Project BuildSmart : Creating Supportive Learning Environments
CINS members are encouraged to actively participate in the public review process of Project BuildSmart, the initiative of the Atlanta Public Schools improve facilities and reorganize school populations to more effectively utilize facilities.
It is CINS' understanding that BuildSmart recommendations will affect the Grady cluster as follows:
There will be little or no impact on Centennial Place, Morningside, Mary Lin or C. W Hill as a result of the BuildSmart recommendations.
Centennial Place is currently at full capacity, due to a large number of administrative transfers in addition to its attendance zone population.› The BuildSmart team expects Centennial's in-zone attendance will increase, especially with the development of the Atlantic Steel property.
Morningside has had historically high administrative transfers, and additional space is currently being added.
C. W. Hill has been renovated and is also getting a new addition.
Mary Lin has been renovated but its capacity is smaller than the targeted range.› However, to expand the building would be expensive due to the school's site. Lin will continue to operate at its present site and size as an anomaly to the ideal model.
Among the CINS' elementary schools, John Hope will undergo the greatest change. BuildSmart is recommending new construction to house a consolidated Hope and Hubert. The latest-breaking news is that the City of Atlanta has agreed to collaborate with APS to construct a school which would share resources with the City -- gymnasium, library, art room -- and would allow Hope to remain at its original site.› The completion date for occupancy by a consolidated Hope/Hubert School is targeted for Fall 2001.
The final recommendation is that APS continue to monitor the growth in Midtown and East Atlanta and the possibility a new elementary school to meet the needs of a growing intown population.› At this point, it might be useful to identify potential sites.
Walden Middle School is slated for closure.› The latest recommendation presented to CINS suggested the students from Walden will be assigned to either King MS or Coan MS.› Current Walden students will attend their new middle schools beginning in Fall 2001.
GRADY HIGH SCHOOL
Inman Middle School is currently over capacity with its student population.› Morningside, Lin and Centennial feed into Inman, and there is a significant number of administrative transfers into Inman as well.› There are challenges at Inman from a facilities point of view: undersized› media center, cafeteria, small and crowded classrooms, lack of specialty classrooms (labs and exploratory spaces), severely cramped administrative space. BuildSmart recommends planning for future expansion of the school to meet these identified facility needs.› Additionally, BuildSmart recommends redrawing the attendance zone to include C. W. Hill as a feeder school into Inman.› We assume the new attendance zone will be effective in Fall 2001.
Grady is among APS' three high schools with the most significant facilities needs. BuildSmart recommends renovating Grady and increasing its student population.
CINS' Questions, Concerns, and Endorsements of BuildSmart
- RE: Timetable and Redistricting - CINS' biggest concern is the timing of school closings, redistricting and construction of new buildings and expansions.› Once a school closes, there is a domino effect that ripples out to impact several other schools.› BuildSmart is recommending that there be new construction at Inman to upgrade the facility to middle school standards for the size of its current population.› We are concerned that new attendance zone districts will be drawn before the upgrade is completed.› We urge the Board to look carefully at the timetable for reassigning to Inman the Hill Elementary students who have historically attended middle school at Walden.
- RE: Closing Walden Middle School - It is our understanding that the ideal cluster plan is to have one high school fed by two middle schools which are each fed by two elementary schools.› Closing Walden leaves only Inman Middle School to feed into Grady, and the BuildSmart plan calls for four elementary schools to feed into Inman.› BuildSmart also recommends increasing Grady's student population.› CINS is concerned about the burden placed on Inman, and we suggest that just as BuildSmart recommends that the possibility of a new elementary school should be considered in the future for intown Atlanta, so then should a new middle school.› It has been the Grady cluster NPUs that have shown the most significant population growth in the past eight years, and continuing population trends will warrant the need for a second middle school.› Is it prudent to rush to close Walden? Moreover, the closing of Walden would obliterate the International Pre-Baccalaureate program at the middle school level in the Atlanta Public Schools.
- RE: Administrative Transfers - The issue of transfers will continue to put pressure on Inman's capacity because it has been a highly attractive school of choice.› Many of the out-of-district students come to Inman via its feeder elementary schools which were also schools of choice. Additionally, many out-of-district students come to Inman without having attended its feeder schools; many are children of APS staff who receive favored status when requesting administrative transfers.› CINS recognizes the benefits of Inman's being a school of choice for creating the culture of excellence at Inman in recent years. However,› to insure fairness in school assignments, we propose that administrative transfer policies need to be very clearly defined and adhered to for all students.› Likewise, we insist that Inman's capacity for its in-zone population should meet ideal targets and not be overtaxed to accommodate administrative transfer requests.
- RE: Renovating Grady and Upgrading Inman - CINS endorses this recommendation to drastically improve our high school and middle school facilities.› We understand there are no SPLOST funds currently allocated for these improvements.› We would like this work at Grady and Inman to be given top priority, and we will support the Board's efforts to extend the local option sales tax. › The key question is what will be the plan to minimize the displacement of students during renovation/construction?› While bricks and mortar are at center stage right now, we are adamant that instructional strategies not be neglected.› Inman will be especially challenged given the size of the school population and the capacity issues it already faces.
- RE: John Hope Elementary - CINS would like to be kept apprised of plans.› We have been following this issue for four years, and we want to be in a position to support Hope during the period of transition.› One key question: where will Hope students attend school in Fall 2000?› Certainly CINS strongly urges that the Board give the highest priority to scheduling and funding the new construction at Hope.
- RE: Vision for Cluster Development - While not central to the BuildSmart team's mission, transition is central to the success of all APS students.› CINS recommends that the Board set a priority that APS staff develop transition plans for our schools to plant the seeds for student success and parent involvement. › Additionally, CINS endorses the concept of cluster development as presented by BuildSmart and successful school reform programs, such as Project Grad.› Transition plans provide the stepping stones among schools in a cluster. ›CINS recognizes the necessity of detailed planning for transition of students and their families to new schools.› This need is more acute when schools are consolidated or placed in temporary quarters during construction/renovation, but it is also a critical need even when there are no extraordinary events affecting schools.› CINS recommends that transition planning become standard for elementary students moving on to middle school and for middle school students moving on to high school.
For the past five years, Inman Middle School has conducted a model transition program.› Each school year Inman hosts six or seven events to which parents of fifth graders are invited to meet the principal, counselors and teachers.› Some events allow for presentations by teachers and parents of current Inman students, and there is always one open house when prospective parents can tour the school.› Parents receive information about course requirements, extracurricular activities and expectations of student achievement as well as highlights of Inman's achievements. By the time their children begin attending Inman, these parents are well on the road to active, enthusiastic involvement in the school.› When Hill students begin coming to Inman, we want to include them in transition activities as has been done for Centennial, Lin and Morningside. › The rising middle school students also participate in transition programs.› In the spring the feeder elementary school fifth graders visit Inman, meet students and teachers and tour the school.› A few Inman students are also selected to go back to their elementary schools for small group question and answer session. When new Inman sixth graders complete their orientation in the fall, they are ready to get to work. › Efforts are beginning now to develop a transition plan for Inman students who will begin ninth grade at Grady next year.› Over time we expect to see this program fully fleshed out and providing a vital link between middle and high school.
Go to the APS Build Smart web site
Send your comments on the Atlanta Public Schools' Build Smart Project to school board members at:
Mike Holiman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Aaron Watson (email@example.com)
Brenda Muhammad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Emmett Johnson (email@example.com)