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Sarah Smith PTA Opposes Pine Hills Move

Email blast calls for Buckhead school's boundaries to remain intact, and says superintendent's plan will cause overcrowding

From Patch Reports

APS School Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr.'s latest redistricting plan to include the entire Pine Hills neighborhood in the district is drawing opposition from the school's PTA.

Davis said he was proposing the move to relieve overcrowding at . The Atlanta School Board is to make the final redistricting vote on April 10.

According to the map accompanying Davis' final recommendations, released late Saturdsy, the Pine Hlls area would match the official city boundaries for the community, including neighborhoods east of Ga. 400 and north of I-85, the PTA said. This would bring 120 additional students to Sarah Smith, causing it to be overcapacity in nine of the next 10 years, the e-mail said.

Here is the full text, posted on Sarah Smith's web site.

"Please read the below letter regarding important new redistricting information for Sarah Smith Elementary. In addition to writing in support of our school’s existing boundaries as mentioned below, please consider attending the Board of Education Community Meeting on April 10 at 6 p.m. and state that Sarah Smith’s current boundaries should remain intact. The meeting will be at Maynard H. Jackson High School.

The final redistricting recommendation from APS Superintendent Erroll Davis released this past Saturday, March 31, has a major impact on the Sarah Smith Elementary School population. Please read the details as we currently understand them and send any comments, questions  and/or concerns you may have directly to apsredistricting@atlantapublicschools.us,  (school board Chairman) Reuben McDaniel at rrmcdaniel@atlanta.k12.ga.us, and (Buckhead school board member) Nancy Meister at nmeister@atlanta.k12.ga.us as soon as possible. Superintendent Davis will present his final recommendation to the APS Board of Education this coming Tuesday, April 10.

Superintendent Davis has recommended that all of Pine Hills will be zoned to Sarah Smith Elementary School. While some may believe this includes only the 2 to 3 students currently attending Garden Hills and approximately 120 homes in what we consider the Pine Hills Neighborhood*, it actually includes all of what the City of Atlanta considers to be Pine Hills and possibly more neighborhoods.  In looking at the final district maps of Sarah Smith Elementary School, all neighborhoods east of Ga, 400  and north of I-85 are moved to Sarah Smith. 

In an APS twitter response this past weekend, APS projects the number of additional students who will attend Sarah Smith beginning in the year 2012-13 will be 120 students. With the revised projected enrollment, Sarah Smith is expected to be overcapacity for ninw of the next 10 years. In fact, the redistricting of these students to Sarah Smith “to relieve overcrowding at Garden Hills” will create capacity issues for Sarah Smith. When directly questioned about the overcrowding created at Sarah Smith, the APS twitter response was that a conservative 22:1 teacher ratio was used in the enrollment projections but Sarah Smith can have larger class sizes as allowed by the State and that “larger class sizes are simply our reality these days.”

The Sarah Smith PTA position throughout this redistricting process has been to keep the current boundary of our school the same. This position was taken after careful review of the demographers’ projections and the realization there would be enough capacity at Sarah Smith to handle the future projected growth, the school would be in a position to return to smaller class sizes when APS’ financial position is better, and a 5 percent margin of error existed if the demographers’ projections turn out to be understated. With the move of all of Pine Hills to Sarah Smith and when considering possible increases in enrollment resulting from the rezoning from a school failing to meet federal AYP requirements to one of APS’ best performing schools, the projections for Sarah Smith suggest that it will not only be overcrowded but the possibility of returning to smaller class sizes is seriously in doubt. It also calls into question how our school will be able to handle its student population over the next 10 years. 

For these reasons, the Sarah Smith PTA Board continues to take the position of keeping the current boundaries the same. If you have any concerns regarding the impact this change will have on Sarah Smith Elementary School, please take the time now to let your voice be heard. If you want to read more regarding the final redistricting proposal, please look on the Atlanta Public Schools website for both the recommendation and the final proposed maps.
 
*Pine Hills, as defined by the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association, is a neighborhood divided among Sarah Smith, Garden Hills (approximately 120 homes) and DeKalb schools. This Garden Hills portion was removed from Sarah Smith and zoned to Garden Hills about 25 years ago. This group has requested APS move their portion of the neighborhood back into Sarah Smith.  Superintendent Davis’ March 31st recommendation proposes expanding Sarah Smith’s borders to include these homes plus all of the neighborhoods along Lenox Road from our current boundary to I-85.

Me April 05, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Wow. Thank goodness this came to light before all is said and done. Pine Hills sure tried to pull a fast one!!

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