and sends them out of the neighborhood. It seems odd frankly that the options don’t vary on such a divisive and destructive feature but just hold it throughout. I believe that there will be new maps soon that reflect more community input and perhaps more committee input. I wonder if this original work was driven more by the consultant. I am going to go ahead and say, that I found the consultant unimpressive.

    I feel that the reconfiguration work done the last time made it easier to understand how each scenario delivered on key criteria and what the pros and cons were of each variation. So far, the scenarios don’t feel very robust.

    I am eager for a LONG TERM solution. Or at least the sense that whatever solution is recommended is assessed for its ability to last. Maps that have schools about to overflow don’t seem to be ready to last.

    It’s tempting to cut off the top few blocks of WP to bring capacity to WP but I don’t think that is the right solution. Really? busing or driving kids to go to WP and then busing or driving kids who live practically next door to WP to another school. It’s just not strategic.

    The analysis could mean we need another elementary. Maybe we can’t address that now but let’s see it played out. Maybe longer grade spans help stability, maybe not, but let’s talk about it.

  11. It’s not a question or an issue about which school is better.. NO parents are complaining about that, we are thankful they are all top notch! It’s the point of dividing communities/ neighborhoods in half. I live in Winnona Park, our street Avery, is literally being divided, some to Glennwood, some to Winnona Park! You tell me how that makes sense when I can throw a ball to the school but yet will not be able to send my kids there?? So now my kids whom have grown up with their closest friends/ neighbors won’t be going to school together?? We chose Winnona Park for the community and the centrally located school.. And now we are going to be alienated from that! Decatur prides itself on Neighborhood schools.. Don’t take that away from us!!

  12. I don’t yet have kids in the school system, so I am not able to weigh in on the K-3 versus K-5 and other background issues, but I am shocked that all of the options presented have lopped off the top portion of Winnona Park.

    This doesn’t just divide the neighborhood — it divides individual streets — kids next door to eachother on the same small, residential street would go to different schools. This just can’t be the best solution.

  13. “Nobody’s going to be happy” is what the superintendent apparently told Decaturish. Wow.

    1. Hopefully she meant, “not everyone” because otherwise, that’s a LOT of people to be ticking off. Good catch Primadonna.

      1. “Hopefully”? You mean you really think she meant to say that nobody will be happy? Really?

        This is the kind of criticism of Dr. Edwards that actually undermines the small but vocal opposition. Reasonable people know what she meant to say.

        1. This is true, TeeRuss. There are plenty of things to disagree over, plenty of maps to redraw, but there is no reason to argue about whether we put our children in the hands of earnest, competent, thoughtful, hard working professionals. From the custodians on up to the Superintendent, taken as a whole, the CSD staff is as good as it gets anywhere. And the proof is in the pudding – we are one of the most sought after school districts in the state. You don’t get that way by having incompetent leadership and/or staff.

          1. Roger that, Geoff. Whatever disagreements I’ve had with the system over communications or physical growth planning, I’ve never once felt my daughter was in the hands of anyone but the state’s finest educators. And I don’t question them in that realm, either, because education is their expertise and I have at least enough humility to recognize that it’s not mine. My opinions on that front, however much I want to swaddle them and pet them and treat them like precious little darlings(!) carry less weight. Life can sometimes be that way.

          2. We do have fantastic teachers. We also benefit by being surrounded by the disaster that is the DeKalb County Schools, next to which the Atlanta Federal Pen might look like an attractive school system. I would only add that the upper administration and a majority of the board as it is now composed are unwilling to view objectively the wisdom of continuing with the two-grade school. They are willing to impose needless pain and disruption and costs upon families and neighborhoods just so they do not have to re-consider the two-grade school. Whatever benefits the two-grade school has (and the superintendent’s email blast of a few minutes ago includes a substantial amount of revisionist history about its benefits), it may be that those benefits have become outweighed by the population and demographic changes in our City that better fit alternative grade configurations now. Yet, the administration will only supply hostile data (“it costs too much,” as though we haven’t spent millions to support this configuration) and block consideration by our committees of K-5 or some other configuration that could better respect our neighborhood boundaries and encourage the parental involvement that is such a key to our success. There are no easy, painless answers. Taking options off the table, though, or tilting the table so that viable options don’t get a fair chance, is not right. Press pause. Let a new school board take this issue up.


  14. The best solution (especially since all the little Bastards have grown up and outta the school system) is to build a single big-ass elementary school on the Callaway property, adjacent to DHS. This would eliminate bellyaching over redistricting, allow all the schools to share resources, and eliminate a good number of administrative positions in the schools (and Decatur Elementary School would still be smaller than many suburban schools). The existing elementary school sites can be sold to developers to pay for construction of the new school, and that gives the city five sites (or six) to be developed . . . for condos, a cinema, Trader Joe’s, a shooting range, or a shop specializing in gluten-free comfort sandals and all-organic hemp sweatpants (for when you care about the Earth, but not about how you look).

    1. Thank you SHB. Your comment literally made my day! I have been searching for gluten free sandals for quite some time.

      1. De nada. This is an idea whose time has come. Make yourself part of this sensible solution with a check made payable to Squirrel Headed Bastard Enterprises, and show your support for my “Coalition for One” by adopting my single-finger salute and sharing it with your friends and neighbors.

