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Last night, CPNO held a special meeting to gain consensus around school redistricting options. The position statement below summarizes the recommendations that emerged from that meeting.
This purpose of this statement is three-fold: 1) To make Candler Park’s preferences known to APS stakeholders and demographers and 2) To identify areas of mutual interest with other intown neighborhoods and 3) To help residents make informed choices prior to filling out the APS survey.
ALL RESIDENTS SHOULD FILL OUT THE APS SURVEY WHICH CAN BE FOUND HERE. (Click the link that says “Feedback Form / Comments Link.”) Please see below for CPNO’s recommended options in blue, along with the justifications for each. You must vote by December 16.
CPNO Position Statement Re: Schools & Redistricting
On December 6, 2011, the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization (CPNO) held a special meeting to discuss school overcrowding and redistricting. The goals were to build consensus around neighborhood preferences, discuss options presented by Bleakley demographers, explore options that may not yet have been considered, and to come up with a set of recommendations. The meeting was attended by Candler Park residents, as well as neighbors from adjoining neighborhoods and members of the Mary Lin Local School Council.
The Candler Park neighborhood is what it is today in large part because of its strong schools. Mary Lin Elementary has a widely recognized record of academic success, a high degree of parental involvement, excellent walkability, and is supported by hundreds of families in the community. It is the anchor of our community.
It is crucial to the future of Candler Park that we maintain and nurture the success of Mary Lin, and that our students stay within our other strong community schools – Inman Middle and Grady High.
After careful consideration, CPNO voted on and approved the following:
- Strongly support keeping the three neighborhoods of Candler Park, Lake Claire and Inman Park together at Mary Lin Elementary. These “sister neighborhoods” are close geographically, historically and culturally, and are stronger together than the sum of their parts. Mary Lin is a true neighborhood school, and we oppose any plan that would split neighborhoods or this larger community.
- Strongly support keeping Mary Lin as a K-5 school. This is essential to continuing Mary Lin’s record of academic success, keeping students in their community and close to their homes, allowing walkability, insuring transportation safety, and providing a consistent and nurturing elementary experience for our kids.
- Strongly oppose any option that turns Mary Lin into a K-2 / 3-5 “grade center concept.” We believe that our elementary age kids should remain in the community, and have a consistent school experience in these early years.
- For the above reasons, Candler Park favors option 3 at the elementary level
- Strongly support keeping Mary Lin in the Inman – Grady cluster. All four options on the table maintain the current feeder system; it is critical to Candler Park that this continues to be the case in any considered scenario.
- Strongly support a plan that allows Morningside neighborhood to remain at Grady High School. Our neighbors to the north contribute significantly to Grady’s strength, and current plans have them traveling great distances to a different high school. It is in their best interest and ours to keep them at Grady.
- For the above reasons, Candler Park favors option 3 at the middle school level and option 2 at the high school level.
CPNO also recognizes that this redistricting process may necessarily require trade-offs and compromises by all neighborhoods. With that in mind, we propose the following areas where further exploration may be warranted:
1) Consider higher utilization – In order to maintain the current K-5 Mary Lin configuration, and to stay in the Inman – Grady cluster, Candler Park would be open to having more students per school and / or classroom (demographers have suggested aiming for a 80 – 90% utilization).
2) Consider a 5/6 or 6 academy – While we strongly prefer a K-5 elementary school, we would be at least open to the idea of a 5/6 or 6 academy, potentially joining forces with SPARK and Hope-Hill. This could potentially relieve overcrowding at the elementary and / or middle school levels. We strongly oppose sending our younger children to school in a different part of town; however, kids at the fifth or sixth grade levels may be better able to make this transition successfully.
In summary, we ask for the support of the school board, the superintendent, and the demographers to keep Candler Park the strong community that it is today. To achieve that, it is necessary to keep Candler Park, Lake Claire and Inman Park together at Mary Lin in a K-5 configuration, and to allow those students to continue on to Inman and Grady.
We appreciate that the decisions involved in working to improve our school system are complex and difficult, and we thank you for the effort you have put into this process.