Decatur dad: consider walkability in school rezoning
Parent Denis Gainty sent this letter in response to a recent article about City Schools of Decatur redrawing school attendance zones. The school system recently released drafts of the proposed boundary changes.
Gainty said while his kids aren’t going to be affected by the changes, he thinks school leaders should make the ability to walk to school a top priority.
Here is his letter, which he also sent to school officials:
Thanks so much for your hard work on behalf of all the city’s children, families, and community generally. I have read with great interest many comments regarding the upheaval of rezoning, and I don’t envy the difficulty of your jobs as you sort out all priorities. However, as someone whose children are NOT slated for redistricting, it seems to me that a fundamental issue is walkability and safety. I’m especially concerned about Westchester and the very real dangers posed by Scott Boulevard and surrounding streets. After the tragic death of a cyclist a short while ago on North Decatur and Willivee, I’m sure you are all quite mindful of the dangerous nature of commuter traffic – exactly when students will be arriving at school – and I think, whatever other considerations you may need to juggle, the safety of our students walking, biking, and otherwise commuting to school must be ensured.
Moreover, regarding the committee’s assertion that “walkability is not as important as having ‘great’ schools” (October 21 2013 Leadership Team Meeting #2 minutes, p. 3) I must respectfully point out that walkability and ‘great schools’ are not mutually exclusive or even separable. Research strongly suggests that walkability correlates to student health, community cohesion, parental involvement, crime prevention, and other important factors that do in fact make schools ‘great.’ Not only must we be aware of the safety of those students who do choose to walk or bike to school, but we must also consider the very real social, economic, and educational benefits of maintaining and enhancing walkability to every unit of the City Schools of Decatur.
For more on walkability, please see the following:
There are plenty of communities in the larger Atlanta area where driving is mandatory, and communities must find ways to form and maintain themselves on four wheels, experiencing their neighborhood and neighbors through a barrier of auto glass. Thankfully, Decatur is not one of them. Please consider walkability a central feature in our community, and especially in the lives of our children, families, and schools, as you continue to work on K-3 zoning.
Thank you for considering my comments.