CINS Community Town Hall for the Grady Cluster of Schools

Dec 8 2011

From Mary Shaltis

CINS’ Community Town Hall with ABOE Members Representing the Grady Cluster
December 13, 2011 (Tuesday) @ 7 pm

Grady High School Auditorium, 929 Charles Allen Drive, Atlanta, GA 30309, (404) 802-3001

All Community Members Comprising the Grady High Cluster of Schools are invited and encouraged to attend.
 
CINS supports and encourages full community involvement, engagement and input on every issue affecting the schools which feed into the Grady High School cluster (Grady Cluster). CINS also recognizes the need for the public to share directly with their elected board representatives their comments and concerns regarding issues impacting their children and/or neighborhood schools including redistricting.
 
In response to community requests, CINS is hosting a Community Town Hall with ABOE Members Representing the Grady Cluster. Our special thanks to District 3 ABOE Representative Ms. Cecily Harsch-Kinnane for helping us coordinate this meeting and to Dr. Vincent Murray & Grady High School for providing meeting space for the community.
 
Access to the SRT3 Demographic-Capacity Study presentation, maps, preliminary options and survey (deadline December 16th) are available at www.atlanta.k12.ga.us. Additional feedback and comments can be sent to APSdemographicstudy@atlantapublicschools.us.
 
The Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools (CINS) is a not-for-profit organization that has worked for over 33 years to empower public schools in the Grady Cluster while enhancing neighborhoods in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia. CINS’ mission is to work with Atlanta Public Schools to foster the development of safe, quality education in the Grady cluster of schools. For more information on CINS and its mission, please visit www.cinsatlanta.org or to become a member or add your name to the CINS’ eblast list, click on: http://tinyurl.com/4xkvfqt.

Candler Park Position Statement Re: School Redistricting

Dec 7 2011

UPDATE: The survey was previously down while they made a couple of corrections, but it's back up now. Have at it.

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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.

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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.

The APS Redistricting Debate: Kids Or No Kids, It's Everyone's Issue

Dec 6 2011

This article appeared on Patch.com here, and was written by Candler Park resident Lexa King.

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Everyone remembers the old adage “The three most important things affecting real estate are: location, location, location.” But what about a location makes it valuable? My 10+ years of selling in-town Atlanta property tells me the answer is subjective. It is critical to educate those moving into the area about neighborhood characteristics and personalities. A match to a neighborhood, partnered with a structure they love, will ultimately determine a client’s satisfaction and the delivery of value.

One question I am usually asked when people begin their home search is: “How are the schools?” Again, the answer is subjective. Is there a special needs or gifted child? Is an inclusive curriculum important? The questions and various needs are endless. When my family left South Fulton in 1984, it was in reaction to learning that the middle school my older daughter was to attend had no program. They told me they didn’t want the kids who didn’t qualify for the program to feel bad. We moved.

What about Candler Park spoke to me and continues to appeal to house hunters? It was filled with artists and activists. It was convenient to many of the activities we enjoyed. The home styles were alluring. These are some of the considerations along with schools that contribute to in-town purchasing. Schools are not the only or even the primary issue for many ìn-town purchasers.

Candler Park has evolved and over the years home values have appreciated. Even with the challenges of the market since 2007, average home sale prices in Candler Park have fluctuated less than 10 percent compared with a 35 percent decline in Metro Atlanta. The annual number of units sold has persistently hovered around 45. The biggest change has been the average days on market, which has approximately doubled to the present average of 87 days.

What causes this market consistency? Many years ago, there was a plan that would have fractured neighborhoods by running an elevated, divided highway right through them. People from Inman Park, Candler Park, Druid Hills and other areas banded together. They chained themselves to trees, prostrated themselves in front of bulldozers and got arrested. They took a stand. They fought City Hall. And won. Instead of a highway, we have Freedom Park. In-town residents also have been responsible for continually working with the school system and vastly improving the performance of many of the in-town schools. Residents from Morningside to Kirkwood have been effective initiators of change. All of these actions have impacted and protected property values.

Now we have new challenges. Redistricting, compounded by a nationally publicized cheating scandal. In the short run, we may see some reactionary movement. However, over the long haul, the question is how do we assure every child has access to a high-quality education while protecting the values of all our properties? The answer remains involvement. Elected and appointed officials must be held accountable. Attend meetings, voice concerns. Vote or even run for office. Volunteer in your neighborhood. Whether you have school-aged children or not, this is your issue. Make noise and back it up with action.