  15. Enrollment should be an orderly process where each resident can choose the school of their choice until each school reaches maximum capacity. The order will determined by a BCS ranking system that factors in the numbers of years as a City resident, aggregate property taxes paid as a City resident, and finally, the number of trees in excess of 12” diameter on your property.

  16. This is really quite simple. They have to rezone, and there is absolutely NO scenario in which everyone will be happy. Some will just have to suck it up. You’re welcome.

  17. Upfront disclosure: No kids, so I don’t *directly* have a dog in this fight (not that I think that kids are in any way analogous to dogs….)

    A lot of what people are reacting to is that we feel like boundaries should reflect actual neighborhood boundaries. I get that there’s rational arguments for this not being the case but there are quite strong emotional (and rational) reasons that school district boundaries might want to respect neighborhood boundaries. On the other hand, I get that neighborhoods are (empirically) racially and economically segregated (making no judgment on underlying causes) and that it is good to have racially and economically integrated schools.

    I, for one, think it is odd that, living in one of the original houses on Winnona Drive, we’re not zoned for Winnona Park. How that is remedied, wow, all I can say is that I’m glad that I have my job rather than the one that involves these decisions…

  18. I don’t appreciate Dr. Edwards’ response to all this. I think that “everybody is going to be unhappy,” is a way of saying, “since everybody is going to be unhappy, I’m not going to worry about making people happy.”

    Dividing up neighborhoods is not good for the schools or the community. So what if 2 schools have more kids than the other 3 schools? I don’t think having equal numbers is a good enough reason to divide neighborhoods.

    I also think that the school board needs to legitimately, and ACTUALLY, consider a K-5 system before we invest more money in adding onto the schools, since it seems that at least 50% of the community, if not more, would prefer this configuration, from what I can tell.

    I don’t doubt that the school board and Dr. Edwards are fine people, but I feel like the public opinion has not been properly considered.

  19. So kids who live on Clairemont directly across from the Lutheran church would have to walk all the way to Westchester (a good 3/4 mile) rather than literally a half block to Clairemont. That’s some good planning right there.
    I’m with Bastard — close ’em all and build one central K-5 school on the Callaway property. That eliminates all the angst about rezoning and which kids get sent to great schools (instead of just very good schools). Also lets you eliminate much of the bloated central office staff.

    1. …only 3/4 quarters of a mile…

      we live in the neighborhood behind the Westchester building and have walked the .9 miles to Clairemont for seven years. Now they decide to return Westchester back to a school – just in time for my youngest to start 6th grade at RMS. But I would not trade in my kids experience at Clairemont – its a great school.

      I wish everyone the best that gets the opportunity to be redistricted to Westchester (the school my kids should have gone to).

  20. I agree with no personal attacks. IMHO, one can have respect for the skills and accomplishments of the Superintendent or Board members without agreeing with all CSD decisions. Also, let’s be careful not to attack one another. The irony of the Clairemont-Westchester nastiness in 2003-2004 is that many on both sides agreed that highly functional, successful neighborhood schools should not be dismantled. But they ended up putting their energy into fighting each other instead of getting CSD to reconsider.

    I do disagree with the contention that the success of Renfroe is linked to the establishment of the 4/5. It’s hard to prove one way or another since n=1 but other big, big factors came into play at the same time. Until about a year or two after the reconfiguration, constant change in leadership of Renfroe occurred with principals leaving after a year or two and major, major complaints about certain subpar teachers, and inadequate handling of discipline issues. With the arrival of new leadership–Bruce Roaden, Cheryl Nahmias, Derrick Thomas, and others who I don’t know because it was before my time–the school was cleaned up and run like the first-rate middle school which it now is. The 4/5 mixing (which used to be a lot, now not so much) probably helped with clique-ishness and mean girl behavior but it wasn’t until discipline was established and inadequate teaching was dealt with that Renfroe substantially changed in culture. I am not against the 4/5 concept but I don’t know that it adds enough value to warrant taking up a needed building on the south side, especially if neighborhoods are broken up because of it.

    I decided to google 4/5 schools just to see what I could find, ended up on some national superintendent website, and heard about an interesting way to handle the preteen/middle school age group. In Canaan/Falls Village, Connecticut, population 15,000, there’s a school system that has 6 preK-8 schools, one for each town that makes up the region, and one regional high school. The theory there is that it is NOT a good idea to isolate 11-14 year olds together in one place but better to keep them distributed in an age range of 4-14 year olds. I like this concept because I have found that middle schoolers are a lot more likeable as individuals, especially individuals helping younger students, than as a mass of preteens/early teens. I recognize that this is a radical concept and nowhere on anyone’s agenda, happy or unhappy, but I like it anyway.

  21. I live in Lenox Place and am disappointed to see two of the newest maps put us in Westchester. We have advocated proactively on this issue to stay in our walkable, community school. Someone mentions having to walk .9 miles now to Clairemont from Westchester – I live over 1.5 miles from Westchester and would never have the option to walk with these maps. This has a huge impact on our neighborhood families who treasure the sense of community building that happens when you can walk to school, linger on the playground and talk to other parents (vs hopping in a car all the time). We are not asking for walkability to the detriment of anyone else being able to walk, and hope others can put themselves in our shoes and help to advocate for a solution that keeps all elementary kids walking.

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