Decatur School Board delays vote on new attendance zones

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 10, 2013
Members of the Decatur, Ga. School Board listen to options for school attendance zones during a Dec. 10 meeting. Photo: Dan Whisenhunt

Members of the Decatur, Ga. School Board listen to options for school attendance zones during a Dec. 10 meeting. Photo: Dan Whisenhunt

City Schools of Decatur Board of Education members want more input on a new attendance map for the city’s schools.

During BOE’s Dec. 10 meeting, board members voted unanimously to table a motion to approve a new map. The board will take up the issue again at a special called meeting on Dec. 18.

All of this is being done in anticipation of the reopening of Westchester Elementary in 2014. City Schools of Decatur needs more classrooms to handle its steadily-increasing enrollment.

BOE members will consider approving a revised map 7A. The map remains essentially the same, but board members made a few modifications. Board members want to give the public a chance to see those changes, as well as understand the impact it would have on local school enrollment, before voting to approve them.

Here are the proposed changes to map 7A (a new draft map is forthcoming, I’m told):

– All homes on the northern and southern ends of Oakview Road would attend Winnona Elementary

– Students at the Knob Hill town homes would attend Clairemont Elementary

– Students in the downtown area, with the exception of Decatur Housing Authority students, would attend Clairemont Elementary (the DHA residents asked to be allowed to continue sending their children to their current K-3 school)

– Homes south of Scott Boulevard facing Clairemont Road would attend Clairemont Elementary

Please bear in mind that what I just wrote wasn’t completely clear even to the BOE members, which is why they tabled it. That list above may change once staff, BOE members and the redistricting consultants compare their notes, but generally those are the “tweaks” to 7A.

We do know a few things with a reasonable amount of certainty. Map 7A, which you can see by clicking here, remains the BOE’s top choice because members think it better addresses the system’s capacity issues.

That means Lenox Place residents will be rezoned to Westchester Elementary and will not be allowed to remain in Oakhurst Elementary. (Full disclosure: I live in the affected area, but don’t have kids in the school system.)

However, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said rising third graders in all attendance zones will be given the option to remain at their current school at the beginning of the 2014 year.

The exact parameters of how that grandfathering process will work haven’t been released, but Edwards got clear direction from the board on it. Board members want to give parents the option of allowing their students to finish their K-3 experience at the school where they started.

Again, some of this is fluid and there are tons of things that came up during this discussion that I don’t have time to get into here. But that’s the bottom line from tonight’s meeting. If you have questions, let me know and I will do my best to answer them.

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