Ms. King, a Candler Park resident, is an Atlanta real estate consultant with Keller Williams Realty and owner of From Condos To Castles.

About this column: Residents of East Atlanta Patch and those who impact our community voice their opinions on issues of the day.

Rundown of Upcoming Meetings Re: School Redistricting

Dec 5 2011

Tuesday 12/6 at 8:15 am
30307 Schools
Epworth Church, 1561 McLendon Avenue

Come learn about the current proposals. This group has been working for almost a month to learn about and advocate on issues related to the demography study from the perspective of all communities in the Mary Lin-Inman-Grady cluster.

Tuesday 12/6 at 7:00 pm
Candler Park Neighborhood Organization
Epworth Church, 1561 McLendon Avenue

This meeting is open to all Mary Lin community members, but only CPNO members can vote.

Wednesday 12/7 at 7:30 pm
Inman Park Neighborhood Association
Inman Park Methodist Church, 1015 Edgewood Avenue

The meeting is open to all Mary Lin Community members, but only IPNA members may vote.

Saturday 12/10 at 9:30 am
Lake Claire Neighbors

Frazer Center Auditorium
All are welcome to attend.

Message From Atlanta Board Of Education Member Cecily Harsch-Kinanne

Dec 5 2011

Note: This memo was distributed to local schools and is being republished here.

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Dear District 3 Community,

This week we all got our first look at the four proposals from the demographic team that was hired by APS to help us shape a meaningful plan to deal with capacity issues in the district. For this first rendition, the demographers' proposals were driven by a very limited set of parameters - enrollment and capacity - and thus provided us with proposals that were somewhat limited in their perspective. The purpose of this first round was to provide us with a starting point for discussions about what is factual, number wise, and what is possible, vision wise. The proposals do provide us with the very critical and objective information that we need as a foundation as we start now to interweave the other immensely valuable considerations - community concerns, instructional programs, proximity, historical perspective, financial responsibility, and educational policy - into proposals moving forward.

I know we have asked you to provide feedback on these proposals, but I am asking you now to please disregard these specific proposals, as written, in your thinking going forward. Your input about what you value in your schools and communities is important and appreciated. Please continue to provide this information. But building coalitions around or against a particular option or spending time trying to reconfigure these proposals to represent the interests of one neighborhood is not a productive use of time. And in doing so I worry that we will end up devaluing what we most cherish - communities made up of neighborhoods and schools that represent a diversity of people and ideas and place a premium on a shared sense of community. That has been the overriding message that has come through in the many emails I have received and in the many phone conversations I have had. I will be forever grateful for what my own children have gained from their diverse school experience. I am proud to represent a district that feels it is profoundly important that this experience be protected for future students. Please continue to share your constructive feedback. It is welcome and necessary as we work toward a thoughtful and sensible plan!

Sincerely,  
Cecily Harsch-Kinnane
District 3 Representative, Atlanta Board of Education

School Redistricting Special Meeting Update

Dec 5 2011

LOCATION SET: The meeting will be held at Epworth Church, 1561 McLendon Ave.

UPDATE: There are other organizations in the neighborhood sponsoring similar meetings, including one by 30307schools the same day. That's a great opportunity to learn more about the issue and is complimentary to our meeting. Our 7pm special CPNO membership meeting is an official CPNO meeting and where we'll vote on what our membership wants us to advocate for. If you want to let CPNO know what to advocate for on your behalf, please come Tuesday night.

We're coordinating with the Lake Claire Neighbors, Inman Park Neighborhood Association and the Mary Lin Local School Council to try and align our plans after our respective meetings. This meeting is open to the public and representatives from both organizations will be there. You are welcome to invite anyone interested in this issue to attend. As this is an official CPNO meeting, only CPNO members will be able to vote; but it is in all of our interests to work together on this difficult issue.

More information about the meeting can be found here.

Iverson Park Celebration Tomorrow, Saturday December 3

Dec 2 2011

From Barbara Marston:

Dear  Neighbors---Have you noticed the improvements in Iverson Park?  The Friends of Iverson Park (maybe you or someone you know) have been mulching, digging, raising funds, and installing some new playground equipment. 

We’ll have to raise a little more money to complete the landscaping, but we’re ready to celebrate the end of this phase and thank our generous partners (especially Park Pride, Candler Park Neighborhood Organization and the City Parks Department). 

