Community Update:

Mary Lin Local School Council APS Demographic Study/Redistricting Update

The Mary Lin Local School Council has been continuing to work hard on the APS demographic study and redistricting situation, and wanted to provide a status update on the process, and what to expect in the upcoming days and weeks.

What’s happened in the last two months

After over a year of work, in late November/early December 2011, the Atlanta Public Schools demographers presented an initial round of four proposed options for redistricting APS school boundaries and closing or adding on to APS school facilities. APS held a community meeting for SRT-3 (includes the Lin area) on December 1 at Parkside elementary school regarding these four proposed options, which many in the Lin area attended. APS asked for feedback from everyone on the four proposed options in the form of a survey with the opportunity for additional comments. Community meetings were held throughout the Lin area in early December regarding the four proposed options, including by the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization, the Inman Park Neighborhood Association, Lake Claire Neighbors, and 30307 Schools. All of these meetings were attended by some members of the Lin LSC. As a result of feedback received from the Lin neighborhoods, and based on some long-standing goals regarding the redistricting process, the Lin LSC made recommendations to the Lin community as to favored options and suggested comments to make on the survey forms. These recommendations were distributed to the Lin community via the Mary Lin Rocket, the Mary Lin websites and facebook page, some of the neighborhood group websites, and hard copies were sent home with all Lin students.

The recommendations made by the Lin LSC were consistent with three guiding principles or goals that the Lin LSC has been following for many months: (1) keep the current Lin boundaries intact that include Candler Park, Inman Park, and Lake Claire; (2) do the long-planned addition at Lin; and (3) keep the Lin area at Inman middle school and Grady high school. APS’ initial four options were reasonably consistent with the LSC’s three goals. All four options had Lin staying at Inman and Grady, and three of the four options included doing the addition at Lin. Three of the four options kept the Lin boundaries intact, although two of those three options also had Lin merged with either Hope-Hill or Toomer elementary schools for K-2 and 3-5 schools. The Lin LSC recommended the option that kept Lin intact as a K-5 at Lin, without any merger with another school.

The survey forms were due to APS, either via hard copy or the APS website, by December 16, 2011. We know that many, many people in the Lin community filled out and returned these surveys and provided comments and other feedback to APS regarding the initial four options. The Mary Lin LSC thanks everyone for filling out the surveys and providing feedback. Doing so is the only way to ensure your individual voice, and Lin’s collective voice, is heard by APS. On December 16, the Lin LSC also sent a letter to APS Superintendent Erroll Davis, Deputy Superintendent Steve Smith, other high ranking APS administrators, all nine school board members, and the APS demographers. This letter set forth and discussed the Lin LSC’s views of the four options consistent with the recommendations we made to the Lin community, and urged APS to adopt our recommendations and suggestions.

Since the holiday break, the Lin LSC has continued to meet and monitor the redistricting situation. Members of the Lin LSC attended the school board meetings on January 9, and also reviewed reports of the meetings, which included some discussion of the demographic study and redistricting process. The Lin LSC has also reviewed a set of “Guiding Principles” and “Ranking of Priorities” released by Superintendent Erroll Davis on January 19. These principles and priorities are things that Mr. Davis will use to help guide his decision-making in the redistricting process over the upcoming weeks and months. Many of the guidelines and priorities listed sound like they are good for the Lin area, including avoiding splitting neighborhoods, keeping school feeder systems intact and without split feeders, using major highways or roadways as boundaries, and avoiding redistricting students from high performing to low performing schools where possible. You can read the complete list of these guidelines and priorities on the Atlanta Public Schools website by clicking on “Demographic Study”, and then on “Demographic Study Guiding Principles (01/19/12)”.

What will happen in the next few weeks

The next significant step in the demographic study and redistricting process will be the release of a second round of revised, proposed options. This will occur by January 30 at the latest, and possibly as early as January 23. It is anticipated that these options will be released by posting them on the APS website. We understand that this next set of options will be narrowed to 2-3 options, and may or may not bear any resemblance to the initial four options released in late November/early December. This second set of options is supposed to take into account the survey responses and feedback APS and its demographers received with respect to the initial four options.

On Monday, January 30, 2012, an SRT-3 community meeting to discuss the second round of options will take place at Maynard Jackson high school, located at 801 Glenwood Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30316, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It is highly recommended that parents and members of the Lin community attend this meeting. This will be our first opportunity to provide feedback and ensure that Lin’s voice is heard with regard to the second round of options.

Following release of the second round of options, the Lin LSC will be meeting and reviewing them. The next LSC meeting is now scheduled for January 31 at 8:10 a.m. at Lin, but may be moved up to the week of January 23 if the round two options come out that week. It is anticipated that APS will again ask for feedback and comments, possibly another survey form, in response to the second round of options. The Lin LSC plans on again providing recommendations and suggestions to the Lin community as to how to respond or provide comments back to APS on the round two options. The Lin LSC is also considering hosting a Lin community meeting, either at the Lin auditorium or other adequate location, likely later during the week of January 30 or during the week of February 6, to discuss the second round options. Please watch for an announcement regarding this.

It is also anticipated that Lin’s community and neighborhood groups will again hold meetings regarding the second round of options, and members of the Lin LSC will also attend these meetings and listen to community feedback.

What will happen after the second round of options

Following the release of the second round of options, and a series of SRT community meetings the week of January 30 (including our SRT-3 meeting on Jan. 30 discussed above), APS will receive feedback from everyone during February. There may be a deadline for providing feedback, like there was for the first round of proposed options, which will be publicized. APS’ demographers will evaluate this feedback and provide a report to Superintendent Davis and the school board. In March, Superintendent Davis will make his revised recommended proposed options to the school board. There will be community meetings and opportunity for public input and feedback in March in response to Superintendent Davis’ recommendations. In April, Mr. Davis will make his final recommendations to the school board, and the school board may vote on and approve these final recommendations in April or May. APS has stated that it will begin implementing the final approved recommendations in August of the 2012-13 school year.

Thus, while we are well into the demographic study and redistricting process at this point, there is still a ways to go. It is very important that the Lin community remain engaged and focused at this critical juncture. There will be several important opportunities for additional feedback and input in the upcoming weeks, and we urge all residents of the Lin community to participate. Your feedback and input is your “vote” in this process.

Of course, the Lin LSC will continue to work hard on this issue, and provide input and feedback to APS, and do our best to represent the Lin area to the APS administration and school board. We will also continue to do our best to keep you apprised of all significant developments. Thank you for your help and support.

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