 Please join us at the park to celebrate on December 3, 2011

·      9:00 AM --Planting several small trees, mulching (we should be through by 11)

·      2:00 PM -- Pick up softball/volleyball/Frisbee (bring your bats, balls, whatever)

·      3:15 PM  --Ribbon cutting/brief remarks.  

p.s.—We do need to raise additional funds to complete the landscaping.  Please help by going to Park Pride http://www.parkpride.org/ .  Choose the  "Make a Donation" tab,  where it says " Please click here, to make a donation to a specific local park", click and choose friends of Iverson Park. 

If you have questions or want to get more involved, please contact Eric Dusenbury at eric.dusenbury@gmail.com or 404 522 7130 or Barbara Marston bxm5@cdc.gov

School Redistricting is Underway -- Special CPNO Meeting December 6th at 7pm

Dec 1 2011

Atlanta Public Schools has begun the redistricting process and is moving quickly. At tonight’s community meeting, we learned that they are accepting feedback on their proposed plans over the next few weeks. Based on that feedback, the APS will produce two revised plans to be presented in January. One of these plans will define our schools for the next decade.

We need to deliver frequent and consistent feedback to APS about which option is best for Candler Park. To do that, we first need consensus on what the neighborhood prefers, and we need it quickly. The APS indicated tonight that they have already begun incorporating feedback into their plans, and every day that passes it will be harder to make our voice heard.

To address this, the CPNO is calling a special meeting for Tuesday, December 6th at 7pm at Epworth Church. We will use this time as a public forum to discuss alternatives and come to consensus on important goals for the neighborhood. We will then take a vote on our position to the school board, and work on a plan to communicate that position as broadly as possible.

If there are things you like or don’t like about the proposed redistricting plans, now is the time to make your voice heard. Please let your neighbors know about this important meeting. We will update the mailing list and website with a location tomorrow.

The proposed APS plans can be found at http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/Page/413.

APS Releases Potential School Redistricting Options

Nov 30 2011

APS has released the demographers' proposed solutions to school overcrowding / underenrollment issues.  Mary Lin will be directly affected. 

Go here to review the draft option summaries and maps (which show the proposed school boundaries of the four options).

Here is a summary that was circulated on the Candler Park Parents list.

Option 1 gives a 176-seat expansion to Mary Lin but cuts out the western part of Inman Park from Mary Lin.  It keeps Mary Lin otherwise together and keeps Morningside at Inman and Grady.  Grady keeps the west of the connector area plus a small additional bit there but loses the Old Fourth Ward and some of Inman Park.

Option 2 gives a 176-seat expansion to Mary Lin and pairs Mary Lin with Hope-Hill for PK-2 and 3-5, which keeps Inman Park with Mary Lin.  It sends Morningside kids off to the new middle school but returns them to Grady.  Inman ends up with a smaller district, geographically, because it loses the kids on the west side of the connector (as well as the M'side kids), while gaining the Old Fourth Ward.

Option 3 gives a 176-seat expansion to Mary Lin and keeps Mary Lin at its current configuration, neighborhood-wise.  It's essentially the same as option 2 for middle, except there's an additional little triangle of Va-Hi/M'side that also goes to the new middle school.  BUT then Grady doesn't get those kids back for high school AND takes in some additional kids from west of the connector.

Option 4 pairs Mary Lin with the north Kirkwood Toomer kids for PK-2 and 3-5.  For middle, it's option 2 (lose the M'side kids and west of the connector kids) plus gaining the north Kirkwood kids.  For high school, it's exactly the same kids as middle school.  BUT with this, we get no expansion at Mary Lin.

As a reminder, please plan to attend the meeting tomorrow night.

2011 Demographic-Capacity Study Community Meeting

Thursday, December 1, 2011
6:30 - 8:00 pm

Parkside Elementary
685 Mercer St, SE
Atlanta, GA 30312

Broken or Missing Water Meter Cover?

Nov 24 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, neighbors! While walking around the 'hood with family today, we noticed a very dangerous foot-deep hole in the ground, thanks to a missing water meter cover. Just looking for an ankle to break!

And that reminded me of a recent article in the AJC about the dangers and costs associated with missing or broken water meter covers.

If you have a broken or missing water meter cover in front of your house, or know of one in the neighborhood, it's easy to get it fixed. Here's how: